People often interchange the terms “sales” and “marketing”. The Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) program helps participants understand this difference. “Sales” is the transfer of goods to, or the rendering services for another in exchange for money. Its function is the presentation of specific facts, solving or filling specific needs and the resolution of objections. “Marketing” is the process of satisfying a client’s needs or wants through an exchange in a marketplace. It is the creation and preservation of clientele.
To get your insurance recommendations into a customer’s hands, there are several steps which must be taken. The first step is to market yourself and your expertise with a solid prospecting process. What you are doing is finding people to “talk to”. I put “talk to” in quotes to indicate that in today’s insurance marketplace there are many ways to get you to the client…face to face, social media, the internet and of course other means such as direct mail, television, and radio just to name a few. “Talking to” customers is limited only by your imagination.
In order to “talk to” someone, you need to have a connection to that person. Prospecting is generating new business. This is often the toughest part of the sale, but it is necessary and vitally important to a successful sales career. Studies have shown that the most successful salespeople excel in attracting new business.
Here are 7 tips to keep in mind as you setup your prospecting strategy:
1. Manage your time. Prospect a certain number of hours each week. Schedule it and stick to it.
2. Set realistic goals. If you are not sure if your goals are reasonable, check with others.
3. Keep accurate records. Track your progress weekly and monthly. This helps fine tune activities which work.
4. Build your communication skills. Good prospecting depends on how well you communicate – both verbally and in writing.
5. Become an expert. People like doing business with people who know what they are talking about. You can attract new business by letting others know you’re an expert in a niche. This can be accomplished by accepting speaking engagements and contributing articles to share knowledge and increase your visibility.
6. Know your potential customer. According to research from HubSpot when buyers are asked what they want from sales pros:
• 69% say, “Listen to my needs.”
• 61% say, “Don’t be pushy” and “give me relevant information.”
• 51% want salespeople to respond in a timely manner.
7. Be persistent. As you organize your activities to build your prospect pipeline, keep in mind that persistence pays off. Research consistently shows that 96% of salespeople quit after four attempts, but 60% of sales happen after the 5th attempt. Most sales are lost because the salesperson gives up too soon. The persistent rep gets the sale!
To learn a proven, systematic method for building and growing your insurance sales skills, participate in the AIMS Society’s Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) professional development and designation program. You’ll find all the details at www.aimssociety.org.
Blog contributed by Janet K. Holstine, CIC, LIC, CPIW, AIT, DAE, CPIA, President and Co-Founder of Insurance Educators, Inc. a provider of quality insurance education.