Ask open questions - better protection conversations

28 January 2019
Part three of our 'Five top tips for better protection conversations' series - asking open questions.

megaphoneIn 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…

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.

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.

In order to provide appropriate and tailored advice, you need to get to ‘know your client’.

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?
Better protection conversations

Part four of our Better Protection Conversations blog series looks at how easy it can be to get clients to open up about their spending habits and how to use this to help overcome the objection of affordability.

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.



About the author

Vincent O'Connor

Senior Protection Development and Technical Manager

Vincent has worked in Financial Services since 1994 and has experience across a range of different perspectives. He has started out at a life company and then ran his own Mortgage and Protection brokerage. Most recently he worked for a large network where he set up their ‘Protection Academy’ for adviser learning, development and skills training, but is now back at a life company (Royal London); again with a specialist focus on protection. Vincent is involved in developing adviser facing content, presenting, writing articles and commenting for the press. Vincent is passionate about the need for protection, but also about the importance of proper financial advice. Vincent enjoys his holidays, good food and quality time. He also enjoys art and crafts in his spare time!

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The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number 117672. It provides life assurance and pensions. Registered in England and Wales number 99064. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL.