darren-nolander-listenInsight selling is all about providing solutions. The product or service isn’t the priority from the jump. Instead, the customer is. You want to ask thoughtful questions, then listen as they respond and tell you more about what they’re looking for, any hesitancies they have and why they’re on the phone/in your office/on the video chat with you right now.

It’s only after you soak up all this intel that you can determine how you and your offering add value to this person and unique situation. I know…”insight selling” should really just be called “selling,” but you’ve seen all the hair-brained sales tactics out there.

Instead of going down that path, focus on mastering the ins and outs of insight selling. The best way to do this is to avoid a few of the pitfalls that other loan advisors often adopt.

Approaching a Situation Without Empathy

It’s hard to understand where someone’s coming from – or what they want – if we can’t put ourselves in their shoes. Your office should be a no-judgement zone, meaning customers are encouraged to speak freely, sharing all mistakes, realities, challenges, concerns and questions.

Whether they’re just like you or the furthest thing from you, approach each client with the same respect and empathy you would want to be shown. It’s only after embracing what another’s gone through that we can really act from a place of understanding. Get to that place and you’ll find how you can add value.

Taking a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

You may have certain selling points that always seem to resonate with customers. You may also know your strong suits – and use them to your advantage. That’s all fine, but each customer is different. You can still utilize the skills and talents that let you shine, but do so in a way that’s organic, meaningful and customized to the client.

You can only do this by, you guessed it, listening. If a client says paperwork overwhelms them, don’t hit them with a request for eight different types of documents off the bat. If they say “I’m quicker over email,” don’t leave them phone message after phone message. Clients give us hints – some subtle, some not so subtle – all the time. Hear what they’re saying and how they’re saying it, and observe their body language. Then tailor your approach to fit not just their needs, but what makes them feel comfortable.

Being Reactive Instead of Proactive

A client may be genuinely interested in buying a new home or refinancing, but that doesn’t mean it’s all they focus on day in and day out. That’s our job. So make their job easier by providing an easy-to-understand list of documents they’ll need to provide up front. Keep the lines of communication open and review any materials they send in a timely manner.

If you sit on their materials only to discover they haven’t provided everything you need, or if you realize you have questions on what they submitted, you’ve now cost them precious time. In a world where rates are changing almost hourly and buyers are eager to get out there and compete due to a tight housing market, these are not signs of someone they’ll want to work with.

Confusing Insight Selling with Pitching

A pitch is something an ad agency does. We’re not Don Draper and we’re not trying to buy the world a Coke. Since every customer is different and you’re focused on personalized service, there is no such thing as a pitch. There is only a problem that needs to be solved. You’ll solve that problem through demonstrating your value via insight selling.

A pitch is also a one-sided activity where one person (or group) tries to convince the rest of the room that this angle is the right way to go. Insight selling involves a conversation – a listen and talk and brainstorm approach – that engages the other party. Collaboration is key. Remember, you’re in this together with your clients. You’re not in it for yourself to close a sale.

Engaging from a Distance

You always want to take your clients’ preferred communication preferences into consideration, but there is such a thing as remaining too distant. Email works for many things: saying “nice to meet you” after your initial contact, sending a clear list of actionable items to get them started, following up on any deadlines that may be approaching and answering questions they send to you via email.

That’s where email’s benefits run out. Make sure your clients always feel taken care of by being available via their platform of choice and whenever they need you. This doesn’t mean you have to drop everything else to answer their phone call, but it does mean you need to call them back in a timely manner, schedule an appointment when they want one and respond to all communications – however they’re sent, whenever they’re sent.

One more note on this. Assistants and team members are great, but if a client sought you out, they wanted to work with you for a reason. Team members can confirm you’ve received documents or answer other very minor questions, but if it becomes apparent to the client that they’ve been passed off to your assistant after your initial meeting, you’ve lost that connection you were building.

Selling doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it shouldn’t be. It’s as easy as holding a conversation with a friend or loved one: they tell you what’s going on in their life, you ask questions, then you provide advice and support with their best interests in mind.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.