Your most important task as an insurance agent is to communicate properly while gaining the trust and confidence of a prospective client, and often in a crunch. Not only are you expected to get across the finer points of why the policy you’re selling is better than the rest, but you are also listening attentively and collecting information on your prospective client to see which policies they need. All the while, you are gaining that person’s trust.
Selling insurance is not an easy task at all. Luckily, you have several tools at your disposal to achieve your goal: emails, phone calls, voicemail, in-person conversations, and social media. In this first segment, we will show you how to have the best telephone interaction with your prospects.
The sooner you call a prospect the better. Not only are your chances of closing a sale higher if you’re the first agent to make contact, but that person will not have been bombarded with several other agents yet and will be more open to taking the call.
In just a few seconds you have on the phone, you need to pull a customer into the conversation and let your personality shine. Be friendly, yet confident, and even more importantly, you want that person to stay engaged, so be mindful of your tone and the words you use. Choose them wisely because it’s all you’ve got in a phone conversation. Remember that you’re also trying to gain their trust so be as good-natured as possible.
Finding a shared interest or hobby helps break the ice. Maybe you are alumni from the same college or were in the same sorority or fraternity in college. You never know unless you begin asking questions and letting the client talk.
Hopefully, you like to talk, but it’s even more important that you listen. Silences can be disconcerting, however, and you need to make the prospect feel as comfortable as possible each minute. You’ve got to be quick on your feet and fill the silence with questions and comments that will get the customer to feel at ease and open up to you. However, allow the client to process the conversation. Don’t push for a sale while the prospect is still trying to wrap her head around her insurance options. Offer to clarify any confusion, but avoid sounding impatient to close the deal.
Let the customer see that you know your stuff. This person wants to feel safe and protected placing their expensive assets in your hands. Based on the information you gather from this person, suggest various coverages that may be beneficial for their circumstances. Share all the options while leaving the ultimate decision-making up to the customer. It helps if you’re knowledgeable about what your competitors are offering, too, so you can show the customer why your product is superior.
Hesitation is normal. Your prospective client is trying to make some very important financial decisions using insurance products which may be confusing to them. Avoid being pushy if you are met with indecision, which will cause the customer to put up his or her defenses. Instead, ask if you should go over anything that may not seem clear. Try explaining in different terms if given the green light. Also, allow the customer time to work through his or her thoughts.
If you’re doing other work while talking to a customer, that person will know you’re distracted. There’s nothing worse than making a potential client feel like just another lead. They will feel like you don’t care about them or that they can’t trust you or your judgment.
The speakerphone creates discomfort too. The person on the other line won’t feel confident that they are speaking to you privately (about their finances). Placing the prospect on hold is also a bad idea, and eating or drinking, smoking or vaping can blow a deal altogether.
You should be wholly focused on the client, even going as far as taking notes to prepare for a follow-up call. You may not close the deal on this first phone call but you want to gather enough information for the next round.
Call at the Right Time
Are you calling when customers are sleeping or getting ready for work? Or are you calling in the middle of dinner or when they are about to go to bed? Keep the time zone in mind if you are selling in other parts of the country. Calling at a time when the prospect may be busy is a sure-fire way of being shooed away. It doesn’t matter how pumped up and animated you are, the person on the other line won’t be interested in what you have to say and may not take a second call from you (especially if you call at 5 am!).
What if the Customer Calls You?
If a client is calling you and you have your notes within reach and feel organized enough to take the call, do so. But if you’re in the middle of something and are unable to present a professional demeanor, it may be best to let the call go to voicemail. You can call the customer after you pull out your notes and pull yourself together. You’ll want to call back sooner rather than later, but if you are unable to return the call within a few minutes, make sure you do it at the right time. The best hours to leave a message are between 6:45 am to 8 am and from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm.
What if I Get Voicemail?
Don’t leave a long-winded voicemail message and don’t give a quote in a message. Generally speaking, a good voicemail is no longer than 20-seconds and contains only critical information. Make sure the customer gets your number correct (don’t say it so fast in the beginning and repeat it at the end). Make sure to say something that resonates and shows that you can help. Try to avoid sounding nervous, which can be misconstrued as dishonesty.
Other Phone Strategies that Work:
- Smile. Yes, smile over the phone. You will sound more welcoming and customers are more inclined to feel comfortable and to like you.
- Stand or Walk. This trick always expresses more energy and clarity in your voice.
- Use the Customer’s Name. No one wants to be just another lead. Using a customer’s name creates a sense of familiarity with that customer. Try to use their name a few times during the conversation to keep them engaged in what you’re saying.
- Acknowledge the Customer. Whether you’re saying, “uh-huh” or “right,” make sure the customer is aware that you are listening while they talk. When you affirm that you are listening, the customer is more likely to keep talking and reveal even more about their situation, which will make selling insurance to this person that much easier.
- "No" is Not in Your Vocabulary. Look for any sign to continue telling the customer about the insurance while seeming kind and honest. Remember that people are programmed to say "no", but all you need is a maybe to convince the prospect that you have something they need.
- Make it Fit. If the customer says the policy is more expensive than they can afford, alter the policy by raising the deductible. Do what you can to make it fit their budget if it is within reason.
- Be Polite. Even if you spent a half-hour on the phone and the call didn’t end in a sale, you want to be pleasant and friendly. This client may come back to you or they may refer you to friends and family, even if they decided to stay with their current carrier. Never burn any bridges.
- Consider Texting. A brief text to set up a time to speak may even be more effective than returning a missed voicemail from a prospect. Or, a text can be a less aggressive follow up after an unreturned call. According to the Direct Marketing Association, 77% of people with cell phones use text messaging.
What About Phone Calls from Purchased Insurance Leads?
The beauty of buying leads is that there really is no difference between how you should and should not behave during a phone call. The only difference would be if part of the service you requested is live-transfer inbound calls. With those, it’s best not to answer the phone with your usual greeting, but rather to make it clear right away that you are ready to give the person a quote. The reason behind this is that the caller has already been pre-screened at a call center and is anticipating a quick quote. If you answer with “Hi, how can I help you?” there will be a disconnect between what the caller expected and what he/she got when you picked up. It can feel like you’re not on the same page. A preferable greeting would be, “Hi, I’m Joe and I’m ready to give you a quote. Ideally, you have the lead platform up on your screen and may even be able to address the caller by their name. For the best insurance leads, contact SmartFinancial.