Jenoir® International Client Spotlight: Insurance Brokers Association of Saskatchewan - Negotiation and Sales Skills in the Age of Uncertainty

Author: Dirk Schlimm, Partner, Jenoir International | | Categories: Influence , Negotiation , Sales

Blog by Jenoir International Inc

“Dirk’s mastery of influence, negotiation, and sales principles is second to none. Both online and in-person, he grabs your attention with a sharp wit and deep intellect and doesn’t let go. Perhaps most impressive, however, is his ability to quickly relate tools and concepts to real-world experiences in virtually any industry. Truly a global leader in his field.” Derek Lothian, ICD.D, President & CEO, Insurance Brokers Association of Saskatchewan, Past Chair, Saskatchewan Business Council

Nobody wants insurance - until they need it! This, in a nutshell, describes the insurance broker’s sales challenge: Insurance is uniquely difficult to sell because customers and prospects often don’t see the need for it … until it is too late. This dynamic made my seminar on “negotiation & sales skills in the age of uncertainty” with members of the Insurance Broker Association of Saskatchewan such a pleasure and a challenge.

My premise was that the pandemic has accelerated technology adoption and has made digital savvy a must in almost all aspects of running a brokerage. Depending on the context, this includes everything from new products (e.g., cyber insurance), to data enabled risk assessment tools, e-commerce channels, automated operations, digital marketing, and no question, a professional work from home set-up. But it would be misguided to think that technology has replaced human interaction. On the contrary, the pandemic has taught us how much we miss it. And so, we know that the machine (AI) will not replace people - in fact, we must take our people & relationship skills to the next level as automation will take over more and more transactional (= nonhuman) work.  

The seminar with IBAS touched on the critical aspects of relational excellence in selling and negotiating. We discussed how to build rapport on video (vs in person), understanding annoying habits that can harm relationships, and building new habits that strengthen relationships, such as empathy, *great questions, and “conversational intelligence.” Especially when one sells a product that no one really “wants,” advanced influencing techniques become critical - after all we know that the customer “needs” our product. Further, empathy alone does not make a sales pro. If the customer likes you but buys from someone else all effort is lost. Hence, we followed up with an important discussion on closing strategies: Whether a hard or soft close works better for you is your decision, but you must have a closing strategy because “no close” never works. Finally, we tackled the next frontier in selling: How to become a “buying coach” for your customer.

Time flew as the group was engaged and engaging - including some tough questions that stretched my thinking. Of course, I had a question for participants as well: What are you going to do with what you have learned?
Big thanks to Derek Lothian for inviting me and for doing a fantastic job moderating. For me, at least, buying insurance will never be the same again.

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