One of my clients, “Roger,” wanted help in crafting his introductory conversation with a new prospect. For experienced producers, this might seem like a very simple issue. In fact, it’s not, and here’s why:
First, I asked Roger to describe his essential product offering. What are the three or four basic issues he typically helps his client solve? This proved difficult because Roger could not readily describe the fundamental problems he works on. After some investigation, we uncovered his specialties: life insurance planning, income continuation planning, retirement planning and education funding. (Notice what is not listed: specific product descriptions such as whole life or term insurance, buy and sell agreements, deferred compensation, etc.)
Roger then asked, “What do I do with this short list?” The answer: Simply ask questions of a prospect about each of these basic issues. Questioning is fundamental, as the purpose of the initial interview is to discover whether the prospect needs what you have offer. (Note the word “discover.”) You are not there to educate, persuade or convince the prospect to buy. By asking the right questions, you will learn from the prospect what he needs from you.
Roger then crafted a simple initial interview questionnaire with six to eight questions to give to his prospect. In five to seven minutes, the prospect should be able to answer all the questions.
After Roger started using his initial interview questionnaire, he found that it was much easier to qualify prospects. He was able to know exactly what his prospects were looking for and could easily explain his services.
Roger also began using his questionnaire with prospects who were not within easy driving distance. He found that a telephone interview was just as effective as an in-person one and saved him loads of time and effort.
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Nick Ray is a business coach who specializes in working with financial services professionals. He is the author of There’s More to Selling than Making the Sale as well as a workbook on target marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.