If you spend a few minutes talking to the most successful P&C agents, many will tell you that part of their "secret" is so simple it's almost ridiculous—you've got to pick up the phone and dial every day. Prospecting must be part of your day-to-day life, because 92% of all customer interactions happen over the phone.
You may be in a position where you’ve acquired a book of business, but if you want to grow your agency to its fullest potential, you’re going to have to actively find and identify people who fit consumer profiles that align with the type of clients your agency is trying to target (and then reach out to these consumers). We call this insurance prospecting.
Depending on the type of agent you are, there are different strategies you can use for insurance sales prospecting in order to drive more top of funnel activity (basically, a prospect's first awareness of and engagement with your product/company) and more contacts (which will ultimately mean more quotes and more binds). In this article, we’re identifying 15 prospecting tips for insurance agents that can help you up your dialing game and potentially drive more dollars to your business.
How To Prospect For Insurance Leads: 15 Tips For Agents & Producers
1. Cross-sell your existing book.
If you’ve been in the insurance business for a few years, there’s an opportunity to make the most of what you already have: Use your existing book of business to cross-sell products. Done right, cross-selling can yield powerful results. It requires only the organizational ability to see what products your customers currently have. High performing agents establish and use a system that shows them, on a daily or weekly basis, which clients have which policies in force, which clients have renewals coming up and which clients would be ideal opportunities for adding additional insurance products to their portfolio.
2. Use your existing customers to generate referrals.
Ask your best customers to refer people to you. After asking for referrals, be sure to send a small gift or thank you. Similarly, you can move the needle by providing an incentive—like a gift card, for example—for referrals. Just make sure that you follow your State laws when it comes to rewarding referrals. Many States place a limit on how much you can send to a customer as compensation for a referral (and in some States you can not provide any financial incentive). Beyond providing simple motivation, incentives also create a sense of urgency, invest the agent in the outcome of the referral, and may produce faster results.
Another way to generate referrals is to connect with partner industries who can refer you to prospects. For example, you can incentivize real estate agents, attorneys, car dealerships, mechanics, and other local industries to send referrals your way.
3. Understand which of your products are competitive.
An underutilized insurance prospecting tip is to make sure you know which of the insurance products you’re selling are the most competitively priced, so you can effectively prospect potential customers who are a good fit. It sounds simple, but when you know which products you are most likely to sell to your target customer, you’ll be able to bind more policies and reach more people—because you know you are sharing with them products they are actually interested in and ones that they will be much more likely to purchase.
4. Always include insurance prospecting in your sales process.
In an agent’s first year, there are often required phone sessions, called “phone clinics.” “Phone Clinic” refers to a mandatory time in the calendar (that is usually sacrosanct) when the team hits the phones to set up appointments. The important metrics of dials, conversations, and appointments set are the leading indicator of future success.
After year one, that “phone clinic” requirement usually disappears—but the need to prospect does not. Despite the importance of prospecting, many veteran producers forgo taking the necessary time to make calls. Client requests, distractions and other to-do items can creep into prospecting time, but you must make sure you have dedicated call times throughout the week and make them a top priority. You wouldn’t no-show an in-person client appointment, so treat your phone prospecting the same way.
5. Have a script (but don’t sound scripted).
When I first began my career, I had no sales experience and didn’t know how to prospect. I remember having serious call reluctance. In fact, I hung up on the first person who answered the phone because I was terrified they were going to object!
It sounds funny now, but it is a real problem with new agents. It's only human to be nervous about calling leads for the first time. The biggest help I found in overcoming this fear was to just keep dialing. Like most skills, the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll become, and the more successful you’ll be on your calls. Also, arming yourself with sales scripts can help, which leads to the next tip.
The two things that helped me overcome my fear of cold calling and prospecting were continuously dialing and using a script. As a new agent, I literally read scripts word-for-word, every single time.
- When you're new, stick to the script. It will give you confidence, and ensures you don't mess up. Using scripts well means that you control the conversation - there's less quiet time between your sentences, fewer awkward pauses (and the pauses you do have are strategic), and more of a chance to lead your prospect toward becoming a customer.
What do you say when an insurance lead objects to your sales call? Instead of panicking, try the four sample scripts outlined in this guide.
Doing this as a beginner helped me sound more confident on the phone. As I got more comfortable and memorized my scripts, I found myself going off script and developing my own style, which worked better because it sounded more human. Once you have a bit of experience and feel comfortable, you should do the same. After all, potential customers want to work with actual humans!
Your scripts should change depending on your level of experience in the industry.
With experience, you’ll find that not every sales script is necessarily compatible with every individual producer. This was the biggest takeaway I had from working at different sales jobs and using different call scripts. Not everything worked with my own personality and my comfort level. As I advanced, I found the sales prospecting tools that worked for me and used those, omitting the rest.
6. Practice overcoming objections.
If you want to know how to prospect for sales, you have to know how to overcome your prospects’ objections to buying home or auto insurance. I always tell new agents to overcome objections as quickly as possible, because when an agent pauses, prospects can easily shut down a conversation, which leads to no sale.
Many producers resist using a sales script. When it comes to appointment-setting, many salespeople believe they have an innate selling ability that allows them to “just wing it,” but we consistently see the opposite: Producers who use proven language all the time achieve higher appointment rates.
Simply having set language doesn’t mean you have to sound like a robot. We’ve all talked to customer service reps with a robotic, impersonal tone, and it hardly engenders trust or comfort on the phone. It is truly about both what you say and how you say it. Check out two examples of life insurance prospecting scripts.
If I call my friend, I might say, “Hi Robert? (pause) It’s Brian... Brian Harrison, how are you doing?” Without thinking about it I have a natural tone and energy, which eases us into the conversation. Your prospecting calls should start with the same natural tone and energy.
“Hi Robert? (pause) It’s Brian... Brian Harrison, how are you doing? Is this a good time to talk? I’m calling from the XYZ Mutual office in Cambridge. My partners at EverQuote asked me to reach out to see if I could help you with life insurance. What prompted your interest in a quote today?”
Contrast the example above with how some producers start a phone prospecting call:
“Hi, can I speak to Robert Jones? Good afternoon, Mr. Jones. My name is Brian Harrison, and I am a licensed representative with XYZ Mutual Life insurance company. I’m calling to follow up on the life insurance quote request that you entered into EverQuote.com on Friday evening. XYZ Life insurance has been in business for over 100 years, and my job is to provide you with excellent service. I have some questions…”
The content of both approaches is almost identical, but there are some key differences that make example number one the far better choice:
- A pause and initial greeting that sounds like a “normal” phone call.
- Asking permission to connect, then offering alternative times if necessary.
- Using language about being referred to them and offering to help.
- Stating the town where you’re located, to show you’re local.
- An open-ended question to get to the “why” behind the life insurance request.
- A tone that helps the prospect lower their guard early in the call.
- Most importantly, language that is inviting and natural vs. robotic/scripted.
How can you go from robot to real person with your scripting? Record yourself using your mobile phone and listen to your calls. Ask a peer to listen in and critique. With some tweaks, you’ll go from sounding like a telemarketer to becoming a trusted advisor.
7. Focus each dialing session on a particular audience, and adapt your approach.
You wouldn’t use a canned greeting when you call your best friend or your Aunt Lucy. “Hello Aunt Lucy, my name is Brian Harrison and I am a representative of XYZ Mutual. I wanted to call you…” Similarly, you should approach a referral from your best client differently than a call to an orphaned client you’re calling for the first time.
Most producers diversify their prospecting, getting clients from a combination of referrals, seminars, networking, natural market contact, and online marketplaces like EverQuote. Some prospects may be business owners or retirees; they may work in the public or private sector; they may have varying degrees of financial resources. But many producers toss all those leads and prospective clients into one big pile to call during their phoning sessions. This is a mistake.
Instead, group your calling sessions by particular audiences and use a script geared toward them. Then, for example, Monday afternoon you call referrals from the past month, and Monday evening you’ll call your online leads. Then, Tuesday morning you reach out to business owners you met at a recent Chamber event, and so on.
Another thing to keep in mind: Your first few calls of the day aren’t nearly as good as the ones made after warming up. Keeping a consistent audience for each session improves your chances of setting more appointments.
8. Make the first call an easy one.
Everyone has call reluctance. The fear of rejection hangs over your headset and keypad before every calling session. How can you rid yourself of that fear and reluctance? Make the first call to someone you love talking to. Maybe it’s a great client or a referral that you know will book an appointment, but regardless of who it is, having a good first call helps set the tone for the rest of your calling session.
9. Be willing to phone prospects at any time.
While your target markets may dictate a consistent calling time, you’re generally more likely to reach clients in the early evening and on Saturday mornings. While it may not be possible to work every night or every Saturday, setting aside times to call during off-hours can make a difference.
In addition to calling at times when people will pick up, it’s also important to call as soon as you get a lead. At EverQuote, we connect consumers to agents in seconds. So if you can call them just after they hit submit on the quote request, you’ll reach them at a time when they have insurance on their mind.
10. Learn sales prospecting methods from leaders in the company.
I’ve noticed that, for many of my most successful agents, when they started out, they went directly to the best-of-the-best agents from their companies and tried to emulate them. This is crucial, because I believe your overall prospecting skills can be elevated by working closely with top performers. When you're surrounded with high-performing agents who are helpful and have their own unique prospecting tactics, you can pick and choose what works best for your own sales process.
Go out of your way to connect with the producers who consistently perform better than everyone else. Then, try to figure out their style, their scripts, and their processes. (Tweet this!) Your time is obviously limited; by following these best practices, you’ll be able to maximize that time to produce the best possible results (instead of reinventing the wheel with tactics that may or may not be successful).
11. Utilize processes.
If you follow strong processes that maximize your time, you can bring in more activity on average and yield better results. Here’s a list of important sales prospecting processes and tools to consider for your company:
- Scripts (which we’ve already talked about).
- Client relationship management (CRM) software. There are many different CRMs out there for various industries, but one of the most important qualities in a CRM is data integrity. When you get a lead, you need to have a good flow, from the time you get the lead’s information all the way through to a sale—who is going to contact them, when, how, etc. Using a CRM to automate this process helps ensure your entire office staff knows their specific action items for a lead and can maximize their time, as well as not lose any prospects in the process.
- Calendars. There are many free and subscription-based calendar options available, but whatever helps you increase the number of leads you are meeting with should work for you.
- Proven schedules. Based on EverQuote’s years of experience working directly with agents, following a daily activity schedule consistently leads to optimum performance.
12. Use templates as much as you can.
I recommend using as many templates as you can for repeated communication. That includes the following:
- Call scripts
- Emails (sales, follow-ups, etc.)
- Text messaging
Templates are powerful because they help you act quickly without needing to think through every situation, every time. They help you scale your business so different forms of sales prospecting don’t overwhelm you and your staff.
13. Bring the energy.
Some agents have a negative personality—whether they don’t believe in the product, they’re not good on the phone, or they're simply having a bad day—and their negative energy casts a pall on the entire experience. I think we all innately have an ear for this. When we put ourselves in our customers’ shoes, it’s obvious that no one wants to do business with these types of people. One of the most important—and often overlooked—prospecting techniques for insurance agents is to remember we’re selling our personalities first—not our companies or our products. Think of it as an energy transfer when you speak with a prospect. So in the very first heartbeat, syllable, or sentence, the person on the other end of the phone gets an innate feeling about whether or not they want to deal with you. Make sure you’re the type of person you would want to talk to.
14. Test the sales prospecting techniques you use to determine what’s working and what should be tweaked.
Over the course of my career working with top agents, I learned they each had different sales methods and processes, styles, energy on the phone, and script preferences. I realized I could try different versions of all these things and then run simple A/B tests to see which approach outperformed the others (or if they all worked out the same.) So I took a script from one guy, ran it for a while, and then took a script from the other guy and did the same. You can do that, too. Just keep your data straight with CRM software or another, similar tool, and use what you find to optimize your processes.
A quick note here: One of the best aspects of working with a lead generation partner like EverQuote is that we can help you do these types of tests to optimize your results. We help our existing clients do things like this all the time—that’s why they are some of the most successful agents in the industry
15. Explore using internet leads in your insurance prospecting process.
When it comes to finding potential customers for your agency in the digital age, buying high quality leads can be one of the most effective strategies you have. Of course –as you've probably realized– not all leads are created equal. The following information can help you identify the leads that are a good fit for you, and could potentially provide the most ROI to your company.
- Aged leads: When you buy aged leads, you’re buying the names and contact information for people who may or may not be actively looking for insurance. Typically, agents who pay for aged leads pay very little for the information, but the leads they receive are relatively cold–often buying these types of leads is literally only a small step above using the phone book. Unless you're one of the extremely small segment of agents successfully using aged leads as a core part of their strategy, we don't recommend purchasing aged leads – there are better options.
- Real-time leads: Real-time leads, like those you purchase from EverQuote, are connections to people actively looking for insurance products. Real-time leads are excellent prospects because they generally have higher relative conversion rates (as well as a typical quicker time to bind). Real-time leads cost more, so it’s best to start using them with a strategy in place for how to best use them—preferably, a multi-touch process that keeps you in close communication with the prospect. That process should include phone calls, emails over the course of several days to two months, giving you ample opportunity for sales conversations.
One more note: We have been working directly with insurance agents for years now and in that time we have heard a lot of myths and misconceptions about lead generation companies, and while there are many lead generation companies that contribute to the industry's somewhat negative image, not everything you hear about buying leads is true; in fact, much of the negative information you might hear about buying leads is often inaccurate and most definitely is not applicable to every lead vendor. For the whole story on this see the article: 4 Misconceptions About Insurance Lead Generation Companies.
Looking for high-quality, intentful leads to help you fill your insurance prospecting pipeline?
Once you’ve optimized your sales prospecting techniques, your next step is to make sure you have high-quality, intentful leads to fill up your calendar. That’s where EverQuote comes in. At EverQuote, our expertise is in giving you leads that will help kickstart your growth process. When you partner with us you’ll learn about best practices for sales, what works when talking with internet leads, and more. Plus, you have complete control over your leads—and you can even pause your account anytime, with no consequences. Click here to schedule a tour of EverQuote’s tools with one of our experts.