Sales Management

A necessary evil. That’s how some people might describe insurance. A producer’s job, of course, is to turn this kind of misguided, industry-swiping thinking around, and make the whole experience of purchasing insurance pleasant — or at least something that’s perceived as being a little less than loathsome.

Unfortunately, insurance products can’t sell themselves. They just don’t have the same exciting allure of golf course homes, luxury cars, or dream vacations in Hawaii. Unlike salespeople in the real estate, auto, or travel industries, producers can’t easily entice buyers with pretty pictures or slick ads. Insurance products are invisible, and while they’re invaluable when needed, on a day-to-day basis they seem to offer clients no tangible benefits.

To a great extent, an agent’s ability to succeed in insurance sales depends on how well he or she mentally and emotionally connects with would-be clients. In order to interact effectively with others, a clear understanding of one’s own personality and inherent behavior must be gained, whether these are atypical of sales or not. Even if less than ideal, a producer’s unique traits can be utilized in sales as long as they are recognized for what they are and channeled properly.

Networkers

Producers who easily strike up conversations, relax around strangers and project a friendly demeanor often have a clear advantage over shy, quiet types when it comes to sales. Their charm and enthusiasm can be hard for anyone — including apprehensive prospects — to resist! These charismatic dynamos are not all highly assertive, though; many prefer to come across as more of a trusted friend than a self-serving business monger. They’re likeable and they know it. They despise arguments, debates or confrontations.

If you see yourself or a producer employee in this Networker personality group, know that social skills are the strengths. They will help open doors that might remain sealed to others! However, the challenge may be to overcome a fear of hurting others’ feelings or seeming too pushy. This fear, if not erased, can cause Networker producers to lose out on some sales. Their sales performance may be uneven more often than not.

Guard against being dictated to by a prospective client. Maintain the upper hand. Smile and stay upbeat, but insist on a buying commitment or at least an immediate follow-up appointment so the closing process moves forward and the sale hastens.

Be aware that very staid individuals could have some trouble relating to very vibrant, expressive producers. Stick with the bottom-line facts about policies and save the hype and humor for more outgoing prospects.

Administrators

Producers who stay attentive to details and assume the role of a cautious, understated consultant may find that clients appreciate their service-mindedness and candor. Does this sound like you or one of your sales people? If so, know that the strong points are an accommodating nature, a helpful disposition and the ability to spell out facts. Existing clients and prospects probably appreciate the Administrator producer’s thorough analysis of the policies they want. Make sure, though, that technical jargon is kept to a bare minimum.

An understated business approach might be perceived as a breath of fresh air by anyone who’s recently fallen prey to shark-like, fast-talking sales pros. Keep in mind, however, that a conscious effort to be more assertive might need to be made when making a sales presentation. Otherwise, some people might mistake a more laid-back attitude for one that lacks drive and determination.

Try to seem more enterprising and self-serving, especially around those who appear to be bold, demanding people. Most buyers prefer doing business with someone they can relate to, so reading the personality of a prospect and then becoming a bit of a chameleon helps. A producer’s basic personality can’t be changed, but his or her behavior can certainly be modified, and should be, if doing so will enhance the chances for sales success.

Intimidators

Producers who are opportunistic may seem naturally suited to sales scenarios. They typically possess the resilience and desire to win that’s needed to sell insurance successfully in today’s unpredictable, highly volatile market. They usually find it easy to pressure others into decisions and often keep score of their victories by counting their commission checks. If this sounds like you or someone on your staff, the strength here is forcefulness.

Other assets are a thick skin and an ability to apply pressure so others comply. Be careful, though, as too much of a good thing becomes a liability. Coming on too strong will seem intimidating and dictatorial. Nobody likes a condescending, cocky wise guy.

Temper boldness. Exhibit patience. A sense of humor can also soften an overly aggressive image. Make sure the Intimidator producer personality provides excellent follow-up service to clients.

Every producer exhibits his or her own response to other people and environments; it is, in fact, this uniqueness that opens the door to both opportunities and challenges. Once the ways to best capitalize on those opportunities and override those challenges are realized, success is maximized and it becomes much easier to stay way ahead in any sales game!

Carletta Neal is a senior sales consultant from Tampa, Fla. She specializes in personnel selection/management and helps clients increase employee productivity. Neal is also a popular speaker at industry seminars and tradeshows. Contact: 800-525-7117, ext. 1226, e-mail: cneal@omniagroup.com.