5 Prospecting Methods That
It’s no surprise that prospecting is the No. 1 challenge advisors face, year after year. When, as part of National Underwriter’s recent Independent Producer Study, we asked about the most challenging aspects of selling insurance products, 55 percent of respondents named prospecting as their top trial. It was a landslide winner, in fact, beating such formidable obstacles as clients’ lack of understanding around the need for insurance (34%), negative opinions of insurance products (25%) and product affordability (22%).
As you look to overcome this challenge in the year ahead, keep these five techniques in mind. While there’s no silver bullet to make prospecting a breeze, these are the methods your peers know from experience to really work.
A steady stream of qualified referrals is the lifeblood of any agency. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents cited referrals as the most effective way to prospect for new business, and for good reason: No other method will provide greater bang for your buck, so to speak. Having a solid referral-generating process in place will ensure not only that you are constantly introduced to new prospects, but that you are constantly introduced to the right prospects — the ones that meet your Ideal Client profile.
Referral expert Bill Cates suggests growing your referral network by being careful to keep referral sources informed about how you are following up on their help. This communicates that you value their insight and advice. Says Cates: “When someone gives you a referral, there are three things you MUST do to keep the referrals coming from that source: a) Follow up on every referral you get as soon as possible; b) Let your source know that you are following up on their help; c) Thank your referral source with a handwritten note and a small gift.”
At 34 percent, community involvement was named the second most effective prospecting technique. It’s Branding 101: The more people who associate your name with a positive message, the more clients you will have. Jim Brogan, president and founder of Brogan Financial in Knoxville, Tenn., makes community involvement a cornerstone of his practice, and has seen a boom in business as a result – not to mention a greater satisfaction and sense of fulfillment in the work he does each day. He encourages financial advisors to ask these questions as they consider how to get involved in their community: How many people in your community know who you are and what you do? If they hear the name of your business, what is the brand they associate with it? Is your brand different than any other financial advisor in town? Do you have a unique message and marketing initiative that helps you stand out from the crowded field of financial advisory firms?
Leading a seminar serves two important purposes: First, it establishes you as a thought leader in your area of specialty; second, it puts you in front of a group of prospects that have already expressed interest in your product line. Twenty percent of our survey respondents cited this as an effective prospecting technique – and while it may be tried-and-true, there are plenty of ways to tailor your seminar approach for today’s buyers. Industry coach Kerry Johnson suggests shunning the somewhat dated dinner seminar and instead holding a Social Security seminar designed purely to educate prospects. The overhead will be lower and, in many cases, the conversion of prospects to clients will be higher. Johnson notes: “Since you have taken away the motivation to get a free meal, the attendees are left with solving retirement problems. This is your retirement planning sweet spot.”
It may sound old-school, but cold calling can still work according to 15 percent of our advisors. In fact, picking up the phone beat out sexier methods such as social media (7%) and advertising on the radio or television (5%). Coach Kelley Robertson acknowledges that cold calling is tough, but asserts emphatically that it is not dead. To see results, you must put in the time you would with any other prospecting technique — and, of course, have thick skin. Robertson’s advice to agents: “You need to make a lot of dials. You need to target the right companies. You need a compelling opening. And you need to speak to the right people.”
Just under 15 percent of respondents cited direct mail as an effective prospecting technique — and J. Ryan Parker, general manager of Element Financial Group thinks the number of agents that prospect this way may actually be much higher, while also noting that it should not be a stand-alone prospecting method. Says Parker: “I think a lot of prospecting still revolves around direct mail — more so than people realize [because] seminars are powered by direct mail. This is obviously not the most cost-effective way of marketing yourself; you can probably spend a lot less money doing this on the Internet. But the clients producers are looking to reach, the seniors and the boomers, just aren’t as prone to go to Google and look something up. This is why more of your successful planners are still using direct mail. That said, online needs to be part of every producer’s prospecting strategy because it streamlines the business process. If I get a lead from the Internet, it automatically enters into my CRM, and we can follow-up from there. Internet is absolutely critical for today’s producers.”
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The Best Time to Make a Sales Call in 2017
Most salespeople are eager to know the best time to cold call their prospects. It’s an enticing idea: Rather than waiting for a compelling event, researching the buyer, and crafting a personalized message, the rep simply needs to know the best day for cold calling, as well as the best time of day.
Unfortunately for legacy salespeople, this approach doesn’t work anymore. An oft-cited study from the Keller Research Center at Baylor University shows only 1% of cold calls ultimately generate appointments.
The takeaway is, the “best time to make cold calls” doesn’t exist. But it’s a different story for warm calls. If you’ve done your homework and identified a potential good fit, knowing when to pick up the phone can mean the difference between getting the prospect's voicemail -- and getting a meeting.
Five suggestions for when to call buyers in 2017
1) The Best Day for Sales Calls
A study conducted by LeadResponseManagement.org revealed Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days of the week to call prospects.
This finding isn’t completely surprising. After all, people are usually gearing up for the weekend on Friday and aren’t interested in starting a relationship with a salesperson.
On Monday, buyers are transitioning into work mode and planning their upcoming week.
By the middle of the week, people have had enough time to settle into their working week and take care of pressing matters, without your call feeling like an interruption.
2) The Best Morning Time for Sales Calls
Making an early morning sales call lets you connect with prospects before their to-do lists become overwhelmingly long. But timing is still important -- call too early, and no one will answer. Call too late, and your prospects will be busy.
The same LeadResponseManagement.org study found morning sales calls are most productive between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m..
3) The Worst Time of the Day for Sales Calls
What are most prospects doing between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.? That’s right: Eating lunch.
For this reason, reps have the lowest contact rates during lunchtime. Use this time instead to research prospects and prepare for your afternoon calls. (And of course, having lunch yourself.)
4) The Best Afternoon Time for Sales Calls
Reps see the highest engagement rates of the day between 4 and 5 p.m. Most prospects are tying up their projects for the day. This is a great moment to pick up the phone and give your buyer a call. With important work out of the way, your prospective clients will more time to chat and listen to what you have to offer.
5) Call inbound leads within five minutes of receipt
Seeing leads come in is always exciting for sales reps, but the time it takes you to respond to these prospects is crucial. From the same study conducted by LeadResponseManagement.org, the timing of the response played a big part in the success of making contact and qualifying.
The graph above demonstrates how a response time of no more than five minutes after receipt results in a much higher number of qualified leads. After 10 minutes, the number of leads qualified significantly decreases, which shows a quick response will return the best results.
Ultimately, picking the right time to make your sales calls is essential to sales success. While these five rules of thumb are a good place to start, you may find that different strategies work better for your business. Test these approaches and adopt the ones that work for you. You might be surprised to find how many more prospects you can reach with a few simple tweaks.
We've all fallen victim to a burnout of prospecting ideas at one point or another.
Agents- You know what I'm talking about...When you've gotten a big, fat 0% return on your direct mail drop investment, knocked on ten doors to hear "I think I'll stay with my company" in all ten instances, cold-called all of the leads you've purchased this quarter until you were blue in the face to only frustratingly be hung up on. You get it.
With AEP around the corner, you're in need of some fresh, innovative ideas to attract prospects and generate leads- So, what are the tricks in expanding your senior market insurance business to reach an all-time rock star status in your community?
How to optimize your local reach to attract new clients
1. Adopt an omni-channel approach
Embracing the growth of new digital and omni-channel capabilities provides clients and prospects with what they desire: convenient access to advice and assistance. The first step toward better-serving this need is to establish your digital presence.
With 55% of online users age 65 and over using Facebook in 2014, it is essential for you to create a Facebook Page to service and retain your existing clients. The smallest of interactions, like dropping by a client’s Facebook to post a comment celebrating another rotation around the sun, helps emphasize your appreciation for their business. Not only will your Facebook Page improve the overall client experience, but also serve as a solid foundation for prospects to gain insight toward your role as a senior market insurance specialist.
While nearly 33% of participants in GenRe’s recent study: The Role of the Agent in Medicare Supplement Sales reported seeking assistance and not receiving any type of help, it is critical for you, as a senior market insurance specialist, to affiliate your name and business with the zip code you serve on search engines. Suggestions upon how you may go about getting in touch with those senior prospects looking for advice-oriented services include creating a Google My Business account, registering for a free membership with AgentReview, becoming a Sub Moderator on Reddit for r/insurance, and, if applicable, financially and educationally investing in SEO practices for your personal website.
2. Facilitate interactions with advice-oriented sales and services
Outside the realm of selling senior market insurance products, it is in both your and the client's best interest to offer advice on risk management and value-added servicing (such as claims). In doing so, you will continuously build rapport within your community as a senior market insurance specialist so that prospects know where to turn when the time comes.
Digitally, there are multiple platforms for senior market insurance agents to engage with not only prospects who need advice, but also other agents, such as Insurance-Forums and the Inbound Insurance Marketing community on Google+.
You may also go about prospecting by physically placing promotional advertisements or branded products within local facilities with respect to senior market purchasing habits. For example, heading to an independently-owned golf course and asking the owner if he or she would be willing to accept a donation of 1,000 (or more) score cards if, in exchange, you were granted the opportunity to place a small ad upon them in the printing process. Same goes for bookmarks to book stores, calculators to tax centers, piggy banks to banks, coffee mugs to coffee shops or restaurants, coasters to furniture stores- etc.
I have also seen posts within Insurance-Forums regarding agents' technique in placing ads upon prescription bags at local pharmacies. I, however, am an out-of-the-box thinker and decided to get creative, ditch a logo and throw in a catchy slogan upon senior-related products to place at the pharmacy pick-up window for our independent agents with multiple carriers. Take a peek at these ideas:
Check out AnyPromo and see what awesome ideas YOU can come up with to promote your business. (If you happen to be reading this before 10/17, be sure to use coupon code: PINK25 for $25 off your order of $250 or more or PINK75 for $75 off your order of $500 or more!)
3. Leverage data to achieve insight-driven actions and outcomes
Be sure to keep up-to-date with the political, social and economic trends and changes within the senior market insurance industry. You may do so by bookmarking and frequently revisiting resources, such as LifeHealthPro's Boomer Market and Senior Market sections, SeniorJournal, AARP's Medicare section, The New York Times' Medicare section, and most certainly the Medicare and CMS blogs.
So, how do YOU prospect in your community?
Please, share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.