Leading to Policies: Building Rapport

Not everyone is cut out to be an insurance agent. The successful ones are caring, responsive, organized and detail-oriented. Even those that aren’t as successful probably share at least some of those traits. So generally speaking, customers who think their agents will fit a certain “type” are probably going to have their expectations met.

Agents, on the other hand, have a very different challenge. It’s difficult to generalize about insurance consumers because all types of adults need insurance—all ages, ethnic groups, genders, political persuasions and religious backgrounds; happy people and lonely people; introverts and extroverts; dismal drivers and meticulous homeowners.

When consumers shop for insurance, price can be a big factor in their decisions. But they are also buying a relationship—either with you or with another agent. Your job is to make them feel most comfortable choosing you. That will only happen if you build rapport.

Listen to the Unsaid
Being a good listener, especially early on, is one of the most important ways to build rapport. People reveal lots of clues about themselves when they are encouraged to talk, whether it’s vocally through an accent, verbally through their choice of topics or emotionally through their demeanor. Good listening goes beyond hearing; you’re not just taking in words, you’re taking in personality, education level and a host of other qualities. Is he stressed? Is she highly intelligent? Are they most concerned with safety or money?

If you focus on listening, you will glean lots of unspoken information that you can use to customize a sales pitch. Begin with open-ended questions to get the conversation started. “How can I help make your life easier?” or “I understand you’re looking for insurance?” will yield a different response than, “So you want to insure your 2013 Corolla?”

Find Your Inner Chameleon
Take the temperature of your client and see if you can match it. You probably know what it’s like to feel worried or busy or confused. Maybe you have a child the same age or you root for the same sports team. Figure out how you can relate and make that point of connection known. Just be careful not to make the conversation about you.

If you listen intently, you’ll notice areas of difference, too. Maybe you’d never choose to buy a home in a specific neighborhood, vote for Candidate X or let your child ride a dirt bike. Leave those topics aside. What you choose not to talk about can be as important as what you do.

Implement Your Knowledge
After you’ve gotten a picture of the person you’re interacting with, you can craft an intentional strategy to move your relationship forward effectively. Think about everything from how you address the person—first name or Mr./Ms.—to how and how often you contact them. A busy person will probably want less contact, a retiree may want more. Or not.

If you’re not sure, ask. You can clarify the big picture and the small. What is their biggest insurance concern? Do they prefer phone or email? Have they had positive or negative experiences with an insurance agent or company in the past? Again, listen for deeper messages in their responses.

The more flexible you can be with your service delivery, the better. People feel it when you put in effort to meet them on their terms. It engenders trust, which then creates the kind of relationship that will make them want to continue doing business with you. This is why rapport is so important.

This is the last of a three-part series about working leads. Click here to read about how different types of leads should be worked and here to find out how texting can be an effective way to make your initial contact. For more information about the great leads available from Hometown Quotes, go here, let us know what types of leads you’re looking for, and one of our experienced regional directors will contact you shortly.

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