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Specialists – developing your business

As a healthcare specialist, you’ll already know the ins and outs of available products. By getting to know your clients well you can make better decisions about how to engage with them and market your services.

Your fact finds and the personal relationships you build up will, of course, play a key role in this activity; every adviser talks to clients slightly differently. But it’s sometimes useful to reflect on your technique – particularly if you’ve been working in the industry for a long time. Refresh your memory, read our Top Five Tips on re‑engaging with clients and maximising business opportunities.

Fact finding effectively

We won’t presume to tell you how to fact find step-by-step, but we would encourage you to reflect on the technique you’ve built up. The fact find should be one of the most rewarding parts of your job: discovering ways in which you can help your clients achieve their aims in life. See how many of these simple tips you’re following already – or explore our questioning techniques – and then apply them in your next client meeting.

  • Set expectations. Explain the purpose of a fact find, and estimate how long it will take to complete.
  • Eliminate interruptions. Ask your clients to confirm they can complete the fact find without expected interruptions; in your own office, ask not to be disturbed.
  • Make your clients comfortable. Accommodate them with refreshments, make sure they’re able to sit comfortably and concentrate on your questions.
  • Be considerate and discreet. Particularly with healthcare, there’s a need to respect not only the confidential nature of financial details, but also be sensitive to health issues.
  • Double check details. Reading things out loud is a good way to demonstrate your attention to detail, and determination to achieve clients’ aims to the best of your ability.
  • Repeat what you hear. Reassure your clients by iterating their needs; show them that you understand what they’re asking you to do.
  • Make notes about everything. Whether you’re taking details on a laptop, iPad, or old-fashioned paper notepad – it’s crucial to collect soft facts as well as hard facts.
Set up your next meeting straight away

The process of setting client’s expectations from the outset is often the key to longevity for adviser-client relationships. If you tell clients that you’ll be calling them in six months’ time to catch up over the phone for no more than ten minutes or so, most people will be receptive to that call when it happens. Forget to mention that activity however, and you could find it much harder to have a productive conversation.

When you make a note of your next appointment, do you also plan in time to refresh your memory about the client’s needs? Or do you wait until the same day? Plan ahead; give yourself time to prepare for each meeting – then tell clients when you’re going to call them, and book the next appointment provisionally.

Get referrals every time

Referrals are often considered to be the lifeblood of an adviser’s business. Ask yourself, do you always remember to ask for referrals naturally – and then get them – or is it something you’re uncomfortable with?

The truth is, clients are more likely to be nervous than you are in the first few meetings. The process of mentioning referrals early on can help them understand more about you, the way you work, and the fact that you’ll be hoping to make a good impression – offer them value, and help them achieve their aims. This makes it an ideal time to create a framework against which they can set their expectations for subsequent meetings.

  • “At the end of the meeting, if you’re happy with my services, I’d like you to think about passing on my details to people you know.”
  • “Would you have any objections to recommending my services if you’re happy with them?”
  • “Is there any part of my service that you think friends or family could benefit from?”
  • “Which part of my services, or the products we’ve talked about today, could your friends or family benefit from most in your opinion?”
  • “Are you happy with what we’ve talked about – is there anything that would stop you from recommending my services?”
Client surveys

We live in a world where we’re inundated with requests for feedback – surveys; questionnaires; online forms. Have you filled in a feedback form recently?

It’s likely that you’ve responded to questionnaires about subjects that interest you, or that promise something in return for your time – and clients are likely to feel the same way. The key is to make surveys regular – and not intrusive. Twice a year is enough, and if you plan it carefully then you can take advantage of holiday periods to promote particular services.

Think about adding a programme of client feedback surveys to your calendar. It could be in the form of an email campaign, using an intelligent form to capture information; an in-depth, professionally printed postal survey, carried out with pre-paid envelopes – or even an outbound calling exercise, focusing on just one particular aspect of your service.

  • Send out a simple feedback form to clients after conducting their annual review. Ask for referrals, as well as comments on the service you’ve provided.
  • Conduct an outbound calling exercise, and explain that you’re asking clients for their opinions on which services would be most useful – healthcare advice? Estate planning? More frequent investment advice?
  • If you have a company website, consider using free survey software to host a simple set of questions that can be updated regularly.
  • Think about adding an incentive to your survey, but make sure your promotion falls within regulatory guidelines. A simple prize draw can be effective.
Cross-sell, cross-sell, cross-sell…

During your fact-find, you’re looking for opportunities to help clients maximise their finances and meet their short and long-term life objectives. That can be achieved with a combination of products. In making your recommendations, it’s important to consider their situation holistically – and ask questions such as:

  • Which products are working efficiently for these clients?
  • Which aspects of their lifestyle aren’t supported with financial products?
  • Are aspects of their lifestyle lacking security in some way?
  • Could they benefit from the features of a product that you recommend?

Most importantly – how do the products you’re recommending complement each other? For example, if a client has a PMI policy in place … is there a possibility that they would benefit from having a cash plan as well?

Want to find out more about Growing Your Business with Aviva?

Think of us as part of your team. We’re here to help you learn about and introduce wellness and healthcare products to your clients. Find the right details on our Contact Us page.

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Questioning techniques for advisers

We recognise that you know how to conduct a fact find. But refreshing your memory about questions and questioning techniques could help you find out even more about your clients.

Good questions, great business-building answers

You’re used to asking questions, it’s an essential part of collating information in the fact find process. But by understanding that there are different ways of asking the same thing, you may find that clients give you more useful information. That, in turn, helps you understand more about their aims – or the aims of their business – and how you can help them.

The ability to ask good questions needs to be paired with listening carefully, so that you can interpret answers and make sure you’re giving your client enough time to respond. A pause can be as productive as a pertinent point – and it’s important to think about body language, too.

Read about these different types of questions and questioning techniques, then use this information to get more from conversations with your clients.

Open and closed questions

Understanding the difference between open and closed questions is important, because a poorly timed closed question can stop a conversation in its tracks. When you receive a single word or a very short answer to a question, that is a response to a closed question. For example, "Do you want health insurance?", or, “Would you like to reduce the costs of absence in your business?” The answer to those questions could be, "Yes," or "No". But, “What’s your opinion on health insurance?”, or, “Tell me, how much do you think absenteeism is costing your business at the moment?” – are open questions.

Open questions are good for developing an informal conversational style, and finding out more about your client’s opinions. Closed questions are good for checking that you’ve collected information accurately. For example, you could ask, ‘So if there’s enough disposable income to pay for this policy, will you be happy to put it into place today?’ The answer (hopefully), is ‘yes’ – or ‘no’.

Open questions usually begin with ‘what, why or how…’ – and almost always elicit a longer answer. These queries suggest the need for your client to respond with knowledge, an opinion or a feeling about something. Here are some examples:

  • “How has your health been?”
  • “What does your wife think about health insurance?”
  • “What would you think about a policy that helped you access private hospitals?”
  • “What would your employees think of an improved benefits package?”
  • “What would be the greatest advantage for you, in reducing absenteeism costs?”
Filter questions

A ‘filtering’ sequence of questions starts with a general query, then works through – picking up points from each answer in turn – asking more and more detail at each level.

For example, “How’s the family’s health been?” “Not bad, although the children have been off school recently.” “Anything serious, or just children’s illnesses?” “Coughs and colds; hard to get rid of – we ended up with our daughter having chest X-rays, though…” “Did that take a long time to sort out?” “Well, we had to wait a week for an appointment; it was quite stressful not knowing what was going on at the time…” “That’s interesting – did you know that a private medical insurance policy could have given you 24-hour advice over the phone? Or possibly given you a faster appointment?”

You can use filters to help your clients revisit a situation, and identify details that could be useful to you in exploring how to help them. Filters are useful in building up a rapport during conversation. They’re also an excellent way to explore a specific point in more detail: “Tell me more about your utility providers, and how you’re managing to pay those bills at the moment.”

Take the lead with ‘leading’ questions…

When you’re talking to clients, it can help them to understand a concept if they’re introduced to it with an assumption, or a personal appeal. For example, “How long do you think your savings would last, if you couldn’t work due to injury or illness?” – is a question that assumes money is finite. “Getting access to prompt treatment is so important with young children, don’t you agree?” – is a question that seeks a positive response, naturally.

Leading questions are usually closed, but they’re excellent for confirming that a client is happy to go ahead with a decision. It’s important to make sure that a leading question is phrased fairly however; they need to be used with care – and you need to make sure that your client understands there is an opportunity to seek alternatives.

How many questions is too many?

During a fact find particularly, it’s tempting to ask one question after another – ‘How much do you spend on this…’, ‘Do you have a policy in place for that…’, ‘How much are you paying for your mortgage; your rates; your utility bills; housekeeping…’

Try to break up your questioning with statements. Take a break from ‘ping pong’ style questions and answers, particularly if you’re working through a long check-list of facts and figures: you may be accustomed to working with budget calculators, but your clients are unlikely to cope with a barrage of facts and figures. Add a pause, if there’s something you’d like to explore in more detail – clients will often carry on talking (if you’re not filling the silence), and give you more information about a subject because they think you’re expecting it.

Rhetorical question, anyone?

Rhetorical questions are good for engaging your clients, and getting them to affirm their agreement with you naturally. Like leading questions, they need to be used with care. But they aren’t questions in the truest sense – they’re statements phrased and said with the right intonation. For example, “Isn’t high quality treatment important?” “Isn’t it a good idea to make financial provisions for your family, and look after their health?”

‘Exactly, specifically, precisely’

There are times when a short answer is all right, but additional information would help you. In a budgeting exercise, for example, during an initial fact find, you may ask, "How much money do you spend on entertainment?” But the answer you’re looking for isn’t “About £50”; it’s a more precise amount, that could help you demonstrate affordability for products that are relevant to the client’s needs.

  • “Exactly how much are you paying for your TV package each month?”
  • “Is there an amount, specifically, that you set aside for going out each week?”
  • “It’s not always easy to remember, but precisely how much are you paying for your policy?”

Questions that home in on details in this way are a good way to make sure you’re getting information at a detailed level. Without practice, those words – exactly, specifically and precisely – may seem a little forceful, but they’re a means to help clients understand the importance of sharing details accurately.

Remember these two questions…

During a fact find, there are two key questions to remember – one that should be asked at regular intervals, using different forms to make sure the meaning is clear; the other, at the beginning and the end of the process, in one form or another.

  • Is that right? Whether you ask ‘…is that right?’, ‘…have I got all those figures down?’, ‘…is this what you said?’, or ‘…can I just check – have I missed anything out that we’ve talked about?’ – it’s important to get confirmation of the facts you’re collecting.

    By challenging your own ability to collect details, you’re showing how important it is to disclose relevant information accurately – particularly important if you’re dealing with healthcare products. A well-timed ‘…is this right?’ can often prompt an additional thought, fact or figure from your client.

  • Are you happy? Happy; satisfied; pleased with the outcomes – there are very few situations in which a client should be able to say ‘no, I’m not satisfied with the service or advice I’ve received.’ By asking the question however, and presenting an opportunity to confirm their satisfaction, your clients are giving you a chance to follow up with a request for referrals…

Want to find out more about Growing Your Business with Aviva?

Think of us as part of your team. We’re here to help you learn about and introduce wellness and healthcare products to your clients. Find the right details on our Contact Us page

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Handling objections

“Too expensive…”, “Not the right time…”, “Other things to worry about…” By handling objections fairly and sensitively, you can often alleviate a concern and remove barriers to a sale.

Clients have come to you for advice. To address their needs, you have to find out as much information about their aims and circumstances as possible. That means finding out not only facts, but also listening for objections and handling them appropriately – fairly, and sensitively.

However, objections are often referred to as being ‘buying signals’. They’re an opportunity for you to validate any information that alleviates a concern. By researching the products you could be recommending, you can identify areas that tend to prompt queries and better prepare yourself to deal with objections.

Four Steps to Handling Objection

Show clients that you’ve understood their concern correctly. This helps them accept a rational argument for alleviating it. Reassure them: “I can understand why you say that,” or “That’s a fair point.”

Qualify the objection. Ask them to repeat it and tell you more. “You say the premium too expensive; is that because it’s higher than you expected, or there’s something else you’d like to spend the money on?”

Iterate a benefit that can deal with the objection. Take a slightly different approach; don’t be afraid to have a relaxed conversation about an issue and dig deeper for information that would substantiate a concern. By finding out what it really is that your client is challenging, you can use relevant facts and tools to alleviate their anxieties.

Reach an agreement. Sometimes, the most beneficial way to handle an objection is to find a point at which you can agree to revisit the issue at a later date. In an ideal situation, you’ll find a reasonable and fair counter-argument to each objection.

At every point in your relationship with clients, it’s important to treat them fairly. If a client raises an objection then you must listen to it and make sure you have understood what the concern is, before attempting to deal with it. Always ask your clients to confirm they’re happy you’ve alleviated their concerns satisfactorily. For example:

“The premiums are too high for private medical insurance, I can’t afford a policy.”

“I understand what you’re saying. But if the premiums were lower than you expect, would you be happy to find out more?”

“No point – I don’t think there are any private hospitals near us.”

“I see. But if there were facilities near your home – and I know we can find out which hospitals Aviva use online – would you like to find out more about accessing private care quickly?”

“I still think it’s going to be too expensive.”

“Well, let’s find out. Tell me your postcode, and we’ll get an illustration online…”

Some commonplace objections

“I don’t need a private medical insurance policy.”

This could be an objection to the idea of having a PMI policy, or to the cost, or it could be a sign that there is already some cover in place – perhaps through an employer.

“It’s too expensive.”

Whether it’s an individual or the representative of a business, only you and your client know if there is appropriate disposable income available to pay for premiums. To handle this objection fairly, you need to establish affordability. Then, you could expand on the benefits and the features or services that are made available through the policy, and demonstrate the value it represents.

“I’ve got other priorities.”

Having identified your clients’ financial needs and aims, this statement can be an indication that the benefits of another product appear to have greater importance. But it is still worth revisiting affordability in detail, which may show up a way to accommodate both products.

“I don’t worry about my health, I take care of myself.”

In terms of healthcare policies, this is an opportunity to highlight how a health-conscious person could benefit discounts on UK gym memberships and a range of online health awareness tools.

“My doctor’s never too busy for me – I’d be fine.”

This isn’t really an objection to buying a policy. It may be an opportunity to talk about waiting times, and the additional services that a private medical insurance policy could provide.

“I can always get another job – I don’t need insurance.”

Irrespective of your client’s profession, there are illnesses that could result in permanent disability. This objection is usually a sign that there’s an underlying reason preventing a sale – such as concerns about affordability, or doubts about accessing benefits of the policy.

“Our employees don’t need extra benefits.”

Some of the greatest benefits provide by our policies are apparent before employees make a claim – but it’s important to explain these in detail. A corporate policy helps employers, as well as employees.

“The business can’t afford to offer benefits.”

The value of our policies is often to be found in helping people return to work promptly; our absence calculator can help bring the cost of not arranging benefits into perspective.

Want to find out more about Growing Your Business with Aviva?

Think of us as part of your team. We’re here to help you learn about and introduce wellness and healthcare products to your clients. Find the right details on our Contact Us page

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Find the right details on our Contact Us page