I think we’ve all had this thought at one time or another: my job would be a lot easier if I didn’t have to deal with so many people. The kicker of it is, if you work in the funeral industry, you work in the people industry.
The secret to success in this business, whether you’re a preneed expense insurance agent or a funeral director or a florist or a grave digger (okay, maybe not the grave diggers) is building trust with your customer. We work in a delicate space between life and death, and that space is rarely talked about and almost never appreciated. We know that people coming to us to pre-plan their own funerals, book their family’s burial plot, or make the arrangements for a newly deceased loved one are often in a state of shock or panic or suspicion. How do we deal with these people and all their volatile emotions?
Trust is a Must
Your client is exploring new territory when they come to you for help. In this day and age, you can bet that they’ve already researched funeral planning on their own and have decided that they can’t do it alone. That do-it-yourself attitude and the availability of information on the internet can create suspicion and distrust in your customer before they even walk through your door. There are so many oppositional opinions online: all it takes is a simple Google search of “Are Funerals Worth It?” to find dozens of blogs, articles, and advertisements dissuading people from traditional funerals.
You have to be more persuasive than the internet. How do you do that? By demonstrating that you are a human being with experience, knowledge, and integrity. You can be trusted: anonymous spam media cannot. Be personable from the beginning. Acknowledge your client’s fears and concerns. Answer all of their questions, no matter how trivial. Trust is the foundation of a good business relationship—and nowhere is that more true than in the death and dying industry.
Be Personable First
You work hard to build a reputation that you can be proud of. The sure-fire way to get people to talk about you is to connect with them on a personal level. You may be thinking, “Hey now, I didn’t get into this business to get touchy-feely with a bunch of strangers!” Remember how we began this discourse: the funeral industry is the people industry, and it’s becoming even more so. Your client is treading water, they are overwhelmed with concerns, stress, and a cautious attitude born from negative sales experiences. If you are to overcome that, you need to throw them a lifebuoy.
Build rapport with families by remembering names, asking questions about their interests or activities, and connecting on a personal level. Share a little about yourself to remind them that you are a human being, too. Make your interactions a discussion, not a presentation, by asking open-ended questions and actually listening to the answers. Emphasize that you are here to help them in any way that you can, and they will feel supported instead of “sucked in.”