Imagine you’re on a friend’s big yacht. It’s a lovely day, the boat’s cruising along at a good clip, and you and your friend are standing by the rail looking out at the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. You reach into your pocket to show your buddy the diamond engagement ring you just bought for your fiancée. As you open the blue velvet box, the ring falls right out of your hands and into the ocean below.
Holy F*&^%$ing S%$#!
Marking the spot where the ring fell in the water is completely absurd since the boat is moving.
In sales, business, and life, when we pay attention to the wrong things, we miss the details that really matter.
Imagine this situation. On an initial prospecting phone call, you ask the controller of a mid-size manufacturing company if she ever investigates insurance solutions from other agents. She tells you that her current agent proactively shops the markets for her and shows her two or three possibilities every year.
“No!” you’re thinking, “we have an exclusive program your current agent won’t be able to access. And besides that we probably have twice as many good markets as your guy does!”
But do you really want to blurt that out? By abruptly changing the topic to your programs you’re completely discounting what she just told you: she feels her current agent is proactive and helpful.
Instead of focusing on the water where she is, you’re staring at the scratch you made on the railing.
If you did redirect the conversation to your program at this point, it’s easy to imagine her folding her arms in front of her chest defensively, telling you in body language that she doesn’t feel you’re at all interested in her or her insurance challenges.
By changing the subject to what you can do, you’re not acknowledging what she’s just said about the loyalty and appreciation she feels for her incumbent agent.
If you stay with the prospect’s train of thought, instead of abruptly changing the topic, the conversation remains harmonious. You’re not introducing any tension, or disagreement, and there’s no reason for her to shut down or push back.
While she continues to be engaged, you can probe further and learn more about her needs and the current agent relationship:
- Have you changed carriers recently based on what your agent’s shown you?
- What kinds of premium differences have you noticed?
- How do you feel about the way claims are handled?
And at some point you can gracefully get back to shopping the markets and your unique advantage, with a kicker like this:
One of the problems with the insurance industry is that agents often represent the same carriers as the next guy. That’s not the case here, though. We represent a special program from a major company that’s been saving manufacturers like you up to 25%. Would you like to find out more about that?