What do prospects look for in an agent?

What qualities and characteristics do prospects look for in an agent? They know they need insurance, but what makes you stand out from the thousands of other licensed agents in your state? People like to be treated with kindness and respect, which starts with open and honest communication.

It is important to actively listen to your prospect’s questions and concerns. Don’t just listen for the sake of responding. In my time doing phone tech support, I learned a simple technique for active listening that’s surprisingly effective: the three A’s.

Acknowledge: Even if your prospect’s concerns seem banal or inconsequential, don’t just write them off as such. Acknowledge the Jones’ questions about getting prescription drug coverage for their Pomeranian and the Smiths’ concerns about Medicare coverage in Madagascar. They might seem silly to you, but your answers—or rather the grace with which you handle these questions—could be the determining factor in whether the Joneses or the Smiths end up buying from you. Acknowledge that their perceived problems are very real to them and proceed to ameliorating them.

Align: At the end of the day, even if you don’t end up selling a policy to the Joneses or the Smiths, you are an ally in navigating the complexities of our nation’s Medicare program and all the supplementary insurance that comes along with it. Aligning statements are usually along the lines of “I’ll be here to answer all your questions about underwriting, claims, rate changes, and anything else.”

Assure: This is probably the most important step, and if done correctly can seal the deal that you are the agent to work with. Assurance takes confidence. If you find it’s in short supply, fake it ‘til you make it, but don’t hesitate to double check information or ask clarifying questions. Prospects have likely never met an agent with all the answers, but by assuring and reassuring them, they will be confident in your expertise.

Keep in mind you’ll probably be coming back to these “A’s” throughout the sales process, but it’s a good idea to get them out succinctly at the beginning. Once you’ve acknowledged your prospect’s needs, positioned yourself as an ally, and assured them that you know what you’re doing, you can dig in to the details a little easier.

It’s a huge plus to have options when determining a potential clients specific health needs. Some agents are fine and dandy with one or two insurance products in their holsters. They are under the impression that too many options may confuse the prospect. Presenting 80 different Medicare supplement options might be overdoing it, but 5 or 6 is more manageable and helps build trust. People can be indecisive, but give your prospects the benefit of the doubt. They’re savvier than you think.

After presenting the variety of options in your portfolio, weigh the pros and cons of each product with your prospect. There is no perfect, a la carte policy that will match all of your prospect’s needs. What could be considered a plus for say, a Medicare Advantage policy (like $0 premiums), might be a red flag to another prospect who is concerned about paying out of pocket fees for hospital stays. What’s important is getting as close to what a prospect needs as possible. As always, assure them of their best possible options though they may be short of perfect.

When it’s time for your prospect to sign on the dotted line, they should be ready and willing. Don’t force their hand. Gain permission to continue at each step, making sure that your prospect understands the necessary details. It helps to summarize sections of the coverage as it comes up on the application to make sure your potential client understands the nuances. If all goes accordingly, your prospect should feel a level of trust and mutual respect. If they’re ready to sign, they have chosen you as their agent! Happy selling.

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