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The ‘no sale’ signals: Why prospects won’t buy from you

John Graham

Insurance agents are always alert for “buying signals,” those indications that the prospect is ready to say yes. When this happens, the savvy salesperson knows it’s time to stop talking and ask for the business.

But agents often miss the warning signs that all is not well. Mostly unspoken, these are the “no sale signals” prospects send when they’re dissatisfied with an agent. Here are 11 of them:

1. You don’t connect with me. You think you do with your small talk and feigned friendliness. It’s all an act, the same one you put on for every prospect. Your efforts at manipulation are transparent and belittling. You don’t give even one good reason to buy from you.

2. You’re only interested in making a sale. You may think that’s your job. It’s not. You haven’t figured out that your role as an agent or advisor is understanding what’s going on with your clients and prospects — what they’re thinking about, and what they want to accomplish. Do that, and the sale will take care of itself.

3. You decide what I should buy. Evidently, you don’t trust your clients and prospects to make their own buying decisions, so you do it for them. You don’t trust them enough to offer options. Do you think choices will confuse them — or worse, drive them away? Try helping your prospects examine the possibilities so they can narrow the choices to the point that they say, “This is what I want.”

4. You push the prospect to make a decision. You and your prospect aren’t on the same page when it comes to urgency. You prepare the proposal quickly, make the presentation, and get a positive response from the prospect. You make constant attempts to motivate the prospect, but nothing works. The prospect procrastinates. Later, you find out they bought from someone else. Pushing prospects doesn’t work.

5. You don’t answer the prospect’s questions. Many agents think they do, but they don’t. They’re so intent on what they want to get across, they don’t hear what the prospect is saying or how they’re acting. Even so, agents come away pleased with their performance and pat themselves on the back for the great job they did on the presentation — but they don’t get the business.

6. You make the prospect feel inadequate. You don’t do it deliberately, and you would be surprised and even shocked if prospects told you how you made them feel. It’s easy to assume prospects have a certain level of knowledge but many don’t — due to the rapid changes in every industry, including their own. It’s important to remember that you may be better informed than the prospect, no matter what you are selling. This makes it easy for a prospect to feel inadequate — and defensive. If the person is sensitive, this can harm your chances of moving forward.

7. You don’t stay in touch after the sale. You make a point of telling new clients that you will be checking in with them from time-to-time to see how they’re doing and to answer their questions. You know that’s what they want to hear from their agent. When you don’t do it, you let them down. They fell for your line, and you’ve played them for a sucker, or so they think — and that makes the bad juices flow. Then you wonder why you don’t get any more business or referrals from them.

8. You don’t follow through. You say you’ll get a prospect or client the requested information. Three weeks later, you haven’t done it. Then, he reminds you, and you make up an excuse or throw a colleague under the bus. The client comes to the conclusion that he can’t count on you. It’s time to realize that such experiences are indelible.

9. You try to impress prospects rather than help them. To put it bluntly, all too often, agents make themselves the “star” of the show. For some reason, perhaps it’s a lack of self confidence, agents feel it necessary to “sell” themselves to a prospect by peppering the conversation with success stories and name dropping. All the while, what prospects are looking for is help, and you miss the opportunity to make a sale.

10. You offer solutions that are either inappropriate or don’t solve the prospect’s problem. You do it deliberately, and you probably get away with it some of the time. But when clients figure out what you have done, your credibility is gone and so is your future with the client.

11. You don’t think like a client. One of the worst criticisms anyone can level at an agent is to say they don’t think like a client. Namely, they don’t take the time to discover what’s important to clients, what they don’t like, how they make their decisions, and what bothers or worries them. If there’s one thing clients want from agents and advisors, it is to be understood.

Sure, there are easy sales, but they’re the exception. Selling requires patience and sensitivity. Most sales balance precariously between yes and no. Most sales are hard to win. It’s unfortunate when agents make it even tougher for themselves by undermining their own success.

John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the creator of “Magnet Marketing,” and publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.” Contact him at [email protected], 617-774-9759 or johnrgraham.com.



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