I was having lunch with a colleague the other day and explaining how I obtain consumer insights from respondents.
In the case of insurance agents, I asked them to take me through the process of finding a lead, scheduling an appointment, the appointment itself and how they closed.
Since the agents knew I had never sold insurance, they were very precise in telling me about their procedure and I asked follow-up questions about certain steps in the process.
One of the most interesting points one of the agents made was that he typically scheduled a meeting with a husband and wife together since most insurance decisions are made jointly.
When he would get to the prospect's home, if they wanted to sit in the den or the living room, he would suggest that they sit at the kitchen table with the husband and wife sitting on the same side of the table so he could see both of their faces at the same time.
A simple, but powerful and effective methodology. This agent closed 80%+ of his prospects at the close of the initial presentation.
When I presented the findings of my 20 one-on-one interviews to the senior vice president of marketing, who had been managing these agents for more than 20 years, he stopped me 10 minutes into my presentation.
I had already told him three things he had never heard from his agents before. He wanted to know my methodology.
It's very simple. Ask questions and listen. And if you want to know more about something, ask, "can you tell me more about that."
It's that simple and the more you learn, the more you'll be able to accelerate sales by improving product, services, sales methodologies and customer experience.
I also think if you are talking to someone who knows that you don't know as much about the subject as they do, that they're willing to open up and tell you more.
The insurance agents wouldn't tell their boss the same things they told me because they would assume he already knew it.
What have you learned by listening intensely to your customers, prospects, channel partners and sales reps?
What could you learn?