Is cold calling out of fashion in the insurance business? Many insurance agents prefer to rely on warm leads generated by mail, radio, or digital marketing campaigns. At least, these warm leads help agents ask for an appointment from people and businesses that have already expressed an interest and expect a call or email. On the other hand, many successful agents understand the value of cold calling for developing relationships and growing their client list.
The Problem With Purchased Leads
Some agencies spend considerable money buying leads from third-party marketing services to avoid cold calls. However, cold calling offers B2B insurance agents several benefits, like introducing themselves personally, demonstrating an interest in the business, and developing real-life relationships.
Besides, the quality of purchased prospect lists varies wildly, and quality leads can get pricey. The expense and quality of these leads could explain why many agencies often assign cold calls to new and untested agents and reserve warm leads for their established partners. Cold calling relies on an investment in a smartphone, computer, and developing the skill to do it well.
Cold Calling is Alive and Well
Some of the most successful, experienced, and thriving insurance agents love cold calls. Instead of paying for leads, they can use cold calling to generate unique, high-quality prospect lists, providing them with a competitive advantage.
The effort can take a considerable investment of time, which can prove frustrating for new agents. Also, like other aspects of sales, it takes even more time to develop cold-calling skills.
However, an agent who learns to succeed with cold calling can gather high-quality information and generate prospect and referral lists of much better quality than they are likely to buy for any price.
How to Get Past the Gatekeepers When Cold Calling
A gatekeeper refers to the person that fields calls and appointments for decision-makers. Typically, gatekeepers are receptionists, executive assistants, or even some random employee who happens to pick up the phone. Among other tasks, one of their most important jobs often includes limiting the number of calls they forward to their busy bosses.
After all, business owners and managers need to focus on growing their companies and may not welcome distractions. This attitude can make cold calling feel like an intrusion. Thus, some insurance agents loathe the process of cold calling.
Primarily, inexperienced agents need help to get past business gatekeepers to get a chance to speak with the people who make insurance decisions for the company. Once they develop this skill, they can enjoy a significant advantage over competitors with limited prospecting sources.
Successful B2B insurance agents don’t expect to succeed every time or even most of the time. However, they remain confident that their services can benefit potential clients and that one YES will make up for a dozen NOs.
Thus, skilled cold callers develop a process to qualify and contact businesses efficiently, establish their value to those companies, develop relationships, and close deals. Thus getting past the gatekeepers should count as one of the first skills they need to learn for successful cold calling.
Treat Gatekeepers With Respect
A potential client you have never met doesn’t care about your sales quotas. These busy business owners and their assistants do care about their own business goals and issues. Successful salespeople need to understand that these gatekeepers are knowledgeable professionals in their own right and not just appointment setters.
Therefore, effective cold callers will prepare for the call to demonstrate they value their prospect’s time and that of the employees. For instance, savvy agents will research the company, especially any potential problems related to the products they wish to introduce.
Excellent cold callers present themselves as problem solvers and not salespeople. They need to spark interest by discussing the business rather than the agent’s desire to set an appointment. A respectful attitude and a demonstrated interest in the company can help an insurance agent stand out from the dozens of solicitors that may have called that week or even that day.
Prepare to Handle Common Objections
Cold callers often encounter the same objections. For instance, gatekeepers may respond that their boss is too busy, already has an insurance agent, or lacks the budget to consider additional coverage. These reactions from potential clients can stop an inexperienced salesperson in their tracks.
Successful agents consider objections opportunities to start a conversation, not permanent roadblocks. They know they can still prevail if they prepare to expect and handle negative responses, demonstrate respect for the gatekeeper’s position, and remain firm in their request to set an appointment.
When speaking to the gatekeeper, focus on selling the idea of setting an appointment and not the insurance product. Sell the value of the information you can share during the meeting.
Warm Up the Lead a Little
Unlike revenge, setting sales appointments may not taste best when served completely cold. Warming up the prospect or the gatekeeper may significantly increase your chances because you already took the first steps to build a relationship.
For instance, you may join local business groups to help you gain introductions. Alternatively, connect on LinkedIn with a short introduction before dialing the phone. Sometimes, these tactics help you avoid dealing with gatekeepers because you can speak directly with a decision-maker with whom you have a relationship.
Typically, business owners already know plenty of others in similar positions. Sometimes prospects still won’t buy insurance from you. However, if you’ve done a good job establishing the value of your offer and developing a good relationship, you may earn a referral.
Is Cold Calling Still Effective?
Many insurance agents would rather do anything to grow their business than make cold calls. No matter how well they build a value proposition and practice their presentation, inexperienced cold callers may struggle to get a chance to share it with the right people.
Insurance agents must feel confident they’re helping their clients and not simply interrupting a busy day. Businesses get numerous calls from various solicitors and vendors, so it takes some effort to stand out.
On the other hand, plenty of business owners have said that they never bought a particular type of insurance coverage because nobody ever told them about it until after a devastating flood, fire, or cyberattack. They didn’t buy because they did not understand the risk to their company or that insurance could help mitigate it. If you would have talked to them, you might have saved their business.
Even more, when struggling to grow a book of business, agencies can always rely on a local business directory and a smartphone to get started. They don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on leads.
Cold calling only works for some. Most salespeople dislike the activity because they never received the training or mentorship needed to develop the skill. At the same time, the most active insurance agencies rely on a combination of lead-gathering techniques to grow their businesses. Adept cold callers can always pick up the phone when they run out of leads.