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Chris Barnard, Drewberry

As a protection adviser, you would have heard the phrase "every client is different" and this is true. However, what is said less frequently but is as equally as true is that every adviser is different. What works for one adviser may not work for another.

However, from my experience, there are three fundamental principles that if you are able to master and implement, will help you give far better advice. These principles are:

Tip 1 - Talk less, listen more

This seems like a remarkably simple concept yet it is consistently overlooked with damaging consequences.

Rather than telling the client what you do and how you are going to do it, ask the client ‘How can I help?’ These four words can open the door to the whole conversation.

Your advice can only ever be as good as the information you have and therefore unlocking that information from the client is key.

The best way of doing so is to ask open-ended questions where possible as this will give the client the opportunity to provide more details rather than just a yes or no.

With each answer, you are able to build up your understanding of the client and their circumstances. Once you have this you are then able to put your product knowledge to work and ascertain the best solution for the client.

Tip 2 - Use your words carefully.

An aspect of advising that is often overlooked is how you speak with clients. How you say something is often as important as what you are saying.

The tone you use, the pace you speak at and the pauses you implement (or lack thereof) all contribute to whether you are successful in winning a clients business.

My general rule is, do not rush your words if you want them to have an impact on the client. Take your time.

A 2017 study by the University of Glasgow showed that those who showed personality and inflection in their voice were trusted far more than their counterparts who were monotonous and flat when they spoke.

Therefore, speak with passion and conviction and this will elicit confidence.

For more information on the power of your words, I would highly recommend the book ‘Never split the difference,’ written by former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss.

Tip 3 - Be accountable.

The reason why we do this job should never be too far from your thoughts.

We are not giving General Insurance advice, this isn’t setting up a policy to cover the cost if someone scrapes the bumper of their car, for example. We are setting up policies that we hope our clients will never have to claim on because if they do so it will be at an incredibly dark time in their lives. The client can never just be a number, or a commission fee. 

Therefore, you have to be accountable for the advice you give to them because if they do have to claim your advice and the policies you set up need to be watertight.

You need to be accountable. Accountable for your continued development as an adviser. Accountable for staying on top of insurer updates. Accountable for your research. Accountable that you treat each client as an individual and speak to them on a personal level.

Accountable that you turn up every day and provide the client with the best possible advice.

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