As you look toward 2012 and the hope of increased business, the same old issue may dog you: how to keep the pipeline full of new prospects. We feel your pain, and offer this assembly of 52 excellent prospecting tips to help you on your way in the New Year. Some are intuitive, some are inventive and some buck conventional wisdom; we just hope they help you set the path for more success.
1. Warm up the call
One of the best tools shows up every week – the Sunday newspaper. Job postings will sometimes show the benefit packages employers are offering and let you identify shortcomings in the package like not offering dental or vision. Becoming familiar with a company’s hiring strategy enables agents to warm up a cold call by congratulating the employer for hiring in today’s tough market, which can open the door to discussing new insurance products.
David Roth, Baton Rouge, La.
2. Going your own way
Hiring my own telemarketers and proving them and an auto-dialer. I put ads out on Craigslist for home-based telemarketers with current or recent cold calling experience. I paid them a flat per hour rate of $10 to $15 per hour depending on performance. I would then buy and scrub a list, import it into a web-based dialer that they could access. I had them use a rather simply script just designed to generate leads. I did the qualification. They would generate 2 leads per hour on average which, even at $15/hr rate of pay, meant I was generating exclusive leads for $7.50 a piece.
John, courtesy LinkedIn
3. Know your market
Certain client ethnic groups tend to have little exposure to investments and insurance, and require more guidance and more product information. But they are very loyal, and will often refer family or friends to an advisor they trust. If you take time to develop a solid relationship, it can lead to many things.
4. Throw a bash
Client appreciation parties are a time-tested strategy, though some reps like to make them client-only events, while others encourage inviting friends or colleagues (aka prospects). The parties solidify relationships with clients and stimulate a significant number of referrals.
Bill Cates, “The Client Appreciation Event”
5. Good, better and best
When talking with a client at a first LTCI meeting, show them three basic options: good, better and best. They’re not necessarily your recommendation, but a guide to let the client see how affordable coverage can be. That avoids sticker shock and establishes a foundation for the appropriate policy, with budget in mind.
Brian M. Johnson, “A Product for the People”
6. Beware of prospecting time-wasters
Don’t be bogged down by the One-Upper (always angling for a better deal), Irrationality Experts (“what if” questions that drain you like mental quicksand) or Bored-And-Nothing-Better-To-Dos (“plate lickers”). Focus your energy elsewhere.
Corey Weiner, “Red Flags in Prospecting”
7. Build your business partnerships
Consider developing a business partnership with a larger company that can add voluntary benefits expertise to existing practices. This is a simple, straightforward way to broaden your expertise, and can help smaller companies stay competitive in a market that has changing client needs.
Ron Agypt, “Embracing a New Market”
9. Become an expert source
One very effective secret sauce is writing articles or serving as a source for articles. While you can’t necessarily count on publicity yielding a high number of prospects, your reputation as an expert source will be mightily enhanced by this added exposure.
Marilee Driscoll, “The Foolproof Lead Generator”
9. “Liking” on Facebook
The Facebook “Recommend” button has gained more clients for our internal sales staff and our broker base than most other tools we have created. It allows a client to click “recommend” within email and web tools and pass that agent’s life insurance business page to their base of Facebook friends. It is generating tons of referrals for us and for our agents.
Nic, from LinkedIn
10. Really follow up on the Web leads
ASJ’s recent survey of agents found that not a single respondent named their own website, an Internet quote engine or social media as a key lead-generation tool. Maybe it’s time to invest some more research into these tools.
11. So …
Join and learn how to get mileage out of your presence on both LinkedIn and Twitter. They’re not just for kids.
12. Go to the source
The most effective way to reach Gen X prospects is to go through their parents. The multi-generational approach may be the most successful.
David Port, “Blue Skies Ahead”
13. Seek a mentor
Agents can reap great rewards from finding a mentor with more experience in the business. Newer agents tend to lack focus when it comes to prospecting, but senior agents provide a wealth of expertise and field experience that can help guide prospecting methods to a more fruitful conclusion.
“Prospecting Pitfalls and how to Avoid them”
14. Get in focus
Conduct a “focus group” with existing clients. By asking them questions about your business and how to improve it, you can try something different among people with whom you already have a good relationship.
“Prospecting Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them”
15. Find an underserved market
Find a prominent group in your community that is being underserved by your industry. By showing a desire to learn their culture while demonstrating your expertise, you can help serve a specific market, earn strong referrals and pursue new business that other agents ignored.
“Prospecting Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them”
16. Speak your mind
One of the best ways to promote, market and brand your business to a wide range of people in a short amount of time is to seek out public speaking engagements. It can be a tough skill to develop, but something as simple as presentations on the nuances of financial planning can lead to loads of appointments.
17. Be a numbers expert
Being the go-to person on interpreting the Medicare muddle can open you to new prospects. If you can help clients recognize the potential impact of future health care costs, you can suggest different products, reallocate their assets and discuss whether an increase in savings will be needed to address these costs.
Ron Mastrogiovanni, “The New Normal”
18. Rewire your brain
Think of all the referrals you easily and willingly provide: You tell people about a great restaurant, a terrific movie, a top mechanic and the latest app for the iPad. You refer people in your practice to other professionals – CPAs, attorneys, benefits or insurance resources that you don’t represent.
Joanne Black, “The No-Risk Referral”
19. Just ask
You’ve earned the right to ask for referrals with your current clients, but have you asked each one? We often believe that when we’ve done good work for our clients, they automatically refer us. Does that happen? Yes. If you want to build your practice, should you rely on it? No.
Joanne Black, “The No-Risk Referral”
20. Keep it simple
Striking a conversational tone and cutting out industry jargon will help agents trying to market to younger prospects, who generally aren’t as comfortable or familiar with insurance terminology.
“The Ageless Approach to Reaching Prospects”
21. Be transparent
Be yourself. Don’t try to act any younger or hipper than you actually are. Be up front with them and let them know how you can help. Don’t hoard information; instead, divulge and disclose everything.
Cam Marston, “9 Ways to Connect with Gen Y”
22. It’s good, but don’t rely on the Internet
Even with all of the available online options, more than six in 10 of all Gen X and Y consumers bought their individual life insurance policies after in-person meetings with financial professionals. And more than half say they prefer to purchase life insurance through face-to-face meetings with financial professionals.
Nilufer Ahmed, “A Coming of Age”
23. Get in touch and believe in the value you bring to others
Really believe it. When you talk about the work you do, talk about “why” you do it and why you got into this business (other than to make money).
24. If you develop a new process, try it with your friends
Do this even if you don’t expect them to work with you right away. They need to see the value of your work before they will refer you. And they need to feel your confidence before they will refer you.
25. Let your reputation precede you