Insurance Leads Blog

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Are You Selling Insurance Over the Phone? You Should Be.

It boggles my mind the number of agents I talk to who refuse to sell insurance over the phone. I completely understand that it is beneficial for many agents to sell insurance face-to-face to begin to build a relationship with the client(s). However, what about the people who do not want to meet in person. You should be ready for these types of leads, even if you are generating leads on you own. Selling life insurance over the phone can increase your annual sales and the ROI of your insurance leads.

Lets take a look at some actual numbers that might open you eyes to the benefit of selling insurance over the phone. This data was collected from an insurance agent who uses our aged life insurance leads for his marketing.

The agent buys 100 life insurance leads a month. He calls them, emails them, and sends the interested prospects marketing material thru the US mail. The agent makes, on average, 5-10 sales, per month with these leads. Of those sales only 1-3 are done in the office or at the client's home. The remaining sales are all done over the phone and email. This may or may not be surprising to you, but take a look at the actual commission that would have been lost if this agent refused to do business over the phone.

Average commission per sale $420

3 Sales per month in office. 3 Sales X $420 = $1,260 in commission.

5 Sales per month over the phone. 5 Sales X $420 = $2,100 in commission.

Total life insurance commissions per month $3,360.

If the agent did not make sales of life insurance over the phone he would potentially lose out on $2,100 of commissions. This is huge if you add this up for the entire year. Granted, there is a better opportunity to cross-sell insurance products in the office, but some people will refuse to come to your office. If you are not convinced I suggest you try this on your own. Do some research by trying to sell insurance over the phone for those clients who do not want to come into your office. I would bet you come up with similar ratios as we did in the example above.

I am not saying that you must only sell insurance over the phone (even though this can be done). I am simply saying that a successful agent will be able to do this. The first thing you must do is make sure you have a reliable fast way to take an application over the phone. I know for life insurance there are some carriers that have online application that can be filled out by the agent or client and E-signed by both. This allows for a very streamlined way of submitting new business.

There are several obstacles that you must overcome if you want to consistently sell insurance via the telephone.

Getting pass the Gatekeepers. This is the first thing you will have to do to even be able to make your sales pitch. Gatekeepers could be a secretary, family member or colleague of the person you are trying to sell insurance too. Gatekeepers should be your friend. If you treat them with respect they will reciprocate.

Evasive Decision Makers. This can be troubling, but you must not let it get you down. Assume that your prospect will vanish, occasionally during the sales process. Have a plan in place to overcome this obstacle.

Voicemail Messages. You must expect to get the prospects voicemail before you even dial the number. Jot down a few sentences about what you want to say before you call. This will help you leave a clear message. Make sure you speak clearly and repeat the key points of your message. You do not want your message to be too long or you will most likely be cut off by the machine. Also, try to avoid leaving messages on Friday as people will tend to forget come Monday.

When you actually speak with the prospect make sure to use as custom opener that grabs their attention. The first few words to the client are crucial. A good opening statement will hook the client and leave them wanting to know more. You will know if you have a good or bad opening statement by the number of "clicks" or "not interested comments" you get.

Follow up, follow up, follow up. Do not do this to the point of badgering the client, but make sure they remember you. If you have to use the old cold calling Rolodex system then do so. There is also new computer software that will help manage these leads. Email is another great way to follow up so you do not call the lead too much.

The final close over the phone should be relatively easy. They are either going to want to do it or not. This is a little different then a in office meeting where it might take some more tact. Remember, over the phone sales are transactional. This is not a bad thing. Get those people as clients and they might eventually come into your office where you can begin some better relationship building skills. First, just work on getting them as clients whether that is by phone or office.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Return of the Online Insurance Lead

When you talk to lead generation companies they will all tell you that the future for insurance marketing is in online insurance leads. They will tell you that younger adults do their shopping on the web. I do not disagree with this statement, but these same lead generation companies have not done the best in gaining the trust of online insurance shoppers. When companies first started generating insurance leads online the quality was fairly high. This is due to the fact most were retrieving leads via online ads on Google and Yahoo and only selling them once or twice. Since those beginning days the industry has taken a drastic downturn. Leads started being sold to 10-12 agents. Consumers were being bombarded with 10-20 calls a day in regards to their quote inquiry. Can you imagine if a major company like Amazon or Walmart badgered their consumer base like this. It would be their end. Unfortunately, nobody was or is policing the lead industry. All (or should I say most) of the companies do not have the agent's or the customer's best interest at heart.  However, there may be great changes coming. Lately, there have been whispers of better leads to come. Lead verification companies have started popping up around the web. Could these companies usher in the return of the online insurance lead?

Slowly, even the major insurance companies are implementing lead verification systems. These systems allow for good leads to pass thru to agents while filtering out poor quality leads such as duplicates, wrong numbers, and incorrect IP addresses. One of the companies leading the way in this reform is the website LeadID. I spoke a little about LeadID in a past post "LeadID Is Bringing the Word "Trust" Back To The Insurance Lead Industry". Their proprietary technology allows for buyers and sellers to come together in a trusted environment. They do not expose buyers, but simply allow for them to make real-time decisions based upon "origin and history flags" that are predetermined.

TrustedForm is another website dedicated to lead certification. In fact they take it a step further and provide custom forms that companies can implement with their own websites to assure that leads are coming from one source. Think of this type of lead verification as taking a snap shot at the time the lead is created. Along with the customers data, the TrustedForm form will collect and store data such as IP address, Geographic location, browser, page URL, visit date & time, as well as the path the user took to get to the form. This is really amazing stuff for anyone who really cares about lead quality.

So what does this mean for agents?

Well simply put, it means expect better leads. I have started suggesting that insurance agents ask about lead verification before buying leads from a company. If they are reputable they will tell you that they are using a lead verification service. Do not let them fool you however, by claiming to have their own verification system in place. This can be done, but to me it seems much safer to use an unbiased third party to do this. In house verification leaves the door open for possible fraud and though we like to think of companies as being truthful, time and time again they disappoint us.

Will this affect the price of a real-time insurance lead?

To my knowledge, prices of real-time leads will stay the same. It does cost money for these companies to use lead verification software, but the added value of quality leads will reduce the amount of returned leads and therefore offset the expense. This means agents will not be asking for credit for as many bad leads so the lead companies will not have to spend extra marketing dollars to make up for those returned leads.

Why did it take this long for insurance lead companies to turn things around?

In my opinion, there were to main reasons lead companies did not hold themselves accountable for producing a quality insurance lead. First, most were greedy. This sounds harsh, but profit was a big reason lead companies allowed bogus leads to go to agents. The second reason, to be fair, was that good verification technology was not available at that time. For instance, LeadID has only been around since 2011. I am not saying this is an excuse for companies to produce poor quality leads, but it does play a factor in why lead quality suffered over the past few years. Affiliates new they could get away with generating false leads because there was no technology to catch them.

I truly hope this return of the quality online insurance will carry on to the future. Sure, there will still be affiliates who find ways to get past verification systems, but hopefully these technology companies can adapt and produce updates that will stave off as many as possible. As an agent who used to buy a great amount of internet leads each year, it is exciting thinking about once again getting quality leads. I will enjoy speaking with prospects who are actually wanting a quote or information. I expect this return to will be slow, but I think things are heading in the right direction. To my fellow agents, good luck and may good leads be with you.