This article is about common mistakes that salespeople make in the commercial insurance industry. The fact that you are reading it is indicative that you’re not making the single biggest mistake: not investing in yourself.
Many salespeople are overly concerned about making the sale and collecting a paycheck – they forget to maintain and enhance the skills they already have. Businesses constantly beat the drum for “continuous improvement,” and you need to adopt that mantra as well to stay ahead of the game. So read that book, attend that seminar, or listen to that coach – do what you need to do to stay ahead of the game.
Whatever you do, don’t be the sales professional who gives your kind a bad name by making the mistakes outlined below:
1. Lack of Preparation. As you begin to court your clients, don’t take it for granted that you know everything you need to know because you already have clients that fit the same business profile. Do your research on both the individual you’re meeting with as well as the history of the company. Today, with information available at our fingertips, you look doubly bad if you don’t know any unique information about your client. Furthermore, being prepared and knowledgeable shows how dedicated you are to taking care of them.
2. Closing People Who Can’t Deliver. Too many salespeople approach the wrong person in he company to give them a referral or commitment of some kind when it is clear that these people are not in a position to do so. This is heavily related to being prepared – just know who you’re talking to and how they might be able to help.
3. Showing Up and Throwing Up. Once you’re adequately prepared, you’re armed with every weapon you could possibly need in your conversation with the right person. That said, remember this: just because you’ve brought it all with you doesn’t mean you need to use it. Listen to your prospect. They should be doing 70% of the talking. Let them.
4. Filling the Silence. This is related to showing up and throwing up. Oftentimes a salesperson feels the need to fill the silence during a break in conversation. Instead, let it fester for a few seconds, if not more. Silence can be uncomfortable – just like the idea of making a big decision. Let your prospect feel that discomfort and fill the silence with his/her own thoughts. Make your ask, then wait for an answer – even if it’s just asking for a face-to-face.
5. Failing to Give Honest Feedback About Competitive Products. Your company does not always have the best offering on the market. By making a recommendation of a competitive product, you’re not only establishing yourself as an expert, but you’re also building trust as an honest and reliable resource. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
6. Not Being Accountable for Mistakes. You’re only human. At some point in time, you’re going to make a mistake. The difference between an amateur and a consummate professional is your ability to recover from said mistake, and that starts in being accountable for it. Doing so projects your professionalism and your willingness to take on responsibility – both good things.
7. Failing to Confirm Receipt of Communication. When a prospect or client emails you a question or information about their company, you might not be able to provide them with what they need right away. Commercial insurance empires are built on communication. You need to reply to your prospect or client to let them know that you’re looking into their query and will be getting back to them ASAP.
8. Leaning on Price. So you’ve finally submitted a bid, and you’re terrified that you are going to price yourself out of the job. People value service and quality just as much as price (and oftentimes more). You can’t please everyone, and you need to find your target and stick with it. Are you selling on quality, price, or service? Because most of the time, all you need is two of the three to win the business. You get what you pay for.
9. “Stepping” on the Close. Never, ever, ever attach an “out” to a closing question. For example: “Would you be able to meet tomorrow? “ is a lot stronger than, “Would you be able to meet tomorrow, OR are you available next week?” Closing a sale is always about eliminating choices, and this is giving the prospect an out simply by offering another option. Additionally, start using statements instead of questions when you can: “It would be great to meet on Monday afternoon” is better than, “Are you available on Monday afternoon to meet?” Always, always, always try to eliminate options and “outs” when closing. Being a salesperson is easy, but being a successful, professional salesperson is extremely difficult. Avoid the mistakes outlined above, and you’re well on your way to separating yourself from the amateurs in the field.