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A GPS for Sales Success

Your prospect can tell you exactly how you can get to your destination—a closed sale.

By Mel Schlesinger

Let me introduce you to a concept I refer to as a Global Positioning System for sales success. You probably use a GPS when driving to a new location. You may have one in your car or you may use your cell phone as a GPS.

To use a GPS, you must first know where you want to go, put in the address and then listen to the GPS as it provides turn-by-turn directions. In the world of sales your GPS is actually your prospect. If you know where you want to go (a closed sale), you can actually “program” your prospect to tell you exactly what you need to do to get there.

Know your destination
In simple terms, your destination is a closed sale. Think of it this way: You are headed to a friend’s house. The friend lives in the northeast section of your city but there is no way to program that into your GPS. But if you know the cross streets, you can program that information into your GPS and it will provide turn-by-turn directions to that intersection.

Unfortunately, that may get you close but without an address, you will have to walk down the street and hope that you recognize your friend’s house. In the world of sales, this is akin to trying to sell a life insurance policy by telling the prospect all the reasons that he should buy one. In this scenario, you list all the features and benefits of life insurance and hope that these will resonate with your prospect. It may get you close but you will have to respond to objections such as “I want to think about it” to get the sale.

To accurately get to your destination with a GPS, you must have an up-to-date program with the most recent street additions and know the specific address that you want to reach. In sales, a specific destination is only present when the appointment is based on a specific idea, such as how to keep the business running in the event the owner suffers a serious long-term accident or illness.

If the prospect agreed to an appointment based on this idea, you have a specific destination—the sale of an overhead expense disability income insurance policy. The quality of the questions that you ask the prospect will determine how up-to-date your GPS is. The better your questions, the better the directions you will get from your prospect.

Programming your GPS
It is possible to get your prospect to tell you exactly what you need to do to get the sale. By asking good questions in the right way and in the right order, your prospect will be more than happy to give you directions to a closed sale.

That said, great questions are not about open or closed questions. It doesn’t matter if you ask open-ended or closed-ended questions. A good interview requires the skillful use of both types of questions. An open-ended question may indeed get the prospect talking but may not provide any meaningful information.

An example: “Mr. Prospect, can you tell me a little about the plans that you and your partner have in place to deal with the possible long-term disability or death of one of you?” This question may get the prospect talking about their lack of a funded buy-sell agreement but that does not tell you if he even cares about this issue.

On the other hand, I could ask a very closed-ended question such as: “If you or your partner were to suffer a long-term disability or premature death, would it be important to you that there are funds available to buy each other out?” Regardless of whether the prospect says yes or no, I obtain important information that becomes the foundation for my next question.

Now ask: “Can you tell me a little about why that is important?” The response here would be meaningful to my ultimate sales presentation. Two things begin to happen with that question. First, the prospect starts to internalize the value of creating a plan to deal with this issue. As he responds, he becomes emotionally invested in finding a solution and all sales require the emotional involvement of the prospect.

The second and most important aspect of the prospect’s answer is that it is his answer, not yours. Had you told him why he needs to fund a buy-sell agreement, he would have acknowledged the validity of what you said but there would have been a nagging doubt. Your prospect knows that you are there to sell him insurance, so anything you say is questionable. When your prospect says it on his own, it then becomes unquestionable.

If you ask the right questions in the right way and in the right order, your prospect will tell you exactly what to present to get the sale. When you can return with a presentation that is linked to your prospect’s answers, the only close you need is: “Mr. Prospect, what do you think that you should do next?” In response, your prospect should say: “Well, obviously I should buy your solution.”

With more than 30 years of commission-only sales experience, 23 in the insurance business, Mel Schlesinger understands what it takes to build a successful life and health insurance business. Contact him at 336-774-3075 or at

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