Sell Insurance Over the Phone...Life A PRO!
Being able to close a sale over the phone consistently is an important skill for an insurance agent to have. This white paper shows tips and techniques based on the experiences of actual agents to help you do so. Talking to prospects over the phone has you somewhat at a disadvantage, because you are limited only to verbal cues. You will not be able to see facial expressions and body language, and adjust your sales pitch accordingly. In spite of this, you need to be able to keep them interested and convince them to buy insurance.
As you get better in making sales over the phone, you can use the confidence you have gained to get better in other areas of your life insurance career.
Selling Insurance Over the Phone With Insurance Leads
Having a steady source of insurance leads is essential to any insurance agent. But leads merely represent opportunities, a foot in the door, so to speak. You still need to convince your prospects to buy insurance from you. One of the most common and convenient ways to connect with prospective clients is by calling them up.
Meeting with prospects in person is, by far, the best way to sell insurance, because both parties can interact fully and make a better assessment of each other. On your part, you can adjust your sales pitch depending on the verbal and nonverbal cues that you are getting from the person you talking to. On the other hand, many consumers buy insurance based on how well their interaction with the agent goes. If they feel that they can trust the agent with their money and are satisfied with the agent’s knowledge of insurance products and recommendations, then a sale is almost always assured.
It may seem that using the phone to sell insurance has you at a significant disadvantage, but there are ways to consistently close a sale using this method. Here are some guidelines:
Things to Remember When Calling Customers:
1. Be prompt in following up leads.Online leads are reliable sources of prospects, not to mention convenient. If you are using online leads, expect that you are not the only one. You will be competing with an unknown number of agents who have the same list of prospects as you do, so it becomes a matter of whomreaches a particular prospect first and who convinces him or her to buy insurance from them.
2.Follow the 3-second rule as soon as you make contact. Consumers have a notoriously short attention span and, are more often than not, wary of people trying to sell them things over the phone. You have about three seconds to convince the person at the other end to listen to your sales pitch. You do this by personalizing your greeting, and differentiating yourself from telemarketers or call center agents who have a fixed script. Consumers are more inclined to talk to you if they feel that they are dealing with a real person, not someone delivering robotic dialogue.
3.Be sincere in meeting the needs of your prospective clients. Selling insurance is all about meeting the needs of consumers to provide for the future. Make sure that you understand where your customers are coming from. Find out what their insurance concerns are and do your best to address them. Do not monopolize conversations or meetings. Communication is a two-way street, so solicit feedback often.
4.Positive thinking is contagious. Many first time buyers need a little boost to get them to take the step of actually getting an insurance policy. You will need to show them that there is really nothing to be hesitant about in getting insurance, and that you will be there to provide great service.
5.Be knowledgeable. Be prepared to explain the details of the insurance products you are selling to prospective clients. Consumers have taken the time to listen to your sales pitch, so make it count. Consumers want to see competence. They need to feel that they can bring their insurance concerns to you and be confident that you can address them.
6.Know the difference between being aggressive and being pushy. There is nothing wrong in be-ing an aggressive salesperson, if it means that you are prompt in following up leads and doing call-backs. Making persistent calls to consumers who are not interested, however, is just being plain pushy. Know when to back off. Give your prospects time to decide on your insurance offer, but do not give deadlines. A negative or uncertain response after a couple of phone calls is a sign that you should move on.
7.Be attentive. It is easy to multitask when talking to another person over the phone. However, prospective clients need your full attention, and you should NEVER give the impression that you are doing anything other than talking with them. If you want to be taken seriously, you should do your prospects the courtesy of keeping your attention on them and not using the speakerphone, eating, drinking or doing other activities that could be a distraction.
8.Do not call customers if there is a chance that they will be put on hold. It is important to set aside a definite time period for making calls to prospects. Do not allow interruptions. Your prospect’s time is important, and they are not inclined to wait if you put them on hold. In fact, putting them on hold will most probably make them feel that their business is not as important as the matter that took you away from the phone, and that creates a negative impression that may be difficult to recover from.
9.Time your calls correctly. Use the information that you have on the prospect to decide on the most favorable time to call. The customer may be on a different time zone or work shift. It is also not a good idea to call too early or too late, since most people are not open to getting calls from insurance agents during those times.
Things to Remember When Customers Call:
1.Get a note pad and keep it handy. Be prepared for customer calls. This includes having pen and paper nearby, either beside the phone or somewhere on your desk, for writing down notes. You may be able to use the information in your next phone conversation.
2.Professionalism is key. It doesn’t matter if you have been having a less then perfect day in the office, or you’re currently taking a break. Customers rarely schedule their calls, so you should be prepared for business when the phone rings. On the other hand, if you feel that you cannot do this when a customer calls, just take note of the customer’s number and call back as soon as possible. If your phone has a voice mail feature, turn it on.
3.Be a good listener. Not all customers have a clear idea of what they want in terms of insurance.Even consumers who think they know can change their mind once they get more information. Your job is to get them to express their concerns and ask questions, then address them one by one. Another thing to remember is to avoid interrupting customers while they are talking. It is a way of showing that you respect what they have to say, and lets you have all and any information that could in-fluence a sale.
4. Be an expert on your insurance products. You should know your insurance products inside and out, so that you are able to give your customers the information that they need whenever they need
it. Consider the negative impression they will have if they see you having to do research on the spot when they ask a question or ask for more details.
5.Find something in common with customers. Establishing a common interest or background is a good way to start the ball rolling when contacting a prospect for the first time. From a consumer’s point of view, it makes you less of a stranger and makes them more comfortable interacting with you.
6.Make sure your customer understands what is involved. To establish trust, give your customer information and do not give any reason for them to feel that you are hiding something. This makes them more inclined to buy insurance from you. Be honest on what is involved when getting insurance. This includes how insurance premiums are calculated and the mechanics of the insurance plan they are getting or that you are recommending.
7.Explain the benefits of getting insurance from your company. Do not be shy in advertising your company and what it does for its customers. This could be just what the prospective client needs to hear to go ahead with the sale. Just make sure that you and your company follow through with the promises.
Things to Remember If You Get a Customer’s Voicemail
1. Leave a message. Do not hang up without giving your name, agency, reason for calling and contact information.
2.Give a good reason for them to call back. If you want a customer to call you back, make sure that you give them a good reason to do so. You might say that you have an insurance product that will provide future protection instead of just saying that you are selling insurance. If your lead information includes the prospect's reason for getting insurance, cite that reason as a reason for calling back.
3. Make sure you mention you phone number at the beginning and at the end of the voicemail.
This technique helps customers recall your message more clearly, and make your message more compelling.
4. Refrain from giving quotes in a voicemail. Giving out quotes without explaining the features of insurance product or the mechanics of getting insurance gives an impression that you are only interested in making money, not in meeting the insurance needs of the customer.
5. Be natural. Be yourself when delivering a voice message. You will come across as confident and easy to talk to, an advantage when doing business over the phone.
6.Keep your message under 25 seconds or less. Be straight to the point, and reserve your sales pitch for when the customer is actually on the line. He or she will appreciate a short message, whereas he or she may not have the patience to listen to a long one.
7.Help customers remember your message. Repeating your phone number at the beginning and end of the voicemail is one way. You should also make sure that you speak clearly and naturally.
Try to convey in a few seconds that your customer’s business is important and that you have what it takes to help them with their insurance concerns.
8. Time your calls. Leaving a voicemail message is more effective just before or after business hours,about 6:45-8:00 AM or 4:30-6:30 PM. Customers may not be inclined to pick up the phone then, but the time of your call tells them that their business is important for you to make contact without interfering with their regular schedule.
9.Vary your messages. It is easy to be robotic when you’ve delivered the same voice message over and over again. At the same time, it is difficult to personalize your message on the fly, especially when doing several calls. It is best to have three to five “scripts” that you can alternate.
More Tips From Experienced Agents
You don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. Learn from insurance agents who have been in the business for a long time:
1.A smile works – even over the phone. A smile works, whether or not a customer can see you. Smiling puts you into a positive and cheerful mood that manifests itself even over the phone through your voice. This helps customers be at ease and makes them more receptive to your sales pitch.
2.Stand rather than sit. Try standing when you follow up on a lead. Not only does it help you deliver your message more clearly, but it encourages you to move around and express more enthusiasm and energy while talking to your customer. Such as actions come through your voice and can influence your customer’s attitude about getting insurance from you.
3.Names are important. By using your customer’s name in the conversation, it tells them that you are aware of who you talking to as an individual. Too many times, agents feel that one customer is as good as another, especially if they can’t see each other. Using the customer’s name in the conversation helps keep their attention and makes them feel more involved in the discussion.
4. Indicate your presence with some “mhmm”’s and “ah”’s. A customer may become more talkative during the session, and, while it is rude to interrupt them while they are talking, injecting some “mhmm”’s and “ah”’s shows them you are still paying attention.
5.“No” is not the end. Most people are wary of salespeople and answer “No” by default. That is, until they are convinced of the advantage of a product or service. You should not give up after an initial response of “No”. You can ask permission to continue the conversation, and although you might get some more “No”’s, there is still the chance that your customer will change his or her mind after see-ing what you can do.
6.Use the customer’s language. Another technique to put other people at ease and make them more comfortable doing business with you is to talk their language. This includes phrases or key-words that the customer frequently uses, which you can find out if you listen carefully to the way he or she talks.
Things to Remember When Doing Follow-Up Calls
Follow-ups are important. You may not be able to close a sale the first time you contact a prospect, since most people would like a bit more time to decide on your insurance offer, but a follow up call may just do the trick.
1. Use your notes. Using information collected during past conversations is a good way of letting the customer know that you value their business and are serious in having good relations with them. It shows that you remember what their needs are and are taking steps to address them.
2.Make your calls count. Your customers’ time in important, so do not call them unless you have a good reason to do so. One good reason is when you have information that affects their insurance quote or the insurance product that they are considering.
3. Avoid long conversations. Your client has other business to attend to, so keep your call short, professional and to the point.
4.Use technology to manage leads. Free software for managing leads is available on the Internet. If you dealing with a large number of prospective clients, a lead management system can help you monitor the status of those leads and schedule follow-ups (either by email or phone).
5.Get a definite answer from your customer. As long as the customer has not said a definite “No”,you still have a chance of making a sale. You should make follow-up calls to make sure that you are covering all possible possibilities of a sale.
Finally, More Tips and Reminders
Confidence and enthusiasm for the insurance products you are selling can influence a prospect into making a sale. Keep track of your competition and what they are selling. This way, you can make adjust-ments to your sales pitch or to your insurance products to ensure that you are giving your customers the best and the right offer.
Address your customers’ budget concerns. Show them how they can afford your insurance products and the benefits they can get both from the policy and the company offering it to them. Solicit feedback and questions often. Show your customers that you are interested in knowing their insurance concerns and that you are willing and able to help.
End phone conversations on a positive note, even if there was no sale. Be helpful and keep your tone and words polite and respectful. You want to leave consumers with a good impression, so that they re-member you in the future when they are ready to buy insurance. They are also good sources of refer-ences. Being a good insurance agent takes practice, and the best way to learn is through experience.
What works for one customer may not necessarily work for another. Feedback, both positive and negative, can help you improve your skills in selling insurance on the phone. And if you don’t succeed in closing a sale despite your best efforts, do not let it discourage you. Sometimes there are factors out of your control that influences a consumer’s decision not to buy insurance.