This is the fourth post in a series of blogs designed to help you prepare to begin a business intelligence program to build a pipeline for lead generation and sales. In the previous weeks, we have discussed our point of view on preparation and methods to using a business intelligence program, and persistence in converting those business intelligence reports into appointments. In this post, you will find our suggestion regarding what is likely the most difficult step in the sales process: setting that first appointment.
You first will have to accept that an appointment from a business intelligence report is different than the appointments you have had during your entire career. Most advisors and producers in any line of insurance start building their portfolio with family and friends, then networking and referrals after referrals. These types of appointments already have a built-in trust that doesn’t exist with an appointment produced from a business intelligence report. When an appointment is a cold one, the prospects’ defensive walls are up, and you will have a limited opportunity to make a positive first impression. Most producers have gone on a cold appointment at some time, but were they successful? The answer is probably not. The sales approach that you have used with a friend or acquaintance will not be effective on this kind of appointment; it would be wise to rethink your approach here.
Your first appointment should be a friendly introduction, not a sales meeting. The prospect has taken your call and granted you their time, there is likely a need for your solutions and it’s your job to find it. Too often, an introduction goes something like this: Advisor meets prospect, prospect discusses interest, advisor talks about self and products. In order to change your prospects’ perception of you from “salesman” to a trusted advisor, try taking more of a consultative approach. We recommend that you try to guide the prospect through a self discovery of their own financial needs and concerns and recommend the correct solutions. Let the prospect do the talking. Having your prospect become emotionally involved in the process allows them to discover the real pain of their current situation, leading them to seek the remedy through you!
Selling in this manner goes beyond identifying prospects’ financial needs and pushing products appropriate to their situation. It’s about being truly engaged in their life and financial goals, and becoming their partner in achieving them. Doing so will help you to build trust (as well as referrals), and make you stand out as a valued advisor rather than another salesman looking to close.
To wrap up the first appointment – (and you typically shouldn’t be closing a deal), give the prospect some homework and set another appointment for a presentation of solutions specific to the conversation that you just had. During the first meeting, you should have painted in broad strokes how you have helped companies similar to theirs. After gathering more information and gaining trust, you should be able to prepare a scenario specific to the financial situation of your prospect for the next meeting. Giving the prospect homework, such as numbers to come back with or statements to present, keeps them engaged in the process while you aren’t there. Unless completely impossible, do not leave the meeting without another appointment on their calendar to return.