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A Comprehensive Guide to Talking to Prospects on the Phone

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Mon, Jan 22, 2018 @ 10:58 AM

A Comprehensive Guide to Talking to Prospects on the Phone

A Comprehensive Guide to Talking to Prospects on the Phone

If you’re not comfortable on the phone, sales probably isn't the career for you. Learning how to capture and keep someone's attention without physically being in their presence is a skill all salespeople need. It’s also a skill that demands constant practice and improvement.

This guide covers everything from pre-call preparation to sales script tips. More of a visual learner? Scroll down, or click here, to see a detailed infographic from The Gap Partnership.

Phone Sales Tips

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Make Sure You’re Comfortable on the Phone

There are a few basic characteristics everyone needs in a phone-centric career like sales. Don't have the characteristics outlined below? Either practice until you do or look for another gig.

  1. Enthusiasm: Be eager to discuss your client’s background, pain points, and goals. Your prospect can sense when you sound bored or uninterested and will be less willing to open up. So, ramp up your enthusiasm until you're both excited to find a solution for their use case.

  2. Patience: Be ready to listen. Don’t rush your prospect through the conversation, because you never know when a tangent might lead to valuable insights that will help you close. Be firm in guiding the conversation, but allow enough time for the prospect to share openly.

  3. Passion: If you don’t love what you’re talking about, how can you expect anyone else to? Passion is critical to selling. Of course, very few of us are “passionate” about selling software, cars, or service packages, so we have to find an angle that does make us excited. If your software helps users get promoted or frees up time they can spend with their families that’s something to get passionate about. Tell yourself a story that motivates and inspires you, and you’ll have the same effect on others.

  4. Confidence: Be comfortable sharing your views. Everyone -- including prospects -- wants honesty. If you think a prospect might not be a good fit for your product/service, tell them. If you don’t have a feature your prospect wants, be honest about it and propose solutions or product roadmaps that prove you’re proactively thinking about ways forward. Your confidence sets the tone of the call, so be authoritative and proactive.

  5. Sense of Humor: Don’t take yourself or your sales call too seriously. Have a little fun and help your prospect relax. You might try a trusty joke ("Want to hear a joke about a piece of paper? Never mind... it's tearable.") or self-deprecating humor, but break the ice and it’ll be much easier when you press for next steps.

Be Prepared

Never dial the phone without preparing. Whether you’re taking your first call or your 400th, there are a few things you should do before every meeting:

  1. Define your purpose: Ask yourself what you want to achieve during this call and how you'll get there.

  2. Prepare questions in advance: What questions do you need to ask to achieve your goal?

  3. Brainstorm answers: What are likely responses your prospect will have to your questions? By thinking these through ahead of time, you’ll anticipate push back and tangential questions and be more --prepared to answer them.

  4. Practice: Whether pitching a new product or giving the same spiel you’ve orated a hundred times, check in every few months to see how you’re doing. Record yourself giving a practice presentation and conduct your own call review to tune up your demo.

  5. Visualize: Put up a picture of your caller -- or another person -- and pretend you’re talking to them while they’re on the phone. Sound creepy? Maybe. Does it help you speak to the disembodied voice at the end of the line like they're a real person? Absolutely.
  6. Dress the part: Would you be confident if the caller saw you? If not, that'll project over the phone. Dress in a way that makes you feel great and your caller will pick up on it.

Achieve a Relaxed Voice

You can sense when someone’s smiling on the phone, right? It’s not just your imagination. Talking with a grin creates a higher frequency in your mouth which changes the tone of your voice and reassures the listener.

To practice this technique, record a sentence in your own non-smiling style. Then record the same words again with a smile and notice the difference.

Also, you can achieve a relaxed and persuasive tone by putting your voice’s most powerful tools to work. Here’s how:

  1. Pace: Speak too slowly and your listener might get bored or frustrated. Speak too fast and they may mishear. An expert caller will mirror the pace of the person they’re speaking with. And remember: It takes 10-30 seconds to adjust to a new voice, so give your listener time to adjust to you before diving into the most important part of your presentation.

  2. Volume: A drawn-out, high-pitched voice says, “I don’t believe what I’m hearing,” while a low-and-slow pitch says, “I want to be left alone.” Aim for an emphatic, high-pitched volume telling your listener you’re enthusiastic. And, of course, avoid sounding loud and abrupt, because that says you’re angry and not open to discussion.

  3. Tone: Don’t apologize for “interrupting” with your call. This sounds like you’ve done something wrong -- which you haven’t. Instead, act as if this call is doing your listener a favor.

  4. Clarity: Be clear and concise in what you stress in your presentation. Consider the meaning of a sentence and how important the stress of each word can be.

Take these examples:

•  Apathetic: “What would you like us to do about it?”
•  Defensive: “What would you like me to do about it?
•  Curious: “What would you like me to do about it?”

Convince Your Listener

They key to running professional calls is being aware of how your physical cues are impacting your prospect and the energy of your meeting. Here are a few things to be aware of:

  1. Body language: It’s natural to use your hands as you talk, and that’s a good thing. The more you gesture, the more vocal range you use. And when you increase your vocal range, your calls sound natural and conversational. Only 7% of a message is transferred using words. 38% is transferred by the way those words are spoken and 55% is transferred by body language. Headsets are a great way to free up your hands and let them do the talking during your call.

  2. Non-verbal communication: Non-verbal sounds, including laughter, sighs, and gasps, are all ways to influence and encourage your listener. Likewise, pausing on and stressing certain words can affect your listener’s reception as we mentioned above.

  3. Good posture: Yes, really. Your body’s posture is important to how you sound on the phone. To achieve the most accurate sound, position the receiver mouthpiece an inch away from your mouth. And remember, your lungs can’t fill properly when you’re slumped in a chair, which negatively affects your tone and volume. So, sit up straight, and make your mom proud.

  4. Never put them on hold: It’s impolite to put your prospect -- or anyone -- on hold without warning or explanation. It also breaks your rhythm and interrupts the connection you’ve built with your prospect. If something urgent does come up and you have to interrupt your call, never place someone on hold for more than 20-30 seconds without offering to reschedule the meeting.

Use Your Call Script Successfully

Call scripts are there for a reason. Practice with them, but keep a few other things in mind before you jump on a call:

  1. Quit clichés: Common sales phrases like “game-changer,” “par for the course,” and “win-win” are contrived and will turn your caller off. Speak with conversational, everyday language you’d use with a colleague or even a friend, and try to make your prospect forget they’re on a sales call.

  2. Edit: If you’re given a script, edit it to suit your natural vocabulary and way of talking.

  3. Don’t read it verbatim: Many salespeople have scripts, but don’t read from them directly. Use it as a guide, and you’ll sound much more natural.

  4. Have a contingency plan: If a prospect is busy or you’re reaching out for the first time, be prepared for them to try fleeing the phone as quickly as possible. When this happens, break from your script and pull out your contingency plan. For example, if a prospect says, “I’m actually in the middle of something right now,” try responding, “That’s totally fair. Would you mind if I take 30 seconds just to tell you why I called? If it doesn’t make sense, you can hang up. Does that sound OK?” You’re more likely to catch your prospect off guard and keep them on the phone.

Be a Good Listener

Easier said than done. Many salespeople railroad their prospects with too many questions, giving them little or no time to respond.

Others ask too few questions and simply throw out solutions without really understanding their prospect’s unique use case. Here are a few tips for being a good listener who really “gets” your prospect:

  1. Don’t interrupt: When face-to-face, we give non-verbal cues like shifting slightly, opening our mouths, and nodding to let the other person know we have something to add. Over the phone, those non-verbal cues aren’t available. But that doesn’t mean you should interrupt. Hold your thoughts until there’s a natural break in the conversation to avoid sounding impatient or rude.

  2. Show you’re listening: Try reflective listening by adding an occasional “yes,” “hmm,” and “I see” as you listen. Make sure these phrases don’t overpower the speaker. Instead, pepper them into the conversation to let your prospect know you’re on the same page.

  3. Avoid background noise: Show your caller they have your full attention by avoiding background sounds like typing, rustling, or radio/television. If you work on a busy sales floor, book a conference room so you and your prospect aren't distracted by background activity.

Have Great Timing

The best time to conduct outreach is on Thursdays between 8:00 am and 10:00 am and again between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm. The worse time to call someone is on Tuesdays between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm.

You can also use timing to get a leg up on your competitors. Know they’re calling prospects between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm? Try phoning prospects outside this timeframe to stand out, and maybe reach high-level prospects who normally have a gatekeeper screening their calls.

Stay Positive

Don’t overwhelm prospects with your intense enthusiasm. Starting a sales calls with an eager “Hey! How are you [prospect name]!?” might come off as a pushy and inauthentic.

Maintain a genuine tone and mirror your prospect’s demeanor. A less salesy way to keep things light is by sprinkling positive language into your call. Here are a few examples of cheerful language:

“Brilliant”
“Certainly”
“You’re welcome”
“Fantastic”
“It’s my pleasure”
“Of course”
“Immediately”
“It’s no trouble”
“I will find out for you”
“Absolutely”
“Rest assured”
“Wonderful”
“Please”
“Thank you”
“That’s great”

And don’t forget to establish rapport. The best way to start off on a positive note is to be polite, honest, and personalized with your prospect. Use their name, give them your full attention, and take ownership of follow up and next steps.

Close with Style

All of this is worth nothing unless you close the call well. Be clear, offer a review of what you’ve discussed, and always thank your prospect for their time.

  1. Give verbal signs the call is ending: A common way to do this is by giving a summary of the discussion and offering next steps.

  2. Make sure you’ve covered it all: Ask your prospect, “Is there anything we didn’t cover that I can speak to before we end the call?”

  3. Always be thanking: Never end a call without thanking your prospect for their time and attention. They didn’t have to take your call, so acknowledging their busy schedule is always appreciated.

Successful phone calls are an art. Master these techniques and see more deals move forward and your peers and managers take notice. For more information on selling Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage Plans over the phone, check out this resource page: http://www.psmbrokerage.com/sell-medicare-supplements-online or contact us at 800-998-7715 to request information.

Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/everything-you-need-to-know-about-selling-over-the-phone-in-a-single-infographic

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Tags: Medicare Supplement, sales advice, Sales Strategies, internet sales, phone sales

Mutual of Omaha plans to sell Medicare Advantage health plans in 2019

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 @ 12:31 PM

Mutual of Omaha plans to sell Medicare Advantage health plans in 2019

Mutual of Omaha to Enter Medicare Advantage Market in 2019

I'm sure if you've spent even a short amount of time in the Insurance industry you will recognize the name Mutual of Omaha.

But did you know that Mutual of Omaha will begin selling its first Medicare Advantage health plan in 2019?

Mutual of Omaha will work in cooperation with Lumeris Inc., a St. Louis company that will arrange health provider networks and manage the plans.

It’s a big step for the Omaha-based insurer, which got out of the individual and small-group health insurance business more than a decade ago, although it has sold Medicare Supplement plans since 1966 and is the second-largest source of those plans.

But Medicare Supplement enrollment is declining and Medicare Advantage sales are increasing, said Brad Buechler, a Mutual executive vice president.

Medicare Supplement insurance, also known as Medigap, is sold by private companies to help pay some costs not covered by government Medicare.

Medicare Advantage plans also are sold by private companies but are an alternative to government-run Medicare, providing the traditional coverage plus other benefits.

About one-fifth of Medicare recipients use Medicare Supplement coverage to augment their Medicare plans. About one-third use Medicare Advantage plans, and Kaiser Family Foundation predicts that share to pass 40 percent by 2027.

“The goal here is to ensure that we’ve got all of the interests of all parties aligned through the whole health care delivery value system,” Buechler said.

Between 2001 and 2007 Mutual got out of small-group, individual major and group health insurance, dismantling its health care provider networks.

Lumeris has the expertise to set up new networks of providers that want to practice “value-based” care that depends on good medical outcomes rather than traditional fees for each medical service, Buechler said.

Lumeris also will help identify metropolitan statistical areas — yet to be selected — where the new plans can compete for significant market share, he said.

Mutual, which is likely to count more than $8 billion in revenue this year, will own the plans under the Mutual Medicare Advantage name and will provide brand, marketing and distribution expertise and capital.

Mutual declined to reveal its financial goals for the Medicare Advantage business.

Buechler said the plans will have “narrow” networks, meaning clients will choose from limited numbers of physicians, hospitals and other care providers. Such managed care networks are designed to reduce costs while improving efficiency and medical outcomes.

The two companies expect the first plans to be ready for the Medicare open enrollment period that starts Oct. 15, with advertising leading up to that and plans taking effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Precision Senior Marketing is a proud partner of Mutual of Omaha and we look forward to offer agents another quality Mutual of Omaha product as soon it comes available.

Source: http://www.omaha.com/money/mutual-of-omaha-plans-to-sell-medicare-advantage-health-plans/article_abdb2ae8-fbe4-11e7-b7c4-bb29f4f4e57e.html

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Tags: Medicare Advantage plans, medicare supplement insurance, mutual of omaha

UnitedHealth Group profit jumps beyond estimates

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Wed, Jan 17, 2018 @ 05:13 PM

UnitedHealth Group profit jumps beyond estimates

The insurer surpassed $200B in revenue in 2017, and forecasts more earnings and investment.

UnitedHealth Group on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter earnings that easily beat estimates and vaulted the company over $200 billion in annual revenue for the first time, and said it expects the federal tax overhaul will provide a significant profit boost this year.

The Minnetonka-based health care giant, which is the nation’s largest health insurer, said Tuesday that the tax law in 2018 would increase earnings and cash flow by $1.7 billion, prompting UnitedHealth Group to boost earnings guidance by about 16 percent.

The tax overhaul will result in UnitedHealth Group’s rate falling from about 37 percent to 24 percent, analysts say. The savings will allow for investments in everything from data analytics and digital health to the application of artificial intelligence in delivering health insurance benefits.

“We concluded that our ambitions for better health and a better health system are best achieved through investment in ways that will make health care far more affordable and of far higher quality,” David Wichmann, the UnitedHealth Group chief executive, said during a conference call with investors. It’s too soon to detail the 2019 impact, Wichmann said.

The tax law commentary came as UnitedHealth Group reported fourth-quarter earnings that capped a record year for the company in terms of revenue, with full-year sales growing 9 percent in 2017 to $201 billion.

During the fourth quarter, UnitedHealth Group saw strong growth from its Optum division for health services, where each of three key business units reported year-over-year growth in operating earnings of just over 20 percent, wrote Peter Costa, an analyst with Wells Fargo Securities, in a note to investors. Optum includes a pharmaceutical benefits manager, a business that provides IT and data services to other health care companies and a division for nonhospital health care services.

In December, Optum bolstered its business providing health care directly to patients with a $4.9 billion deal to acquire DaVita Medical Group. With the acquisition, the company says it will have a presence in 35 local health care markets across the country, or nearly half the 75 markets it has targeted for development.

The health insurance business at UnitedHealth Group has been growing, too. At the end of the fourth quarter, the company’s UnitedHealthcare division was providing insurance coverage to about 45.4 million people in the U.S., up from nearly 45 million people at the end of the third quarter.

UnitedHealth Group employs about 18,000 people in Minnesota. Historically, the company has had only a minimal presence in Minnesota’s health insurance market, but UnitedHealthcare officials last year said they have plans for selling more coverage to employer groups in the state.

During Tuesday’s conference call, a company official said the push into Minnesota and the northern plains would come in the second half of 2018.

UnitedHealth Group closed 2017 with not just with the DaVita Medical Group deal, but also an agreement to acquire a health care provider and insurer operating in Chile, Colombia and Peru for roughly $2.8 billion. In 2012, the company acquired the largest hospital operator and health insurer in Brazil.

“Collectively, these countries have a population roughly equal to that of the U.S., but perhaps more growth opportunity in these emerging private health care markets, as well as a broader and longer term opportunity to serve the systems more holistically by also serving public markets,” said Molly Joseph, chief executive of UnitedHealth Group’s international business.

The deal to acquire Empresas Banmédica is expected to close in the first quarter. Wichmann said UnitedHealth Group had been studying the South American markets for about five years.

In December, President Donald Trump signed legislation that significantly reduces the tax rate on corporations including UnitedHealth Group. The savings result in reduced premium revenue and certain fees for UnitedHealth Group, due in part to increased consumer rebates triggered by regulation on the share of UnitedHealthcare premium revenue that’s directed to medical costs.

Even after adjusting for the estimated $400 million to $500 million hit on premiums and fees, UnitedHealth Group expects the law to benefit earnings and cash flow by $1.7 billion.

In addition, the tax law savings will allow for an additional $200 million to $300 million investment to reduce operating costs by accelerating “existing initiatives in artificial intelligence, data analytics, individual health record custodianship, digital health ... [and] more health-related initiatives in local communities,” Wichmann said.

“We expect to invest the remaining increased cash flows to better fulfill our mission and, in turn, to grow and diversify our enterprise,” he said.

For the fourth quarter, UnitedHealth Group saw net income more than double, to $3.6 billion, on $52 billion in revenue.

After excluding one-time items, earnings per share of $2.59 beat the $2.52 expected among analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Benefits from the tax bill did not affect the quarterly earnings per share calculation, the company said.

“We revalued our U.S. deferred tax liabilities to reflect the newly enacted federal statutory rate of 21 percent, which added $1.2 billion in noncash earnings in 2017,” said John Rex, the company’s chief financial officer, during the conference call.

UnitedHealth Group says it now expects in 2018 adjusted earnings of $12.30 to $12.60 per share, up from a November forecast of $10.55 to $10.85. The company expects 2018 revenue in the range of $223 billion to $225 billion.

UnitedHealth Group shares closed Tuesday at $232.90, up nearly 2 percent for the day.

Source: http://www.startribune.com/unitedhealth-group-profit-jumps-beyond-estimates/469526733/

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Tags: Medicare Advantage plans, UnitedHealthcare, medicare supplement insurance

Sales and Marketing = Creation and Capture

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Thu, Jan 11, 2018 @ 01:24 PM

Sales and Marketing = Creation and CaptureSales and Marketing = Creation and Capture

No one works in sales without having losses. Some of those losses are the result of errors, bad choices, poor strategy, or sloppy sales approaches. Some of those losses are the result of circumstances that are difficult to overcome. You can do everything right and lose, and you can do many things wrong and win. Either way, losses come with the territory.

Client issues are also part of sales. Even if you own the outcomes you sell your clients with someone else being responsible for doing the work that generates those outcomes, because you promised your client better results, they are going to look to you for help and for answers. You are accountable for the outcomes you sell, or you put future deals at risk (or more likely, you never see the new opportunities at all).

Selling is made up of two major outcomes. The first outcome is opportunity creation, and it requires that you do the work of prospecting, whether you like that work or wish there was another way. The second outcome is opportunity capture. The first outcome always precedes the second. The workload for opportunity creation is equal or greater than the workload of opportunity capture.

There will always be someone with a lower price that sells by suggesting they can produce the same result at a lower price point. Much of the time, these competitors will have an irrational pricing model that would cause you to lose money, and you will struggle to understand how they stay in business. But when they have been in business for decades, the only way you beat them is by creating greater value, not by explaining that they can’t survive with their pricing model.

Selling is not situational. It is individual. There are always salespeople who succeed at selling the most commoditized, undifferentiated products and services and do well for being able to so. There are also people in sales roles with the most compelling, differentiated offer who struggle to sell what should be a much easier sell. There are intangibles that count for a lot more than most people recognize, and these tangibles are not commonly taught or developed. Success then, is a product of developing yourself.

Source: https://thesalesblog.com/2018/01/09/a-few-observations-about-sales-and-salespeople/

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Tags: Sales Strategies, sales

Independent Agents Hold a Significant Advantage over Insurtech Startups

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Thu, Jan 04, 2018 @ 01:06 PM

Independent Agents Hold a Significant Advantage over Insurtech StartupsIndependent Agents Hold a Significant Advantage over Insurtech Startups

Insurance agents can provide something their insurtech rivals cannot: a human touch.

Independent insurance agents don’t need to fear that they’ll be replaced by insurtech startups powered by artificial intelligence. Recent studies reveal that insurance customers still want to talk to a live agent, especially when they need to file a claim or buy a complex product.

According to a recent survey conducted by insurance technology provider Vertafore, 60% of nearly American consumers worry that an AI-generated insurance purchasing process might automatically reject their coverage request, even when a human agent would likely give them a policy. Even tech-savvy Millennials shared this concern, with nearly 50% claiming that they’d prefer to buy an insurance contract from a live agent.

These findings are no surprise to Vertafore’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer BJ Schaknowski. Speaking at recent conference, he stressed that since insurance is a complicated subject, people feel more confident speaking to someone who can guide them to the “right protection for their family and business.” The Vertafore survey is all the more evidence that independent agents can still compete with insurtech startups.

Build Relationships through Technology

As the Vertafore survey indicates, consumers overwhelmingly prefer human interaction when buying insurance, as 72% said they were turned off by the prospect of purchasing it with a chatbot. Insurance agents, however, cannot ignore recent technologies that are rapidly transforming the industry. Prospects and clients expect a user-friendly and robust web presence, complete with digital portals that enable them to search for information, submit payments, or handle basic inquiries.

Rather than resist these services, successful agents utilize the latest technologies like online lead generation systems, automated email and marketing campaigns, and AI-powered programs to engage with clients and prospects more regularly than ever. In other words, they use technology to cultivate a deeper relationship with their clients — not as a vehicle to offload all customer service functions to a digital system. When an agent responds to a client’s comment on Facebook or Twitter or through a text, he or she is doing so as a human — not a bot.

The challenge for independent agents in today’s tech-driven world is to set themselves apart from their insurtech rivals by providing a human touch — even when that human touch comes through technology. It’s what clients and prospects alike want and expect.

Source:

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Tags: technology, Medicare Sales, Sales Strategies, sales

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