Insurance Agent Strategy: Overcoming Hesitation During In-Person Meetings

Fran Majidi
November 5, 2019
overcoming hesitation

Sometimes an agent will close a sale over the phone and the consumer will docu-sign everything without much of a fuss. However, if you have a storefront, there are drop-ins and there are people who won’t commit unless they meet and greet you in person.

Many of the tips for ensuring the perfect call are relevant for in-person meetings too. For instance, you need to be the master of the lines of insurance you sell. The consumer will have questions, and you need to give straight answers. Learn about the insurance products you sell and figure out how they apply to the consumer’s specific circumstances, even before your meeting if you have any information on them. No, you can’t just “wing it.”

The beauty of buying data leads is that the customer already filled out a questionnaire with the lead provider and is ready to compare insurance quotes. You won’t be starting from scratch.

You may be wondering what the difference is between a phone and a face-to-face meeting? Body language. That’s it.  Below are some tips on how to overcome hesitation during an in-person meeting with a customer.

Do They Mean What They Said?

Even though we are told to accept what the consumer always says because “the consumer is always right,” there are times when people say what they don’t mean. For instance, you’ve probably been out shopping, perhaps even for something pretty specific, like jeans. And when the salesperson approaches you to help, you push her away by saying, “Oh, I’m just looking.” Sometimes, we hesitate to let a stranger help us get what we want.

With consumers buying insurance, this psychology is not very different. The consumer may really want to change insurance carriers but is distrustful of insurance agents based on past experiences. S/he may feel an impulse to push the new agent (you) away.

If you face hesitation while explaining what it is you are offering, it’s okay. This is normal and does not necessarily mean no. However, you may be coming off as too persistent so proceed in a more relaxed manner. Engage the consumer and try to get them to do most of the talking. Stay persistent, but seem calm and don’t rush or push a hesitant customer.

Over the phone, you’d maybe hear the hesitation in the customer’s voice or perhaps not. But in person, you can pick up on body language right away to help you navigate the conversation towards a more promising end.

The following are signs to look for in the person to whom you’re trying to sell.

3 Reasons Why Your Customer May Be Hesitant:

1. No eye contact and/or fidgeting, leg shaking 

  • This could either mean that the customer is nervous meeting you for the first time and buying an important tool to safeguard his/her assets.  
  • It could also mean that the client is being dishonest.
  • It could mean that this person is just not at all receptive to what you’re saying.

It’s your job to ease the customer into revealing which of the above is his/her truth. All are sensitive scenarios that need to be handled in vastly different ways. Regardless, you need to pull back, make the customer gain your trust and see if s/he softens from a place of hesitancy to a place of openness.

2. Crossed Arms or Clutching Something (a Drink, a Pen) at the Chest

  • The customer is feeling defensive.

Your job is to figure out why the customer is being defensive and to get him or her to soften. If you’ve already quoted this person and s/he became defensive after receiving the quote, s/he may be defensive about the price. Explain why the policy you’re selling costs what it does, how it compares with other carriers. It’s your turn to sell the product.

3. Rounded Shoulders, Bad Posture, Sighing or Yawning

Your customer is not at all receptive to what you’re saying and maybe bored or wanting the meeting to end. It’s your job to inject some energy into the discussion, perhaps ask them what they need if you’ve been rambling non-stop.

More often than not, the agent talks a little too much. Often, when you let people talk and acknowledge what they are saying, they will feel more comfortable in your presence. Go so far as to ask, “How can I make this experience better for you?” or, “I sense your hesitation. Talk to me,” or something along those lines.

Until the hesitant or defensive customer begins to tell you his/her needs, you won’t succeed in writing a policy.

Does an In-Person Meeting Guarantee a Sale?

If that were the case, we’d all be so happy. However, even if you meet the person face-to-face and spend a considerable amount of time making him/her comfortable, you may not make a sale that day. Even when that customer knows the ins-and-outs of a policy, it doesn’t guarantee a sale. You may need to have a few more phone or in-person meetings before that customer feels satisfied with everything you’ve gone over. Repetition is reinforcement.

While we also love one-call closes, it’s better to be prepared for a more realistic scenario in which you spend most of your time overcoming a closed customer who is wary of buying anything from you. Bringing down that person’s guard may take some time and nurture, so be patient and follow up.

Remember that if your customer wants a face-to-face conversation, start strong and end on a good note, regardless of what transpires (yes, even if they say they will not buy insurance from you!).

Last week’s installment of the Insurance Agent Strategy was about Ensuring the Perfect Call. In next week’s installment we’ll focus on staying in touch with a prospect using various forms of communication and in-person visits.

In the meantime, make sure you’ve purchased enough organic insurance leads to the best quality so you will see a strong ROI, especially during the holiday season when business slows down.