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Ask open questions – better protection conversations

Vincent O’Connor, Senior Business Development Manager, Royal London

Part three of our ‘Five top tips for better protection conversations’ series – asking open questions.

In my last blog I talked about a simple idea that you can introduce into every protection conversation – the actual risk, chance and probability of your clients making a claim on their policy.

When people see that the risks are actually significant; this might in itself be the thing which helps them understand the importance of protection.

So if you’ve not already done so, sign-up for our marketing studio.  It’s free to use and once you’ve got your login set up, you can produce personalised risk reports for your clients that will be branded with your contact details and company logo.

Now in this blog, I’m going to talk about another idea which is less tangible, but a vital skill in how you facilitate your conversations, find out information and help your client understand certain key points about the protection gaps they have.

Open questions…

If you’ve got small children, try this when they come home from school. Ask them “did you have a good day at school?”

Notice how they answer the question.  They might say “yes” and not much more. As a parent, you’re genuinely interested in what they got up to and how their day was, but was that a good way of asking the question? It probably wasn’t because it’s a closed question and it naturally doesn’t allow for a broader answer.

So instead, ask an open question like “tell me about your day at school today?” or “what did you do at school today?”

Open questions don’t naturally allow for single word responses such as a yes/no or a single answer and you can ask them during fact finding.

The fact find is usually full of closed questions like where do you live, what’s your telephone number, what’s your email address? But for things where you want to find out how people feel and what their attitude is, you need to use more open questions.

For example, if you want to get a picture of your client’s lifestyle, you won’t get very far by asking closed questions. Explain that in order to provide appropriate and tailored advice, you need to get to ‘know your client’.  You need to understand them before you advise them.

So instead, try these:

  • Tell me a bit about yourself – What do you like to do as a family? What do you enjoy?
  • Describe a typical weekend in your family life?

Your client will ‘open up’ and tell you about things which are important to them and make them happy. And of course, these are all things which are at risk should the worst happen. These will be things they wouldn’t want to lose.

A useful open question technique model to remember is TED:

  • Tell me
  • Explain
  • Describe to me

These simple questioning techniques allow you to find out so much more information about what’s important to your client and how they feel about certain things.  And of course, this is all crucial in helping them understand the need for protection and their priorities.

This in turn helps you tailor your advice.

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