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Some agents prefer to deliver the quote by telephone while some insist on email, but the best results are when you do both. When you can speak with a prospect that has your quote in front of them, it puts you and the prospect in a better position. It isn’t unusual, however, that you will not have an opportunity to discuss your quote with the prospect and in those cases, there are some steps you can take to separate your quote from the others without having to depend on being the lowest price.
Using a bright colored background in your quote will quickly grab your prospect's attention and help them to remember it. When you have them on the phone, you can simply say “I sent the quote on bright yellow paper” to help your prospect pick you from the rest. Relevant images will also serve to make your quote memorable. Including a graphic of a business for a BOP quote or a truck for Commercial Auto will also help you stand out in the crowd.
Not just a quote, a Presentation
Although I’m not a fan of sending a 10mb email to every prospect, I know that a Presentation will perform better for you than a one-page summary. Make your quote appear professional and that you put some work into it. Remember to hold back on the insurance jargon and speak in terms most business owners will understand. Something as simple as a testimonial on the pricing page can go a long way in helping your prospect understand that you know what you’re doing. Sending a short bio with a photo of you within the presentation will also separate you from the pack and allow your prospect to put a face with the person they are dealing with.
Embrace the Technology
Including a video with your quote will certainly help you to stand out from the competition. Create a generic video using some of the free software out there and save it to your desktop so you can quickly attach it to your email. This one small thing could easily make the difference of a returned phone call after your quote goes out. You may even consider getting a long-time customer to allow you to video their testimonial about you. Your customers can actually sell you better than you can. This is the next best thing to a TV commercial!
Save Time by using Templates
You may be thinking about how time consuming using these ideas can be. Not so if you create everything as a template and then just attach to your normal quote email. By using the template system, your quotes – I mean Presentation – could include the following:
Yes, some of your prospects won’t even take the time to open and review the extras you included because they are the “shoppers” who rarely turn into long-term clients. But, the prospects that do take the time to review your Presentation and attachments will perceive that they mean something to you and will most likely become a long-term client. Just a few extra minutes can go a very long way.
Knowing the mindset of your prospect before you begin speaking to him or her can greatly affect the outcome of your telephone conversation. Think about it a minute. You are dialing a phone number to sell something to a person you know nothing about and haven’t a clue of their mindset if and when they answer the telephone. To have a better understanding of their frame of mind the moment you call, consider how their information arrived in your inbox:
The internet lead Process
Now then, when we consider items I through 8 just took place, and that this prospect has been tricked into receiving at least five phone calls or fifteen emails, what frame of mind would you expect when they answer your phone call.
You must overcome
This is where the salespeople get separated from the quote makers. The great salesperson will understand and expect that the prospect is going to be a little disappointed when they answer the phone, and you can expect to hear some sighing. The last thing that should happen next is asking the same questions that they just reluctantly answered on the online questionnaire. The best thing to do is use your terrific personality to let them know that you care, and you just want to understand their business so you can get the best value possible for them. Notice I said “value” not “price”. Tell them that you want to go to work for them and offer the best solution available. Use your rapport-building skills to make a new friend that doesn’t mind talking insurance with you and then, and only then, will you convert your new friend to a client.
Embrace the Difficulty
Accepting that the process is going to be difficult for you and your prospect is a big step in understanding the process of converting leads into sales. This means that your frame of mind cannot be as negative as your prospect. This means that you understand if this were easy, everyone would succeed doing it, and your manager would just hire people to quote, not to talk. You know that being the best means earning the best and that is probably the reason you take the time to search blogs for tips that will help you be a winner.
Have you ever listened in to a co-worker that is not seeing much success working leads? In most cases, the root of the problem is consideration. Some people find it natural being considerate while others struggle. Consideration consists of many different aspects, but what I’m referring to is based on the definition that has to do with entering into an agreement:
An act or forbearance or the promise thereof done or given by one party in return for the act or promise of another
So then, when using the definition above, I’m referring to what you do and how you do it in order to make a sell.
Since working leads is all about telephone conversations, it’s important for every agent to develop telephone skills that will help develop instant rapport with the prospect and never sound adversarial. I spent a year working in a call center so I am aware of how telephone skills can make a difference in your paycheck. I learned early on that women typically do better selling on the phone than men, so I was very happy that the person training our section was female. Listening to struggling agents during their call activity made it very clear that how you speak to a prospect is all about being considerate.
Being considerate while discussing your product offering is all about answering questions. Even though you feel like you are teaching insurance 101, questions from your prospect are a good sign that they are interested in your offering. There are no dumb questions when they come from an interested party. To benefit you and reduce your time on the telephone, consider answering questions in a manner that will not cause another question and by all means don’t use “insurance” speak while communicating with your prospect. It’s interesting that business owners know very little about commercial insurance, but it’s also a blessing because it provides the agent with the opportunity to become their “insurance guy.”
Consider Their Time
Getting back to telephone skills for a moment, agents should also be considerate about when to call prospects and when to leave messages. First, the best time to call a prospect is immediately after you receive the lead. If that’s not possible, consider the time of day before you start dialing. Is it lunch time or dinner time? Most people won’t answer the phone during those times anyway, but if they do, they’ll probably be short with you and sound irritated.
Leaving a message after every call is also irritating to most folks. The best practice is to leave one message after the morning attempt and no more that same day. If you are attempting calls the 2nd day and afterward, the best time to call will probably be about the same time the lead originally came in.
Shut-Up and Listen
Finally, when you have managed to speak with your prospect and make a solid and competitive offering; shut-up. When a sales pitch is delivered, the next person who speaks loses. If you continue to talk about how great you are, how great the company is, and on and on, you will not give your prospect a chance to say “yes”.
There are many great lead providers out there that provide a valuable service in helping agents grow their books of business. Some are better than others which are pretty typical for any class of vendors. For many agents, choosing a lead vendor is all about the price, for some it’s about conversion, for some it’s about service, but for most it’s all the above. One other issue that should be addressed is whether or not the vendor platform allows self-service.
Why Agents need a Self-Service Platform
In today’s technological environment, there’s no reason your lead provider shouldn’t give you control over how, when, and where you wish to purchase. You have control over your online banking, online shopping, and online bill paying, why shouldn’t you have control of your lead purchases as well? Some of the drawbacks to not having control are as follows:
For agents who represent multiple carriers with multiple product lines, underwriting changes can take place in the blink of an eye. One day you have a Worker’s Comp program that will accept contractors, and then you get a fax or email announcing that the program is closed. Unless you can immediately log in to the platform and change your filter, you are going to get leads asking for Worker’s Comp with no market to quote in. That is a total waste of money.
How about when your phone or internet service goes down for several hours. Unless you can jump on your cell and login to the platform, you are subject to the “all service agents are busy.”
Message while leads come flowing into your email or phone that you cannot answer.
Then there are those times when you cannot log in and pause your leads on a Friday afternoon, and yet the calls and emails continue to come in for the weekend. When you get to the office Monday morning, it’s too late because some agent somewhere was working during the weekend and got your calls or contacted your internet leads.
Why can’t all Lead Vendors Provide Self-Service?
That's the $64,000 question. Each time I have inquired, I’ve been given the same answer; “Our Platform doesn’t allow that function”. Certainly, the most truthful answer should be that the company’s platform is outdated, and they’re just too cheap to make the changes or they may earn less money if agents are allowed to come and go and make changes as they please. You know, kind of what you can do with the bank account, electric company, cell phone account, and so many others
While I assume these articles are targeted at insurance agents seeking information and tips for purchasing and working internet leads, I am truly hoping that an internet lead representative might stray onto this website out of curiosity. If that’s you, read on because you might just learn something. After working internet leads since they first came on the scene, I can pretty much nail down the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some are good, some are so-so, and some are worthless. But, one thing is for sure, the perfect internet lead has not come into my email.
Lack of important Information
There is, in my opinion, a lack of consistency in gathering the most important information; what does this company do? The main culprits are the lead companies that ask for an SIC code without a brief description of the company’s business. I don’t need an SIC code, especially when the prospect selects a broad class of business and I still don’t have a clue what they’re doing. Actually, I believe the lead should have both since I’m sure the leads are filtered by the SIC code in the first place.
A typical example is that lead that comes in with a business name like Apex Services and they select 1721 for “Painting and Paper Hanging”. Can you start a quote without speaking to the prospect? Absolutely not. As soon as you start a quote thinking this prospect is a house or building painter, you’ll discover after speaking with him that he actually paints bridges and other infrastructure because he just got a contract with the state. So then, wouldn’t it be better for the agent that’s purchasing the lead to get a brief description of the business in the first place?
Provide Tips for the Prospect
While the number of employees and sub-contractors are usually provided on every lead, the lead company should offer tips for the prospect about what an employee is, what a sub-contractor is, and what an owner or officer of the company is. It’s surprising how often a sole-proprietor will list themselves as a full-time employee of the company and you do not know about this until you finally make contact (if you ever do) with the prospect and then usually have to re-quote them.
They should also offer tips on what the definition of revenue is. I have seen leads come through showing an $80k payroll with only $40k of revenue. Certainly you are not going to guess at this and then have to go back and re-submit your quote request. We don’t need quote practice.
Obvious BS Leads
I know that every internet lead provider will provide credit for leads that are obviously bogus. You know, the ones that have obvious bogus email addresses, phone numbers, and names. So then, if they know they will be issuing a credit for these types of leads, why do they send them in the first place? Surely the lead providers can develop some type of algorithm to detect names like Mickey Mouse with an email address of firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, and by the way, if six agents ask for a credit on the same lead, you don’t need to call the prospect yourself, just approve the credit.
I understand that lead providers want to differentiate themselves from the competition, I get that. But insurance is insurance and every carrier requires the same information so why can’t the lead companies survey the agents to find out what they need to do differently? I have never had a service representative ask me “what could we have done differently” when I canceled my account after thirty days of service.
There are many articles out there providing the best advice on the right way to work internet leads. Sometimes it’s good to know the most critical errors so you don’t commit them. Knowing the 3 critical errors working leads is important not because of “what” but because of “why”.
Don’t Be Late
Attempting to call a lead more than five minutes after you receive it, is outright sin. Read the studies if you don’t believe me. You have to keep in mind when you get the lead, in almost every case, the prospect just completed the questionnaire. They want prices and they are ready to buy. If a lead comes into your inbox right when you’re leaving for lunch, either call them right then or throw it away. If you wait until you get back from lunch and fill your coffee mug, you’re toast. This is not my opinion, it has been verified by several national surveys. Velocify published a study that shows that contacting a prospect by phone within one minute of receiving the lead results in a 391% better chance of converting that lead. The first agent to speak with the prospect has a huge advantage over the stragglers. No doubt about it.
Never Make Them Wait
If you manage to make contact early, be prepared to offer a quote right away. Think about it; you are ready for a meatball sub and you’ve been craving one all day. You finally get over to your favorite Italian Deli and place an order for the biggest meatball sub on the menu, and then the guy at the counter tells you to come back tomorrow and they’ll have it ready. Are you kidding me!
It’s understandable that it’s difficult to complete a quote while you have the prospect on the phone. Most carriers that allow electronic submissions are going to take a while to get that quote turned around. Use the time on the phone to ask all the right questions while you’re simultaneously building a rapport. Then tell your prospect to sit tight because you’ll be back to them very soon. Do not tell them it may take 48 hours to turn around a quote unless it is a case that needs a ton of underwriting. Take the path of least resistance whenever possible.
It’s Better to be Quick than Accurate
I have spoken with many agents that prefer getting a quote back quick is better than getting it back accurate. What this means is you are first in the door and more likely to get the prospect to respond. When you deliver the quote, simply explain that you’ll need a little more information to firm it up. If you are at the mercy of an underwriter having to physically review the quote submission you may want to consider not purchasing leads in the first place. Internet leads want quotes done in the here and now, not when the underwriter gets back from lunch or worse yet, from maternity leave.
Finally, mix your emails in with your phone attempts, but never believe that email works better than the telephone because it doesn’t. Sooner or later you’re going to have to talk with that prospect, so try everything you can to make it sooner. You’ll be glad you did.
Typically, I like to stay positive about the insurance industry even though after 25 years of experience, I could write a book about the scams I’ve come across. But I digress.
Recently, I was contacted by a lead provider salesperson who announced they had the latest and the greatest lead program currently on the planet. Since I never turn down a good sales pitch, I asked the young man to enlighten me about this one of a kind program that, according to him, would ensure that my conversion rate would go through the ceiling.
Why They’re Different
Holding back my unbridled excitement, I asked the young fellow (he sounded very young) to explain to this old dog what they have discovered about lead generation that know one else has thought of before. “We financially qualify our leads” he replied. Somewhat interested, I asked him to tell me how they accomplish this. “Well, our call center staff calls each prospect and interviews them before we send the leads through our distribution network.” “We then assign a score to the prospect and price the leads based on that score rather than charging the same for each lead.”
The Expected Pivot
After hearing about this exciting new scoring technique, I was a little curious, so I asked the following questions:
To my surprise, they seemed to know most of the right questions to ask, so I asked one more question that I felt was very, very important. Do they tell you the truth? “Well, gee, that’s a very good question; we feel the majority of prospects give us accurate information.
We charge more because we can charge More
To summarize a rather long conversation (I wasn’t busy at the time) that I had with this young man, let me just put in all in a nutshell.
I explained that I wouldn’t be willing to pay additional money for a lead because they verbally interviewed the prospect. You see, I do that anyway, so why should I pay someone else to do it. I also repeated the sad old saying to him; Buyers are liars. There are very good reasons for running MVRs, credit scores, and loss reports and I would have to do that if the lead cost $10 or if the lead cost $50. Now, I’m certainly not declaring that every prospect misrepresents themselves and their business; I’m just saying that many people are forgetful. Know what I mean?
After getting my feelings about their program off my chest in a professional manner, I asked the young man why they feel like they can charge more for a prospect they’ve interviewed, and he simply replied; “We can charge more because we took the time and called them.”
Do you have one of those managers that insist you report the ROI on your lead activity at the end of every month? It can be annoying when you’re down in the trenches fighting the alligators, but he or she has every right to know the agency’s money is being spent wisely.
Let’s face it; we all hit dry spells once in a while when it seems like every prospect doesn’t have two pennies to rub together and what makes matters worse, we won’t either if we don’t make any sales. The best and most efficient way to overcome a low conversion rate is to sell more products to fewer people. That’s right, cross-selling is the answer to every sales nightmare. When you consider your conversion rate has been less than stellar lately, wouldn’t it more sense to sell more products to the person who is actually buying something than to get off the phone and go to the next lousy lead?
Don’t cross-sell price – cross-sell Need
Let’s assume you have completed a sale to a contractor for a GL policy and although he’s a one-man operation, his General Contractor requires a WC policy as well. You know that it was tough getting the premium for the GL, and so you tell him about a worker’s comp Ghost policy (if it’s legal in your state) and he bites because of the manageable premium. Now, rather than price-shop his auto and homeowner’s policy (he already has that), tell him about the great accident plan that he NEEDS because his worker’s comp won’t pay squat if he’s injured on the job. For only an additional $50 per month, you’ll help him get injury expenses paid for and by the way, that accident plan also has an accidental death benefit if he dies because of an accident. You appealed to his NEED rather than offer a price comparison.
Find the holes and fill Them
The best way to win a sale and make a cross-sell on the same call is to ask questions so you can identify the holes in his coverage. You must be willing to help your prospect manage the risks at work and in their everyday life. You accomplish this by asking a lot of “what if” questions and help them to see the need. Your prospect knows they need auto and home insurance because they have to buy it. Your skills should allow you to point out the “what if’s” and get them to take action, as long as they can pay for it.
Just add it Up
By working on your cross-sell techniques, you will find that the more you ask, the more you’ll sell. Now, at the”end of the month meeting” when you turn in your Lead ROI report, you’ll look like the genius you’ve become and your commission checks will put a smile on your wife’s face on the way to the bank.
Have you ever been in a situation when a lead comes into your email very late on a Friday night, and you don’t get back to the prospect until Monday morning? How’d that work out for you? It used to be that insurance prospects wanted to hear about you, the agent, about your office hours and how many product lines you represent along with the carriers in your portfolio. Not anymore, and we have the insurance companies to thank.
We can certainly thank the major insurance carriers for making insurance products a commodity, like a garbage disposal, car wash, drive through pizza, and now even a haircut. It all has to happen fast and cheaper than your competitor, or you are asking x-dating every lead that shows up in your inbox. “Give us 15 minutes and we’ll save you 15%.” “With my company you can save you that much in half the time.” Do you think those commercials have an effect on the way you do business? You bet they do. We can complain until the cows come home, but the big guys will just spend more money making consumers think we are selling garbage disposals.
Set Yourself Apart
Have you ever had a boss tell you that if you are going to complain about something, you better have a solution? So then, put your thinking cap on and come up with something that sets you apart from the other guy or girl. Here're a few things that will likely show Mr. Prospect that you are better than the agent who has been licensed all of two years now and is working from his parents’ basement:
We all know that an online prospect is a shopper, and you will need to quote low and fast, but don’t be afraid to talk about insurance and how it will protect them. You’re the authority so act like it. Ask questions. Then ask some more questions. While you are learning about your prospect, they realize that they have a person on the line that knows their stuff. You know what most people complain about so attack those issues, and your prospect will begin to trust you right over the phone. Build rapport and then close the sale with confidence.
Since we know that comparison shoppers demand choices, give them some. Offer two or three choices at the most, but always, whenever possible, give them more than one. They will come away from the call feeling like they had options and made an informed decision. They’ll love you for it and tell their friends and co-workers. Nothing better than that!
Pablo J Conde