When you are first starting your career in health insurance sales, you may not be certain about where to begin. The traditional “closing pyramid” puts a lot of emphasis on closing (75%) with another fifth focused on your presentation, and a mere five percent on asking questions. However, insurance sales is more about “relationship building,” so your focus should be on getting to know your prospect (by asking questions). Here are our recommended steps in getting your first sale.
Do your homework
Before making your initial outreach to a business owner or benefits manager, it’s a good idea to do a little research. Look up the company on social media or check their online profile and website. That may help you learn something about the principals in the firm or the organization’s history. For example, you might learn the firm is only a few years old – or it’s been in business for decades. Or, you may find out the business has dozens of employees in multiple locations. This information can be very helpful in helping you work out your strategy for approaching the prospect.
Find something relatable to your lead – perhaps their likes or charitable activities. Do a Google search to see if there are any news articles that mention the business owner’s or manager’s involvement in the local community. Perhaps they’re active members of the Rotary Club or Kiwanis International. (If you’re not familiar with these organizations, they are both service organizations.) Maybe the business is active in the Chamber of Commerce or, perhaps, a sponsor for a local Little League team. Check the owner’s or manager’s LinkedIn profile and see if you may have a connection through your alumni association. Learning about your prospect can help you identify possible mutual interests, which can help you build a connection.
Identify their needs / ask questions
Once you get by the gatekeeper (if there is one), and you’re able to get an appointment, you want to be sure and ask a lot of questions. It’s important you not be the one talking the most when sitting down to discuss your prospect’s insurance needs and challenges. By asking questions, you’re able to let your prospect’s responses guide the discussion. Give them the opportunity to tell you about their company, their employees, their experiences (if any) with insurance, and the reasons they may have for wanting to make a change to their current health plan (if they are currently covered) – or why they’re considering adding employee benefits at this time.
Evaluating their personality
You may not realize it, but your prospect’s personality plays a big role in decision-making. Some people are indecisive. They find it difficult to make decisions of virtually any sort. Others may be impulsive, and they make decisions too quickly without fully considering the consequences. Your prospect’s personality determines whether they approach decisions in a rational or emotional manner – whether their decisions are made by their head, their heart, or their gut.
If they have a logical approach to reasoning, they’re making decisions with their head. If they’re more emotional, they’re likely to make decisions with their heart. If they “just know” without a lot of feeling, they are said to be “gut” decision-makers. If you get a sense about your prospect’s personality, that may help you determine whether stats and information will move them to a decision or whether a different strategy is likely to yield better results.
Setting yourself apart / selling solutions
It’s often said that insurance is sold, not bought. Your prospect can probably get his or her employee benefits from a lot of different sources – directly through an insurer, through another broker, or through an online exchange (like Covered California or the Nevada Health Link). What makes you different? What are your strengths? Why should they do business with you? Be memorable and focus on what you have to offer – and how your service after the sale can make it easy for them (and their employees).
If your client is new to employee benefits, you’ll also want to talk about tax advantages of offering coverage, the range of plans available, the ability to help them control costs (using a Defined Contribution strategy), and how easy you can make enrollment for the group (whether they choose online or paper enrollment). They may be unaware, if they haven’t been offering employee benefits.
Wrapping up / next steps
It’s important when you wrap up your discussion with your prospect that you have all of the information you need to return later and deliver a quote or make your presentation to employees for their enrollment. (If you’re coming back with a quote, don’t forget that dependent child quoting is changing in 2018, so you’ll need a complete census with dates of birth for all proposed plan participants.)
Always leave your client with a planned next step. If you provide a quote at your first meeting, maybe it’s giving them a few days to evaluate your proposal. If not, maybe it’s giving them time to put together a census so you develop a proposal. It’s important to set a date and time for your next meeting.
Be consistent in your follow up, but not annoying. While it’s unlikely you’ll make a sale from every meeting, it’s important you leave a positive impression, so you can reach out later. If you are successful, congratulations. Don’t forget to ask for referrals to other business owners they may know who could benefit from your services. Referrals are a great way to build your future business pipeline.