Whether you’re a new agent or a seasoned veteran, take a moment to get back to the basics.
There’s much more to selling insurance than meets the eye. For newly licensed agents, the prospect of generating leads, following up, and closing the deal can be especially daunting. It’s not just new agents who should strive to regularly take a step back and refine their techniques, however — every insurance agent can benefit from an occasional refresher on the art of the sell. Here are a few things that you may be overlooking when it comes to closing that sale.
Keep the Pipeline Full
First things first: no insurance agent can achieve sales success without a constantly replenished, comprehensive list of prospective clients. Keeping the pipeline full requires casting a wide net, finding new leads from a variety of sources. In the digital age, this means maintaining a clear, easy-to-navigate website that addresses the particular needs of the audience you are hoping to reach.
Internet lead providers also present a unique channel to prospective clients who intend to make a purchase, but who may still be searching for the right provider. Ready-to-buy customers request a quote online and are connected with an agent who will help them buy the exact coverage that they need. These services allow agents to bypass the cold calling technique, which often connects them with people who may have no intention whatsoever of purchasing their product. Instead, they are directed to clients who have arrived at the decision stage of the purchasing funnel.
Hone Your Message
An insurance agent’s primary role is to be a salesperson, and that means you must be constantly looking to meet your customer’s needs with the policies that you offer. The first step to being a successful sales professional is knowing your product. Become an expert. Familiarize yourself with every nuance of the plans you offer, so that when a need presents itself, you can confidently recommend a solution.
This does not mean that you should present yourself as an insurance encyclopedia — make sure to avoid using jargon with clients or simply rattling off features of products. While these practices show off your expertise and establish you as an authority, they are often confusing for customers, and do nothing to clarify the policy offerings in terms that the buyer will understand.
Instead, set aside the hard sell and aim for relatability. Build relationships with clients in order to establish trust and identify their specific needs. Ask about their family, work, and interests to establish common bonds, and tell stories about how your product has impacted people in a very real way. Appealing to your customer’s emotional needs with a captivating narrative and a willingness to listen is far more effective than methodically going over the nuances of your product offerings.
Follow Up and Follow Through
Clients want to know that they are valued, and there is no better way to demonstrate that than to be consistent in your communication. If a client calls and you are not available to speak with him, return the call that same day if possible. This goes for long-time clients as well as first-time prospects.
After speaking with a potential client about the products and policies you offer, reach out in a timely fashion to see where they stand. Often, clients will think of questions after a meeting and feel uncomfortable reaching out to ask. Making a quick follow-up phone call will indicate that you care about your client, while also providing a crucial opportunity to make second contact.
Follow through is just important as follow up. When you tell a client that you will do something — whether that’s making a phone call, filing paperwork, or seeking out an answer to a question they’ve posed — make sure you complete the task promptly, and just as importantly, let them know that it has been taken care of.
Close the Deal
Your lead generation and customer relationship building efforts will ultimately come to naught, however, if you lack the crucial ability to close the deal. Indeed, a massive list of prospective clients won’t yield a single sale if you fail to master the art of the close. Closing is an elusive art for many sales professionals, with seemingly in-the-bag deals going south at the last second and promising clients falling through the cracks.
The key to understanding the art of the close is recognizing that it is the client who closes, not the sales professional. Sure, there are things that you as an agent can do to encourage the client to sign on the dotted line, but at the end of the day, it is the client who ultimately decides whether the product on offer suits their needs.
Closing the deal begins when you first initiate conversation with a prospect, identifying their needs and crafting proposals that match them. Clients want to feel that they are making informed decisions, and it is up to you as the agent to give them the details they need in the most easy-to-understand manner so they can confidently judge the policy. If you can learn how to identify your clients’ needs and educate them about your offerings without overwhelming them, you are already on track to becoming a skilled closer.
See “No” As an Opportunity
Ask any sales professional, and they will tell you that sales is a business fraught with rejection. That rejection can come at any step of the process — whether it’s before the initial pitch is even made, or after follow-up meetings and calls. While it can sting, failure should always be viewed as an opportunity to learn.
In sales, “no” often means “no” — or at least, “no for now.” Clients’ needs change regularly, and while your offerings may not meet a need they recognize today, it very well could tomorrow. Maybe your sales call came at an inconvenient time, and the prospect said “no” to avoid a pitch they didn’t have time for. Maybe you’ve worked for weeks with a client to try to close the deal, only for it to fall through at the eleventh hour. Be gracious, and be prepared to reopen the conversation when you have a new product that may better serve them.
Rejection is also an excellent opportunity to tweak your sales strategy. Assess the clarity of your message and your ability to establish rapport. Don’t be afraid to ask the client if there was anything specific about your approach that ultimately influenced their decision not to make the purchase. Rather than a sign of failure, rejection should be interpreted as an amazing opportunity for growth.