When I was an engineer, I won sales where the sales team couldn’t. Customers felt like I understood them and their ideal outcomes, which was true.
These 9 ideas have helped me drive high-value sales, in addition to:
- building trust
- maximizing customer lifetime value
- generating a lot of referrals and repeat business
- making me love my job
1. Sell solutions, not products.
People can buy products anywhere without a salesperson.
But solving important problems combines your empathy, consultative skills, experience, and products.
That’s hard to shop.
Important problems relate to the customer’s long-term well-being. And they’re caused by the customer’s lack of knowledge. They’re things like:
- protecting my assets
- learning to be finance-savvy.
- making me confident about retirement
- ensuring that my family can get by without me.
Saving a few dollars is not an important problem–just a foot in the door.
2. Avoid pitchy language.
When people feel like they’re being sold to, it gives them something to push back on. Their shields go up and their communication goes down. Here are some examples of language that avoids making customers clam up.
No: “What you need is…”
Yes: “Would you be opposed to exploring…”
No: “We can beat that agent’s pricing and service…”
Yes: “It sounds like you’re completely satisfied with your current pricing and service…”
No: “Yeah, we might be a little more expensive, but we’re worth it, because…”
No: “We need to talk about…”
Yes: “This is going like a sales pitch, but have you ever looked at…”
3. Consult and get information.
Getting information can be more valuable than getting a sale.
A consultative discussion uncovers problems that you would have overlooked if you were pushing for a quick sale. Also, when you get to the bottom of things with a customer, they’ll think of other people who need that kind of help.
One eye-opening way to approach consultation is to ask about the future. What does it look like ideally? What future outcomes will make them glad they took action now? What will reduce their stress or worries in the interim?
Here’s one that has made me super-smart countless times:
“Suppose we get to the end of this project and you say, ‘wow, I’m so glad I got Matt to help with this!’ What would make you say that?”
The response tells me what I need to know to win for them.
4. Be genuinely curious.
People and their lives are complex. But if you’re genuinely curious, the way you ask questions and listen to answers will shift.
And the customer will feel it.
They’ll know that the conversation is about them, not you. (Not talking about being invasive here—more like “interested.”) Here are some examples:
- “I’m so glad you shared that with me. But I’m curious, what led you to make that decision?”
- “Wow, that’s amazing! Just curious–what made you believe you could achieve something like that?”
- “It sounds like you’ve got a clear plan. Out of curiosity, how will you know when you’ve succeeded? What will it look like?”
5. Take your time.
Don’t rush a high-quality, high-value sale.
Nobody likes hearing, “What do I need to do to get you into a car today?” It’s ok to have a second or third meeting to help a customer make a life-affecting decision.
And the trust you’ll build—wow!
As an aside, I work with agents who excel at meeting with customers. They often push off decision-making and signing until a second or third appointment. It’s a trust-building tactic. They want to make sure (a) they get the right solution and (b) the customers have had time to buy into it.
6. Transform intent.
Suppose the customer’s intent is to save some money, and you manage to do just that. What will happen in 18 months when someone else offers to save them some money?
You need to transform their intent.
They should value you for things such as:
- You listen.
- You’re empathetic.
- You understand their important problems.
- You’re providing solutions.
With their intent transformed, they won’t leave you for a few dollars.
7. Do the math.
What’s the value of a retained customer?
Say your average customer has $2,000 in average annual premium at a 10% commission. That’s $200 per year in revenue to your agency. If your approach causes retention to go from 5 years to 10, that means lifetime revenue jumps from $1,000 to $2,000.
How hard do you have to work to make an extra $1,000 in commissions?
8. Validate customer delight.
“Mrs. Jones, I know companies trying to sell you random insurance products every day. That’s not how we do business. I hope you feel like our conversation was valuable to you and we’ve focused on things that matter to you.”
Make sure the customer is delighted with your conversation and service before they leave. If they’re not delighted, find out why and fix it for this customer and all future customer conversations.
If they are delighted, take the next step…
9. Get introduced and/or get social proof.
“Thank you so much. I’m glad you feel that way. We love it when we can help. Who else do you know that needs someone to help them sort out important financial decisions? Because I’d love to be able to help them, too!”
You’ve already helped them. Why wouldn’t they want you to help the people they love and care about?
Family, friends, people at church, colleagues…they must know someone who needs a problem solver instead of a salesperson.
And the act of introducing you to someone solidifies their commitment to you as “their agent”. That’s where you want to be.