At least once a month for the past two years, I’ve edited a prospecting story. Which means that since I became the associate editor at ASJ, I’ve read 24 articles on how to pull of the perfect prospecting call, or how to follow-up with a client – and that doesn’t include our big feature giving 52 of the best prospecting tips, or the other excellent advice we’ve given over the years. All in all, I’d say I’ve read more than 100 pieces of prospecting wisdom, and listened to seven or eight experts share their advice in person on how to handle that thing with which many agents struggle.

So you’d think, after all that, I’d be able to identify a sales call when I got one from my insurance agent, right?

Wrong.

It was all so casual. I was just finishing up my work day when my cell phone rang. I picked up the phone and heard the friendly voice of a rep from my car insurance agent’s office on the other end. She said she was just calling to verify a few details from my account, and did I have a few minutes? I said of course. She confirmed my age (I’d just had a birthday), and asked if I wanted to upgrade one of the benefits on my plan, now that a higher coverage amount was available. She also noticed that I’d recently been married, and wanted to offer to put my husband on my account as a second driver. We discussed what that would mean for my account, and I thought we were finished. Then, just as we were about to hang up, she slid something in that I totally wasn’t expecting.

“Heather,” she asked, “Do you have life insurance?”

The way she asked was very smooth, calm, and collected. It was in the middle of a series of questions, and since we had already been talking for a few minutes I already felt comfortable with her. I didn’t feel like she was trying to sell me something (even though I’m fully aware that she was), I felt like she was just following up on my account, making sure it was up-to-date (which she was also doing).

If I didn’t have life insurance, I’m sure I would have automatically said, “No,” even if I would normally have lied to get a pushy sales person off the phone. The way she approached the situation was very smart. As it was, I told her I did have it, but thank you for offering.

The truth is, every time to you talk to your clients is an opportunity to offer them new coverage. Of course, you don’t want to turn every pleasantry into a sales pitch – for example, if you do birthday calls, please don’t sing happy birthday, and follow it up with a “P.S., How do you feel about your long term care insurance?” But when you’re already talking to a client about their policies, or see that they’ve made a life change, it’s definitely the perfect time to ask if they’re interested in expanding their insurance portfolio. The absolute worst thing that can happen is that they’ll say, “No, thanks.”

What have you got to lose?