So you boast great technical knowledge and sales skills, but your appointment book during an average week looks half-empty. What’s the problem? If you’re like a lot of agents, then you’re not logging enough quality time on the phone.
So noted Gail Goodman, CEO at ConsulTel, White Plains, N.Y, and one of the main platform speakers at this year’s Sales Mastery Forum, held here last month. The annual event, now its in third year, is sponsored by The National Underwriter Company and The Hoopis Performance Network.
“Agents fail in this business chiefly because of a lack of [phone] activity,” said Goodman. “This boils down to 2 critical things: having people to call, and getting on the phone to set up face-to-face appointments that create opportunities for a sale.”
To be effective on the phone, agents also have to be prepared. To that end, said Goodman, producers need to “psych” themselves up mentally, if necessary by acting as if they “love” dialing (or, to borrow from a sales industry maxim, ‘fake it until you make it.’). To help with the mental preparation, agents should keep “happy food” (such as chocolate) on hand; take 5 minutes before phoning to relax or unwind; and keep their desks free of post-it notes and other distractions.
Key to actually getting the appointment is knowing what to say to prospective clients–and knowing how to say it. Too many agents, said Goodman, use their selling skills when they should be using their phone skills. She attributed part of the blame to the insurers they work for, who tend to over-emphasize sales skills during training. At some firms, she said, the ratio of sales training to phone training is 100 hours to 1.
An additional problem flagged by Goodman is agents’ failure to regularly schedule phone time and to track their call activity. That can have long-term consequences, she noted, as leads pursued today may not yield an appointment, much less a sale, for several months.
“The leads you have now are hopefully going to create money that you’ll see and have around the holiday season,” said Goodman. “So why are you not scheduling as much time in your book [for phoning] as you are for fixing client appointments?”