Successfully selling when you’re an introvert

Johan Fanggara, CFP, was ready to commit to a full-time career selling insurance, but he had one problem — he was a self-described introvert, in a profession often better suited to extroverts.

Activities like cold calling and networking with strangers were uncomfortable, to say the least, for Fanggara, a five-year MDRT member from Jakarta, Indonesia. “In financial services and sales, in most people’s mindset, you have to be someone who is very sociable and who is an extrovert who relates easily to people,” he said. “But I’m just not like that.”

Fanggara realized he would have to find his own way of doing things, so he came up with strategies for finding success as an introverted financial advisor.

1. Bring in help. For Fanggara, that meant bringing his wife into a support role when he started out. “She’s the one who is more friendly and who has more connections,” he said. “She helped get the appointments set up and then I could handle the rest of it.”

2. Keep the circle small. Fanggara realized his best option was to work with the people he was closest to. Because he had lived overseas for 12 years, his circle of friends in Indonesia was limited. “I started out only with my immediate family and my friends who had returned from their colleges in the U.S.,” said Fanggara, who focuses on life, disability and critical illness insurance.

Fanggara shares his strategies for selling successfully when you don’t like to chat up strangers.

3. Once you have the clients, get referrals. When he started in the financial services industry at age 29, Fanggara reached out to his friends in that same age range. He soon found himself referred to his clients’ parents, their in-laws, their businesses and their business associates. “From each client, I am pretty much the advisor for their family, their close friends, even their cousins.”

July August Round the Table

Read the July/August 2021 Round the Table magazine.

4. Use storytelling, not hard selling. “I’m not someone who’s really good with objections, so instead of going head-to-head with their objection, I’ll share a story or illustration that is relevant to them.” One story he uses refers to soccer, if they like the sport. He’ll tell them, “If you look at the Barcelona soccer team, they have Lionel Messi, who is so good. But if he’s that good, why do you even need your keeper? Why do you need your defender? It’s because not everything goes according to plan. That’s why we need a plan B.” Fanggara will then compare the different positions on the soccer team to the various types of insurance sold in Indonesia.

“In Indonesia, when you talk about insurance, people find it a curse word,” he said. “It’s not something that they trust.” But in recent years, younger generations have become professionals and more financially literate. The attitudes have started changing.

“It will probably take a couple more years — people don’t see insurance as a necessity yet,” Fanggara said. “I think we only have 5% to 7% of the whole population insured, and we’re the fourth most populated country in the world. That’s a huge market, and there’s room to grow.”

This was excerpted from the July/August 2021 Round the Table. Read the full article, “Succeeding as an introvert,” online. (MDRT member exclusive, available in 11 languages.)

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