After two months of sheltering in place, most brokers have figured out how to work from home. You’ve probably set up a workspace if you didn’t have one already, downloaded and mastered some type of virtual meeting software, and learned how to service your clients without going into the office. But have you actually been selling new business over the past few weeks? If not, perhaps you need to polish your phone sales skills.
The truth is that nobody knows how long the COVID-19 health crisis will last, but most people acknowledge that it’s not going away anytime soon. Even as some states begin to loosen their restrictions in an attempt to return to normal, a lot of people are understandably scared, and it will be a while before everyone is completely comfortable meeting face to face. In other words, for the foreseeable future, brokers will need to know not just how to take care how their current clients but how to sell new business from a distance.
For that reason, this article, adapted from a July 31, 2019 blog post by the Quotit Team, should be beneficial.
Selling health insurance over the phone sounds easy enough, right?
There are unique challenges in trying to sell anything over the phone, but insurance is a distinctly personal product that can impact the consumer’s life in profound ways. The right insurance coverage can affect the health and financial well-being of the consumer and their loved ones.
With the gravity of the need to buy insurance weighing on your prospect, your ability to get them to trust you, your expertise, and your empathy over the phone are vital to your success as an insurance broker.
If the idea of accomplishing all of this is intimidating, you’re not alone. Trying to make a connection with a stranger over the phone can be difficult. You can’t predict what type of distractions you may encounter on your end or your prospect’s, and without body language and facial expressions, your words, tone, and volume become your only tools to convey the benefits of your products and services.
Building confidence in your over-the-phone sales skills can make an impact on your long-term success, especially If you are just starting out as an insurance agent or trying to expand your business and increase sales. The benefits of selling health insurance over the phone, including the time and flexibility it affords you and your clients, are worth the effort you make to hone your skills.
Try some of these invaluable tips for selling insurance over the phone:
- Set up your office thoughtfully – before you make your first call.
- Be organized.
- Prepare for objections.
- Ask questions.
- Evaluate your success – and failure – frequently.
- Be sincere.
- Customize your conversation.
- Choose your words carefully.
- Exude confidence.
- Create an opening and closing.
- Automate follow-up.
1. Set up your office thoughtfully – before you make your first call.
Many insurance brokers work from home successfully. Having a home office certainly cuts overhead costs, but there are downsides. If you have a family or pets, you will need to designate a specific room as your office – one that is far from any noise and distractions – and your family will have to honor your work hours.
Have all the tools at your fingertips that you will need to be successful before you start your call. Aside from basic office supplies and marketing materials ready to mail, you will need to have an updated computer already equipped with the programs and applications necessary to help your clients research insurance plans and enroll.
Many brokers find that customer relationship management (CRM) software with real-time quoting engines and auto-response technology works extremely well in conjunction with their current online tools, and it can be customized to reflect your agency’s specific brand and vision.
This might feel funny at first, but consider keeping a mirror near your desk. It can be helpful to watch yourself while you speak on the phone to help you identify potential areas of improvement in speech or facial expressions. It will also remind you to smile, which can naturally change the tone of your speech without realizing it and make you even more likely to engage and connect with a prospective client.
2. Be organized.
If you feel flustered, your clients will sense it in your voice. Keeping an organized office space can help you stay calm, collected, and focused. Keep a fluid calendar on hand to keep your appointments and scheduled calls on time, and make sure online tools are installed with your own needs and preferences in mind.
You should have easy access to any information you will need during a sales call. You don’t want a prospect to have to wait while you shuffle papers to find something.
3. Prepare for objections.
Choosing insurance can be stressful – and your client may have valid concerns. Other people simply hesitate to make important decisions and may offer excuses as to why they aren’t ready to commit. Overcoming objections is just part of selling insurance. Be prepared to listen, show compassion, and use your knowledge to help a client get past their reservations.
4. Ask questions.
Don’t make assumptions. Instead, ask guided questions that will help you determine your client’s needs. Understanding what is important to your client will help you narrow down the types of insurance products and services they would be interested in. Asking questions is also a great way to make a connection with someone. Developing a good rapport with a client is vital to a productive and lasting relationship – one that will hopefully result in continued sales and referrals.
Listening skills are not as easy to master as you may think. Most of us listen in order to respond, instead of listening to learn. As an insurance agent, your job is to learn what products and services your prospect will value. It can be challenging to sift through a prospect’s concerns and hesitations to figure out exactly what they need, but listening effectively can help you close the sale.
6. Evaluate your success – and failure – frequently.
Once you’ve been making sales calls for a few hours, they can become routine. Take a moment to periodically review your successes and failures. It’s better to recognize a weakness in your sales tactics and make adjustments.
Review recorded calls to evaluate them as objectively as you can. Continue to use the sales techniques that work, and make changes when necessary.
7. Be sincere.
Try to avoid sounding like you have a scripted sales pitch prepared when you speak to a client over the phone. Sincerity comes across in your voice, inflection, and tone – and it is invaluable in establishing the trust that is necessary to insurance sales success. The insurance market is flooded with brokers competing for business. Stand out among your competitors by expressing your genuine interest in helping your clients access quality, affordable healthcare coverage.
8. Customize your conversation.
Use your client’s name throughout your conversation, and if you’ve spoken before, review your notes from your last conversation before you pick up the phone. When appropriate, mention what you talked about and follow up on any concerns or questions they had mentioned previously. No one wants to feel as if they are just another sale. Make your clients feel as important as they are. Each client can help you build your reputation and increase sales. Let them know how much you value their business by customizing your conversation.
9. Choose your words carefully.
Words matter. Avoid slang, acronyms, and language that could be construed as unprofessional. While it is important to build a friendly rapport with your clients, maintain a level of respectfulness during all your conversations.
Recognize words and key phrases used by your client in order to assure them that you are indeed understanding and responding to their particular concerns.
10. Exude confidence.
There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but as an insurance sales agent, you will have to manage your speech and behavior in order to demonstrate your expertise while remaining humble. Allow your genuine desire to serve your client to shine through in every conversation, but don’t hesitate to explain why they should choose to work with you.
11. Create an opening and closing.
Practice makes perfect, so create a sales call opening and closing that you are comfortable using.
Some calls will require a variation of it, but if you have a general sense of how you’d like to introduce yourself, practice it until it sounds natural, confident, and sincere. You need a prospect to stay on the phone in order to make the sale, so try your opening with someone you trust to give you honest feedback. Once you are making calls, evaluate the success of certain approaches and determine which ones work best for you and appeal to your clientele.
You want to seamlessly transition to your closing during your conversation. Whether your client is ready to choose a plan and enroll, or needs a follow up meeting, make sure you have an idea of what you want to say in order to move your conversation to the next step in the sales process.
12. Automate follow up.
Once you make a sales call, you need to cultivate your relationship. The timeliness of the follow-up is crucial, but we all know how busy and hectic a day in the life of an insurance agent can be. Follow-up emails to clients can certainly get lost in the shuffle unless you have a system in place that allows you to communicate with your clients in an appropriate time frame while you are still working other leads.
CRM tools that include auto-response technology are game-changers for insurance brokers who want to maximize their time and streamline sales efforts. Insurance software programs like Quotit give insurance agents the ability to customize communications, build their business, and provide the level of customer service that will keep clients and encourage referrals.
Selling health insurance over the phone can be a lucrative and successful way to build your business, but don’t let your discomfort or inexperience stop you from tapping into this very profitable market. Practice your sales techniques to sell insurance until you feel ready, and take time to evaluate your progress every so often. With tips for selling health insurance over the phone at your fingertips, you will be able to maximize the potential sales opportunities and expand your business.