Something rare happened to me today. An agent questioned meabout Piedmont's service fee. “I came across a company that'slike Piedmont (emphasis mine),” he said, “and they're 16cents a week cheaper than you.”

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When he said that, I knew:

  1. He's never seen that famous scene from “Honeymoon in Vegas”where Nicholas Cage claims his straight flush was “Like…unbeatable!” And Sarah Jessica Parker admonishes him,“Like unbeatable isnot unbeatable!”

  2. He hadn't heard the Piedmont story because he was hung up on 16cents. Sixteen cents that he doesn't even pay; the policyholderpays it. But he's quibbling over price when our value is so greatthat we're often told we don't charge enough.

Prospects do it to you and me all the time. They're arguing costwhile completely missing our value and focusing on something asbanal as price. I've noticed there's a way around this. It's not100 percent foolproof — nothing is — but more often than not, itwill keep you off the hamster wheel of competing on price.

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You might want to sit down for this. OK. Ready? Here goes: Tella good story.

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Sadly, most in our business fail to see the value of stories.Stories take a few minutes to tell, after all, and who has time forthat? Many agents seem to have a utilitarian mantra of “Stick tothe facts. Keep the price low and get out before they say no.”Their strategy implies that buying benefits is based solely on theprospect's desire to “get a good deal.”

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This isn't to imply that price, value and statistics aren'timportant. I'm simply saying that facts alone don't sellbenefits.

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You don't believe me, do you? “Stories can't be that powerful intoday's market,” you say, “It's too competitive out here. I need tobe the cheapest and the fastest.” But I contend that stories havebeen effective communication tools for centuries because a goodstory has staying power. I'll forget a stat before you leave theroom, but tell me a good story and I'll not only remember it, I'llrepeat it to others.

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When you sit down to make a presentation this week, don'twhip out a spreadsheet or a brochure and start spouting numbers.Instead, try something like, “I once had a policyholder who neverthought it could happen to her…”

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