I had the opportunity to do the tourist bit here in Chicago recently, and took a guided Segway tour of some of the sights along Millennium Park, the Museum Campus, and Soldier Field. One of the things that caught my attention as part of filling out the inevitable pre-activity paperwork was the opportunity to pay for “flat tire insurance.” It’s wasn’t really insurance but just a $3 add on fee that would keep me from paying $36 each, if a tire went flat and needed repair beyond just filling it back up with air.
I declined, since I thought the fee was pointless and annoying, and waited for the guide to press further like they do at car rental companies. He pressed further, but not in the way I expected. Normally in the insurance world you get either a dry jargon-filled description that’s impossible to relate to, a “but it only costs this much” sort of sales pitch, that’s impossible to relate to, or a bunch of complicated concepts and enough footnotes to make your head spin, that’s also impossible to relate to. What I got was blunt, simple, and allowed me to visualize the risk. Our theatre major turned tour guide was no Caspar Milquetoast.
“We get a flat tire around here at least once every couple of days,” the guide explained. “You’ll ride over lots of broken glass from the jerks (my word not his) that bring beer and soda bottles into the parks and a lot get broken.” And the kicker that “sold” me was how he described what happens. “You can usually hear the glass crunch as you drive over it,” he said. “Then if it sticks, you hear a clicking sound as the tire spins and the glass gets stuck in the tire. Even if you stop right and pull out the glass, by the time you get back that tire is going to be flat.” He closed with, “you want to pay 3 dollars now or wait and pay 36 or maybe even 72 bucks for that when you get back?”
His sales technique was surprisingly simple but effective. It shifted focus away from the cost and toward the risk that the $3 paid for. Inside of a quick one minute conversation, I learned what the risk was, how likely it was to happen, and got a description of the risk occurring that I could actually relate to. The close he used was spot on as well, so I would have looked either foolish or foolhardy had I refused at that point. The reminder I took away from the exchange is that if the client doesn’t understand and relate to a risk, they won’t pay to insure it. But, if you give them the information in a way the client can visualize, and relate to, they will.