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Why Agents and Brokers Need to Think More Like Doctors!

January 6, 2015

“Doctor shows shooting gesture” by hyena realityWhy do some producers excel while others, who work just as hard, repeatedly fall short at meeting their goals?

The University of Kent in the UK discovered one key talent separates the top-selling producers from others – the ability to diagnose and solve problems better and more quickly than others.

Tom, a highly successful producer, grasps this concept and knows that problem-solving goes beyond communicating the features and benefits of his products and services.  He recognizes that his clients’ problems and needs – not his products and services – are his most pressing concern.  Tom views his approach as analogous to his physician’s. 

What does a doctor do to solve problems and earn a patient’s respect?

  1. Consults to diagnose. A doctor is a good listener who asks probing questions to assess the patient’s condition and symptoms.   A doctor faces medical malpractice for prescribing medication without first asking questions to diagnose the patient’s illness.  Probe and listen to your clients and prospects…understand their operations and know where they intend to take the business in the coming months and years.  You cannot be a problem solver if you don’t know what keeps your client up at night.
  1. Options for treatment. A doctor uses the information gathered in the evaluation process to effectively analyze treatment options.  Sometimes, creativity or lateral thinking is necessary to resolve the problem and find fresh approaches.  By listening to your clients and prospects, and understanding the issues that face them, you will begin to think of creative strategies to manage and mitigate their risks.
  2. Treatment plan. Only after completing steps 1 and 2 can the doctor develop a treatment plan.  After the doctor spends time gathering facts, learns how the patient feels, performs a series of tests, he or she can then draw an educated conclusion, make appropriate recommendations, and begin treatment.  Unfortunately, far too many agents and brokers start in this stage…giving prescriptions before consulting and diagnosing the pain points and strategies to manage the problems of the organization (steps 1 and 2).
  3. Examines the results. A physician always monitors the treatment of his patients with follow-up visits.  A doctor stores the knowledge gained from each patient to treat similar situations in the future.  Like a doctor, agents and brokers must monitor their implemented plans.  Just because a practice or program works today, does not mean it will tomorrow.

Tom knows that offering his products or services without careful observation and analysis about the needs and concerns of his client is a prescription for failure.  Like a good physician, Tom probes for information, conducts a thorough exam about current problems and concerns, asks comprehensive, open-ended questions, and only then, prescribes a remedy.  His thorough analysis allows him to effectively use his products and services and makes the prospective client more comfortable and confident.

Just like Tom, you can win the respect and confidence of your clients while building long-term relationships if you approach each prospect and client as if you are a physician.

What consultative, diagnostic skills can translate into new business and high customer retention for you?

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 15, 2015 1:30 pm

    Having founded a company that specialized in diagnostic imaging, this article struck a nerve with me. Your point #3 is especially relevant.

    Too many financial services professionals – insurance agents included – are much too quick to jump to solutions with their clients and prospects.

    As you rightly suggest, if that solution is premature and isn’t based on that particular client’s (read “patient’s”) – actual risks and priorities, then it may prove as counterproductive as high-risk surgery on a frail and failing patient.

    Learning to ask the right questions – smart questions – creates trust and builds authority because your prospect assumes you already know the smart answer.

    That’s because you were smart enough – and thoughtful enough – to ask the right questions, and patient enough to listen to the answers. As with doctors, the best salespeople aren’t the smooth talkers, but the attentive listeners.

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