Listening is one of the most important skills you can learn in life and in business. As the old adage goes “You were born with two ears and one mouth” for a reason. The art of listening is also an essential skill when making a sale. Yet, being a good listener is hardly the personality that comes to mind when you think of a classic stereotype of someone who works in sales. In fact, we think of someone who instead is ebullient, larger-than-life, gregarious and talkative!
However, newer models of sales would suggest that a more consultative approach to helping a client is best: using the power of listening and questioning to take the prospective client on a journey from just being aware of your brand, to believing in what you say and ultimately to a position of trusting you. By adding value and understanding our prospects better, we are ultimately moving away from the classic model of cold-calling and typical closed, transaction- based selling techniques.
Excellent listening skills is one of our required skills at A-Plan and our most valued. It allows our insurance consultants to best determine the needs of our clients and to find them the right insurance product to meet those needs. By having a two-way dialogue, our insurance consultants, who are not incentivised by commission and who are qualified to provide impartial insurance advice, spend as much time as necessary talking through the client’s requirements. This also means that we are able to manage insurance risks more intelligently.
We have been providing this high-touch, personal service across our branch network since the 1960s. Indeed, as buying insurance has become more of an impersonal experience with call centres processing calls and comparison websites making prospective clients do all the work to find the right product, we have continued to believe in the opposite approach.
We continue to do this on the phone and in person in our branches. We also recognise the need to do this online. Listening to what people are saying about us on forums and on social media helps us to gain insights about our clients and our prospective clients as well as solving problems and answering queries in real time. This supports and supplements the work that our branches do during business hours. Moreover, it can help us better engage with our clients, generate new leads and spot further business opportunities.
A further benefit of social listening is that we are able to identify both positive and negative feedback – allowing us to show appreciation for positive testimonials and share this earned content with our wider audience, but also to respond in a timely fashion to disappointed clients and to turn potentially negative experiences into positive ones. The ability to respond so quickly, before an issue escalates is a real game changer.
However, it is not enough to just pay lip service. The “listening” has to be followed up by a response which is both authentic and timely. It is important to remember that even though the media might be digital or the phone, you should still act as if you were having a face-to-face conversation with that person. You need to demonstrate understanding and empathy and that means engaging with that person on a human level. As a company, we believe that if you respond without caring and without really hearing how you have disappointed that person, you can actually make the situation worse.
A-Plan believes that the principles of good service should remain whatever media you are using. The ability to listen to our clients is crucial to our ability to provide good client service. If you believe you have mastered the art of genuine listening, we want to hear from you! Have a look at the current roles we have available and get in touch.