Six little secrets to closing nine out of 10 sales

By Lew Nason

Insurance Pro Shop

When I was involved full-time in personal life insurance sales in the 80s, I was consistently closing about nine out of every 10 people with whom I sat down and my lapse rate was less than 5 percent. It wasn't because I was a high-pressure salesman and it wasn't because I knew all the latest 101 closing techniques. In fact, my normal closing question was, "What do you think?"

The reason for my success in closing sales wasn't because I was a natural born salesman. I wasn't very outgoing, either. In fact, I was very shy and I didn't have the gift of gab. During most of my first year, I was so nervous I used to puke before going out on a sales call.

Although I didn't realize it at the time, the reason I was able to close nine out of 10 sales was because I had stumbled upon these four little secrets:
    1. I was always in front of the "right" prospects. It's actually extremely easy to close nine out of 10 sales if you focus on getting in front of the right people. Too many agents use the shotgun approach and set appointments with anyone who fogs a mirror. Success in sales is all about your marketing. All of your marketing should be about solving a specific, immediate problem for a specific group of people. At the time, my marketing message was all about helping middle-income families to maximize their eligibility to qualify for free financial aid for college.

    2. I asked a lot of questions and listened to what the prospect wanted. You have to conduct a thorough fact-finding interview with everyone with whom you sit down. You need to get the prospect emotionally involved in solving their problem(s) so they'll want to take action. People don't buy what they need; they buy what they want. As an example, I know I need to lose weight, however, until I want to lose weight, I doubt I will. Being shy and not having the gift of gab, it was much easier for me to ask questions, sit back and listen to their answers and then ask more questions.

    3. I always looked for the easiest way to make the prospect a client. If you want to start closing nine out of 10 sales, you must determine the easiest way to make your prospect a client. Ask yourself: What's the first and easiest problem I can solve for them? Don't try to solve all of their problems right then, it's generally too overwhelming for the prospect. You can and will make more sales later. Remember, it's easier to sell to a client (someone who has already bought from you) than it is to sell a prospect, so make them a client first. In my first year I didn't know much, so I was forced to keep it really simple. It worked, so I've kept it simple ever since.

    4. I used a simple two-page summary presentation. If you want to close with nine out of 10 people, then make it easy for them to buy from you. Use a simple two- or three-page presentation that shows them in "black and white" where they will be in 10, 20 or 30 years if they keep doing what they are presently doing. Then you'll want to compare it to where they will be if they follow your recommendations. And, you must help them to find the money. Because I was so shy and not a talker, I had trouble explaining why they should follow my recommendations. The simple two-page presentation gave me a track to run on. It made it easy for me to explain, and best of all, it made it simple for the prospect to understand. It made the presentation a common sense close.
By using the above techniques throughout the past 27 years, I've helped many agents go from closing one out of three sales to consistently closing nine out of 10. But, it's only the agents who really want to learn and are not just looking for a magic key or quick fix.

Here are two more little secrets that I have learned:
    1. As Zig Ziglar said, "If you write and speak at a sixth grade level, then even the college professor will understand you."

    2. Be yourself. Don't try to impress people, and don't use technical jargon. If you confuse people or if they feel intimidated, it's not likely they'll buy from you.
Remember: Put the above six simple techniques into practice and you too can be closing nine out of 10 people with whom you sit down.

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