Everything is all about digital communications today, and there’s no doubt, there are many great digital tools for selling, particularly for targeting volumes and when selling commodity products. But with more complex products that rely on expertise, relationship building is essential. A study conducted with seasoned sales professionals by Sales Insights Lab revealed that the phone is still a vital tool: “41.2% of respondents said that the phone is the most effective sales tool at their disposal.” Telephonic conversations foster a warmer, richer, more interactive process. The prospect’s tone and timing offer clues and cues in the sales process.
In thinking about phone selling, remember there is a difference between business to business (B2B) vs business to consumer (B2C) selling. While many personal lines consumers may be shifting to mobile and screening more calls, commercial prospects are still tethered to business phones. There’s also a distinction between phone selling on an incoming call where the caller is seeking information and an outgoing call that is more likely to fall into the “cold” call category.
Despite these differences, there are tips for selling insurance over the phone that can help you boost the likelihood for success. Here are some commercial telephonic sales tips – many can work for personal insurance sales, too:
- Establish your call goal before picking up the phone. What do you want to achieve? Are you seeking an in-person appointment? Are you following up on a lead nurturing inquiry? Trying to move a prospect along the sales journey? Planning to close a sale?
- Prep and organize. Research the company/industry you are calling. Plan what you want to say. Jot down the name, title, and organization of the person you are calling to avoid an embarrassing slip of mind. Jot down the key points you want to make and order your talking points to get a good flow. But while we can’t emphasize prepping enough, don’t let it immobilize you. At some point, you must dig in and dial the phone.
- Use sales scripts. Insurance scripts are key tools for improving your insurance agency’s sales and service. A script can keep you on track and help ensure you achieve your call goal. But practice until you are conversational, so you don’t sound robotic or like you are reading. You want to be natural. And keep it fresh – even when you use scripts, connect to news, new info, research, and reports you have read about their industry or their company.
- A mirror can be your friend. Practice your sales calls repeatedly. Record yourself to assess your tone, pace, and the confidence in your voice. And when it’s time to make the call, some seasoned pros keep a mirror in front of them to offer visual cues to stay positive and enthusiastic; others stand up or walk while on the call to keep the energy high. It’s a bit corny but true – keeping a smile on your face can really help keep your positivity level high.
- Start strong. Your opening line will make or break the call. Whenever you can, establish a connection to someone they know, to a referral, to an event or a recent study in their industry. If you can’t do that, plan a powerful offer or impressive data point about potential results or return on investments. Be direct and to the point. Don’t meander.
- Be likeable. Remember, you need to establish a relationship. Be personable, friendly, and familiar — but not too familiar or chummy. Keep it professional. Use their name a few times. Use the company name. Affirm, agree, use positive language. It’s a tired, old adage but true: People do business with people they like.
- Don’t assume. When talking to the CFO, you may think they understand insurance products, and they may, but don’t assume that. And be careful about assuming too much about their needs, their problems, or their industry. Don’t you tell them, let them tell you. Really listen. Get them talking about their problems and show how you can help solve those problems. Even if you make a lot of calls, keep in mind the individuality of each person you speak to, they aren’t all the same – each has different needs, problems, pain points, and personalities.
- Keep it simple. Don’t get too complex. Don’t use jargon or acronyms. Don’t give too many choices. Keep a clear path. You can follow-up with more information. Selling commercial insurance products will likely require more than one interaction.
- Keep the door open. Try to avoid letting them get to a hard no. Keep the conversation going, it can be a process. Even if they don’t buy from you today, they might tomorrow, keep them in the funnel and stay connected. Be there for them when they get buyer’s remorse after making the wrong choice of that other company!
- Follow up. Write notes about the call in your file while still fresh. If your prospect shared any personal details – how many children they have, a sport they enjoy – note that information to personalize future interactions. Add follow-up dates and action items to your calendar. Go above and beyond. If you see an article about their industry, forward it. Keep in touch.
Selling insurance over the phone is a little bit science and a little bit art. Keep plugging away and refining you process!
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