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Your job as a sales professional is to help your prospects understand their need and to feel the pain that can result from avoiding a solution.


According to life insurance industry studies, 36% of clients don’t recognize they have a need.  You may wonder how that is possible.  Several years ago I made a sales call on a prospect that was losing $10,000 a month in revenue due to a problem with their invoicing system. We presented a solution that would not only stop the loss, but would actually increase monthly revenues by getting payments in a timelier manner. So what did the prospect do? Nothing! Why would they choose not to invest in a solution that would both solve their problem, and improve their revenue? Did they not believe we were telling the truth? Did they have other priorities? I don’t think so. Yet, when prospects are facing a problem and they have the opportunity to resolve it, why don’t they take action? I believe there are 3 reasons why a prospect will not take action.

1. The pain is tolerable.   Yes the pain might be tolerable, but it’s your job to show them what the long term impact can be. If you were 50 pounds overweight and your doctor tells you have to lose weight, why don’t you? Because you’re not currently in pain. It’s the chest pains that come later that cause you to take immediate action. As sales professionals you need to show the prospect tangible and predictable evidence of not taking action. You need to take them into the future, engaging their imagination.  Take them to the emotional side of their brain where action is taken. People don’t buy on logic, they buy on emotion! When people buy life insurance they are buying it to protect their family from future disaster so you must take them to that expected future. Focusing on the current situation doesn’t provide them with a good reason to invest because there is no immediate need.

2. Ask don’t tell. Prospects like to talk so give them that opportunity by asking questions that gets them talking about what is important to them. You retain 70% of what you say, but only 20% of what you hear. If you are in a pure presentation mode, you lose 2/3 of the impact because they aren’t talking. When the prospect is speaking, you’re learning vital information that helps you both build trust and lead the conversation to its’ intended conclusion – a sale.  When we ask questions that heighten the problem or situation that the prospect is in, they will hear in their own words why it’s necessary to take action. Naturally they are more emotionally connected to their own fears and concerns than the various issues that you might introduce.

3. Priorities. One of the best open-ended questions you can ask is “where is this problem/solution on your list of priorities?”  Their response will give you clues about the timing and budget for a decision favoring your solution.  If it’s truly a priority for them, they will be much more motivated to take action. If they seem to hesitate, ask them why; is there a concern that you haven’t addressed; did you misunderstand the need?  You’ll need to understand that concern before you can truly understand their priorities.

Your job as a sales professional is to help your prospects understand their need and to feel the pain that can result from avoiding a solution.  In order to help them own their need, you’ll need to:

• Engage your prospects in the future – the pain may be tolerable now, but what about later?

• Ask questions instead of spewing your pitch – listen carefully for clues to their most vital needs

• Help them to understand their priorities – the closer you are to their biggest need, the more likely they are to buy

Taking these steps helps you to understand your clients’ needs which then helps them to comprehend the risks and rewards of action.

About the author

Stu Schlackman

Stu Schlackman

Stu has spent over 25 years in sales management, sales and sales training with…

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