Cold calling is both a cornerstone and one of the most dreaded aspects of sales. It doesn’t have to be frightening, though. With proper preparation and experience, you will become a master at cold calling, increasing your sales and success.
Step One: Identify Your Potential Clients
With a business-to-business selling model, you can look up a company’s business information before cold calling and see how your product would benefit them. When contacting individual consumers, it’s harder to find exactly what each customer will need before making the call.
Because there are so many telemarketers, the public hesitates to answer the phone. That’s why it’s so important to pre-screen your leads and know why this lead may turn into a potential client. If you need a place to find qualified leads, LeadCENTER from Integrity Marketing is a good source. It is a targeted database with a variety of lead types, where agents can reach a large range of prospects at any stage in the client’s lifecycle.
After finding leads from potential clients who have opted in, it can be helpful to research what your target clients will be looking for from insurance companies. What do they generally need from or fear about insurance plans? What expertise do you have that will help solve their problems? What are some common complaints that they may voice? You can find this information on message boards online or by reading industry newsletters and magazines. As you continue making calls, these needs will become clearer to you.
Create generic personas to help yourself anticipate the needs of various groups you may encounter in your cold calls. Give them a name, age, and possible health care concerns, and practice consulting with them and anticipating what each may need. While these personas will never match a specific person you contact, anticipating their objections will give you a better understanding of what you may encounter on a live call.
Step Two: Prepare for the Call
After you have a general idea of what your audience is looking for, focus on a specific call. Look at the questions and concerns you uncovered in step one and determine how your unique expertise will help win their trust with you as their insurance agent.
If you know the specific needs of the potential client, you can also start mapping out the call ahead of time. Knowing your potential client’s zip code to find out what plans and offers are available is beneficial. CSG Actuarial offers an excellent tool for this purpose.
Write a list of probing questions that will help steer the call. Do they have any specific medical needs that should be covered? Know your products inside and out to offer the best plan for their needs. Listen to their small talk – sometimes that will give clues about needs they may not specifically voice. If they mentioned having a hard time preparing meals or feeling like they don’t have as much energy, you could help them investigate Medicare Advantage plans that provide prepared meals at a discount.
Step Three: Making the Call
When a potential client answers the phone, be sure that you first speak the required disclosure. Because your potential client has already opted-in to communications with you, the initial barrier of getting their attention is much lower. They expect to hear what you offer, so after the disclosure, greet them warmly and give them a short pitch about what you offer. Avoid lengthy explanations; you can cover more detail later in the conversation. Ask if they are available for a conversation, then listen to how they react and respond accordingly.
- Do they seem in a hurry? Thank them for their time and allow them to end the conversation, but plan to follow up in 10-15 days with either a phone call or an email.
- Do they say no right away? It may be that they need more information before proceeding. A no in cold calling may just mean “not right now.” Ask gentle probing questions, but if they still seem uninterested, let them go and follow up with an email.
- They are interested but hesitant. Ask questions to find out what their barriers may be. Help guide them to a solution, whether signing them up for a new plan over the phone or scheduling an in-person meeting. Remember that you are a consultant helping them solve a problem. This mindset makes clients more receptive to the solutions you provide.
Step Four: Follow Up
Prepare to follow up no matter how the call went or its outcome. It’s good to make a system for following up–have pre-written emails that you can customize and a schedule of when you will contact them again.
Schedule the first call, then send an email three to four days later reminding them of your conversation and what you discussed. Regardless of whether you get a response, plan for a second follow-up ten to fifteen days after the first follow-up email.
- Don’t be disheartened if you receive a lot of no responses. On average, two out of 100 calls will result in a closed deal. Keep making the calls and know that as long as you make a genuine connection, when the time comes that they do need your services, you will be at the top of their mind to contact.
- Stay in contact with your potential leads, but don’t overwhelm them. Send a follow-up email reminding them of your services every five or six months.
- Potential clients may worry about getting scammed or taken advantage of, especially from someone they haven’t heard from before. To assuage their fears, talk to them about your experience and qualifications, and listen closely to their needs. This will create trust and make them more receptive to your suggestions.
- It’s normal to have anxiety when facing cold calling. Preparation and experience will help lessen this over time. If you continue to have anxiety – make more calls. Some of the fear comes from feeling like you are bothering the client. This is another reason to take on the mindset of being a consultant. If you are helping solve a problem, you cannot bother them. You have valuable experience that will help make their lives better.
Do you need a steady flow of qualified leads? Contact Fidelis to learn more about LeadCENTER, our targeted database with a variety of lead types, where agents can reach a large range of prospects at any stage in the client’s lifecycle.