Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are the core of the US economy. They account for approximately half of all jobs, more than 40% of private sector payrolls, and 65% of new job creation. Approached correctly with the right products and solutions, SMBs present a significant market opportunity for insurance brokers and agents. Here are ten tips for insurance professionals on prospecting and selling benefit solutions to SMBs.
1. Don’t Rush the Sales Process
Selling is a process. If you skip important steps such as qualifying a prospect, understanding their true pain, or providing education on the solution you’ll likely lose the deal. Also consider this – the larger the business, the more complex the sales process because there are typically more decision makers and formal purchasing processes. Be patient, yet know how and when to move the process along.
Skilled sales professionals are able to assess where the prospect is in their decision making process, and move the prospect through the appropriate steps at the right time – all while building a relationship to cultivate a long-term client.
2. Focus Your Time on the Most Qualified Leads
Understand and establish a qualification process so you can quickly and easily identify qualified leads worth your time, and identify unqualified leads who will waste your time (and you theirs). This can be applied to a cold call, or to a referral from a long-time client. Know your most qualified leads and focus your time with them.
3. Always Know What Your Goal is for the Outcome of the Meeting
Have you ever left a meeting with a client that felt very productive, but after the meeting you realize you have no idea what the next step is? We’ve all been there.
Think of the sales process as a series of offers and agreements, with the last offer being an agreement to buy. At each meeting or touch, know what intended outcome is for the contact so that you (1) ask for their agreement and (2) clearly know what the next step is.
For example, at first contact your offer may be a 5-minute phone call. The second offer many be a 30-minute health benefits assessment. Know your goals, and set up-front contracts to set clear next steps (ex: “If I send you a proposal today, can you review it and make a decision by Friday?”).
4. Make “Yes” the Logical and Emotional Choice
Selling is a skill set – an art and a science. While specific transactions and agreements occur throughout the sales process, much of your time should be spent cultivating a relationship, listening to determine your prospect’s needs, and proposing the right solution. When you build genuine relationships and help solve SMBs problems, saying “yes” becomes the logical and emotional choice.
5. Don’t Be Afraid of “No”
Many sales professionals dread hearing “no”. But, if you’ve done you due diligence hearing a decision (yes or no), is a good thing. A yes means you’ve closed the deal. A no means they are currently not qualified and clear themselves from your sales pipeline. Don’t be afraid of no, but do ask why they’ve decided not to buy. Unless specifically told otherwise, follow up with old leads. Business budgets change, the economy changes, and decision makers change.
6. Understand the Prospect’s True Pain
You meet with a prospect for the first time who sounds ready to jump into quotes. You might think – this prospect will be a quick sell! Don’t fall into this trap. Backup and qualify the prospect to understand what their role is, what motivates them, what their challenges are, what their goals are, and what their budget is.
Similarly, an SMB may present a challenge, but what is their true challenge? Seasoned sales professionals will always say “the first question is never the actual question.” Follow up with 2-3 more questions to get to the real pain and the real need.
7. Build Genuine Relationships… But Don’t Push It
Relationship building is vital to successfully selling to SMBs. But the key here is genuine relationships. Work to establish a peer dynamic and align with the goals of the business by offering solutions to their problems and offering new ideas to help their business succeed.
Work toward leading masterful conversations. Avoid asking irrelevant or generic questions, be knowledgeable about your prospect’s background (take notes about them personally and professionally), and ask a lot of questions. Bottom line is to be yourself – not the salesperson version of yourself.
This skill takes time and practice. See: 5 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Small Business Clients.
8. Do More Listening Than Talking
There is a time for all sales professionals to talk, but resist the urge to talk too much about yourself or the product/solution you’re selling. For one, you might be talking about a solution or product they have no interest in (and miss an opportunity to talk about the solution that actually solves their problem), and second you may come across as a “know-it-all” or like you’re talking above the prospect. This is a balance. Just remember to give a little, get a little. If you find yourself talking too much, stop. And turn the conversation back over to the prospect by asking a question.
9. Don’t Rehearse or Over Script
When you first start out it is tempting to rehearse or script your calls. However, a problem with rehearsing or using a strict script is that you forget to listen and you sound robotic. As a sales professional, it’s important to learn to listen, think on your feet, and adapt to new information. Instead of rehearsing or scripting, be an expert in what you’re pitching, know what you’re indented outcome is for each touch, and focus on listening for the problem they are trying to solve.
10. Find a Mentor and Ask for Feedback
Whether a rookie just starting out or a seasoned sales professional, we all can continue to improve. Ask for feedback frequently. For example, ask a colleague to shadow you on sales calls or do some role playing. Ask them how they deal with common objections you’re struggling with, or how to better organize your leads and sales pipeline to be more efficient.
If you’re a one-person operation, network with other insurance professionals and/or find a mentor in the industry.