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Locking up the sale: What to do after the ‘first yes’

Insurance Forums Staff

The difference between taking an application that consumes about four hours of administrative work and never generates a penny’s worth of income, and making a sale that becomes a placed and paid policy is what you do AFTER the prospect says they will take a policy from you. This is known as the “FIRST YES” and does NOT mean that you have a solid sale.

Human nature allows some people to say yes when they don’t think they have to make a commitment. Make no mistake: Signing an application is NOT seen by most people as a commitment. Giving you a check AND their word that they want to do what they have just done IS seen by them as a commitment.

The difference between an Order Taker and a Closer is how you handle the transaction AFTER you hear the first yes.

The first thing you can do to get a true indication of whether your prospect is comfortable with their purchase decision is to ask them:

“Do you think (the program they have chosen) is the RIGHT plan for your needs?”

If you hear ANY hesitation at this point, you do NOT have a solid sale and you should ask them if they have any doubts or questions about their choice. Of course, you might get an answer that you don’t want to hear; but at least you will be talking to them while your message is fresh in their minds and there are no other whispers in their ear. Asking the hard question(s) NOW will give you the best chance you will ever have to solidify your sale. The return is worth the risk.


Collect payment with the app

Once you have crossed that bridge, the next step in a getting a solid commitment is INSISTING ON PAYMENT WITH THE APPLICATION*.

If you do NOT take money with an application you have not yet really made a sale. Unless your company prohibits you from taking prepayment for applications with the underwriting declarations made by this applicant, you should be taking money. Even if you believe there is a good chance of a rating, you should make an educated (education takes time. Make the investment into your career) guess as to what additional premium will be required, tell the prospect that up front, and take the money. This shows a commitment on their part and, as an added bonus, when you have to place the policy, you will have most or all of the extra premium issue resolved.

If you ask for two months’ premium with a monthly electronic transfer/bank draft case you are receiving a stronger commitment from the prospect, and the chances are very slim that their account will be drafted before you can notify them of the withdrawal date.

If you hear ANY form of objection from the applicant about making payment with the application you must assume that you DO NOT HAVE A SOLID SALE, and should once again qualify their interest and then close once more.

Leaving the house without payment reduces your chance of earning a commission on that application by about 80%.

Do not go any further until you have completed the application.

• SEE ‘PART I’ ALSO: How to overcome an objection and close the sale on the first visit

• Thoughts about this approach to locking up the sale? Please share them on this new thread: New Article: Locking Up the Sale

Ask them to appraise your performance

The next step is to ask your prospect for their opinion as to the job you did for them. The question is simple:

“Mr.& Mrs. __________, on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how would you rate the job I did for you today?”

If they give you a 10, thank them and ask why they rated you so high. If they give you a seven, eight, or nine, thank them and ask why they rated you so high. After you hear their explanation, ask what you could do to earn a 10.

LISTEN to the answer and respect what you hear. Just because you disagree with their opinion does not mean it is wrong. If you listen to the answers you receive, you may be able to correct mistakes you are makingBEFORE they cost you any more lost sales.

If they give you ANY other answer, thank them for being so honest and ask what you could do to earn a 10.LISTEN as instructed above.


Explanations and referrals

After you have finished the evaluation, explain to your new client that what they have purchased is a LIFE INSURANCE or ANNUITY policy and that you are a LICENSED LIFE INSURANCE AGENT. If your new clients seem surprised at this, then you have done a great job.

The public has the opinion that life insurance agents are pushy and try to spend all night in your house selling them something they don’t want or can’t afford. Your new clients obviously did not get this impression of you or you wouldn’t be holding their check at this point. If they did not see you as their misconception of a life insurance agent, then you have done an excellent job.

After you have given them a moment to allow this to sink in, TAKE NO MORE THAN 60 SECONDS TO EXPLAIN WHAT OTHER SERVICES YOU OFFER. Ask them if they would like to set a time for you to visit them again to discuss the other services you offer. If they clearly indicate (via the spoken word or body language) that they would, set an appointment. Policy delivery is an excellent time.

If you do not receive this positive response, DO NOT push the issue any further and make the next approach at a different time. Don’t blow the sale you have in your pocket by trying for something they don’t want. Be patient, if they want more, they will say yes when the time is right.

This is probably the best time to ask for a referral. Your new client has told you their opinion of your work and is now aware that you offer a broad range of services, and you can ask them if they would consider referring you to anyone that needs either life insurance or an annuity.


Offer to tear up the app

At this point you should have all of your paperwork completed and in your hand. The last thing you are going to do is hold up the application and offer to tear it up before you place it in your briefcase.

“If you have any doubts about what we have done tonight, let me know and I will tear up the paperwork right now.”

As you are saying this you can act like you are getting ready to tear everything up. Don’t act buffoonish; present yourself as sincere and genuinely concerned about their desires. If they don’t immediately reassure you that they are satisfied, you have not made a solid sale and should ask what reservations they have, deal with them, and close again. The extra five or 10 minutes will be well spent and could save you time later, or even this sale.

If you complete all of these steps properly, a policy that is issued as applied for and yet not placed will become an extinct species.

• Thoughts about this approach to locking up the sale? Please share them on this new thread: New Article: Locking Up the Sale

*NOTE: This assumes the product you are offering allows payment to be made with an application for that applicant’s circumstances. I have written many cases where there was a question as to whether I could take payment with the app and I ALWAYS TOOK PAYMENT.

If, after checking with the underwriter I found that the payment would be returned to the applicant pending an underwriting offer I would return the payment in person or by letter explaining that company’s policy regarding THEIR SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES. This display of integrity and dedicated customer service enhances their impression of the customer service they will receive from you.

Eric Osman is a former award-winning general agent and founder of a life agency that developed millions of dollars in premium annually. Mr. Osman has acted as consultant to life agents in closing difficult or complicated cases and taught the art of developing clients and closing sales.

• MORE FROM ERIC OSMAN: How to overcome an objection and close the sale on the first visit



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