Your potential client hung up. Again. But you have a great insurance product and service to offer. Even better, you know that the lead is warm — the person on the other end of the call is interested in the insurance you sell. So, when did it all go wrong?
Odds are that it happened in the first 30 seconds. It's almost impossible to recover from a bad first impression, particularly when you've activated someone's anti-sales defenses.
Anti-sales defenses? You're a salesperson. How can you keep them from throwing up their walls, raising the drawbridge, and lowering the gate?
Simple. Stop trying to storm the castle.
Don't put pressure on yourself to sell — or on them to buy — in the first 30 seconds. Instead, focus on making a great impression. You can differentiate yourself from other agents and connect with your prospective buyer.
Here's how to perfect the first 30 seconds of an insurance phone call.
You don't need to spend hours preparing for each phone call, nor do you have the time for that. But you can use a few tricks to give yourself the best chance to convert your lead.
Get a head start on the first 30 seconds with these three tips:
When selling to individuals, extend them basic courtesy. What has the person on the other line already told you about themselves? They may have submitted relevant information — read it. They need to feel heard if that material enters into the conversation.
Don't bring up plans or packages that don't apply. Do introduce potential solutions for their individual needs later on in the conversation.
Your call recipient should always feel confident that you've reached out to them specifically, that you know who they are.
You may not always have control over when you call your leads. Therefore, your conditions may not always be ideal.
The best time of day to call is between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Your prospects haven't left the office but are winding down for the day. Another good time is right before lunch, between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm.
At these hours, you're most likely to catch someone with the right amount of time and attention to spare.
If at all possible, avoid calling people before 10:00 am. Would you want a call while you're rushing to the office after a doctor's appointment that ran too long? Or during your daily meeting? Or before you've had sufficient caffeine? Neither would they.
Last, be sure not to call during any hours that are prohibited by state of federal law, generally those are before 8 am or after 9 pm. Of course, those times makes sense, you don’t want to both people sleeping!
You're human, and you get tired. Heck, that golden hour from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm is probably when you're most drained after almost a full day's work.
Unfortunately, you can't let your prospect hear and feel your fatigue. You somehow have to find enough energy to share. They're tired, too, and it's up to you to infect them with your energy and excitement.
Stand up. Get up on your feet. You'll instantly be — and sound — more alert. Standing is free, easy, and effective.
Use a hands-free headset. Freeing up your hands makes it easier to pull up information if needed. Moreover, it loosens up your posture and demeanor, making you sound more comfortable.
Walk around. Many people pace while on the phone at home. If you can, find a space where you can move about during your conversation.
Stretch or jump up and down. Okay, this one can get a bit awkward in a public space. But if it works, isn't it worth it? Who knows — maybe you'll inspire others to join you for a two-minute daily workout in the afternoon.
Get a little blood flowing with some jumping jacks, or refocus with a moment of yoga before your phone call.
Use a common room. Don't have much energy to spare? Feed off of other people. You need a quiet enough space to make your call, but a more public location will provide external stimulation to wake you up. It can also help to bring out a more social persona.
So, try leaving that cubicle or closed office behind and rejoining the world.
From the moment they answer the phone, you need to take control of the conversation — without letting it come off as pushy.
Give your prospect the sense that they're talking to a friend rather than to a sales representative. You always want to do what’s best for the prospect, so starting with a friendly and helpful tone is a good starting place.
Is there anything less counterproductive than being told to relax? No.
But how can you put them at ease if you sound tense and nervous? Marc Wayshak, the best-selling author of Game Plan Selling, suggests that you talk like you would with a friend at a bar. (Or visualize a coffee shop if that's more comfortable.)
Wayshak also proposes that you treat each call as a low-stakes situation, even a game. Of course, you won't convert every prospect. These people don't know you, and their rejection isn't personal.
So, you know, relax.
Breathing is one of the keys to both being and sounding relaxed. It's also the key to avoiding that high-pitched "sales voice."
According to the Harvard Business Review, breathing correctly is essential to persuasive speaking. The same principle applies to talking on the phone.
Take a breath. Hold it. Without breathing out, say, "Hi, I'm [your name]."
It sounds a little tight and squeaky, doesn't it? You probably spoke a little quicker, too. And your body tenses when you hold your breath, making you feel a little anxious even if you're not otherwise.
Take another breath, and release it fully. Without inhaling, say, "Hi, I'm [your name]."
Breathy and a little strangled isn't the voice you want either. Plus, sans oxygen, you're more likely to feel and sound tired.
Now — last time, we promise — take a breath. This time, release it as you say, "Hi, I'm [your name]," breathing into the words.
Hear how full your voice is? You naturally speak in one of your lower registers, conveying confidence. You also don't confuse your brain and body by manufacturing distress cues.
Practice breathing into your opening line of the call. After that, just breathe. Don't let it become a source of stress. Just remind yourself to breathe if you feel tight in the chest or realize that you're not inhaling and exhaling naturally.
Last names are a dead giveaway that this is a sales call and will often raise your prospect's defenses. Stick to first names.
When you use their first name, they instinctively respond in a friendlier and more positive manner. You want them to feel like John or Susan or whoever they are. Not like John Smith, number four on your call list.
Use your first name, too. It establishes an equal footing. You also avoid overwhelming them with noise by introducing your last name, company, etc.
Last names may come into play if the call goes well, but start off with only first names.
While you don't want John Smith to put up his anti-sales defenses or shut down, you do want to be clear about who you are and why you're calling.
You're not going to trick them into a sale — nor should you ever try. All you'll do is frustrate them.
Remember that they've already expressed some degree of interest in insurance. Act like the competent professional you are with a calm demeanor and straightforward speech.
People's attention spans are shorter than ever, making it vital to take control of the call right from the beginning.
The first five seconds are the most crucial part of any sales call. If you flub the first five seconds, the next 25 aren't likely to go well — and you're not likely to convince them to stay on the line past that.
Say hello. Start with a greeting, not a question. Yes, great insurance agents ask questions to engage their customers. But not now, not yet.
Avoid asking questions too early. The most common mistake insurance agents make in sales calls is to start with a question. When you're calling John Smith, don't open with "Hello, is this John?" or "Hello, is John available?" Try, "Hello, John."
Asking questions could give a shopper the ability to say ‘no’ in those first few seconds. Instead, project confidence, assume that you're talking to John, and launch into your conversation.
Introduce yourself. Give them your first name in return. "Hi, John. This is Diane."
Tell them why you're calling. Be brief. Don't tell them the whole history that has brought the two of you together.
They really don't need to remember that on June fifth, they filled out a form on the website of one of your channel partners and indicated that they were very interested in a Medicare Advantage plan. They don't need to know that your boss at XYZ Insurance, whose name is Melanie, passed along their name to you.
Don't overwhelm them with information or give them additional points that might raise objections. You can get into your company and any other specifics after they've committed to staying on the phone with you.
Remind them of their insurance needs, but Forbes's business journalists warn against assuming too much and rushing the sale in the attempt to turn a warm lead hot.
Try, "Hi, John. This is Diane. I'm getting back to you about your Medicare Advantage request."
And there you go, your first five seconds.
If you happen to hear kids running around and screaming in the background or that they’re in a public space, acknowledge the distraction with a simple statement such as "I hear kids in the background. It seems like this may be a bad time."
If it isn't a good time to talk, ask when would be better for them. It's essential that you have their attention if you want to build a relationship with them.
You should also let them know how long you intend to keep them on the phone. Doing so demonstrates respect and honesty, making the prospect more likely to stay and talk.
Besides, face it. The moment they realized this was a sales call, they started thinking about all the other items on their to-do lists. So give them a clear five-minute window to slot into their day.
Keep to that promised schedule. Then, when you hit the five-minute mark (or however long you set), pause to let them know and ask if they still have more time to talk if needed, especially if the conversation is going well.
As you near the 30-second mark and move into the rest of the conversation, you're going to start asking them questions. Wait for their answers, even if it takes a while to respond.
In fact, some claim that the longer the silence, the better. It indicates that your prospect is truly considering their answer. Conversely, if you interrupt the silence with an explanation or another question, you risk breaking their engagement.
Keep in mind that you were expecting this call. They weren't. So, give them some time to catch up and collect themselves.
By really attending to their answers, you also demonstrate curiosity. Therefore, throughout the sales call, make every effort to keep the focus on them. When we sense that someone is truly curious, we tend to exhibit more patience with others and willingness to hear them in return.
Don't tell them what they need. Instead, ask them, and then work together to find their right solution.
There you have it. Put an end to all the objecting and hanging up with a pitch-perfect opening. Control the first 30 seconds, and you'll be on your way to a productive sales call.
Then it's time to do it again. Remember — this method works best with warm insurance leads. So, stay toasty with Nectar's real-time health insurance, life insurance, Medicare leads.
Nectar doesn’t buy leads from third parties. Instead, our methods allow us to find high-intent shoppers through a number of different platforms.
By matching the right shopper with the right agent, we aim to ensure a personalized experience for both. Let us help. Contact us with any questions or to schedule a demo. Or go ahead and sign up today!
This article reflects the features of Nectar as of the date of publication. Features are subject to change at any time. This article is meant for informational purposes only, it is not a guarantee that using Nectar will help you achieve specific business or financial results and is not intended to serve as the sole recommendation for any business financial decisions.