In 2004, my wife had a severe medical condition that forced me to come off the road and start selling over the phone from my home office. I had enjoyed success selling person to person and as a top agent my wife and I enjoyed attending all the company trips and after 2 years in the business I was given a Regional Manager position over Montana and Wyoming for the health company I represented.
When selling person to person, I always did a one call close. After all, I wasn’t going to spend my days driving to go back to people that would not buy on the first call. When I made the decision to start selling over the phone I was pretty nervous about my new selling atmosphere. I decided that as long as I had a system and followed it, I was sure I would be able to continue to support my family.
I knew that selling over the phone was going to be entirely different than selling person to person. Expecting all my sales to happen on the first call was not a realistic expectation. Of course if someone wanted to buy right away I wasn’t going to discourage them, but I needed a system that would allow me to get the sales without the benefit of meeting the prospect in person. My strong suit in selling has always been that people trusted me. So I wanted to establish a way for new prospects to gain that same trust without meeting them in person. Having a good web site plays a role in building that trust but it took a backseat to what I said and how I followed up with each prospect. This is where having a good Contact Manager played a huge role.
Selling Over the Phone is easy with the right system.
The key to this system is to be on the phone 40 hours a week or more and spend 100% of that time call and talking to prospects. When you have a lot of prospects in the hopper, you will start getting sales every day. Using this system I was 5th in the nation with the health company I represented and had a 93% retention rate each year with my existing customers.
I would start selling at 9:00 a.m. each morning and I wouldn’t stop until 5:00 or 6:00 that night. Putting in the time is very important. Working from home can be very distracting. Don’t let those distractions keep you from spending a full 8 hours a day working. I was very hard on myself about his. And I believe that it was a big factor in my success.
Here are a few tools that are an absolute must:
1) Online Quoting System
2) Online Application System
3) A great Contact Management System. Of course I recommend BusinessETouch.
4) Email Templates for each product you sell. The email template should have the company brochure for that product attached to the email and the mail merge system should merge in the contact name and price that you quoted them.
5) Ecards for Birthdays and Anniversaries. Your Contact Management system should have these built in and allow you to set the system up to automatically send the Ecard on the date that is entered in that perspective field.
6) You also need to set up a contract renewal email template that will automatically send an email one month before your client’s policy is coming due. You will then set up that email template to mail merge in the client’s Name, the Insurance Company, Policy Number and premium.
When Selling Over the Phone you need to establish yourself as an insurance professional that they can trust.
With the above list in place, I was ready to start selling. My goal was to build a relationship as there insurance agent. Of course I was pleasent on the phone and would engage in small talk. But not to much. Remember, you are selling insurance and more than likely the prospect doesn’t want to spend to much time with their insurance agent on small talk. If they were gabby I would let them go, otherwise I would get down to business.
Start by telling the prospect about yourself. How long you have been selling insurance. How you are there to help them with their insurance needs and that they can trust you to always do what is best for them. Of course you will then have to follow through and actually do what you have told them. I would often tell my prospects. I would always be there for them and that this policy was not the last policy they would ever buy. But I was the last agent that they would ever have. I would also assure them that I was not a pushy salesman and after I had given them the quote and explained the coverage I would email them the quote and company brochure. (Listed in number 4 above, the template can be sent out with just one click of the mouse)
I would then call them back the next day and ask if they received my email and if they had any questions. If they were ready to buy, of course I would complete the application. When people would put me off, I would just ask when they wanted me to call back. I let them control when I called. I know that this is against everything you have been told about sales but think about it. If you have 50 people to call today in your calendar why spend time trying to convince someone to buy when they are not ready to do so. You have given them the quote and explained the coverage. Move on to the next call and sell them later. I have found that there are 3 groups of Good Prospects. Those that buy within the first 1 to 3 calls. Those that buy in the first month and those that buy some time after that. My point is, eventually almost every Good Prospect buys. You are on the phone calling every day. Just keep calling and the sales will come.
Selling Over the Phone is easy if you have a good Contact Manager with an Integrated Dialer
When selling over the phone be sure to have a Contact Manager that has an integrated dialer. You will save hours each month with a click to dial system. I don’t recommend a predictive dialer. They usually have a long pause before you are connected to your prospect. With a click to dial system you have to listen to the phone ring but when they answer you are there to help them. It is important that the dialer is integrated with your Contact Manager. So you can easily see all your notes and any other saved information on your prospect. My Contact Manager would load all my scheduled calls from my calendar into the dialer so I could easily call through the list each day. When I was done with that day’s scheduled calls I would load my prospect group into the dialer and start calling through that list.
You must keep good records when selling over the phone. When I was done with a call I would enter in notes on what was said with that prospect. Especially personal information. If there was no answer, I alway left a short message. That message was my commerical and I believe that it played a big part in my success. After leaving a message I put LM in my notes for Left Message. That way my date and time stamped notes gave me a I record of every time I called. Of course, I would then schedule a call to them in the future.
Once a prospect had talked to me and I had given them a quote. I would move them to my Good Prospect group. When someone was in my good prospect group they would always be in my calendar for a call back until I sold them. This is crucial, never stop calling until they are sold. Don’t bug them to death. But always ask when they want you to get back and then put that in your calendar so you are sure to call on that day. Read my blog post “Work Every Lead Until it is Dead” for more on this part of my system.
Your Contact Manager should also notify you when a new lead is uploaded into your system. This way you can call them instantly. If you are buying internet leads this is especially important.
Once they are your client you need to keep them as your client until you retire. Your Contact Manager plays a huge role in that process. You should send them a Birthday and Anniversary Ecard every year. Your Contact Manager should do that automatically. Your Contact Manager should also automatically send an email one month before their policy comes due. This email should have their insurance company name, policy number and premium, mail merged into the email and invite them to call you for a policy review. You should then call them a few days later and talk with them about their coverage and price. I guarantee, that their last agent never did this and taking a couple of minutes once a year will keep your renewal income growing month after month. My Contact Manager allowed me to easily display all my clients that had a contract coming due each month on the calendar so calling everyone each month was simple.
I also had a drip email campaign that sent an email every month to my clients and my good prospects. That campaign consisted of 12 emails. 8 Emails talked about products that I sold. I sent a recipe that I liked twice a year and the other 2 emails talked about what a great agent I was and how I was there to help them with any insurance questions they might have. Every month when my drip email went out I would get a few calls from clients asking for a quote. What was interesting was that most of the time the quote they wanted had nothing to do with the email I had sent. To me, this proves that staying in front of your clients is a must, and if you are not using drip email you are losing money.
If you have the personality to stay on the phone 5 days a week and engage your prospects in conversation. Using the above system will work for you. Just as it worked for me.