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Agent to Agent: Comparison/Contrast Selling and Buyer Facilitation

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

What’s the difference between a buyer facilitation process and selling? Buyer facilitation occurs when we help our prospects discover why they should do business with us. Selling is telling them why they should do business with us. The difference may appear subtle, but the two approaches couldn’t be more different, and facilitation is much more professional and powerful than selling.

The buyer facilitation process reflects natural laws which apply to all people:

  1. nothing is better or worse except by comparison
  2. the best idea anyone ever heard of was their own
  3. people love to buy and hate to be sold

These natural laws are universal and are without exception. When we adhere to these laws, our role as agents becomes facilitative and consultative. We help prospects buy from us by giving them clear choices based on comparisons that help them conclude they would be better served by doing business with us.

To understand why this approach is so effective, let’s explore the universal truths on which the iQ sales process is based.

Nothing is better or worse except by comparison.

I can’t tell you how many times I have purchased a product or service and felt supremely confident that I negotiated a great value, only to find out later that someone else I know got a better deal, and now I have buyer’s remorse. Has this ever happened to you? Of course it has, it happens to everyone. But had you not been able to compare your purchase to someone else’s, you would be in ignorant bliss.

Employing this comparison process to our prospects’ insurance program is an extremely powerful tool that will result in one of two outcomes.

  1. your prospects will feel underserved and experience buyer’s remorse and pain, which is the catalyst for change
  2. prospects will discover they have an excellent program, and you will discover that you cannot bring enough additional value to win against the incumbent

Either outcome is preferable to spending significant time and resources to win a prospect’s business when the chances of success with that particular prospect are actually quite low.

The three points of comparison for prospects are typically price, product and service. There is a fourth intangible that takes the form of relationship, and this is where the incumbent typically enjoys an advantage. If coverage and pricing are similar, then our competitive advantage lies in our ability to deliver better value through service and processes. These advantages must offer enough perceived value to trump incumbency and break the relationship.

You must engage your prospects in a process to assess what they currently receive from their insurance program and compare it to what you offer to uncover where they are being underserved. If this comparison process results in sufficient inequity in perceived value, there is reason to continue the conversation and perhaps form a relationship.

The best idea anyone ever heard of was their own.

Ever heard anyone say “Hey, I’ve got a terrible idea”? Of course not. If, after engaging in the comparison contrast process, your prospect realizes they are being underserved and comes to their own conclusion that they would be better off doing business with you, the decision to do business with you becomes their idea and no selling is required. The word “close” just became obsolete. When your prospect recognizes and verbalizes that what you offer is better by comparison, the only question left to ask is “What would you like to do now”?

People love to buy and hate being sold.

Enter a consumer products store and a person in a blue or red shirt will ask you “Can I help you find anything?” Your response—if you are like me—is “No thanks, I’m just looking.” But once you find the product you want, you’ll go looking for that salesperson to help you buy it. I love to buy, but I hate being pressured or sold. Today’s insurance buyer is much more sophisticated than the buyer of yesterday. They have many more choices, and because of technology they can do their own research. They compare and “shop” almost everything, and have access to information that makes them self-sufficient and much more savvy buyers.

Unfortunately, the sophistication of our sales processes has lagged well behind that of our new age buyer, who sees right through the traditional “Feature – Advantage – Benefit – Close” sales models that incorporate scripts, and overcoming objections to close business.

Transparency and honest business conversations tap into this universal law and are the key to appeal to today’s buyer. Agencies who engage their prospects in meaningful business conversations that showcase the value of a relationship with their firm have a significant advantage over those who employ traditional sales tactics. True business partners understand the needs of their clients and deliver proactive services to satisfy these needs. This appeals to those who buy value vs. price and creates the professional relationships we desire.

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.

PIA and iQ Consulting have recently created a sales-focused, e-learning program available to insurance professionals in CO, DE, IL, MA, PA, RI, SD and WV. Join us on March 18 as we coach agents to successfully use the Comparison/Contrast Buyer Facilitation process. To learn more about the PIA Agent Success Acceleration Program and to register for the next webinar, please visit