You are a wedding guest. You mingle with strangers during the cocktail reception. You are broad minded, thinking everyone has the potential to either be a client or refer someone. How can you bring up business?
Let’s put two scenarios out in the open:
Scenario one: You offer your hand and say: “Hi, I’m an insurance agent.” The other person recoils as if your hand was a red hot poker. Well, maybe not. They might say: “I just remembered — I need to be somewhere.”
Scenario two: You offer your hand and say: “Hi.” You deliver your elevator speech. They look at you and say: “Oh no, he has an elevator pitch!” They back away.
Insurance agents and others in similar sales roles are characterized on TV and in movies in negative ways. If you met someone who said: “Hi, I’m an IRS agent” you might react the same way.
You are better than the stereotype. The challenge is getting the chance to prove it. Here are five strategies to consider:
1. They ask first. If you say “I’m an insurance agent” they will likely counter with: “I have one already.”
Your strategy could be: “I’m an insurance agent. You probably work with one already.” You stole their line! They might say: “Well, yes I do.” You could take this in a few directions:
- Change the subject: They haven’t run away.
- Ask: “Are they there when you need them?” A closed end question.
- Ask “Do they take good care of you?” Another closed end question.
- Ask: “What do you like best about them?” An open end question.
- Ask: “Would you recommend them?” A closed end question.
2. Lean on the firm. They asked. You lead with the firm name, then your role. “I work at Awesome Insurance. We’re the one with the stadium.”
Now you’ve developed the sports connection. They might ask about that. You might follow up with a specific part of your role. In these examples they might fit the profile, but you aren’t saying: “Now that you asked, you just became a prospect.”
- “I focus on estate planning.”
- “I primarily work with teachers.”
- “Business insurance is my specialty.”
3. You ask first. You get the question in first. They answer and ask the same of you. You answer briefly, putting the spotlight back onto them. You know plenty about different professions. Theirs is fascinating. You’ve always wondered about this or that. Draw them out. People like talking about themselves.
4. Take an educated guess. This came from a Northern California advisor. Once again, you get the question in first, although it’s more of a statement. “You look like you might be a surgeon. Am I right?” Have a reason why: “You seem very detail oriented. You are wearing a caduceus lapel pin, a traditional symbol of the medical profession. They might comment you are very observant. You’ve put the focus on them. Choose a flattering profession: “You look like you might be a trash collector” is the wrong way to go.
5. Highlight a non-work-related role. You introduce yourself as the brother of the bride. You ask their connection to the wedded couple. After that’s over, you bring the conversation into professional roles.
If it’s not a wedding, but a museum reception, you might say: “I’m a volunteer here at the museum.” You might be a board member, but you are still a volunteer! They might be a volunteer too. You have a shared common interest. You can transition into: “In my day job…”
You are proud of your firm, your profession and your job. Because of stereotyping, it’s easy to be assigned to a category. You can maintain a degree of control over the conversation and make it a relaxing, pleasant experience for both of you.