Collecting Information

The best method of assembling sales tools and practices is to look at how you sell, what you use and the sales interviews you schedule.

The sales cycle, as we know, is a continuous one of obtaining referrals, making appointments, holding sales interviews, making sales and getting more referrals-and the cycle continues.  To do an ethics audit, however, we need to stop the sales cycle and examine it.  

A form is available that you can use to identify and list each of the tools and practices that you use as we proceed.

The sales tools we normally use before calling for sales appointments may include:

stationery
referral letters
direct mail letters
advertising , and
personal brochures.

There may be many sales tools we use before calling a prospect to make a sales appointment.  We might send a referral letter saying that a friend or acquaintance had suggested we contact the prospect.  In the letter we may have enclosed a personal brochure outlining our products and services.  If the prospect isn't a referral, we may have used direct mail letters to generate interest.  The tools or practices that we employ may be a little different for each of us.  

Many practitioners also use scripts when making appointments on the telephone.  They might use a telephone "track" or suggested answers to possible objections raised by prospects.  A telephone script can keep them on track while they are making sales appointments.  

After we have secured the initial appointment and are about to meet the prospect, the first thing that we might give him or her is a business card.  Although you may choose to do that either right away or later in the interview, at some point, you will usually give the prospect a business card.  In addition, we might give the prospect a personal brochure.  

We noted earlier that the initial sales interview often has several objectives:  

Develop rapport with the prospect
Gain agreement to proceed with data gathering
Obtain the facts about the prospect and his or her family

Ideally, the initial interview enables us to gain rapport with the prospect and obtain agreement to complete a fact-finding interview.  Sometimes, we will begin to gather the prospect's data in that same interview.  The tools that are often used during that initial interview include:

Testimonial letters
Third-party motivational pieces
A sales track
A data-gathering form

Having developed a certain level of rapport with the prospect and completed a proper data gathering, an agent will normally schedule an appointment to return with a proposal.  Often, in order to ensure that the prospect will be available for the next scheduled meeting and to further strengthen the rapport that has begun to develop, an agent will send a combination "thank you" note and a reminder of the next scheduled appointment.  During the time between appointments, the agent will usually:

Evaluate the data that have been gathered
Prepare a proposal using the available products to solve the prospect's need, and
Run an illustration of that product to present to the prospect

At this point, the sales process steps up to and including the close have been considered.  If you have made a sale, you will normally have certain post-sale activities involving:

Sending an appreciation letter to the client
Sending letters to referrals
Policy delivery, and
Arranging for delivery of ongoing publications, such as newsletters