Four Key Components to Successful Cold-Calling

I’ve been in the insurance industry for many years selling life and health products and have talked to thousands of agents on the phone, at conferences, training sessions and other public venues. By no means am I “the” authority on sales, insurance sales or selling by phone, but I’ve learned a lot through my own practice and the countless agents I’ve worked with in growing their book of business.

There are countless ways to generate business, which coincidentally I’ve written about in another blog titled “Lead Generation for Insurance Agents (http://tinyurl.com/8c6lrey). Although I’ve done virtually every lead generation method out there short of putting my voice on the radio or my face on TV and there are countless resources for lead generation available on the Internet.  (Written by Cory Prado) I’ve always had several lead generation methods going at a time to keep my lead pipeline full and my preferred method for lead generation has always been through cold-calling, telemarketing or telesales… whichever name you choose to call it.

There are four key components to any successful sales call:

1. Lists or leads that target the target audience of the products or services you’re selling.
2. An efficient way to contact these prospects i.e. a power or predictive dialer.
3. Calling at the peak times where you are most likely to reach your prospect.
4. A good script and prepared responses for any objections you may encounter.

Know your existing customers and present to the right audience.
You don’t want to waste your time prospecting to the wrong demographic and to ensure this you need to understand who buys your existing products or services? Here are some things to consider:

Age range.
Geographic area.
Income range.
Presence of children.
Credit rating.
Homeowner status.
Employee size.
Sales Volume.

If you sell term life insurance you don’t want to target people in their 50s and 60s. You might want to target people in their late 20s and older, homeowners, presence of kids and other geographic factors as these people have something they need to protect. Get the idea? Know your existing customers and identify specifically that target demographic, BUT don’t be too specific where you eliminate opportunities for prospecting.

Hand-dialing is one of the most demotivating things you can do… get a dialer.
Sales is a numbers game. The more people you talk to… the more leads… the more sales. I’ve hand-dialed thousands of people as an insurance agent and you can only hand dial 25-35 numbers per hour. Think about hand dialing:
Pick up the phone.
Look at your number.
Dial the number.
Wait for the phone to ring.
Talk, leave a message or hang up and do it all over again.

Not only will there be nights you have to talk yourself “into” dialing, but there will be nights where you talk yourself “out” of dialing. A dialer can dial people hundreds per hour and while it may not make dialing fun, it will eliminate all the demotivating tasks associated with hand-dialing. Get a dialer.

Call your target demographic at the right time.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to agents that aren’t using telesales basics in their operation. I had a conversation (the same conversation I have several times a week) with an agent at a national property and casualty company this week where they were frustrated with their lack of results making calls. Although sales does rely on salesmanship, I covered the basics then he told me he was calling between 3:00 – 5:30pm. BINGO! I then asked him what time he gets home from work in which he replied “usually between 6:00 – 630pm.” I then asked him “so you get home between 6:00 – 6:30pm where most people who work day jobs get home the same time you do” then I heard silence. He said BINGO, too.

If you’re calling consumers there are three prime times to call: evenings 6:30 – 8:30pm, Saturday mornings 9:30 – 11:30am and weekdays 11:00 – 1:00pm. For businesses, calling prospects the first couple of hours in the morning and the last couple of hours at the end of the day are ideal before they get into meetings or take an early or late lunch.

Don’t waste time looking for the best script… start with a good script.
There is no master script that every person uses to get an automatic lead or a sale and there are no magic words. What you need to understand is that your script will constantly evolve over time into a finely-tuned machine. I’ve written countless scripts from scratch and it’s a process including:

1. Identifying yourself and why you’re calling.
2. What are the top three selling points of your product or service and lead the call with your number one.
3. Prepare a list of questions (that you already know the answer to) that will get the prospect thinking.
4. Make a list of common objections and appropriate responses to overcome those objections.
5. Create several closing comments designed to give you an opportunity for a follow-up call if you don’t’ convert that prospect to a lead, appointment or sale.

There are many things that you do and don’t want to do (which you will learn over time), but you do want to keep your script short and don’t ask the prospect “how they’re doing.” When I sold insurance over the phone I always tried to do three things:

1. Lead with my most important selling point (knockout punch) to get their attention then follow with some jabs to keep their attention.
2. Ask thought-provoking questions that will get the prospect thinking… and talking.
3. Try to get to a point in the call where the prospect is doing most of the talking, instead of you, and then you’ve just created a hot prospect. Congratulations.

While I write this I’ve come to the conclusion that the phone call itself should be a separate more detailed blog so I’ll note that for a future release date. The important thing to remember is to try different scripts and times to call and document what you’re doing so you know what works and what doesn’t. Yes, I know it wont’ be fun documenting and measuring, but I promise that by putting for the effort and treating this as a science experiment will yield a telesales process that over time that will prove to generate substantial sales for years to come.

Just remember that sales is a numbers game… the more people you talk to… the quicker you will hone your sales skills and… the more sales you will close. You’ll be a finely-tuned sales machine in no time… happy selling!

BY: Cory Prado

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