Cold-Calling Successfully: Seven Tips for Making Winning Sales Calls

Do you dread cold calling? If so, you're not alone. Many agents hate picking up the phone and talking to total strangers. 

No one likes rejection. But with the proper education, you can turn cold-calling into a positive, successful business strategy—one that boosts profits and helps win sales. 

Getting in the Know

If you'd like to become a cold-calling champion, InsureMe recommends the following tips for winners:

1. Create a targeted prospect list.

This is your best list of accessible prospects. Place those leads easiest-to-reach at the top of the list to help you stay encouraged, and then work your way down. With the right information at hand, you can work nonstop for as long as possible and make many contacts. 

Customer referrals are the best names for this list, but you should also incorporate contacts gained through your relationships with other professionals, and through seminars, trade shows and networking organizations. 

2. Set a goal and script your call.

Determine your objective for placing calls; then write a script to help you achieve that goal. For example, if you're working toward getting that first appointment with prospects, make that your goal. Your script should then include a few simple, key statements to help you achieve your goal and keep you on track during your conversations. Don't plan on reading it; just use it as a conversational guideline. You don't want to sound impersonal, as if you're reading a teleprompter.

Remember, every word counts! So choose your words carefully and, above all, remain short, to-the-point, and conversational.

3. Locate the decision-maker.

The one who makes the purchasing decisions may or may not be the same one who does the purchasing. So, when making prospect contact, ask to speak with whoever makes the insurance purchasing decisions. This will keep you from wasting time and get you through to the right person.

If you're unable to contact decision-makers, avoid leaving voicemail messages when at all possible. Those with buying authority rarely return these calls, and often don't even listen to messages left on voicemail machines.

4. Introduce yourself—and get right to the point.

Avoid wasting your customers' time by making small talk. For example, don't ask them, "How are you today?" This makes them feel like they're being patronized…and possibly even talked down to. 

Instead, initiate telephone conversations by introducing yourself briefly, and then telling customers exactly why you're calling. Getting to the point quickly helps you come across as sincere and honest, rather than fake and condescending. It also communicates your understanding that their time is valuable—an important part of gaining their business.

5. Explain clearly and concisely why they should do business with you.

Offer your customers a clear benefit for doing business with you. For example, "I'm calling to offer you more affordable insurance with the same or better coverage." The idea here is to peak their interest and communicate the advantage/s of buying from you, instead of your competitors. 

Follow your benefit statement up with the following question: "Do you have just a moment to speak with me?" If they respond positively, go on to the next step. If, however, they respond negatively, ask what day and time would be convenient for you to call back and continue your conversation. 

Above all, make sure you follow up exactly as you say you will. Otherwise, you'll come across as insincere and uncaring.

6. Use past case histories to demonstrate how you've helped others.

Relate stories of other clients you've helped who found themselves in similar situations as your new customers. Explain the issues those clients faced; tell your customers how you worked to help solve their problems—and then ask if they're ready to start saving money (or whatever the specific benefit you've related may be). 

Make your proposal more compelling by offering precise numbers and percentages, when possible. For instance, if you saved a similar customer a significant amount on his monthly premium, cite the exact amount or percentage. Nothing speaks to customers' wallets quite like the bottom line!

7. Accomplish the goal you set out to achieve.

If your goal in cold-calling is to set up prospect meetings, suggest sitting down together to discuss the options at this point. 

Once you understand your customers' needs, communicate what you have to offer them and back it up with testimonials from other clients, getting that first appointment won't be quite so difficult!

Becoming Successful

Making sales calls doesn't have to be a dreaded chore. With a little education, planning and these helpful tips from InsureMe, you can cold-call like a winner!