Ask and Listen to Make More Sales

We’ve all had the experience of meeting someone for the first time who immediately dominates a conversation. It’s pretty rare that this type of behavior is not at least somewhat annoying. 

Sometimes in insurance sales, you have a limited time to make your pitch, and you may be tempted to blurt out everything at once. I know a lot about insurance! I’m a really responsive agent! I can get you a quote right this second!

For a customer in a hurry, that approach may work. For others, though, slowing down can reveal a lot more about their insurance needs, creating more sales opportunities for you. Here are five tips that can help you gather more and better information from your insurance prospects:

1)     Ask About Their Life

There are a few reasons to ask a prospect about their life—it’s a way to get to know them and their personality, you can start to identify any insurance needs they may have, and it feels good when others show interest in us.

Try to use language that won’t feel obtrusive, like this, “Before we dive into your auto quote, I’d like to ask you a couple of quick questions about your life in general. This will help me figure out how to help you get the best insurance for you and possibly save you some money. Does that work for you?”

2)     Cycle Open- and Closed-ended Questions

Open-ended questions are useful for finding out information you might not have thought to ask and to find out a prospect’s story. Close-ended questions can help you flesh out details. Used thoughtfully and in combination, they can garner lots of intel.

For each new line of inquiry you want to open—asking about auto(s), home(s), etc.—start with an open-ended question first. “Tell me about your vehicles” will reveal a lot more than “Do you have a car?” Once you know the big picture, you’ll be able to use closed-ended questions to gather the specific information you need to start quoting.

3)     Elicit Their Perspective on Insurance

Here’s another open-ended question that may help when it comes to avoiding pitfalls: “What has your experience been like when it comes to having insurance?”

This is where you can find out if this customer has felt ripped off for any reason or had specific difficulties getting covered or getting paid on a claim in the past. You may also learn what they want in an agent, which will point you in the right direction to become their agent for life.

4)     Use Intentional Silences

When you ask a question, avoid the temptation to supply the answers yourself. (“Tell me about your vehicles. Do you have one car? Two cars? How many drivers are in your household?”) Instead, ask only that they tell you about their vehicles, then pause and let them speak.

Intentionally choosing silence will, again, keep you from missing out on additional information that you wouldn’t have asked yourself, and it can help you learn your customer’s conversational rhythm. You can then adapt your sales pitch to their style and pace instead of forcing yours on them.

5)     Reflective Listening

Try sprinkling your conversation with lots of reflective words and phrases—this means using the same words or phrases as your prospect. Here’s an example: 

Customer: “In addition to my wife, we have one son who is away at college…”

You: “one at college”

Customer: “…and another who just got his license.”

You: “just got his license”

This type of reflective listening can help you build rapport and gather information. It shows you’re really hearing what they’re saying, and it helps to avoid conversational traps like saying “OK” too much.

All of these tips can be used alone or, better yet, in combination with each other. The more you practice incorporating them, the sooner these information-gathering skills will become a natural part of every sales pitch you make.

Ready for some new prospects? Hometown Quotes has fresh leads for insurance agents all around the country. Give us a call at 800.820.8921 to learn more.


Brendan Sera-Shriar

Brendan Sera-Shriar is the CMO for Hometown Quotes and a Staff Writer for Hometown University.

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