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Agent to Agent: The Language of Sales

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

As agents and producers, the ability to communicate effectively is critical to our success. Studies show that only 30% of the information we receive in the context of a conversation is verbal. Almost 67% is non-verbal. Humans are an extremely visual species. Be aware of the huge role that body language plays during communication. One of the keys to effective communication is understanding how others perceive us.

There are 4 distinct personality styles, and some are similar and others are diametrically opposed to one another. Conflicting personality styles create misunderstanding and can lead to mistrust. Personality styles also impact how people like to buy, what I call their “Buying Style.” As sales professionals, our job is to learn to identify different personality styles, understand their differences and nuances. and then learn to adjust your approach to appeal to their buying style. Part of this process is education, and part is observation. Anyone can sell to someone who shares the same personality and buying style. As the old adage goes, the easiest person to sell is a salesperson…that’s because most salespeople share similar personality traits. The question is; can you sell to the other 75% of insurance buyers? If you cannot, you are potentially missing a big piece of the pie.

The very best in our business have learned skills that help them appeal to a wide cross section of the population. We call them chameleons because they seem to change their spots or stripes at will to get along with everyone. The truth is they have a sincere desire to “connect” and consciously or subconsciously use effective communication strategies that improve their ability to build rapport, create trust, confidence and allow them to influence others.

As agents, our role is that of trusted advisors. We are consultants, and our perceived value is what we offer our clients in the form of guidance and advice. Our ability to assess exposures and manage risk as well as assess client issues and provide services that problem solve is what brings value. It’s our knowledge and capacity that is the key. Insurance is intangible, and the insurance product is a commodity. The only sale that counts is the relationship sale. Selling at this level requires mastery of several communication skill sets:

  • Study: Learning the different personality styles, buying styles and motivations.
  • Insight questions: Asking intelligent insightful questions that require serious thought and open communication on then part of prospects.
  • Observation: The ability to multitask and not just hear what prospects and clients are saying but to observe their behavior and make mental notes.
  • Active listening: The process of asking questions to ensure clear understanding is achieved.
  • Mirroring: Changing tone, pace, cadence, vocabulary and physical gestures to build rapport.
  • Verbal communication: Mastering questions, listening skills and succinct persuasive statements to build confidence.
  • Written communication: Mastering written communication to save time and improve results.
  • Transparency: Employing honest business conversation to build trust.

In addition to these skill sets, the very best in the business have the ability to use self-effacing humor to appear humble, and consider humor as one of the most important tools they have to build strong relationships. One million-dollar producer I work with believes that the amount of laughter and good-natured ribbing that occurs with prospects is directly proportionate to his success. “They more they laugh with me, the more they like me and the more they buy from me.”

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 the language of sales? Join PIA and iQ Consulting for our July 15th 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, MA, 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,  The Language of Sales, to be held on July 15th, please visit

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