Q: I am a local insurance agent and find it difficult to get my foot in the door when my prospective customer already has a long term relationship with someone else. How does one overcome such a hurtle?

A:  Your dilemma is a familiar one. However the seasoned sales professional knows how to counter this and most other objections. Let me share a personal experience with you.

Early in my sales career, I attended a sales and marketing seminar conducted by the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors. The instructor had us role play as both the sales person and the client. The object of the exercise was to find ways to deal with the many excuses and objections one would face when trying to close a sale.

We were encouraged to try to find our customer’s “Pain.” The instructor explained that most established businesses and individual clients already have a relationship with another provider. That provider may be a relative, neighbor or golfing buddy.

He went on to explain that while these situations are difficult, they are not insurmountable. Your mission is to find something that is lacking in the relationship. Ask the question “If there is one thing you (the customer) could change in your present relationship, what would it be?”

This was an epiphany moment for me and I couldn’t wait to experiment with my next prospect. The client had a seasonal business and his insurance policy came due for renewal during his slow season when cash flow was limited. I explained I could cancel and rewrite coverage at a later date.

Obviously, his current agent could have suggested the same solution, but it was me that discovered and eliminated his “pain.” Needless to say, I established my credibility and won the account.

There are many other objections you will encounter, including the big one, price. You may hear “we don’t have the budget for your product or service” or “your prices are too high.” People are generally willing to pay for something they perceive has value. It’s your job to prove that value.

This is what a good sales person does. They solve customer’s problems and develop long-standing relationships based on trust and professionalism. You never talk down about your competition, you just find ways to differentiate yourself from them.

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Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Business counseling on this and other business matters is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit https://naples.score.org/mentors .The SCORE business office is located at 900 Goodlette Road North, in the Fifth Third branch bank building. Office hours are 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.