Their Story

In which we learn the value of "putting people in their story" when selling. She was crisp, smart, blonde, and she left with a check. A  V E R Y  big check.  After she left, my wife looked at me and said, "I wasn't planning to buy this morning, were you?"

“No,” I replied. “No, I sure wasn’t.”

Just amazing. The focus of our morning discussion had been long term care insurance. I’d responded to a direct mail piece sent by an organization of which I am a member.

A few weeks went by. Susie (the agent) called and left messages on my office, cell, and home phones (all within about five minutes of each other). I didn’t return her call.  She “carpet-messaged” again. I remained silent.  And again. More silence.  Finally, she caught me, live, on my cell phone during a walk, asking for a meeting.  I  defended – “send me some information.” (I don’t like face to face meetings when I’m buying.)

“Fine,” she said.  She sent information … and then carpet-messaged me again.  “I’d like to meet with you.” Long story short, we agreed to a Saturday morning meeting.

She arrived. My wife offered coffee, and we retired to the kitchen table to talk.  Susie started with some small talk … “I’m familiar with the neighborhood, I bike here during the summer…. kids…. schools, etc. etc.” It was mostly “girl to girl” small talk, directed largely to my wife.

Then she asked each of us, individually (pay attention, kids, this is the main lesson here): “What experience have you had with someone at the end of their lives?”

So, my wife and I shared stories for ten minutes. Her dad. My parents. Her aunts. Friends. Cancer. Alzheimer’s.  Heart disease. Strokes. Susie shared a couple from her own life — a friend’s teen-aged son severely hurt in a ski racing accident, her mother, a friend.

She continued to pull… Who gave the care, for how long, and what had been the impact on the family and caregivers?  My wife and I continued (largely my wife, since she had been the caregiver in several cases).

Then, Susie said, “The idea of this product is, you don’t have to go through those experiences again.”

And continued: “And, this being Valentine’s Day,” as it was, “this is a gift to your sweetie that she never has to go through this with you.  This is the best Valentine’s Day gift in the world.”

“People,” she said, “look at this kind of insurance as asset protection insurance. And it is. But mainly,” she said, looking at me, “this is a present for the women in your life because they tend to live longer and be the care givers.”

Uh huh.  I HAD to pick Valentine’s Day for this meeting, didn’t I?

So… after all that, it was mostly an issue of how much did we want, over what period of time, and could she please have a check to start the underwriting process and, yes, the insurance would start when her fingers touched the check.  I was relieved to hear this, since I was planning to live through the afternoon, but wasn’t sure what might happen by the following morning.

Gentle readers know that I can be a bit of an easy sale. My wife, on the other hand, is normally tough as nails. Not only did Susie leave with a check. She left with a check for (more or less) the largest possible policy we could afford.  [Now, cooler heads have prevailed and we’re cutting WAY back on what we’re applying for, and she left with a check, kids, she left with a check.]

So, rather than starting with “left brain” questions about nursing home care (what prompted you to respond to the direct mail card, how much nursing home care costs, how much coverage do you want, what sorts of diseases are in your family, how likely is it you’ll be drooling on your bib for months or years), she started with a “right brain” question: “What’s been your experience with….?”

She put us in our story rather than hers.  She didn’t talk about her story — the product  — until she was clear we’d made the buying decision in our own story.

And, she left with her smile, her card, … and our check.

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