10 Tips for Closing Insurance Sales
As an insurance agent, closing sales is where the rubber meets the road. But using closing techniques that don’t alienate prospects is essential.
Consumers line up to buy the latest smartphones. But they often delay purchasing insurance for as long as possible. Their procrastination may be long-lived unless a skilled insurance agent motivates them to act.
“Closing the sale,” defined as persuading people to buy insurance, is an essential part of every agent’s job. Unless they educate customers on their risk (and how they can mitigate it), millions of Americans will go through life unprepared for loss.
Everyone agrees that the ability to close insurance sales is crucial. The question is how. One possibility is to use closing techniques, which are typically scripts that attempt to convince prospects to buy. Some are generations old, while others are more contemporary. In either case, closing techniques can bother younger buyers, who may prefer more of a problem-solving, collaborative sales approach. Using techniques and scripts on such buyers can alienate them, resulting in them buying insurance directly from company websites rather than from you.
The other approach to closing sales is to adopt continuous strategies or behaviors, not canned techniques. Two common strategies are “always be closing” and close through effective collaboration.
Only you can decide which approach is best for you: technique, strategy or a combination of both.
Classic Closing Techniques
Closing techniques presume that certain word combinations can resolve prospect objections to buying insurance. Here are four classic techniques you may want to consider trying with specific prospects.
Tip #1: The Assumptive Close. After completing your sales presentation, assume the person wants to buy the proposed insurance. You might say: “If everything still makes sense, shall we begin filling out the application?” Someone who is poised to buy may react positively to this close. Others who are less ready may object to it, feeling as if you’re “being pushy.” So be careful with whom you use this technique. It also tends to annoy younger buyers.
Tip #2: The Summary Close. This approach works well with complex insurance products that address multiple needs. How does it work? You review the main features and benefits of the coverage and then ask for the sale. For example: “As we just discussed, this policy mitigates your risk of (dying prematurely, living too long, getting sick, injuring a customer, etc.). It does this by offering the following features (tick off the main benefits). Are these still of interest? If so, shall we begin filling out the application?” With this technique, don’t rehash your entire sales track. Just focus on the benefits that seemed to resonate with the buyer. After you finish summarizing, transition to the close.
Tip #3: The Now or Never Close. This technique involves creating a sense of urgency about buying insurance while they qualify for it. Once they develop an illness, it often becomes cost-prohibitive or impossible to buy insurance. The same is valid for life and health insurance. By the time people’s need for coverage is acute (because of illness), they’ll have missed their opportunity to buy it.
Tip #4: The Soft Close. Ask prospects if they would buy insurance if it solved a major problem. For example, for life insurance, you might say: “If I can create a way for you to pay down family debt after you die while also creating an education fund for your child, would you be interested?” If the person says yes, then review how life insurance achieves the goals you mentioned. Then pivot to the close by saying: “Do you see how this policy accomplishes what you said you’d like to achieve? If so, shall we begin filling out the application?”
There are numerous classic techniques you can try. Conducting a Google search can uncover hundreds more. However, be careful: Classic techniques, by definition, are dated. Some prospects might find it “cheesy” for using them. So think twice before attempting a classic close on the wrong buyer.
Contemporary Closing Techniques
Contemporary closing techniques also rely on words or phrases to remove consumer objections. However, the terms are not as dated. Here are four newer methods you might want to try:
Tip #5: The Type of Person Close. If you sense a prospect is ambitious, you might say: “There are two types of people in the world. Those who like to improve their financial prospects and those who are happy to stay where they are. Which kind of person are you?” If the person says the ambitious type, explain how your policy will improve their financial standing. Then close by saying, “Based on the kind of person you are, does this policy improve your finances the way an ambitious person like you would prefer?” Although the preceding example uses “ambitious,” you could use any type that might appeal to your prospect. This close is most effective when someone is almost ready to buy, but not quite. It’s also useful when you’ve got an excellent psychological “read” on a person. If you’re not sure whom you’re dealing with, avoid using this closing technique.
Tip #6: The Either/Or Close. This has the benefit of simplicity for both you and the prospect. If you discussed two or three ways to solve a significant need, you’d close by asking which option they’d prefer. For example: “We discussed two main ways of buying the life insurance you need to protect your family: Solving for the maximum death benefit by purchasing term insurance. Or buying a lower death benefit, but with more of a savings component to begin saving for retirement. Would you prefer the former approach or the latter one?” Not only does this technique keep things simple, but it’s also assumptive in nature. It presumes that something must be done, either Option A or Option B.
Tip #7: The Value Close. Many agents today still sell based on price. However, price advantages are temporary. There will always be another agent capable of undercutting your quote. A better approach is to sell—and close—on the basis of value. By focusing on the big picture benefits received from the policy and linking them to the prospect’s objectives, you will be more likely to fend off price competition. To close based on value, say something like: “We’ve seen how this insurance policy does X, Y and Z . . . all things you’ve told me you want for you and your family. Does paying $XXX a month to achieve this excellent value still sound good to you? If so, should we complete the paperwork?”
Tip #8: The Non-Close Close. Doing an excellent job of uncovering needs through fact-finding, along with thoroughly discussing a policy’s benefits, often sets the stage for the non-close close. In other words, once you’ve identified multiple needs that insurance fulfills, review every product feature that solves them. At the end of your presentation, check to see your prospect understands how policy features relate to needs. Assuming you’ve done your job, say: “What do you think?” In most cases, prospects will close themselves because they clearly see how the policy will benefit them.
Two Closing Strategies
The prior eight tips are technique-driven, meaning they rely on word combinations that motivate prospects to decide. Closing strategies are an alternative to techniques. These are patterns of behavior that strengthen your relationship with prospects and that ultimately let you close by directly asking for the sale. Two of the main closing strategies are “Always Be Closing” and Collaborative Selling.
Tip #9: Always Be Closing. This strategy presumes that closing occurs not just at the end of your presentation but throughout it. It relies on frequent questions to assess whether the prospect understands your key points and is ready to move to the next stage. To “always be closing,” ask questions such as:
- “Does what I’m saying sound reasonable?” or “Does this makes sense?” work well as a general checking question.
- “What do you think about this benefit?” Use every time you present a significant feature.
- “Do you have any questions?” Ask this when someone’s energy level seems low or when you think you’ve been talking too much.
- “Is this what you’re looking for”? Use to determine how much more questioning and persuading is necessary. If the person agrees with your proposal so far, pivot to a closing question such as “Based on everything you’ve seen so far, does it make sense to complete the application?”
Tip #10: Collaborative Selling.
This selling approach encourages problem-solving and relationship building. Here are some of the main elements of collaborative selling:
- Speak less and listen more: The more listening you do, the better you’ll understand your prospects. Listening creates high levels of customer intimacy, which reduces the need for scripts and potentially manipulative techniques.
- Become a solution provider: Don’t talk mainly about product features. Focus more on how insurance solves people’s problems.
- Align your interests with those of your prospects: Never try to convince people to do something against their will. Instead, show them how to achieve what they need and want, not what you want.
- Take the long view of the relationship: Collaborative salespeople understand that making a sale now is essential. But they also realize that if they don’t, there will be many other closing opportunities in the future.
If you want to build a successful long-term career as an insurance agent, decide if you wish to focus on closing techniques, strategies or both. Then mitigate your liability risks by purchasing an affordable and comprehensive E&O policy from an insurance provider you can trust.
Having E&O insurance is an essential element of an insurance agent’s or broker’s long-term success. Learn more about the 360 Coverage Pros Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance program