Sales Techniques for Insurance Professionals (4-part Series)
by Paul T. Montgomery
Part 2: Becoming an All-Star Closer
Being able to close is a major part of success. In fact, it may explain why the top ten closers in Major League Baseball (MLB) make an average annual income of nearly $11 million dollars. They have the wherewithal to remain calm in tense moments, finishing a close game in the final inning(s) without relinquishing the lead. And, just as pitchers learn about opposing hitters and have an assortment of pitches ready for various game situations, you too should gather a lot of data on your prospective clients and have several approaches ready to close the deal.
Know their approach
While preparing your approach to closing, take a cue from your potential clients. For example, are they aggressive, swinging at the first pitch? Are they set for you to move promptly to the contract? This can make your closing much easier but can also trip you up if you act too hastily. A mistake by an MLB closer can end up being clobbered for a 450-foot home run and cost his team the game. In your case, errors can also come back to haunt you and cost you a sale. Take your time, and avoid making any assumptions by summarizing everything as you go. Before closing, you should have covered a lot of ground during your sales process. By summarizing, you are checking off all the boxes based on what you have learned from your prospective clients.
Other clients may take a few pitches; they’re not ready to swing quite yet. Perhaps they are more systematic in their approach. This may mean slowing everything down, and taking a casual, approach rather than trying to overwhelm them with your sales pitch. Mix it up, and switch gears. Go from the “salesperson” to someone trying to give them a good deal. Reiterate the great value you are offering, and even include a story that fits their situation. Humans love digesting information through stories. Perhaps your story just happens to be about a couple with two children (like the couple sitting in front of you) who were skeptical but then realize that they are buying an excellent policy for the family. It’s all about reassurance.
Don’t create a high-pressure situation
Remaining calm is important; when closers in baseball increase the pressure by loading the bases, they heighten the situation and will risk being unable to close.
Don’t provide added pressure. Prospective clients want to feel comfortable about any insurance decisions they make. Keep in mind that a “must buy now” sense of urgency may work well in other industries but is not necessarily the best approach when selling insurance. Be their guide and someone they can trust. Go slowly, temper your sales approach, and stop throwing all fastballs; you may get better results with a slow-breaking ball.
Learn as you go
Pitchers look at videos to learn what they did right and wrong in game situations. Unfortunately, you probably don’t have the luxury of having a film crew following you around. This means it’s up to you to take notes throughout the sales process and after closing. What did you do to alleviate your clients’ concerns? What did you do to guide them through the process? What mistakes did you make during the process? Were you rushing them? Did you fail to explain aspects of the policy clearly? How can you adjust for the next closing? Sometimes, you may close the deal while not having your “A game,” while a great closing effort is wasted in other cases. It happens to even the best closers. Either way, you want to take something away from the closing experience that will help you next time.
Very much the same … but different
Closing a deal as an insurance agent and closing a baseball game have several commonalities, such as a lot of preparation, taking various paths to accomplish your goal, not heightening the pressure, and learning from your mistakes. However, the one key difference is that you are not trying to fool opposing hitters; in fact, you should always be on the same team as your clients. Closing in baseball is securing a win for one team. Closing an insurance sale is a win-win for you and your clients.
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