Keeping these three rules in mind will help insurance agents avoid ongoing prospecting problems.
Every independent insurance agent realizes that the best route to a profitable business rests on building a pipeline full of qualified prospective clients. At the same time, it’s clear that the actual work of building this pipeline can be harder than it may seem.
Independent agents acknowledged as much in a recent survey commissioned by National Underwriter, the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA), and Flaspöhler, part of NMG Consulting. In their “2017 Independent Agent Survey,” more than a third of respondents (37%) stated that finding new clients ranked as the biggest obstacle to growing their business. Notably, this concern topped a few significant competitors, such as pricing (34.6%) and competition/market saturation (43.2%).
Fortunately, independent agents needn’t resign themselves to a future of struggling to acquire new contacts. Netting new clients will be simple if you can follow these three simple rules.
1. Never Cold Call Again
As numerous studies have documented, cold calling simply doesn’t work. For instance, Baylor University’s Keller Center for Research tracked the outcome of 6,264 cold calls placed over a two-week period in 2011. Of those calls, 1,774 calls were answered, resulting in 19 appointments, 11 referrals, and 132 call-back requests. That’s one prospect-agent engagement per 59 answered calls, as opposed to one engagement per 59 calls made — not a promising tactic. Another study by Leap Job found that only 2% of cold calls produced an appointment.
Given those paltry success rates, cold calling now stands as a relic of a past sales era. You may have a great sales pitch, but if you’re pitching prospects who would prefer not to hear from you, your words will fall on deaf ears. Attempting to build your business through cold calling ultimately ends in frustration for you and a dwindling prospect pipeline — and don’t forget, unsolicited calls can actually predispose prospects to distrust your brand.
2. Find Clients Who Want to Find You
Instead of contacting prospects who may or may not be interested in your products and services, why not reach out to those already predisposed to hearing your sales pitch? The easiest way to reach those already-warm prospects is to partner with a reputable provider of internet leads.
Internet lead providers capture prospects who are looking for an insurance product or service. Typically, these providers will pass on the information of prospects who have already requested an online quote. Because these potential policyholders want to hear from you, they will be more receptive to your message (as long as it’s not too sales-y, and focuses on how your services will meet their expectations).
Moreover, internet sales leads classify prospects by the product they’re looking for, which means that auto insurance specialists can purchase leads for prospects who want auto insurance, and so on. This not only allows you to be sure that you aren’t trying to sell them a product that they have no desire to buy, but also provides an opportunity to tailor your messaging to their specific needs.
3. Always Ask for Referrals
Once you’ve established a relationship with your clients, ask if any of their family, friends, or business associates need insurance. In a similar fashion to prospects you meet by purchasing internet leads, these referrals are probably already seeking the services that you offer. Couple that sales opportunity with a built-in testimonial from your existing client, and you’ve already got a half-made sale waiting for you!
Perhaps most importantly, referrals won’t cost you one cent. Consider setting up an automated CRM process whereby clients are sent referral requests automatically by email. Referrals are one of the most cost-effective way to build your business, so make it a part of your pipeline-boosting strategy.
Finding new clients will always be a challenge for an independent insurance agent. But it can be made easier by ditching outdated cold calls and targeting only those prospects open to what you have to offer.