Approaching is all about playing a role. The key is to not behave the way a salesperson would typically behave. Most salespeople walk in, binder in hand, shake hands firmly, state their name and their company and who they would like to speak to. If you do that, you will be working much harder than you need to be.
The role you want to play is that of a potential customer. You just left a meeting and were on your way to your next appointment when you noticed their business. You’d never noticed it before and you’re slightly bewildered by them being in that spot. The more you appear like a prospective customer, the better. Don’t say your name, who you work with, what you’re doing or anything else until you’re in a conversation.
They key is to remember you’re their EQUAL. You’re a business owner and entrepreneur just like they are. You just got out of a meeting and their business is in an industry that you have a lot of experience in, so it just makes sense that you’d want to see if they’re a candidate for our coverage. You being there is the most natural thing in the world.
Walk in and look for the first person to make eye contact. When they ask “Can I help you?”, respond with a smile but without using your name:
“Yeah – I just got out of a meeting with [name of last visit] and was on my way back to the office when I saw your place. Is this your only location? How long have you guys been here??”
Act as if you might be a potential customer. By not saying anything about what you do, it forces them to be courteous and treat you like you might be valuable to them.
“Oh cool – Is this your company?” [We need to know who we’re talking to – it doesn’t matter what they say]
“Well, I’m Eric and I do insurance. I work a lot with [their kind of business] so I came to check you all out.”
Then ask one more pertinent question about their business like:
“Did you start the company or buy it from someone else?” [the best question if you’re talking to the owner]
“Do you handle mostly domestic or foreign cars?”
“Do you have residential clients or just commercial?”
“Do you cut men’s hair or just women?”
They may answer your question, in which case CONGRATULATIONS! You’re now in a normal conversation. Relax, build a bit of rapport and roll to your Elevator Pitch after 2-3 minutes.
Or they may stop you with a response. There are a few responses possible here:
- Oh we have all the insurance we need / we already have an insurance person
- Just email/send me some information.
- I don’t handle the insurance
- What kind of insurance?
The response you get is going to determine where you go from there. If it’s one of the first two, they’re in “handle the salesperson” mode and you need to get above the noise.
1. Oh we have all the insurance we need / we already have an insurance person
- “Oh good – are you actually the insurance agent for the business too?”
- [Say it with a smile 🙂 This one is fun because it almost always results with a “No” response and you can respond with:]
- “Oh OK, well let me tell you what I do and you decide if you want to kick me out or not, OK?”
When they nod OK, you can roll into your elevator pitch.
2. Just email/send me some information.
- “I could … but it wouldn’t really make sense since you don’t even know what I do. Why don’t I give you the 20-second pitch and then you can just throw me out of here if it’s not for you. Cool?”
3. I don’t handle the insurance
- “Oh OK – who do I need to be talking to? What do they do here? Let me meet them for a quick minute and they can tell me what the situation is.”
- [If not available] “OK what’s the best way for me to run what I do by them and see if they’re a candidate?”
- [If they give you a card] “Do they prefer email or a phone call?” [Make sure you have both accurately – and get the name of the person you’re talking too while you’re at it.]
- [While you’re taking notes on the card] “How long have YOU worked here?”
- “OK let me ask you – how many people work here?”
- “What kind of benefits do you have access to?”
- “Are they super-popular?”
- “Well what we do is get big checks to your people when bad things happen, and if they don’t end up using it, they actually get all their money back for retirement – don’t you wish all your insurance was like that?”
- “Well hopefully I can catch up with them in the next few days – but I work with a lot of individuals too, would you like to look at this for yourself?”
4. What kind of insurance?
The golden question! Roll to your elevator pitch.