February 4

Phone Calling Tips for Insurance Agents

We have had a lot of agents come to us over the last several months and ask for phone calling tips when selling Medicare, Life Insurance and other plans we offer. We have compiled some great answers from our experts in the field about working leads and how exactly we do it.

We hope that you can pick a few pointers out today from Ronnie James that will help you as you work on building your business. 

Phone Calling Tips From Ronnie James

Old man talking to Insurance agent

I have been in the insurance industry for over 20 years and I have worked leads for a lot of years now. I worked in the life insurance industry, mortgage protection, insurance industry and now the Medicare industry. And I've had to make calls off of lead cards for many years. And so today I just want to share with you some of the experience that I have gained to hopefully help you as you build your business.

Phone calling tips #1

Sit up straight, sit up tall and be prepared

The first thing I'd like to say when you get ready to make phone calls is to sit up straight, sit up tall and be prepared. Whenever you slouch or whenever you're lazy as you're making your phone calls, it comes through in your voice. We always want to sound professional when we're on the phone and we want people to know that what we're talking about really matters. 

DO NOT leave a message the first time

The second thing I would like to say is DO NOT leave a message when you call a lead the first time. I have talked to far too many agents who will make a phone call on the lead and leave a message and never hear back. For the most part, when you leave a message on the lead, you can go ahead and take that lead wad it up and thrown in the garbage can because 99.9% of the time they are not going to call you back. Furthermore, what you've just done is you've put that client in a position now where they recognize your number and what you're calling about so they can block the call or just ignore it when you call back.

My recommendation is to call the lead multiple times at different times of the day.

My recommendation is to call the lead multiple times at different times of the day. I never recommend making phone calls before 9:00 a.m., but if you call at 9 a.m. and don't get an answer, just hang up, try back again at lunchtime or maybe try in the evening to get them. If after three or four phone calls, I'm not getting an answer, I will switch lines that I'm calling from.

So initially I may be calling from my cell phone. If I don't get the answer, I'll just switch to my office line and call from my office to give a different number, because, again, a lead that is mailed in, all that is is an opportunity to talk to someone. It's not a guaranteed sale. And as an agent, all we're looking for or should be looking for is that opportunity to talk to someone. So put yourself in the best position and call from a different number.

If after six or seven tries I have not reached someone at that point, sure, leave a message. I would do the same. But I would never recommend an agent leave a message on the machine after one to three calls. You're just wasting your time by doing that. 

Use the lead's first name - be personable

Next, I would say that whenever the prospect picks up the telephone, we know their name, their address, their phone number, and depending on the type of lead you're working, if they have Medicare and or Medicaid and their age, whenever you call, use the client's first name. It's a little more personable and you typically can get them to answer better.

So, for example, when I call, I would not say, how could I please speak with Miss Jones whenever I call the phone's picked up, I'll say, Hi, Mary, how are you today? And you catch them sometimes by surprise. If you've made phone calls before, you know that sometimes when you call, you ask for Miss Jones. Miss Jones just answered the phone. But Miss Jones is going to say she's not here right now. So what we want to do is catch.

So call them by their first name to strike up the conversation, because, again, you will never get in the door without that conversation.

I'm not saying we're trying to be tricky at all, but there are tricks to this game. We want to open a conversation with them. So call them by their first name to strike up the conversation, because, again, you will never get in the door without that conversation. So use people's first name when you address them, when they pick up the phone, the next thing I would say is be sure to speak slowly and softly.

You are a professional salesperson, not a telemarketer

Phone calling tips to give a positive first impressions include how you speak to a consumer. When you get in a hurry and you talk too fast, the first thing people think of is telemarketer. I am not a telemarketer, neither are you. You are a trained professional salesperson. What you want to do is convey that when you talk to them, so you have to make the phone call like you don't need the appointment. But in your mind, you know, you need the appointment to make the sale. So talk slowly, lower your volume just a little bit and talk softly and let them know that it's a friendly conversation.

Agent Phone call, speak slowly

At the same time, be quick about the purpose. Let that person know that you are not a telemarketer and that you are not cold calling them. Let them know that you were simply calling because you received a little card in the mail that they had filled out and mailed back to you. Automatically, most people are going to ask what card? Then it's up to you to describe the card that they had filled out and mailed back in. Whether that be file expands, Medicare supplement, Medicare Advantage, turning 65, whatever that lead piece is you're working, describe it to them and say, do you recall sending that back in?

Most of the time they will say, yes, I do remember that, but I just thought that you'd put something in the mail. You can then laugh about it and say, well, I wish it were that easy, but if it were, I wouldn't be needed. Ultimately, keep in mind, you're not trying to sell anything over the phone. You're objective from the phone call is to get the appointment.

You're objective from the phone call is to get the appointment.

Phone Calling Tips To Get Appointments

The goal is an appointment, not an immediate sale

If you find yourself getting nervous, which I still do, just remind yourself to slow down. I've had one gentleman say chew gum when you're making phone calls, that if you chew a piece of gum, that'll slow you down, but do what it takes to be at a reasonable pace when you're talking. Again, get the appointment. Don't try to sell it over the phone. Next thing I would say is asking tough questions to make sure that it's a worthwhile appointment.

If you're going out on appointments that are not qualified, then you have just wasted time, wasted gas, and wasted energy because it will hurt your morale. Make sure that that person is potentially qualified for what you're doing. If you're selling file experience, there may not be a lot of questions to ask because as you know, here at Tidewater, we have products for anybody: for those that are very healthy, to those that are very unhealthy. When it comes to working Medicare leads, you need to be sure that the individual does not have end stage renal disease.

Insurance Agent with Couple

If you're looking at Medicare supplements, you maybe need to ask a question or two about their health. Me personally, if it's a made up lead, I'm going to just get the appointment and I'll find out about their health when I get there, because you may be able to turn them from a supplement to an advantage plan. Again, we're looking for opportunities. Keep in mind that just because you have an appointment and you don't sell, it does not mean it was a bad lead.

Even though that lead may not purchase from you, if you go in and you're a professional and you do a good job for them, people are more than willing to take your card and pass it on. They're more than willing to give you a name and number of someone to contact. People like a professional agent, and it's rare that I go into a situation where people say, yes, I have a good agent that is taking care of me. If they did, in all likelihood, they would not have mailed the card back in.

Even though that lead may not purchase from you, if you go in and you're a professional and you do a good job for them, people are more than willing to take your card and pass it on.

Don't schedule too far in advance

Next, I would say is don't book the appointment too far out if you're making calls to book appointments. I would not book those appointments more than one to three days out because people forget things. It's frustrating to go out on an appointment and they forgot about you. It is frustrating to go out and get a no show.

Senior couple talking to insurance agent

So for the best time to make phone calls, I find that Mondays are good call days, Fridays being the worst call days unless you're going to be working Saturdays. If you call on Friday and book appointments for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of the next week, you've given to wide a span of time and things happen. So what I would encourage you to do is to call on Mondays for Tuesday or Wednesday appointments. Wednesday afternoon, make some more phone calls, even Thursday morning for Thursday afternoon, Friday appointments, because the call days are just as important and just as vital as the selling days. We have to be able to get in front of those people so again, don't book too far out.

Keep good records of your leads

The next phone calling tip is keep good records. You talk to people, they say we've got sickness in the home, this is not a good time to call. Call them back in a week. You'd be surprised how many times I have taken recycled leads and people say I have talked to someone and they were supposed to call me back and they never called me back.

Don't sell yourself short.

Follow up. Keep good records. As long as you're willing to do that, a lead never gets too old to call unless it's outside of that sale season. So you can you can continue to call and continue to work those leads and follow up. People appreciate it when you follow up if they've asked you to call back. 

These are just some tips that I wanted to share with you as you're making phone calls, because I know that this is the time of year when many agents will ask, how do I get in front of people? What can I do to stay productive? This is a good time to purchase leads. 

Here at Tidewater, we have good lead vendors that can get you the leads that you need. If you have any questions, give us a call at 888-622-9122.


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