Do you ever think about how the language you use influences your sales?
A lot of folks think you’re either born with persuasive communication skills or you’re not.
I know some folks are naturally better at sales conversation than others but I believe sales is a science that anyone can continue to improve and refine.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to observe hundreds of insurance salespeople in action and wanted to share 17 insurance sales language tricks that I’ve witnessed in use by some of the best insurance salespeople on the planet.
1) Use the prospects name as much as possible
Dale Carnegie said it best in “How To Win Friends and Influence People” when he wrote “there is no sweeter sound to any person’s ear than the sound of their own name”. People love to hear their name and it strengthens the connection between the prospect and you. I can honestly say that it makes me feel more comfortable when I’m on the phone with my bank and the representative calls me Mr. Carroll. I know it’s on the screen in front of him but I like it. Don’t you?
2) Ask “Do you want?” instead of “Do you have?”
If you’re giving someone a quote, ask assumptive questions about the policy they want from you instead of asking about what they have with their current policy.
Don’t Say: Do you have collision coverage?
Say: Do you want collision coverage?
Don’t Say: Do you have a clean driving record?
Say: Will I be able to give you a clean driving discount on this new policy?
I know it’s a subtle difference but the idea is to get it in the clients head that they’ve already come on board with you. They won’t notice the difference as you’re using this assumptive language, but it will be easier for you when you ask how they want to pay for the policy.
3) Deliver Costs in Monthly Amounts and Savings in Annual Amounts
In order to minimize the costs use monthly amounts and to amplify the savings use an annual amount. Of course this works for premium amounts and discount savings but it can be extended to so much more. If you’re upselling higher limits of liability use the monthly increased cost number. If you’re trying to get a client to pay in full to save a bit of money (and help your retention) use the annual savings – even if it’s a 6 month policy!
You can even take this idea to the extreme and dig all the way down to the daily costs, or the amount of money saved over the next 10 years!
4) Ask permission to ask questions
Maybe it’s just polite… maybe it gets prospects into the habit of saying yes to you, maybe it’s something else. I don’t know exactly, but beginning your questioning by asking for permission to ask questions can make things a lot easier down the line.
Once your prospect agrees to answer your questions, it’s less likely they’ll challenge you when you ask how much their current policy costs, whether they’re happy with their current agent, or what’s important to them in an insurance agency. Try it out.
5) Don’t say, “Do you understand?”
“Do you understand what I’m explaining” is one of the worst questions you can ask someone during the sales process because they’re forced to say “yes” otherwise they’ll look stupid. You may as well say, “Do you understand? Or are you a complete moron paying thousands of dollars for something you doesn’t understand?”
Try something instead like “What questions do you have about how this coverage works?” or “I’m listening to myself speak, and I don’t think I explained that very well. What questions does it bring to mind?” Or do the complete opposite and say something like this, “I’m sure you understand how uninsured motorist coverage works, but I’d like to explain it in more detail, just to make sure we’re on the same page”
6) Say “Agreement” or “Policy” instead of “Contract”
Agreements are things I have with my wife. (sometimes) Contracts are things I have with my attorney. With that being said, which are you more comfortable working with?
7) Paint a Picture
When you’re explaining how insurance works, don’t just say “if there’s a fire in your apartment we’ll pay for your damaged stuff”. Tell a story! If you want them to buy the coverage, the client is really going to need to imagine themself in a situation where that coverage comes in handy.
Here’s a fun script you can use:
“If you woke up in the middle of the night and your apartment was on fire but you only had time to grab one thing, what would it be? (await response) Okay, let’s talk about all those other things you didn’t grab, and how you’d get your life back on track without them”
8) Say “So That You” after explaining every feature.
Basically, injecting the term, “so that you” after every major feature of your prospects insurance policy forces you to explain the benefits in a way that relates directly to the individual.
You: This policy will give you $50 of rental coverage a day if you’re in an accident…
Prospect: (Thinking) Okay, so what?
You: So that you won’t have to take the bus to work tomorrow if you got rear ended on the way home today…
If you’re interested in this one, check out this other article about using this technique to sell benefits instead of features.
9) Match the prospect’s vocabulary
People are naturally drawn to others that think, act, and speak like they do. Make your prospects like you more by matching their vocabulary. If the prospect calls a policy rider an “add-on” or refers to collision and comprehensive as “full coverage” you should too, regardless of whether the terminology is accurate. And don’t correct their insurance terminology as long as everyone understands the concepts.
There are also more subtle uses of this idea though. If your client says “I feel” instead of “I think” or “I believe” or “I see” then you should try to match those subtle uses of language as well.
10) What makes you say that? vs. Why?
“Why?” is a very confrontational question because it generally implies that the asker of the question does not agree with the person being asked. Obviously it makes sense to avoid being confrontational when you’re trying to win over someone. Replacing “why” with “what makes you say that?” can also do wonders for your personal relationships and you can ask my wife if you’re curious what makes me say that.
11) Say Ms. Instead of Miss or Mrs.
I can still remember asking Ms. Godfrey, my 5th Grade teacher, why Miss or Mrs. were options when Ms. works for everyone. It just makes more sense. I don’t think she was able to answer and I still haven’t figured it out myself. Ever since then I removed both of the specific versions from my vocabulary and recommend anyone in sales do the same.
12) Confirm appointments with “Will you let me know?” instead of “Please let me know.”
Every salesperson hates appointment no-shows. (especially at month-end, right?) Here’s a very simple way to reduce your percentage of no-shows. When you’re confirming the time and date of your appointment instead of saying, “please let me know if you can’t make it” say: “Will you let me know if you can’t make it?” and you must pause to make sure they answer.
I know it seems like a very subtle difference, but I promise if you start making people say OUT LOUD that they will contact you if they can’t make it, you’ll get less cancelled appointments and more advanced notices when people cannot make your appointment.
“If the glove doesn’t fit…” I bet you know how that one goes, right? Okay, I know it sounds cheesy, but studies have shown people remember things that rhyme better, and they actually think they’re more true. Take this example:
Caution and measure will win you treasure
Caution and measure will win you riches
Which do you think is more impactful? More memorable? In one scientific study they actually measured this and version 1 was considered significantly more truthful and memorable than #2.
Does anybody know something that rhymes with “irrevocable beneficiary”?
14) Eleven-Forty vs. One Thousand One Hundred Forty
They both stand for this: $1140, but which sounds like more money to you?
One thousand one hundred and forty
If you’re referring to the amount of money the prospect is saving use the long version and if it’s the amount they’re paying use the short one.
15) Talk about discounts instead of costs.
Everybody loves discounts! But are you talking about them? I mean REALLY talking about them. Are you mentioning them everytime you learn something about a prospect gives a discount? Are you going through the discounts on your quote line by line the way you do with coverages? Are you explaining why the client applies for each discount?
We often think of discounts as just part of the overall policy rating like the number of prior claims but we shouldn’t! People understand discounts and they’re usually an opportunity to give the client a compliment. Example: “There’s not too many people out there with no tickets or accidents in the last 5 years. Congratulations – you qualify for our best safe driving discount!”
16) Drop the insurance jargon.
Just drop it. When salespeople use tech jargon with me I figure they’re trying to cover for something they don’t know or they’re just an a**hole. Either way I’m not buying. The true genius of the great salesperson is the ability to explain something that’s very complicated in a way that’s understandable and not demeaning. By the way, this includes pretty much every acronym – LMAO.
I moved to Albuquerque from the Northeast after college and that’s the first time I met anyone in real life who still said Sir and Ma’am. (By the way, almost every single one of them was from Texas!)
I cannot tell you how many times people would say things to me like, “Gosh that Quentin is just soooo sweet! He must be the most polite and respectful person I’ve ever met. It’s so charming when he calls me ma’am…”
For the readers in Texas, saying Sir and Ma’am will probably only help you keep up but for the rest of the world using Sir and Ma’am will make you sound a lot more respectful than you already do. If you’re a young man, this tip is especially powerful. Trust me, it feels weird at first but you will get used to it.
Do you have a great sales language/communication trick to share? Please add it to the comments below!