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Getting Started in Telesales

Times are changing and it’s time to consider telesales.

As an insurance agent, you may have thought this exact thing.  But how do you get started?  Here are 6 points to consider:

  1. Make sure you’re contracted
  2. Make sure your office space is pleasant
  3. Get Highly Organized
  4. Learn Your Carriers Logistics
  5. Use your tools (Dialer, Headset, and Best Plan Pro)
  6. Master your script

To sum everything up: you need systems.

Make sure you’re contracted in as many States as you can or afford.

This may seem obvious, but it’s important.  Are you contracted in all the states you’re going to sell in?  What are the best states for telesales?  If you’re going to be working evenings, you’ll definitely want to contract on the west coast.  Consider the times you’re available and how that might line up with prime buying time in different time zones.  What’s your system going to be when selling during the week?  Are you going to call each time zone for 2 hours?  It doesn’t matter what that system is, but consider your system. BE CONSISTENT for success!

Make sure your office space is pleasant

Telesales requires you to spend time in a fixed place (like an ordinary office job).  So if you’re working at home, working in an office space that you control, or working elsewhere, make it nice.  If that means working near a window to see the outside world, if that means having plants on your desk, if that means having a keepsake from your family or childhood on your desk, go for it.  Don’t forget to think about ergonomics and health as well.  Make sure your chair is a heavy-use chair (rated for 5-7 hours of sitting at least), your headset is of professional quality, you take eye breaks, you’re drinking water and eating healthily, and you’re getting regular exercise before/after work to compensate for your sedentary job.

Get Highly Organized

Organization is both for you and the client.  If you create a sheet to help you with rebuttals, it won’t do you any good if you can’t find it on a call.

So, have all of the files you need to sell in a folder or designated area that you can access easily.  Make sure that you label files clearly so there won’t be  any confusion when on the phone with a potential client.

Multiple versions of the same file does not work:

  • Sales Rebuttals Final.docx
  • Sales Rebuttals Finl.docx
  • Sales Rebuttals.docx
  • Rebuttals for Sales latest.docx

Instead, have only one file:

  • Sales Rebuttals.docx

You don’t want to regret your organizational system!

Have each carrier’s brochure, disclosures (including replacement disclosure), and welcome packet available to you easily and stored in a way that’s easy for you to send out and refer to.

Remember this truth about system development: “if it’s a hard system to use, you won’t.”

Learn your carrier’s logistics

Every second wasted on the phone risks the loss of a sale. Do you really want to lose a sale because you didn’t read the application carefully because you were on a call and not focused enough to notice that you missed a required component?  Is there a separate form for Washington State that doesn’t exist in Wisconsin?  Read each application before you start selling…and practice filling them out once.  Worst case scenario, it was a waste of time.  Best case scenario, you found something a bit confusing/tricky that you now know how to navigate.

What about other questions your client might have?  How does the carrier bank draft?  When?  How soon will the client find out about their policy?  Will it be electronically?  What if they don’t receive the email? What if they don’t have an email?  Will you get a notice and let them know their result too?  Which riders would you recommend to clients?  Why?

These are fairly simple questions and that’s why you should deal with them ahead of time.

Use your tools

Just like any professional, your tools are designed to make your life easier.  Learn your dialer (an essential component of the industry).  It can make calls, keep track of who you have and haven’t called yet, route calls to you properly, and generally make your life easier.  It’s essential for the “tele” part of telesales.

Learn your headset.  (You need a headset.)  No one wants to talk to someone muffled on the phone.  How does your headset sound to someone else?  Do you need to upgrade?  A USB headset is probably the best bang-for-your buck you can get for dialing.  Make sure that your headset is hooked up to your computer in a way that works for your dialer.  If you can afford a high end bluetooth headset, buy it. You want to be able to get up and walk around your office from time to time and NOT be tethered to your computer.  Make a few practice calls.  Adjust the placement of the microphone in relationship to your mouth.  Is it too loud?  Get your settings right before you make calls.  You’re a professional and you should sound like it to a client.

Best Plan Pro is essential software for Final Expense.  It makes the underwriting component of telesales a virtual non-starter (which is important for time on the phone).  Gather your client’s date of birth, height, weight, last time they used nicotine (if ever), the list of medications they currently take and have taken in the past few years, and then continue adding other conditions they have.  You can get accurate pricing for the products that they qualify for by entering the desired face value or maximum monthly budget.

After you sign up for Best Plan Pro, there is a getting started sequence (10 minutes of tutorials and a quick-start quiz that helps with some other use cases).  It’s essential to watch and go through the training.  BPP is a professional tool and it’s important to treat is as such.

Make use of BPP’s organization to help you sell.  When a client says they’re on a medication, but they’re not sure what it’s for, use the “Known Uses of Medication” area.  That can help guide questioning for each client.  Best Plan Pro automatically knows generics and classifications for most medications, so you don’t need to look up generics or refer to prescription guides.

Customize BPP for you by setting your available products and default state.  Select all the products you’re licensed to sell.  As you change the state option to the state you’re selling in, BPP will adjust its results to consider state restrictions.

After you underwrite with BPP, go through the application for your desired plan.  Plans are sorted immediate coverage first also considering best price (if using desired face value) / highest face amount (if using maximum monthly budget).  After you use BPP and select a plan, use the Plan Info window to help you access eApp links, phone numbers, list of available riders, etc.

As you get better at underwriting, you’ll start gravitating toward a few different carriers–just like you would in a house.  Keep using Best Plan Pro to automatically trace generics, deal with state requirements, keep track of health and non-health data (which is especially useful if you plan to cross-sell medicare products or other underwritten products), and to deal with changes to underwriting requirements.  Best Plan Pro makes you more efficient at gathering the health data of your client based on its systematic requirements for underwriting.  Hopefully we’re hammering the point home: you need a system.  For underwriting, Best Plan Pro the best system out there.

Master Your Script

There are good scripts and bad scripts.  And there are good scripts that don’t work for you and bad scripts that do.  At the end of the day, you need to a have a system because in telesales, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

You may have heard of the law of large numbers.  That applies to telesales too.  To paraphrase it: the more calls you make, the more predictable your income.  To be more specific, the more calls you make, the more accurate and honest your numbers will be.

Three calls will not tell you how good your script is.  Three thousand will probably tell you how good it is.  If you’re doing inbound calls, you’ll probably want to do 10-15 transfers a day, or if you’re doing outbound probably want to do somewhere around 50-100 dials.  In a week of 500, you might get under 10% that actual might convert into sales.  Regardless of how many numbers you end up doing, be consistent and, when experimenting with your script, only change one thing at a time so you know if that change worked.

Keep detailed track of your numbers.  It’s the only way you’ll be able to honestly know how your script is.  Don’t change your script before you know if it’s your script or you that isn’t working.  Also, it’s the only way to not guess at anything.  Every business should know its numbers…and you’re running a business.

Some fundamentals to research:

  • Tonality (refer to the Jordan Belford Book The Straight Line)
  • Pacing & Cadence (Slow down!, refer to Christopher Voss Book “Never Split the Difference”)
  • Call styles (professional, conversational, etc.)
  • How to get to the heart of their questions and concerns (hint: ask questions)

Find what works best for you with each of these three categories.  As you continue, you’ll need to evaluate your script.  Sometimes, it can be hard to know if your leads are bad, your script is bad, your rebuttals are bad, or if you just hit a string of bad luck.

When evaluating, you need to:

  • Make a lot of calls
  • Ensure that you’re being consistent on each call (periodically, record yourself and listen back)
  • Have a consistent schedule during the evaluation
  • Have consistent leads during the evaluation period
  • Systematically approach each call

Here are a few rebuttals you might face:

  • I’m really busy
  • Send me some information
  • What is your number and I will call you back in a few days
  • Let me think about/or I have to talk to my________
  • Not Interested
  • Tough people that are just rude

Conclusion

Have a system and be consistent.  Make sure to determine your daily schedule (what hours are you going to call) and stick to it.  Make sure to determine your number of daily dials and stick to it.  Consistency is the key to success.

Keep in mind that telesales is a professional job like any other.  You would want your accountant, doctor, lawyer, mechanic, cobbler, or any other professional you engage with to be both systematic and consistent in their results.

For high placement and persistency in telesales:

  1. Make sure you’re contracted
  2. Make sure your office space is pleasant
  3. Get Highly Organized
  4. Learn Your Carriers Logistics
  5. Use your tools (Dialer, Headset, and Best Plan Pro)
  6. Master your script

A final word of advice as you transition to telesales.  Just do it.  Give yourself a time limit on preparation.  It’s a tough field and, if you’re not careful, you might find yourself procrastinating by learning.  You’ll have 0% placement if you make 0 calls, so don’t forget to actually call.

Oh did we mention…. “Be consistent”?

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