Our need to communicate is fundamental. We are fascinated by how past eras were able to effectively communicate with one another when contemporary tools were non-existent. We read old, hand-written letters, dig up cave drawings, listen to past recordings – completely enthralled in someone’s need to share a thought, feeling, or idea with another.
LIMRA and Maddock Douglas just completed a study on how words and images used by insurance companies affect consumers. The results indicate messages do not resonate and often confuse rather than support the message insurers and agents are trying to convey. Check out the video they produced – it sums up what consumers feel quite well.
And talk about impact. The study revealed “there were 18.7 million Americans who truly see the value in life insurance and think it is something they should have, but they have gotten stuck somewhere in the shopping process.” I applaud the initiative the insurance industry has taken to be self-aware of the impact their sales approach has on people. But the problem is not specific to insurance nor financial services. The problem is ubiquitous across industries and sales models. Today’s sellers are just not taking pause to think about how their messages are being heard. Buyers have said they want to buy yet selling approaches continue to be reluctant to change.
Want your messages heard? Here are three things to consider:
Use real words that real people use. If you find yourself using jargon, ask yourself what it really means and more importantly, what it means to your buyers. Stop trying to be efficient and effective while productive at the same time. Just do something of value.
Are we all in synergy on this?
Time is of the Essence
Love the woman in the video who looks at the marketing piece and just says, “I don’t have time for this.” How often do we feel like that in our own lives – open our email, snail mail, user guides, policies, social posts, and on and on. It doesn’t stop. Even the winter jacket I just bought came with a 10 page instruction book. Huh?
Respect your audience’s time. I had a CEO that once told me if I couldn’t get my point across in 2 minutes, I was wasting his time. Hard at that moment (and embarrassing in a meeting with others), but it’s proven valuable in my professional (and personal) life.
The easy thing to do is share all the information someone might want to know and let them come to a conclusion themselves. It’s much harder to filter out the noise and in 2 minutes tell them what they really need to know.
“Can you expand on that, Amy?” “My name is Amanda.” “OK – can you expand on that anyway?”
Just like you need to respect your audience’s time – you need to know who your audience is. It’s just as bad as someone not knowing your name when that person wants something from you. That’s what you’re doing to your audience if you don’t truly know who they are. By knowing them, you know what’s important (or not important) and can tailor your messages specifically to them. It shows empathy and compassion and concern versus pushing a need or a sales pitch on them.
“Amanda, I know you have eight thousand other things to do right now but could you take 5 minutes to expand on that for me?” Why yes, yes I can.
These three concepts seem simple enough, but it’s in the execution where we so often fail. Regardless of industry, we need to be better to our audiences and treat our buyers with respect. It’s what we’d expect, isn’t it?
VISIT THE QVIDIAN BOOTH AT LIMRA
Qvidian will be at the LIMRA Distribution Conference in Orlando, FL on Feb 25-27. Stop by and visit the booth to hear how we’ve helped customers respect their buyers with the three principles above and improve sales execution.