Most insurance agencies and MGAs that use our services don’t have the ability to review or share calling activity with a sales representative or in-house telemarketers. Their phone system may not be sophisticated enough to offer that type of feature. The good news is that upper management can measure this! Did you know you have the ability to measure your business or the number of sales and proposals generated based on whose dialing and who’s not?
We have 3 and 1/2 months left in the year to make connections and to create meaningful talk time with both clients and prospects – which ultimately can turn into new business.
I have given some thought to my very own calls and what I might be doing wrong. As I reviewed voice messages that I left for prospects, I realized that the craft of building a meaningful connection is a bit more intentional and nuanced than it seems. It’s not just about the volume of dials and talk time, but more importantly it’s the technique and execution that makes a connection with a decision-maker or center of influence more meaningful.
Here’s what not to do during cold calling.
I would shy away from the opening line “I’m just checking in” & “I’m touching base“. It will set you up for failure, and provide the prospect(s) an out to immediately put you off (it’s a yes or no lead in).
The A’s and B’s (Proposals)
It’s recommended to use the following opening statements or reasons when you’re calling:
- “…to see when you’re ready to make the investment/payment?”
- “Calling for our 8: AM appointment to go over the next step and move forward.”
Perhaps the single biggest mistake we make is not establishing a specific date and time for the follow up call at the end of your initial call. Vague commitments from the prospects (“call me next week”) or statements like, (“I’ll send the proposal and follow up in a week”) results in missed calls and ultimately a much longer sales cycle.
All you need to do is simply ask for a follow up date and time, which is providing permission to call back. Think of it as agreeing to mini-contracts along the the sales process.
Always close and ask for an agreement.
When you call on time for closure and they yell at you, you can gently remind them that they agreed to speak on the day and time you called. At this point you’ve earned the right to call the prospect back.
Avoid opening statement blunders that most sales reps make. Here’s just a few of the follow up opening statements blunders:
- “I was calling to follow up on the proposal.”
- “I am calling to see if you had any questions.’
- “I just wanted to make sure you got my e-mail.”
- “The reason for my follow up was to see if you had come to decision.”
- “I am touching base.”
- “I’m checking in.”
It is not that these opening statements are terrible, but rather it’s that they’re so common that they can sound contrived. These statement do not differentiate who you are. What this really means is that you are perceived as another run-of-the-mill vendor looking for a sale. Build a compelling follow up statements that gets through the clutter. Make sure to do the following:
- Introduce yourself using your full or first name clearly.
- Always provide your company name.
So far it’s pretty simple. Keep in mind, however, that the messaging that follows is where you differentiate yourself.
Remind the prospect/client why you’re calling. Remind the prospect/client what prompted the follow up call in the first place. This means going back to your initial cold call (discovery) and reminding the client of the “pain” or the “gain” that was discussed or agreed upon during your previous call.
“Jerry, this is John Smith calling from Neilson Marketing. Jerry, when we spoke last week you had two concerns. First, you indicated that you were concerned about hitting the carrier premium volume commitment before the end of the year, and second, that there’s no real plan to achieve your over all year end agency commercial lines sales goals.”
John reminds Jerry why he agreed to speak and take the first call, let alone the follow up call. We need to do this because the prospects are busy; they forget; or that the urgency of last week may not seem so urgent this week. So let’s open up the wound. Remind them of the pain and then move on to implementing a solution.
What I would like to recommend at this stage is two things. First, we review our new business marketing program so you understand how we can help you with your concerns. Second, we’ll take a closer look at the current proposal/agreement I sent over. Then we’ll determine the next steps, if applicable. How does that sound?
Prospects, let alone clients, like a clear, concise agenda. They want to deal with a sales person who is organized and doesn’t waste their time. They want someone to take control and move the call forward. This gives them confidence. Finally, notice how John Smith repeats a theme that he established in the first call and in his follow up. He indicates that “they will determine the next steps if applicable.” It’s a nice touch and reduces client resistance.
I like to breakdown the sales process into four phases. The few tips in this article can and should be applied in any part of the four phases/sales process.
Sometimes we are our own worst enemy, whether it’s attempting to ask for the sale, appointment, or signed agreement. If you think of it as a sales funnel, the closer you get to asking for the sale the more difficult it becomes to gather information. If you perform the selling process correctly, the prospect just might give you the order as you reach the lower portion of the sales funnel.
Be prepared on your follow up calls to articulate why you’re calling. I would recommend writing out your opening statements before your next sales call. Sales reps and telemarketers that work together can help your agency generate solid A’s and B’s with increased dials and good quality talk time. Let’s make the most of the next 3 1/2 months and show up prepared to play. Rest over the weekend, eat healthy, lift weights, do yoga, jog or whatever it is that will put you in the right frame of mind to hit your weekly, monthly quarterly or yearly personal sales goal.