How to Avoid Cold-Call Pitfalls and Increase Close Rates

Many agents start their careers with a phone and an empty desk—smiling and dialing their way through a list of cold-call contacts.

How many times have you or one of your staff members spent hours cold-calling, only to be rejected by consumers who may legitimately benefit from your insurance products and services? The experience can be challenging—and frustrating—for even the most qualified agents, not to mention support staff, who may find themselves on the receiving end of hostile consumers while making phone calls.

If cold-calling is an acceptable lead generation tool for the products you sell there are basic guidelines you can follow for success. In Cold-Calling Tips for Insurance Sales, we offer the following suggestions to help simplify the process:

·      Utilize a script (but know when to go “off script”).

·      Maintain 100% focus on the prospect.

·      Ask questions.

Despite the initial difficulty of cold-calling, many insurance agents and their staff have learned the fine art of closing the sale by practicing these basic methods.

However, for those who want to refine their cold-calling skills, there’s more to learn. We’ve outlined several ways to avoid the most common cold-call pitfalls in this handy guide of Dos and Don’ts for Increasing Close Rates.

DON’T make the call all about you.

DO focus the conversation on your prospect.

One of the worst things you can do during a cold call is to focus immediately on the products you offer. That’s because all a prospect hears is, “Me … Me … Me.” Instead, make it clear you’re interested in their well-being and want to address their needs. When possible, it helps to do your research before a call and tailor your conversation accordingly. For instance, if calling a business, find out about your prospect via their website, Internet searches, databases, and company press releases. Remember: client-centered selling works.

DON’T “just wing it.”

DO tighten your script.

Yes, you should have a script. But make sure you practice, practice, practice, so you doesn’t sound scripted. You should quickly identify who you are and the reason you are calling, but remember to focus more attention on your prospect’s needs than on your product. You have mere seconds to create curiosity, so keep your introduction short and sweet. Avoid inundating the prospect with every benefit of your individual products.  Focus on the benefits that will best meet the needs of the prospect and try not to ask yes or no questions. It helps to prepare responses to commonly asked questions. You will also want to practice responding to objections you might encounter.

DON’T miss verbal cues.

DO be relatable.

Even when following a script, you want your prospect to feel comfortable. Do your best to relate to the person with whom you’re speaking. You can convey your genuine interest by truly listening to their concerns and then responding honestly and repeating back some of the concerns or needs you heard. Make sure you communicate via your tone that you have their best interests in mind. According to recent reports, the tone we use on the phone is 86% of our communication and the words we use make up only 14%.

 DON’T give up if you can’t immediately close the sale.

DO focus on building the relationship.

Even if you’re unable to close the sale on the first call, remember that sometimes relationships take time. For some prospects, rushing the process might be overwhelming. So do your best to keep them relaxed, and reassure them that they can call you when they’re ready. And be sure to remain top of mind by following up with aged leads.

Even if you’re unable to close the sale on the first call, remember that sometimes relationships take time. For some prospects, rushing the process might be overwhelming. So do your best to keep them relaxed, and reassure them that they can call you when they’re ready. And be sure to remain top of mind by following up with aged prospects and clients. This builds trust and, in turn, nurtures relationships.

DON’T be afraid to ask.

DO understand your objective.

There are a number of scenarios you may want to prepare for before the call (selling, setting the appointment, registering the prospect for a seminar, getting a referral, etc.), so be sure you know your ultimate goal. While you don’t want to overwhelm your prospect, you should always aim to keep the relationship moving forward. If you can ask questions out of curiosity and/or genuine interest, you may be surprised by the favorable responses you receive.

 DON’T rely on spreadsheets or pen and paper.

DO use technology.

By employing a CRM software to coordinate and track cold-calling activities and results, you are providing the sales tools your agency needs to grow your book of business. Industry leading CRMs offer features such as integrated telephony, call scripting, lead distribution, quoting and more, so you have everything you need to convert a lead into a customer. Through preparation, client-centered selling, and the smart use of technology, agents can more effectively engage with prospects—and, empower agencies to become more profitable.

One final DON’T: Cold calls are not allowed for Medicare clients. So take a look at our blog to make sure you are compliant.