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Why Stories Sell

In my work with thousands of insurance professionals, I’ve observed that most agents try to land new clients by talking about the features and benefits of their company’s products and services.

I also have noticed that really successful agents – the superstars who consistently rank among top sales performers in their companies – take a different approach. These top professionals prefer to persuade potential clients of their value as risk managers by sharing stories about how their company’s products and services have helped other clients, and how their professional guidance has helped clients avoid the life-changing impact of catastrophic events on families and businesses.

I call these “client attraction stories” for one very good reason: No other sales technique is more effective in convincing prospects and clients to protect their families and assets with appropriate insurance coverage.

A client attraction story is a true tale about a client who faced a serious challenge or risk and was helped by a trusted insurance advisor who delivered outstanding results.

For example, the following is a dramatic client attraction story shared by my agent friend, Dawn:

“My friend, Janet, was married to her college sweetheart, Teddy, and they had three kids. She and Teddy were living the American Dream in Jacksonville with the goal of giving their kids a better childhood and future than either of them had experienced. Then, one day Teddy complained of chest pain and shortness of breath. Janet took him to the doctor’s office. While there, Teddy went into cardiac arrest. The doctor used a defibrillator to keep Teddy alive, but he suffered brain damage and eventually had to be put on life support.

When Teddy had been in the hospital for three weeks, the doctor broached the subject of family finances with Janet and asked if they had long-term care insurance. When Janet told the doctor she and Teddy didn’t have long-term care insurance, the doctor responded: “Your husband is not going to recover. He has irreversible brain damage, and based on the current state of your finances, it doesn’t appear you can afford to keep him alive. I recommend we take him off life support with a do-not-resuscitate order.”

Janet was shocked, but knew the doctor was right. Keeping Teddy alive would bankrupt her. Feeling she had no choice, Janet agreed to take Teddy off life support. He died a few days later.

Without Teddy’s income, Janet took a second job to try to make ends meet and stay in the house. She had little time to spend with her children, and couldn’t afford to send her daughter to college.

If Teddy had carried long-term care insurance, Janet would have been able to keep him alive until everyone had time to make peace with the tragedy and tell him goodbye. If Teddy had been covered by life insurance, Janet could have paid off the house and continued to work only one job. She could have spent more time with her kids, and likely been able to send them to college.”

Can you imagine the impact a story like this would have on a prospect for life insurance to protect his family? Powerful! And I know you can imagine Dawn ending this story by saying to her prospect:

“This story is a good example of what I mean when I say I’m a risk manager. Life is full of tragic events that can severely impact you and your family at any time. It’s too late for Janet and Teddy to protect against what happened to their family, but it’s not too late for you. Would you like to get started?”

Where Do The Best Stories Come From?

As an insurance professional, you likely have a plentiful supply of stories tucked away in your memory and client files. Ask yourself these questions and record your answers on a notepad:

Who do I know who benefited from having the right insurance?

Who do I know who suffered financial difficulty because they didn’t have the right insurance?

Be prepared for the fact that not all potential story scenarios you come up with will be of sufficient quality to develop and add to your presentation arsenal. Your initial goal should be to develop up to four dramatic client attraction stories you can use to illustrate the product sales situations in which you find yourself most often.

Another good source of impactful material for client attraction stories is agent friends you have inside and outside your own office. You don’t necessarily have to be involved personally in a story to use it effectively in your presentation. Cast a line to your friends and associates for real life situations you can develop into interesting, persuasive client attraction stories.

Now you know the secret top producers use most often to earn honors as insurance sales superstars.

And, this same tool they use so productively is available to you if you’re willing to put in the story development and practice time necessary to become a proficient client attraction story-teller.

So, what are you waiting for?

Bill Whitley is a nationally-known sales trainer and author of Eight Secrets of the Top-Performing Agents. Based in Charlotte, N.C., Bill is a frequent featured speaker at insurance sales conferences. Contact him at [email protected] [email protected].

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