Stop what you are doing. Do yourself a favor, and call up your too-honest friend/spouse/mother/mother-in-law, and ask him/her if you are a good listener.
Nobody wants to admit when they are bad at something. Its against our human nature to point attention to our faults, but the quicker you can admit your listening skills could use some work, the quicker the improvement can begin.
How does listening help? If you truly want to diagnose your client’s risks and needs, you have to understand exactly what their concerns are as well as their goals. One of most common mistakes we as sales agents make is waiting to talk.
We know what is best for our clients, right? We sit across the table from our prospect and formulate a plan to save them money and give them top notch coverage. While you are running quotes and checking providers, your client has told you about their family, their budget, their illness, their loved ones, and their fears.
If you were listening, you may have heard your client discuss their fear of nursing homes, or their new grandchild to whom they want to leave their legacy, or maybe their neighbor that is struggling to pay for their alternative cancer treatments.
Not listening to your clients will cost you more than money- it will cost you’re the referral, the relationship, and the retention.
Here are the top 5 tips to improve your listening skills.
- Eye Contact: According to Jodi Schulz from the Michigan State Universtiy Extention, “a person can communicate with their eyes and never say a word? Our eyes show emotion, build connections and indicate interest.” (http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/eye_contact_dont_make_these_mistakes) Maintaining eye contact tells your clients that they have your full attention.
- Repeat: Make sure you actually understand what your client is trying to say. The best advice I have ever received, is to use the phrase, “Let me make sure that I understand exactly what you mean.” Then you repeat their comments in your own words. Your client will appreciate your thoroughness.
- Remove Digital Barriers: Computers and tablets undeniably have their place in your agency- but not at your consultation. Putting up a screen between you and your client can easily cause concerns about your attentiveness. Are you answering emails, on social media, texting? Keep the electronics out of the equation until its time to fill out the applications.
- Take Notes: Speaking of removing screens, keep your note taking old school. When a client is telling your about their finances, health concerns, grand children, etc., make sure you are taking visible notes to show your clients you are interested in learning about them. When your think about a question you need to ask, write it down to remember instead of interrupting their flow.
- Don’t Present the Solution While They are Telling You the Problem: This is the classic “waiting to talk” problem. First of all, your clients aren’t going to enjoy getting interrupted. Allowing your clients to talk and tell stories allows you to build the relationship required for you to become their trusted advisor. Your interruption gives the impression you are in a hurry, and you may be making a diagnosis without all the necessary information.
In your next appointment, keep these 5 tips in mind. Your clients, and your commission checks will appreciate it.