Listen to close

More than colorful illustrations and complicated charts, sometimes the best way to help a prospect is to listen and be patient. In fact, I’ve closed cases by simply proactive listening. For example, a client referred me to a physician. I went to visit Mrs. Physician and her husband. I arrived on time and introduced myself. Then for no apparent reason, Mrs. Physician suddenly started crying. I didn’t know what was wrong, so I waited patiently.

She had received an emergency call the evening before my visit, and she had worked through the night to save lives. She already had worked more than a full week and was exhausted. She was not in the mood to buy a life insurance policy. I was fine with that, and I sat quietly and waited for her to calm down.

Finding a prospect’s why

Mr. Prospect told me that his wife had worked for Doctors Without Borders, so I asked about it. She started to tell me about her experiences. When she graduated from the university, she went to India to work with Mother Teresa as a volunteer physician. One day, she asked Mother Teresa, “Why do you try to save people you know you cannot save?” Mother Teresa answered, “Their lives are of Jesus Christ.” That changed her life. She worked in Africa for two years with Doctors Without Borders.

Her eyes were shining when she was talking about her experiences in Africa and about the children she met. She said her dream was to one day join Doctors Without Borders again with her husband. I was so impressed as I listened to her speak. There was no conversation about life insurance, but without realizing it, I spent four hours listening to her.

As I was about to leave, she gave me a book about Mother Teresa. She said it was a life-changing book for her. She said, “This is a treasure of mine, but I want you, Takanori, to keep it. Please read it.”

Closing the distance

In reality, it took three hours to get to my meeting with her — one way. I flew 1,200 km (750 miles) for that appointment. But the mental distance between my prospect and me became very small. She even gave me a treasured book.

I made four additional visits to her and closed the case. I also had the privilege of providing estate planning for her parents.

Every client is important to me. I proactively listen and concentrate on what my prospect has to say. Even though my words do not always come out as smoothly as I might like, clients listen to me. It is all about how much you care and how much you speak from your heart.

Takanori Shinohara is a 17-year MDRT member and Top of the Table member from Tokyo, Japan. This blog post is excerpted from his 2011 MDRT Annual Meeting presentation “Convert a weakness to a strength.”

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