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How to Successfully Sell Insurance Over the Phone

Sales Enablement
Jun 8, 2021
minute read
Nectar Team
How to Successfully Sell Insurance Over the Phone

If it were easy to sell insurance over the phone, everyone would do it. Working with a list of well-qualified, exclusive leads is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways of making an insurance sale, but it's also the most nerve-wracking.

Don't worry, you won't get used to it. If it didn't wrack your nerves even a little bit, you'd be no good at it. The key is to acclimate your nerves. Make the "wracking" productive. As it happens, there are many useful ways of doing just that.

Get Comfortable

Being on the phone makes you invisible to the person on the other end. They won't see you smile, so your voice has to smile on your behalf — meaning you need to be mindful of your posture. We always say, "relax," but relaxation is more than mental, and even relaxation takes a little thought and work.

Pay attention to your breathing before making a single call. Is air flowing smoothly or rigidly? How you sit dramatically affects the flow of air into your lungs. Instead of slouching, envision your two lungs sandwiched around your central spinal cord and sit so that the three align together. Experiment with your neck to see what angle most allows oxygen to flow naturally back and forth.

It might even help to forgo sitting entirely. If being "animated and lively" makes the sale, you'll be far more animated and lively standing on two feet. Very likely, you'll naturally start pacing and gesturing with your hands as though the other person could see you. So, don't stop yourself. Even if you're alone, your passion will come through with your voice if you let it.

Be Prepared and Organized

You'll need two things in front of you: whatever information your potential client might ask for and a way to track and record the relationship with them.

You're going to be caught empty-handed at some point, but you need to make your best effort to keep that from happening. Know what it is you're selling, know the benefits and drawbacks of the policy, and know what questions you might get asked.

Eventually, these will all become second nature. Whether the information is on paper, a computer screen, or in your head, you better have that information handy when needed.

Sooner or later, you'll be caught off guard. It happens. Say, "I'm sorry, I don't have that information right this second, but I can find out and get back to you!". Then write down the question you weren't expecting because, no matter how rare it was, sooner or later, it'll be asked again.

As you grow and develop more relationships with leads and full-blown clients, you'll want a customer relationship management (CRM) system to keep track of them all. The more detailed, the better; the more personalized, the better.

The majority of CRMs even automate your relationship tracking to keep you focused on the actual relationships themselves.

Know the Value You Offer

Why are you making this call? If your answer is some variation of "Because I want to make money," hang it up! Step away from the phone and fix that mindset because you'll never make a dime if you're not thinking about what you have to offer.

So, why are you making this call? Because of the value that your insurance policy will bring to the buyer? To help them avoid the problems that can happen if they're not covered by a policy like the one you're offering? This is the ideal mindset to have.

This mindset is called "value," and it's what will keep you from becoming a shy, confused, babbling mess when you're on the phone as you're offering a valuable service that will help them.

Let's say you're selling life insurance. The value of that policy is that it will protect the buyer's loved ones from financial hardships in the event of an unexpected tragedy. No one is better off if you don't make that call and offer a client something that can avoid a problematic outcome.

Knowing your value is the secret weapon behind confidence and sincerity on a call.

Have a Solution for Every Problem

What we just discussed above is called "pain." Pain here can mean anything that isn't working right or could be better. You, your clients, and potential clients all deal with big and small pain points every day.

If you don't believe you're selling a product that will or might alleviate someone's pain, you're going to come off insincere and unconfident. Rightfully so! You sound insincere because you are, in fact, being insincere if you do this. That's why identifying pain points help you just as much as it helps your potential client.

Think about all the great features that come with the policy you're selling. For each one, ask yourself, "So what?" "What's it good for?" The answer to that question is a pain point. Make a list of these and know them by heart.

These pain points should be addressed when you introduce yourself at the start of the call. That will keep your focus on your potential client, which is much more professional and helpful than going on and on about you and your company.

Prepare Pre-qualifying Questions

With pain points in mind, try adding a few pre-qualifying questions to your sales script and use them at the start of the call. Their time is valuable, and you, as the caller, owe it to them not to waste it.

The purpose of these pre-qualifying questions is to find whether there's a good fit between you and this potential client. If they bring up one of the pain points that you know you can address, that's an excellent bridge to a valuable conversation.

The important thing here is to develop the right qualifying questions to save yourself and them as much time as you can. We can't simply tell you what these questions are. That depends on the line of insurance you sell and the particulars of the policy you're selling. Do you have in mind a specific buyer persona? Remember, you're not throwing spaghetti at the wall, you're searching for that one specific person.

Think about the problems, challenges, and pain points that your policy solves. If you wanted to know whether someone is experiencing one of these issues, what question would you ask them? Envision someone you know and ask them in your head. Let the question come out naturally.

Bingo. That's your probing question. Do you need more info? Do it again.

Now that you have one or two probing questions for your sales script write these questions down alongside your value proposition and pain points and ask them in your emails, voicemails, and at the start of every conversation.

Is There a "Right Order?"

Is there an order of conversation that these dialogues should go? Not really, but absolutely!

  • Pain points are like the foundational structure supporting the entire house of a conversation. Leave them unassuming in the background and address the specific items of value you bring to the table.
  • Tell your potential customer that these value points are "the reason why" you're reaching out in the first place.
  • Use the probing questions to find out whether these value points are useful for solving their pain points.
  • Then, when the conversation is winding down, share some stories about pain points experienced by people 'like' your potential customer and how those problems were resolved. "Story" does not mean life story. Keep it brief!

Make those pre-qualifying questions the core of your message. Since you're only looking for that "special someone" you can help, most of the time, those pre-qualifying questions will be as far as it gets, and that's as it should be.

Are you meeting any objections? These questions will be your mainstay, so maybe they're not the customer for you.

Clear communication is easy, but it only becomes easy if you put in the work. Get to the point, and don't waste their time!

Rehearse Your Script, But Don't Grow Dependent

Think of your script as a sort of archetype of how a conversation with your designated buyer persona might go. It's not meant to fit everything precisely, and it's not intended to be followed like a robot. Your script should be short and to the point, but leave plenty of room for flexibility.

You should absolutely practice. The introductory statement at least should sound as natural and fluid as possible, as though this is the one and only phone call you'll be making that day.

Every person you contact is unique, so your manner on each call should also be unique. The words can be the same, but the tone should be pleasant, easy-going, and professional. Feel free to improvise, but don't rub them the wrong way with informality.

Create a Great First Impressions

You'll never get a second chance at it. Absolutely and under no circumstances call a potential client and say something like, "Hey, how's it going?" "Hi! How're you doing today?". You don't know this person, and you don't have the slightest earthly idea of what's going on in their life right now. Don't waste their time, and don't pretend like you're not calling with a purpose.

Purpose is the key. Seldom will you go wrong with the time-honored, "The reason why I'm calling is…". Be confident, but remember that your confidence can only come from your own knowledge of the value of the policy you have to offer.

The purpose here is not to make the sale but to make a connection. Use your pre-qualifying questions, jump into the conversation, and be professional. Don't make small talk without so much as knowing whether this person is a good fit for you or you for them.

Ask Questions and Listen

We've mentioned the need to be "You" focused and not "Me" focused. Remember that people (whatever their protestations) like talking about themselves, so let them. Field open-ended questions, listen to what they have to say and look for something relevant to the actual purpose of your call.

Remember that this is a conversation first and foremost. You can't expect to listen mindlessly as they talk about themselves and their problems, only to robotically return to your pre-written script when they're done. They'll hear the insincerity a mile away, and nothing of value will be accomplished.

Just as people like to see you nod when you're speaking to them, they like to hear you say "Mmhm!" when they're talking to you. It's a verbal nod. Don't force it. They have to come naturally, and they will come naturally if you are listening, interested, and responsive.

That's why questions like, "What tone of voice should I use?" or "How should I phrase X?" never go anywhere. The real answer is to listen and respond accordingly. Listen for their keywords and key phrases, the adjectives and verbs that they use, their vocabulary, and repeat them back when it's your time to speak. That's how you build rapport and become likable; a pleasant part of the day for that person, even if no sale is made.

That said, beware of rambling, venting, and gossip. Hear them out but bring the conversation back to the point in a polite way.

Establish the Agenda

Once you've established a dialog with a potential client, and they indicate they're open to learning more about your policy, take control of the conversation and set the agenda.

Tell them from the start what you'll be talking about and ask them whether the agenda you've provided sounds good. Imagine you're drawing a bullet-pointed list of all your talking points into their head. It's an excellent and professional way to keep the conversation manageable and productive for both of you.

Act as a Trusted Advisor, Not a Salesperson

The point of asking probing questions is to better understand the person you're talking to. They don't have to meet your ideal buyer persona in every respect, but they should be in the ballpark. By brainstorming the right questions and asking them at the start of the conversation, you'll know what problems they're facing, you'll guess their pain points, and you'll be ready to offer solutions. The more calls you make, the more intuitively this will come to you.

Your policy needs to be relevant to them. Do not blithely list policies and features that they don't care about — respect this person's time. If you ask the pre-qualifying questions you should ask, you'll know whether they can benefit from your policy right away. If they can benefit, you can formulate an effective pitch.

You'll cease to be a salesperson and become something much closer to an advisor through those questions. It's uncommon (notice we don't say "very" uncommon) to make a sale on your very first call with a person. The first call is the time to qualify them and, if they are eligible, get to know them and their problems. Your proposed solutions should be relevant, but don't expect to score a goal right away. Even an "I'll think about it" is a win on the first call as long as you follow up another time.

Be Ready for Objections

Objections aren't bad. You are searching for the right customer, not any customer. When you know what your policy has to offer inside and out, you should be able to anticipate what your prospect's objections or concerns might be, and you should have answers ready to head those off. As you make more calls, you will encounter new objections to add to the list.

However, some objections have nothing to do with insurance. Many times you'll meet resistance based on something entirely unrelated, like "I don't have time for this right now." The correct response isn't to argue, but to say quite simply, "I understand! May I call you again at a better time?"

Maybe they say, "I'm not interested." If it happens at the start of the conversation, then it's time for your "Have a nice day!". But if it happens unexpectedly after the discussion has been going for a while, if they say "I'm not interested anymore," it's okay to ask them a bit why that might be disinterested and if there's anything you can do to change their mind. You've earned that extra confidence with them throughout the conversation.

Ultimately, as we've said, you're also looking for reasons to disqualify. There will be objections you can't overcome and shouldn't try. Don't dwell upon them and don't consider them a "failure" because they're not. It isn't personal, and it isn't about you. Move on and try again.

Have a Great Closing Statement

This question often comes up, "How do I bring the call to an end?" As with all things in the art of conversation, the answer to that question depends on how the conversation went in the first place.

Formality in business largely depends on the medium. Did the conversation take place on social media? Less formal is okay. Is this an email message? More formality is called for.

In the case of selling insurance over the phone, you should, at a bare minimum, thank this person for their time, wish them a good day, and — if the talk went well — inform them about their next steps concerning your product.

Avoid the common error of forgetting to tell them how to reach you. Showing you remember their name by actually using it would not go amiss here. End the conversation pleasantly, and, if this person is still uncertain (which happens often), ask them if it would be okay to call them back some other day.

It would be smart — and by that, we mean, write it down and don't forget — to ask whether they have an alternate means of contact, like an email. If they do, ask if you can forward them additional information about your policy. That way, you can include documentation and visuals (e.g., data) to back up what you said on the call, which is always a positive avenue of reinforcement.

Remember to Follow Up

Few calls turn into sales the first time around. The key is to make a connection and then follow up. Ask them for additional contact information where you can send some materials about your policy. Ask them if you can call again sometime to go over some more points about your policy. Whatever you do, don't forget to leave the door open for "next time."

Keep Track of How You're Doing

Do you remember that customer relationship manager (CRM) system we mentioned? Tools like this can also help you measure your calls' success, tracking which prospects were "uncertain," which ones asked you for more information, and so forth. You can track whether the call ended with an abrupt "Not interested" right away or if something (that you can possibly correct) went wrong later in the process.

Having a CRM is necessary for helping you see where you're doing well and where improvements need to be made, so don't neglect it. If you expect to be making a high volume of calls, tracking this data can be vital.

Stick With it and Don't Give Up

When you first decided to become an insurance agent, you possibly did so for the great commissions and the incentive of earning six figures. This is indeed possible, but you shouldn't expect it to happen overnight.

Lead qualification makes a big difference in being successful or not. The quality of your leads, specifically how well those leads suit your insurance offerings, can drastically reduce the time it takes to make a sale.

Have a Steady Flow of Leads

Though nurtured leads can be an essential source of sales, you'll want to have a steady supply of new and primarily exclusive leads as well—"Exclusive" in the sense that the leads belong to you and will not be resold.

You can find high-quality, exclusive leads from your marketing efforts. But, if that's taking valuable time away from your sales calls, consider working with a company like Nectar to supply you with new and real-time leads.

Let Nectar Be Your Source for Real-Time Leads

No matter what insurance industry you represent, Nectar helps you to connect directly with the shoppers you're looking for in the best way for your business. The referrals are real, and they're fresh.

What's more, Nectar doesn't buy third-party leads and then resell them to you. Instead, it generates all of its original leads through various marketing channels. By taking shoppers' information and comparing it with your filters, Nectar works to bring you the best leads possible. Connecting the right shopper with the right agent assures a better overall experience for both parties.

In the end, the quality of the shopping experience can make a world of difference for insurance shoppers. Sign up with Nectar today and start connecting with customers looking for the types of insurance products you sell.

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.

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