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Agent to Agent: Insight Questions

David Connolly Photo - 200x250px.jpgBy David Connolly
Founder, iQ Consulting

There are two kinds of natural laws which rule our universe. The first group is represented and explained through physics, mathematics, chemistry, and other disciplines. These include Einstein’s theory of relativity, Kepler’s laws on planetary motion, and Newton’s laws on gravitation. The second group is more spiritual or enigmatic and attempts to explain the mysteries of life, and the human condition. These include the laws of attraction, vibration, gestation, and karma. The first group is documented scientific and proven, and the second is unexplained and unproven, but not without merit.

I have my own set of laws that I accumulated and refined over the years to help me understand what influences human behavior. I call them Universal Truths: When considering these natural laws, my pragmatic mindset is hardwired to ask, “How does this apply to sales?" In this article I want share some universal truths about the power of insightful and intelligent questions as they apply to the sales process.

The Truth About Questions

Questions are the fastest way to build rapport: Everyone’s favorite subject is himself or herself. Experienced producers understand this fact of human nature and use it to their advantage. Always begin a new business interview by asking open-ended questions about the prospect, their history, and their business. Direct the topic of conversations with questions, but allow the prospects to control the conversation by talking about themselves. This does several things. First, it relieves any tension in an initial appointment by making the first few minutes conversational. Next, it gives you time to mirror and match your prospect effectively to build rapport. Last, it immediately takes the focus of the conversation off you, and puts it on the prospect where it belongs.

Questions require prospects to reveal their personality: Just about every personality profile system I have seen groups human personality types into four distinct styles or a combination of these four styles. It is very difficult to determine the personality style of the person sitting across from you by talking. The only way to learn more about your prospect and who they are is by asking questions, listening, and studying them as they respond. Once you have accurately assessed the personality style of your prospect, you can begin to change your style and approach to become simpatico with your prospect or client, greatly improving your chances of hitting it off.

Intelligent questions engage your prospect: I am sometimes amazed at the lack of ingenuity, care, and creativity displayed in questions I hear on new business interviews. Prospects often hear the same tired old questions they have heard from every insurance schlep who came before you. Differentiate yourself by the quality of the questions you ask. Each set of questions you ask should have a specific purpose: building rapport, establishing comparisons, determining needs, consultation, qualification, etc. Craft your questions based upon research done about your prospect and their industry in preparation for your meeting.

Intelligent questions get your prospects to think before they respond, unlike the majority of predictable insurance related questions asked by most producers. When was the last time you asked a prospect a question, and got a response like, “Wow, that's a good question” or “I never thought about it." Think about your questions, and prepare and rehearse before you ask them.

Questions control the conversation: Do you like being in control? Ask many questions and you will control the conversation.

Example: “Where did you grow up? What is your favorite sport? Are you married? Do you like ice cream?"

I just took you from your youth, to sports, to your marital status, and whether or not you like ice cream in 3 seconds by asking the questions. Who is in control? The person asking the questions and listening to responses to those questions is in control. They can choose to listen to the responses and participate, or they can choose to interrupt, change the subject, or ignore the person talking. That is control.

Questions are required to qualify: One of the major qualities shared by all high performance agents, is that they ask checking questions that require value judgments and decisions on the part of their prospect before they will move on to the next step in the sales process. Often these are not easy questions, but they ask them anyway. Because they know that by asking difficult and sometimes challenging questions, they will qualify their prospects before they waste time on applications, gathering information and developing proposals only to get rolled by the incumbent.

You will write more business by asking intelligent questions: Whenever possible, people prefer to do business with intelligent, professional insurance agents. Your ability to construct and deliver well-timed and properly articulated questions will distinguish you from most agents. Intelligent questions are proof of your knowledge and understanding of their business, and your knowledge and understanding of your business. They are also evidence of a healthy level of curiosity, which is present in all professionals.

David Connolly is the founder of iQ Consulting. They work with the top 100 agencies and brokers in the US and Canada and have trained thousands of insurance professionals.

Want to learn more about Insight Questions? Join PIA and iQ Consulting for our August 19h webinar on this topic or purchase the archived recording if the webinar has already taken place. This webinar is presented as part of the PIA Agent Success Acceleration Program. PIA and iQ Consulting have created this sales-focused, e-learning program for insurance professionals in CO, DE, IL, LA, MA, ME, PA, RI, SD and WV and a growing number of states.

To learn more about the PIA Agent Success Acceleration Program and to register for the next webinar, Insight Questions, to be held on August 19th, please visit www.piaasap.com.

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