Jettison these 16 sales myths + incorporate these insurance agent sales tips to grow your book
If you’re like most producers, you’ve read the latest offerings in insurance agent sales tips, tactics and techniques for years. Many of them are tried-and-true advice; many are, frankly, a bunch of well-meaning bunk. So we’ve scanned some of the best and brightest minds when it comes to trustworthy – and trashworthy – sales tips, provided for you here. Ready to make this your best year ever? Then jettison these 16 sales myths.
1. I don’t need to do my homework before the presentation.
This first one is a bit obvious, I admit. If you sell commercial lines, you absolutely need to prep beforehand: Scour the company website, learn their products and services, view their most recent news, see if there’s a bio on the decision maker you’re meeting with. Read more on their LinkedIn company page, then find your contact’s individual LinkedIn page and read his or her background. And that’s just a start – there are many other business intel websites that you can utilize.
2. My canned sales pitch will work with everyone.
Toss that one-size-fits-all mentality – it will cause more lost prospects than successful sales. Each outreach call should be personal where you connect with the prospect genuinely, listening to them, and then finding ways to match the value of your products to their needs.
3. If I don’t go into presentation mode within the first five minutes, I’m wasting valuable time.
Again, don’t be quick to start your presentation. Five minutes doesn’t give you enough time to discover their needs, their biases and any underlying issues. This is a crucial sales tip for insurance agents: When you lead with your sales pitch, it’s obvious you just want to make the sale. This produces an awkward, even adversarial atmosphere that puts your prospect on guard.
4. Because I know my product(s), I’m ready for this call.
This myth goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. If you do most of the talking during your encounter, you’ll probably lose out. You can’t sell them if you haven’t taken the time to get to know them. (And I don’t mean learn their dog’s name and what their golf handicap is, if you’re selling commercial coverage.) Let them tell you about their company: What are they known for, what they do best, where they’re growing, what their challenges are. This will deepen and add color to what you learned by researching them beforehand.
5. My prospect is a blank slate that I can educate and sell to.
Ah, those golden days of the sales rep managing the sales process is over. Nowadays, studies show that your prospects are at least 60 percent of the way through their buying process before they will engage with a sales person. Where are they getting their online information? Is it from you? If not, number five in our insurance agent sales tips is to take the necessary steps to build your online content so that you are perceived as a subject matter expert.
6. The first need or pain point the prospect mentions is the most important one to address.
Maybe, but not always. It may be a red herring – just an immediate but minor irritant, versus their biggest pain point. How do you know? Keep asking questions. When you’ve uncovered several pain points, ask which is causing the most concern right now? Keep listening to ensure you understand their goals.
7. It’s best to ignore their questions during the presentation.
I once had a friend who said he ignored the first two times the question was asked during the presentation; only upon the third ask, did he finally answer them. He assumed at that point it was a valid question. Personally, I would find it extremely irritating to be ignored when I expressed a need for clarification, and I think most folks would too. If you do this, you’re handicapping your communication, rather than validating and clarifying where they’re coming from and helping them to understand your point. Instead, see their questions as a sign of interest.
8. Dodge a difficult question.
If the question is off-topic, ask if you can hold it to the end, but be sure to come back to it. If you don’t know the answer, then first be sure you understand what they’re really asking. To do so, you may need to ask them to rephrase the question, or you may need to parrot back to them with “Let me summarize what you just asked, so that I’m sure I understand your question.” Then give yourself permission to pause and think for a minute. Give the best answer you can, but be transparent and say, “I know this doesn’t fully answer your question. Let me give that one a little more thought. May I get back to you before the end of today?” Now you’ve bought yourself a little more time – and they’ll be looking for your follow-up email or phone call.
9. The law of averages or, my luck will surely turn.
If you want to check out the validity of this myth, spend a few hours at your local casino. It’s not true in sales, either. Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. That brings us to number nine in our insurance agent sales tips: If you’re not capturing new sales, examine your process. If you’re on a winning streak, examine your process. Either way, be sure to perform a post-mortem so that you’re clear on what worked and didn’t work, and how to change next time.
10. If I can’t close them any other way, I’ll discount my price.
Stop thinking of yourself as selling a commodity (an insurance policy). Instead, look at the bigger picture through the eyes of your prospect (and your clients as well). Start thinking of yourself as a business consultant (if you sell commercial lines) or a personal finance consultant (if you sell personal lines). In your new role, you’re alert to any information that you come across that may help them in other related areas in their business or personal life – and you provide that information to them on a consistent basis, earning your image as a consultant – not just a sales person.
11. I know my product – and that’s all I need to know.
Ok, this one’s a gimme. You obviously know that you need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and studies, providing added intel to your prospects and clients. Industry knowledge (changes coming down the pike that may affect your prospects) and competitive positioning (so you’re not caught blind when they bring up a competitor’s product or offer) are critical – no one would argue there. Now put it into action: stay abreast of the latest industry happenings by actually reading and digesting those insurance e-newsletters you subscribe to. Bookmark the ones that you know your prospects will like; mention them in your time together, and send them a link in your follow-up email.
12. Social selling doesn’t work.
True, it’s not instantaneous – but it DOES work. You need to be on the social sites that your prospects are on, you need to join LinkedIn groups and you need to be contributing regularly. Lastly, you need to be boosting or sponsoring your top posts, selecting your target audiences very carefully. Consistency and creativity are the name of the game. (More on social selling.)
13. It’s important to keep selling, selling, selling in back-to-back calls, even when I just lost a deal.
You can try, but most people – even if they’ve never met you before – can see that you’re trying a bit too hard. Your cheerful attitude is forced, you may be too emotional to read this prospect’s cues properly, and you may come across as too aggressive. If you’ve just lost a deal to a competitor or found out that an account you that you had all tied up has slipped through your fingers, it’s time to give yourself a little time out. Figure out what went right and what went wrong. Now take a deep breath – and take what you’ve learned into your next call.
14. I focus on their present problem.
That’s a good place to start, because that’s where your prospect is focused, too. However, top producers go further, painting a picture of how purchasing your coverage will improve their future. For instance, what risks will be solved? How will this allow your contact to save time, operate more smoothly, focus on other crucial business, impress their boss or set them up for a career step up? Always answer your prospect’s WIIFM (what’s in it for me?).
15. I’ve made the sale; now on to the next one.
Big mistake. If you walk away now, you’re leaving a lot of business on the table. Ask them now to refer their friends or colleagues to you who may also be looking for coverage, get their contact info and secure a warm introduction. Introduce them personally to their new CSR or account manager to whom you’re handing off their account but be sure to follow up via phone with them a month or so later.
16. Follow-up is left to my customer service rep.
Another big mistake. Before you hand them off, connect with your new client on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, so that you can network with their friends. If you sell personal lines, ask permission to take a snapshot of them and post it as “Meet the Joneses, who just saved $212 a year on their auto policy.” Selling commercial lines? Capture any positive comments your new client said and post those (with their permission): “Meet our new client, Jones Manufacturing. We helped them save 15% on their work comp by .…” And while we’re on the subject, don’t forget about cross-selling opportunities, asking for referrals again in a couple of months and continuing to drip helpful information to these new clients.
There you have it: 16 insurance agent sales tips to follow, and 16 sales myths to leave behind. What other sales myths have you deep-sixed this year?