Don’t Self-Destruct at an Initial Meeting With a New Insurance Prospect
Let’s start with a couple of clichés… You never get a second chance to make a first impression… and… The No. 1 rule of selling is not to make a bad first impression. As obvious as these common sense statements are, they’re essential to the close. Otherwise, you are fighting an uphill battle from the moment you and your prospect meet. Here are eight simple ways to avoid sales self-destruction.
1. Don’t over-read a prospect’s personality. Sales gurus commonly encourage sellers to align their sales style with the personality of the buyer. But in reality, it’s pretty hard to get a behavioral bead on someone you just met. So, don’t instantly assume someone fits into a pre-determined mold and skew your first meeting entirely in that direction. Instead, be yourself and make any needed adjustments later on, as your business relationship progresses.
2. Don’t try to be cool. Insurance buyers don’t expect the people who sell to them to be über-cool. Some of us are, of course, but in general, prospect expectations are pretty low. Use this to your advantage. Exceed the person’s expectations by striking a comfortable middle ground: not too formal and not too trendy.
3. Don’t say something you’ll regret. An easy way to make a bad first impression is say something offensive. So don’t talk about politics or religion, or ask personal questions before you even know the buyer. Instead, use a safe icebreaker to get the person to start talking, such as, “How did you get started in this business?” or for personal lines prospects, “What was your first car?”
4. Don’t drive a flashy vehicle. Just like overdressing for a meeting, showing up for the first time in swanky wheels makes a bad first impression, especially if yours are a lot nicer than your prospect’s. To some insurance buyers, if you are motoring around in a high-priced car, it indicates you are over-profiting from your clients. This isn’t the message you want to deliver, especially in a down economy. So if your car is too sweet for a certain appointment, borrow a lesser vehicle – just for the meeting.
5. Don’t stay in your car. Don’t make a prospect wait for you to exit your vehicle while you are in their parking lot. If you are talking on your cell phone or checking e-mails instead of heading directly in, this hesitation suggests that meeting your prospect isn’t all that important to you.
6. Don’t check the time. Remember President G.H.W. Bush (the first one) when he debated Bill Clinton at a town meeting? He looked at his watch on national TV, giving some viewers the impression that he had somewhere better to be. This simple move cost him votes. So, don’t glance at your watch (or phone) while meeting with a new prospect, or you might give off the same vibe as President Bush. He lost the 1992 election.
7. Don’t forget to quiet your phone. You expect prospects to give you their full attention, without interruption, so do the same in return. Set your cell phone to vibrate and turn off the new e-mail chime, to avoid distractions while you’re in the midst of your first meeting. And if you do forget, don’t even think of taking the call or e-mail.
8. Don’t offer a bad business card. Even in this era of social marketing, producers are expected to carry old school business cards. Handing out dog-eared ones that you dig out of your wallet makes a sad first impression. And offering one you printed yourself reveals that you aren’t confident enough in your abilities to buy real ones. Don’t hesitate to purchase quality printed cards. They’re well worth the investment.