At almost any stage in the sales cycle, from setting the first appointment to closing the deal, the three-headed monster of hesitation can rear its head. The prospect is stuck and you’ve got to do something about it.
The best way to respond to the roadblock of hesitation is to understand the motives behind it, and give the prospect the assurance and encouragement they need to get unstuck.
Send me something
When someone asks you to email them information they might be simply trying to get rid of you, or they may genuinely want to know more about your agency or programs. So the first thing is to find out what’s driving their request.
With a friendly sense of humor you might say, “Are you asking that just to get me off the phone or because you’d really like to learn more about our agency?”
If they are merely looking to end the call, find out if they’d like to talk at another time, otherwise be happy you can now disqualify them as a target. If they want to learn more you can comply with the request and qualify their commitment by asking: “After you look at our material, if you’re satisfied with our capabilities, is there any reason you wouldn’t be able to schedule a meeting when we call back?”
I’m all set
If you ask a business owner if she ever meets with outside agents to review insurance coverage and she answers, “I’m all set,” don’t assume that means “no.” That ambiguous non sequitur doesn’t really follow or answer the question at hand.
Like those “send me something” requests, the motives behind these non sequiturs are unclear. To determine if a prospect doesn’t want to engage at all, or if it’s more a matter of timing, just ask, “Do you ever meet with other insurance agents?” “Can I call back at a better time?”
In most cases these non sequiturs simply mean the prospect isn’t engaged. If she never meets with other agents she would just say, “No.” She’s probably avoiding the question because she has other things on her mind. Just treat it as an irrelevant comment and probe further.
“OK. Maybe this isn’t a good time for you to talk. We’ve been saving other manufacturers real money on their insurance and wanted to see if you’d want to have us review your coverage. Is there a more convenient time when I might call back?”
People put things off for different reasons, but when you’re trying to schedule an appointment to review someone’s business insurance, responses like, “Call me next week, I’m too busy to think now” can have you fruitlessly chasing someone for months trying to firm up a time to meet. And no one benefits.
Research tells us that people often experience stress when they’re making buying decisions — especially important ones. Decision-making puts us in a position of uncertainty, and uncertainty triggers fear.
Of course there’s nothing surprising about that. We’re afraid there may be negative consequences to the choices we make. “What if the coverage isn’t right and we have unresolved claims?” “What if I invest a lot of time and energy putting together all the paper work and they can’t offer any improvements?”
In the grip of uncertainty, we procrastinate and choose not to choose.
What to do
Unfortunately, many salespeople will passively go along with the prospects’ “call me later” request because they don’t want to seem pushy and annoy the prospect.
But that hesitation actually puts you in the same hesitant state as the prospect. He’s procrastinating because he’s afraid of uncertain consequences, and you’re procrastinating because you’re afraid you might annoy him and blow the opportunity.
It’s not hard to help a prospect move beyond his hesitation as long as you focus on the right thing — to show them that their best interest will be served by moving ahead with a cost and coverage review.
The voice telling you they may think you’re too pushy and get annoyed is not the one to listen to.
You don’t really know how they will feel or how they’ll respond. So don’t let yourself get caught up in thoughts about rejection. That’s just your insecurity talking. Focus instead on helping your prospects get past their hesitation.
Just like you, they need to trust the people they’re buying from (or in this case, meeting with). Just like you, they don’t want to waste their time.
It’s up to you to convey confidence and know-how, and mitigate the worries prospects may not even be aware of. Your role as a professional salesperson and insurance producer is to help people get past the anxieties that keep them stuck so they can understand your solutions and make a decision that’s in their and their company’s best interest. And that’s the action you need to take.