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Succeeding as an introvert

Liz DeCarlo

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Fanggara shares his strategies for selling successfully when you don’t like to chat up strangers.

Johan Fanggara, CFP, was ready to commit to a full-time career selling insurance, but he had one problem — he was a self-described introvert, in a profession often better suited to extroverts.

Activities like cold calling and networking with strangers were uncomfortable, to say the least, for Fanggara, a five-year MDRT member from Jakarta, Indonesia. “In financial services and sales, in most people’s mindset, you have to be someone who is very sociable and who is an extrovert who relates easily to people,” he said. “But I’m just not like that.”

Fanggara realized he would have to find his own way of doing things, so he came up with strategies for finding success as an introverted financial advisor.

[1] Bring in help. For Fanggara, that meant bringing his wife into a support role when he started out. “She’s the one who is more friendly and who has more connections,” he said. “She helped get the appointments set up and then I could handle the rest of it.”

[2] Keep the circle small. Fanggara realized his best option was to work with the people he was closest to. Because he had lived overseas for 12 years, his circle of friends in Indonesia was limited. “I started out only with my immediate family and my friends who had returned from their colleges in the U.S.,” said Fanggara, who focuses on life, disability and critical illness insurance.

Fanggara shares his strategies for selling successfully when you don’t like to chat up strangers.

[3] Once you have the clients, get referrals. When he started in the financial services industry at age 29, Fanggara reached out to his friends in that same age range. “Most were single and just starting out in their career, or maybe they were newly married,” he said. “I set out with that batch of clients and then I pretty much grew with them.” When they married, he talked to them about insuring their spouse. When they had children, he helped them increase coverage.

He soon found himself referred to his clients’ parents, their in-laws, their businesses and their business associates. “From each client, I am pretty much the advisor for their family, their close friends, even their cousins.”

[4] Use storytelling, not hard selling. “I’m not someone who’s really good with objections, so instead of going head-to-head with their objection, I’ll share a story or illustration that is relevant to them.” One story he uses refers to soccer, if they like the sport. He’ll tell them, “If you look at the Barcelona soccer team, they have Lionel Messi, who is so good. But if he’s that good, why do you even need your keeper? Why do you need your defender? It’s because not everything goes according to plan. That’s why we need a plan B.” Fanggara will then compare the different positions on the soccer team to the various types of insurance sold in Indonesia.

Fanggara tries to speak to a prospect’s interests, whether they’re a mom, a musician or someone with certain hobbies. “I’ll find a unique angle to talk to them about something that resonates more than talking about pages of disclosures and packages and products.”

[5] Stay close, even when they’re not interested. Not everyone will say yes every time you share with them, Fanggara said. But he still maintains his relationship with them; they still get together and talk regularly — about anything other than financial products. “If they don’t say yes today, that doesn’t mean they won’t say yes next week or next month or next year,” he said. “So I pretty much keep the circle close as a friend. Normally it’s just a matter of time, because some people make their financial decisions when something happens to them or their immediate family.”

[6] Change your mindset. “When our mindset changes from sales into becoming an advisor, we start to think in a different way,” Fanggara said. “We start to think, If I’m going to approach them, what would they think about this? What would be relevant to them so I can explain the financial industry and products in a language they’ll understand?

“When we help our prospects to understand, then buying a product will be the consequence,” Fanggara said. “Our goal is to give them advice and help them understand better.”

[ Insurance used to be a curse word ]

When Fanggara’s parents were young, their generation was not very financially literate, and people often had negative views of insurance. The problems with insurance companies not paying out exacerbated the bad feelings toward the industry as a whole, Fanggara said.

“In Indonesia, when you talk about insurance, people find it a curse word,” he said. “It’s not something that they trust.” But in recent years, younger generations have become professionals and more financially literate. The attitudes have started changing.

“It will probably take a couple more years — people don’t see insurance as a necessity yet,” Fanggara said. “I think we only have 5% to 7% of the whole population insured, and we’re the fourth most populated country in the world. That’s a huge market, and there’s room to grow.”

CONTACT: Johan Fanggara


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