December 1, 2023

Good, talented insurance sales trainers are adept at improvising effective sales techniques from experts in fields other than insurance sales to improve and strengthen their insurance sales training efforts. Two techniques worthy of attention are the elevator pitch and the staircase pitch. Both offer sound advice to would-be sales professionals on how to develop their sales pitch and create real-life scenarios around which the technique is built.

The elevator pitch is always from the salesperson’s perspective and the idea behind it is this. If you were in an elevator with a potential business prospect and you had only 30 seconds (or an elevator ride to the top floor of an office building) to make a memorable impression, what could you say in that time to make an impact? What statement of yours could make the difference between being remembered and being forgotten? The staircase pitch is typically from the prospect’s perspective and the idea behind it is this. What if your description of who you are and who and what you represent is so interesting that the prospect really wants to hear more? Shouldn’t your pitch be good enough to prompt a conversation lasting as long as a walk up the stairs to the top floor, not just a quick ride up on the elevator?

Each of these techniques have built-in components that ensure success at the time of delivery and both find common ground in key assumptions like these:

• You only have one shot, one opportunity to seize the moment. Will you capture it or let it slip away?
• You only have 30-60 seconds (or a little longer, if you’re taking the stairs!) to make a powerful first impression;
• The attention span of the average person is 30 seconds. After that, minds starts to wander.
• People lead busy lives. You need to grab them quickly or lose them forever.

Here’s my list of what I consider to be the basic elements of a powerful 30-second presentation. These elements could easily be integrated into any insurance sales training program.

• Be clear, concise and targeted. Use language everyone understands. Don’t try to sound smarter or more knowledgeable than you are and definitely don’t use company or industry lingo.
• Develop your pitch so that it is unique to you and to the company you represent and be excited to talk about both.
• Let your personality come out in the pitch and let your voice convey your passion and enthusiasm about your job.
• Create something visual. Paint a picture with your words and let your words tell a story. Let those words and that story come alive in your prospect’s mind and let those two things bring to light who you are and what you do.
• Always have a “hook”, the one thing that grabs your prospect’s attention. It’s the part of your pitch that stimulates their curiosity. It’s what prompts them to ask questions, like “How do you do that?”

Though the staircase pitch hasn’t been around as long as the elevator pitch, it is, nonetheless, grounded in a good, solid approach and, it, too, can be easily integrated into any insurance sales training program. Many of the same elements found in an elevator pitch are found in the staircase pitch, but its perspective is always from the vantage point of the prospect, not the presenter. I particularly like the use of the “staircase” scenario because it lends itself nicely to the real-life sales situations encountered by insurance salespeople.

The key components of the staircase pitch are:

• It communicates action and results to the prospect, not position. It’s not enough to simply state what your position is. Saying that to a prospect doesn’t interest or excite them. You haven’t said anything about what you do and the results you have produced. Always use action verbs and talk about results quickly.

• It implies exclusivity. Create a conversation with the prospect and make it clear that you and the company you work for are special, unique, unlike no other. If you do this effectively, you’ll get the attention of your prospect, mainly because no one wants to feel left out of something that someone else has exclusive access to.

• It prompts everyone in your office to ask and creatively answer the question, “What do you do for a living?” and it gives you the opportunity to create together a shared mission. Skillfully crafted and delivered with true conviction, it can be used by every salesperson and communicated in every sales situation. Like the elevator pitch, it, too, prompts your prospect to ask, “How do you do that?”

The goals of a staircase pitch are communication and conversation and the real-life scenario created in the pitch is this. To be effective, don’t you want your pitch to be unique? You want your prospect to want to hear more about you and what you do, right? Don’t you want to find yourself in a productive conversation with a prospect that lasts as long as it takes to climb the stairs to the top floor rather than take the elevator up? You want to take the prospect step by step up these stairs into your world and what you have to offer, don’t you? And on your way up the stairs, don’t you want to really talk to your prospect and find out how you can help them? Don’t you want to begin to forge a long-lasting relationship with them?

It’s these questions and the three components of the staircase pitch that make this technique so appealing to insurance sales trainers as you work to develop your agents into good salespeople. Your salespeople don’t sell iPhones or appliances or home entertainment systems. Your insurance agents are like doctors, dentists, bankers, investment brokers. They are service providers, relationship builders, and they spend their career working with individuals to meet their short-term and long-term insurance needs and handle all life changes that occur in between. They invest considerable time and resources daily, mapping out a future that gives these individuals stability, security and peace of mind.

As good, talented insurance sales trainers, you can easily and effectively incorporate both of these sales techniques in your ongoing insurance sales training program. It isn’t so much a question of which sales technique is most effective. Rather, it’s a question of taking some of the more powerful elements of the elevator pitch and integrating them with the three key components of the staircase pitch. Use the goal and real-life scenario of the staircase pitch. Blend in some of the more powerful elements of the elevator pitch, but let the key components of the staircase pitch be the driving force of the presentation. That way, you create for yourselves a new and innovative insurance sales technique and sales strategy that will, without question, make your agents better salespeople and improve and strengthen your insurance sales training efforts for years to come.