Prospecting Corner: Red Flags in Prospecting

A: In a word, no. Not every contact is truly a prospect, and it’s as important to know who to avoid as who to approach. Read on to discover which classic “types” are rarely looking to buy.

Consider this often-overlooked rule of business: Recognizing and avoiding certain perceived opportunities can spare your self-esteem and sanity over the long run. This is especially true when it comes to prospecting. The following red flags candidly articulate what to look out for, based on the experiences of a handful of industry veterans.

1. Proposal collectors

This prospect probably already owns multiple policies, but has a tendency to say, “Sure, send me the quote/proposal/asset allocation,” only to throw yours into a pile along with those of your competitors.
This prospect likes leverage and considers your value proposition extremely low on the priority totem pole. Of our five categories, courting Mr. Proposal Aficionado is the most akin to throwing darts at a board. Is there a chance you might win his account? Sure … just don’t count on it.

2. Perpetual vacationers

This individual is likely too preoccupied to slow down, take an application and schedule an exam. He always appears to be juggling multiple things at once, from doctor checkups to business travel to family vacations.

In the pursuit of doing business with this prospect, you must ask yourself if the reward justifies the enormous amount of effort at hand. The process of applying for, accepting, delivering and being paid on an insurance policy is complicated and requires an enormous amount of stamina. Is it worth the effort for someone who can’t seem to focus on what you have to offer?

3. One-uppers

This prospect’s mission in life, it would seem, is to “one-up” you by always angling for a better deal. This might translate to requests for a cheaper premium, higher rating, aggressive interest rate or a host of other demands.

Sometimes your compensation is worth appeasement. More often, it is a total waste of time and will make you an angry person on your next transaction. Be warned.

4. Irrationality experts

This prospect is analytical beyond the basic cost versus benefit ratio involved in a consumer’s psychology. How are mortality tables calculated? What are the loads in first-year premiums? What if insurance company X falls off the face of the earth? Every “what if” under the sun becomes an issue during the application process — if, in fact, you even get to this stage.

Irrationality experts consider it their right to explain how the buying process should work, and their power to drain others is like mental quicksand. Tread carefully.

5. Bored-and-nothing-better-to-dos

These might be seniors who live for any seminar involving free roast beef and espresso, or super-polite, sincere information-gatherers.

Being informative, candid and honest is one thing. Consumers expect that you know what you’re doing and will act with their best interests in mind. But education has its limits. Be vigilant in your assessment of whether someone is engaged because they want to buy or simply because they want to broaden their personal knowledge. 

Managing expectations

A positive attitude is essential. So is reality. Truth be told, most deals simply do not close due to various circumstances outside a broker’s control. Expectation management keeps you grounded and motivated in the years ahead.

Never sell yourself short in anything you do. It’s perfectly fine to discriminate in pursuit of new clients. In fact, fail to do so at your own risk. «

Corey Weiner is a professional writer who has been published by AOL Money, Askmen Finance and numerous industry journals. In addition to articles, he writes marketing copy and sales letters and creates web landing pages for financial services organizations. Previously, Corey worked for two national Wall Street brokerage firms.


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