Insurance Telemarketing: Why Most Agents Fail

If you’re looking for the most basic but solid insurance training post on telemarketing – this is it. I had bought shared internet leads from 2003 through 2006 and was frankly getting burnt out. This was the way I was supposed to gain business. After all, cold calling is so “1970’s” and doesn’t work….right?

It’s the age of technology and clients are supposed to come to me. However, there’s a problem with all the sale books and videos by gurus talking about how cold calling is dead and how you can drive clients to your business: It’s not specific to the insurance industry.

Let’s get this much out of the way. Unless you have a website on the first page of Google for popular search terms you’re not going to get enough leads to make a living.

The “friends and family” plan where you start calling 200 people you know is also a failed method. Will it get you a few quick deals? Sure. Then what. It’s not a long-term marketing strategy.

This leaves two realistic ways to get business:

  1. Buying internet leads
  2. Cold calling

Yes, there are other methods such as mailers but we’ll tackle that on another post. Suffice to say it requires a rather large budget. $3,000 would start the bidding.

So why do most insurance agents fail at telemarketing? Simple. They’re not trained properly. Agents also get bad advice from other agents who failed.

Incorrect: “I tried telemarketing and it doesn’t work”

Correct: “I tried telemarketing and it didn’t work….for me”

Be very careful when designing a marketing plan based on what others tell you works and doesn’t work. You’re hearing from one agent out of 800,000 agents.

When I dove out of internet leads and into telemarketing I was scared. I had no idea what kind of response I’d get. My insurance agent friends told me it was a failed technique and I had a family to support. However, I was determined to find a system that worked for me. This is that system:

  • Don’t manually dial. I was getting my butt kicked using this technique for the first week. Simply put, I was not getting in touch with enough decision makers. I was making 40 calls per hour, calling 2 hours a day (which was my emotional max) and landing one client per week. Not really worth it.
  • Use an auto-dialer, not a predictive dialer. Now I was dialing around 120 numbers per hour. Compared to manually dialing, I was getting in touch with three times the amount of decision makers per hour. Not only that, but there’s a positive psychological effect to having a system that simply dials numbers until someone answers.
  • Be short and to the point. You have 15 seconds to make your pitch so time yourself making calls. Avoid asking “how they’re doing.” It’s disingenuous.
  • Have a reason to call. And no, “giving free quotes” is not a reason to call. Is there anything new in your state? New plans? Rates? When I was actively selling health insurance there was always something new – at least within the past 12 months. This had a lot of impact and truthful at the same time:

“Hi Tom, the reason I’m calling is to let you know that there are new individual health insurance plans available in Maryland that could save you up to 30%. I’d love to send you the details on the new plans and rates and I just need your email address.”

That’s very short and to the point. Tom is either interested in seeing the new plans or he’s not. Count on the fact that he’s not and prepare for it. I dialed 120 numbers per hour, spoke with 15 decision makers and generated 2 to 3 leads. That’s around 18% interested.

As long as you’re generating at least 2 leads per hour, don’t mess around with your presentation. There’s nothing you’re going to say to make most people interested.

If Tom was interested I’d get his email and also ask for the ages of anyone who was going to be on the plan. That’s all I needed to run a quote. I’d end the call asking for a time to call back when he had around 15 minutes to review the new plans and rates.

After I was finished with my round of calls I’d email Tom not only the new plans but rates for around three other carriers. It doesn’t get more complicated than that. I was closing one deal per 3 hours of calls. Breaking it down more:

120 calls per hour

2.5 leads per hour

1 deal per 3 hours of calls or 1 deal per 360 calls or 7.5 leads.

Now, here’s where it all falls apart and why agents fail. It took me on average two weeks to submit a deal after I generated the lead. That means when you start your telemarketing campaign be prepared to call for 2 weeks before business starts hitting underwriting.

This is very significant since most agents quit telemarketing within 5 hours. They generate a few leads, submit no business and determine that it doesn’t work. You need to build a pipeline! Aside from that, you can forget about the first few hours of calling as you settle in and get comfortable with calling.

So how did it all end up for me? I was calling 10 hours per week (2 hours per day) and landing 3 deals per week. Not bad at all.

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