Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Five Senses of Selling

Hearing

What motivates you to sell? Beyond the pay check and being a core element of the job? Some sell because they want to purchase that lake house or new sports car, while some are energized by the competition. And then there are those who thrive on using their expertise to help others with coverage and rate.

Have you ever thought about using your five senses to give you an edge in selling? Neither had we until we ran across a blog written by James Dougherty, CIC, with the Allwood Forlenza Agency in Clifton, N.J. We’re sharing highlights from James’ blog as a little food-for-thought to increase your sales productivity:

1. Sight

See every opportunity for what it really is. Don’t get discouraged when sale opportunities that appear to be a sure thing, aren’t. When you have an accommodating prospect, know that it’s likely that prospect has shopped before. Make sure you look closely at every opportunity, pre-qualifying so you don’t waste your valuable sales time.

During your prospect and client visits, make appropriate eye contact. Good eye contact can help you establish trust and rapport, but inappropriate eye contact can turn off prospects, resulting in fewer sales. Let your approach be calm, relaxed, and natural. If your eyes are too intense, the prospect will become uncomfortable. 

2. Hearing

Sales are made by those who are effective listeners. Here are a few tips on how you can improve your listening skills:

  • Wait to offer solutions until you hear all of the client’s needs. As the prospects get more comfortable talking to you, the most pressing need may be the last one they mention.
  • Focus on the prospect and what is said more than on what you’re going to say next. Clients want to feel as though they are driving the sales process, not you. Respond to what they say with another question.
  • Be a note-taker. It helps you concentrate on what is being said and demonstrates to clients and prospects that you care about their concerns. 

3. Smell

Know the pitfalls of accounts that have an unfavorable scent, such as poor loss results, physical deterioration and a mentality that price is all that matters.

You may choose to walk away from the account’s smell or tackle the odor head-on through various risk management techniques. Some of the best opportunities and most appreciative clients are the ones whose distracting aroma is turned into a fine fragrance through your dedication and effort. 

4. Touch

Reach out and effectively touch the prospect. Each insurance buyer is not the same, nor are their needs. Some prospects want guidance, others want professional service, some want the lowest price and still others need help with insurance issues such as audits and engineering.

How many personal contacts are you making on new accounts before your presentation meeting? How many times are you in contact with accounts during the policy year? Experts debate the type and quantity of touches that are needed, but all agree that staying in touch is essential to sales success and proper account retention.

Create a plan for each account that includes a specific number of touches. For existing clients, the number should be more than the renewal update meeting and the proposal visit. For prospects, it should be more than the first introductory fact-finding meeting and the proposal appointment. Some tips include:

  • Avoid multitasking when visiting. Turn your phone to vibrate. You may think having phone interruptions makes you look busy and impressive, but in reality it affects the importance you put on that specific client.
  • Avoid saying “I’ll be in your area, and I’d like to stop by.” Make the prospect or client feel special that you traveled to their area just to see them.

5. Taste

Put some, if not all, of these ideas into practice. Work hard making excellence your signature for each account. Doing so will permit you to taste the sweet victory of sales success. Bon appetit!

 

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The Cold Call: Handling Objections

In our last blog we walked through basic steps to increase the success of your cold calls. One area that we left out was “handling objections.” This is the toughest part of any sales call or meeting. Rather than fearing objections, you should embrace them; every objection creates an opportunity to reiterate key benefits and value messages for your product or service.

According to an article “Insurance Agent’s Guide to the Prospecting Cold Call,” there are only about six to ten objections you will hear from prospects over and over again. Which is good. If you have an idea of what the main objections are, you can prepare to address them.

However, the bad news is that, until you become proficient at handling these objections, you will have minimal success.

Here are four examples of what the article listed as most the common objections and strategies to overcome them:

Objection:

“Send me something in the mail.”

» Response:

I would send you something, but the cost savings are unique to each company, and I assume that’s very important to you, right? We need to assess what your needs are and the solutions to match them and then you’ll have a number to go with it.

———

Objection:

“I’m happy with my current agent.”

» Response:

That’s great, and I don’t even know if my company would even be a fit, but tell me, if we could offer you a similar product/service, but at 20 percent less the premium, could that at least be worth a look?

———

Objection:

“Call me after the holidays.”

» Response:

I’m sure both of our schedules get pretty busy right after the holidays. Take a look at your calendar — do you have it in front of you? (They usually do.) What looks good for you the latter part of the week of the 18th? I’ll even give you my number in case an emergency comes up.

———

Objection:

“I don’t have time to meet.”

» Response:

I can certainly appreciate your time, but if I am able to share with you a way to measurably reduce costs by 15 to 25 percent and share other things we’ve done to help <competitor>, isn’t that worth a look?”

For our veteran agents out there, we’re interested in hearing if you agree if these are the most common objections you receive when making cold calls? If yes, what responses have you found to be most effective in addressing them?

If no, what are the most common objections you’re hearing and how are you responding?

 

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Cold Calling. Is it still Effective?

the-cold-call

Does cold calling really work? Several books have been written about the value of cold calling and how it can help you grow your business. And several more claim that cold calling is a complete waste of time; its effectiveness is a myth. So who is right?

The clear answer is: it all depends! The value of cold calling as a lead-generation tool depends on you…your goals and the size of your sales. If the policy being sold has a low margin or commission, then one could easily argue that cold calling is NOT an effective growth strategy.

But, on the other hand, if the average margin or commission is high (and has a future and net value), the numbers more than likely will prove that cold calling is a valuable part of an overall new business marketing effort. When it comes to cold calling, the size of the sale (in comparison to the hard and soft costs needed to generate it) does matter and is the primary factor in determining for the agent whether or not they should even pick up the phone.

If you are cold calling now; if you intend to start cold calling; if you have to cold call and don’t want to — UIG is here to help. After all, cold calling, in and of itself…well, is challenging!

However, if you’re up to the challenge here are some things to keep in mind:

Sales is a numbers game.

In order to hit productive numbers, you’ll need a full pipeline of leads at all times, and a sound strategy and process. But there is no one strategy that will resonate with every audience every time. It’s best to have a multifaceted approach that could include cold calling, social media, networking, purchasing lists, etc.

Call with purpose.

First things first: do your homework and be selective. The entire yellow pages should not be your target audience. Pick a certain industry to focus on, such as bars and taverns, doctors, lawyers, etc. While you may be a generalist in practice, defining your audience will help you be more efficient with your time, resources and ability to perfect your pitch.

Develop a call script.

You know your products/services inside out, so why do you need to develop a script? Because in the business of cold calling, you have 30 seconds or less to grab someone’s attention, so your pitch had better be spot on. Write out what you want to say. This will help you stay on task, avoid rambling and ensure that you get across the key messages that a prospect needs to quickly learn about you in order for them to decide what they want to do next.

Practice the script.

Out loud. In front of a mirror. Smile while you’re talking. Time your delivery. Keep it succinct. Practice often. Enough said.

Develop a strategy for calling.

Out of a 40-hour work-week, identify how much time you can dedicate to making calls and then determine how many calls are you going to make in a day? In a week? This number should be based on goals. What are you looking to earn and how many sales will it take to hit that goal?

Simple math: 10 calls = 1 appointment.

If your goal is to write $100,000 policies a month with the average policy being $20,000; assuming you have a 50 percent closing rate, you’ll need to set 10 appointments, which means you need to make a minimum of 100 calls, a little over 20 calls per week, an average of 4 – 5 calls a day.

Bring your “A” game.

Be positive and energetic. This is where smiling when you’re talking comes into play. It may sound silly, but people can “hear” your facial expression, so make it a good one!

Know when to say “when.”

What isn’t being said is as important as what your prospect is saying, when it comes to gauging interest. If the consumer isn’t offering conversation that is productive, move on to the next prospect.

Above all else, be persistent and stay resilient.

Nine out of 10 people will be interested in at least reviewing information that you can send via snail mail or email to them. Keep in mind, you’re dealing with people that, in general, will be more apt to review your information because they are a commercial business.

As you continue to build your business, you will begin to receive referrals and will start to build your “warm call” list.

Be prepared to follow-up.

Ask to schedule an appointment. Oftentimes the opportunity to sit face-to-face with a prospect is missed simply because we don’t ask for the meeting. Once you set the appointment, offer your prospect your information in the event he or she needs to reschedule. This way, the onus is on the prospect to call and cancel versus you having to call to confirm. If the appointment is a couple of weeks out, write a handwritten “thank you for your time,” thanking the prospect ahead of time for the opportunity to meet. This is not only a great relationship building tool, as anything handwritten has become a thing of the past, but it also serves as a reminder of the appointment.

If they can’t meet, but have agreed to review your information, collect all of their pertinent information before getting off the phone and be sure to follow-up within 2-3 business days. Don’t let a cold call that became a warm call, become cold again.

Some additional follow-up tools to help you stay top-of-mind can include:

  • Newsletters that feature information relevant to the prospect and their industry
  • Special offers and promotions that are time sensitive
  • Events and trade show invitations
  • Holiday cards

When you follow each of these steps, your cold calls will tend to go more smoothly and result in more appointments. With the right approach, cold calling can serve as an effective door opener.

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Garage Liability Q&A

Garage and auto related operations are unique with respect to the exposures they present. The lines between the general liability for the operations side of things and the automobile liability can blur in several areas.

Lately we’ve received several inquiries regarding Garage insurance. So we thought we’d share some of the most commonly asked questions and their answers.

Q: What is included in Garage insurance coverage?

A: The Garage policy was developed to provide comprehensive liability coverage to protect both the general liability and automobile liability exposures in one neatly packaged policy, as well as protect from gaps that would otherwise leave this type of operation exposed to potential claims.

Q: Do you have markets for Garage coverage and what are they?

A: Yes, UIG has established partnerships with a variety of providers for Garage coverage. To find the provider in your area, please email info@uigusa.com or give us a call at 800.385.9978.

Q: Does Garage Liability include Premises Liability?

A: As a basic package, Garage coverage contains premises liability coverage along with products liability coverage, automobile liability coverage and physical damage protection to vehicles. Premises liability, in particular, will provide coverage for injuries suffered at the shop. For example, if a customer slips and falls while walking through the repair bay to talk to the mechanic, the shop owner’s insurance company will pay for medical care up to the policy’s specified limit.

Q: Are there any special supplements that are needed to quote Garage Liability coverage?

A: Each carrier will have its own application. At UIG, we feel that it may be more beneficial to always complete a Specialty Garage application in addition to the basic Garage Liability application, as it will address a broader range of questions to get to the best quote. Special supplements can include:

  • 177569007wholesale automobile dealers
  • new and used car dealers
  • bed liner installation
  • golf cart dealers
  • valet
  • heavy truck repair
  • motorcycle dealers
  • motorcycle repair
  • heavy truck dealers
  • recreational vehicle
  • detailers
  • and many more

For a supplemental app, please email info@uigusa.com or contact UIG at 800.385.9978.

Q: What types of Garage risks can UIG provide coverage for?

A: UIG provides coverage for many garage risks including, but not limited to:

  • auto repair
  • motorcycle repair
  • recreational vehicle repair
  • wholesale auto dealers
  • alarm/stereo installation
  • windshield installation/repair
  • used car dealers
  • body shops
  • car washes
  • detailers
  • auto upholstery
  • valet
  • auto storage

Q: What is the minimum premium for Garage?

A: Minimum premiums generally range from $750 – $1,000.

Q: What are some of the Garage requirements?

A: General requirements can include:

  • Drivers must be at least 18 years old with no known physical impairment seriously affecting the ability to drive safely.
  • Drivers must have a valid United States driver’s license from the state you are operating out of.
  • The driver’s surcharge for any individual for the prior three years must be submitted if over 1.60.
  • Owners/Partners/Officers and their spouses and employees are the only drivers allowed to use a vehicle for personal use and must have at least five years driving experience, confirmed by their MVR.
  • Liability limits for any driver under the age of 21 will be reduced to statutory limits.
  • Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR) within 30 days of binding or with the addition of new employees; UM/UIM Rejection. UIG can assist with ordering MVRs as most insurance companies are no longer able to provide this documentation.
  • After binding, completion of a Loss Control Inspection.

Q: How is a Garagekeeper’s limit or a car dealer’s open lot limit determined?

A: While both of these groups have slightly different coverage needs, the insured may want to insure 100 percent of their inventory value to avoid possible co-insurance penalties in the event of a loss.

To determine a coverage limit, in simplest terms, find the “lot limit” (value of all vehicles on the lot combined) as well as the “per vehicle limit,” including the average and maximum value of any one vehicle.

Q: Do Garage policies need to be audited? If yes, how often?

A: All garage policies are subject to audit — either physical or voluntary — when garage exposures change during a policy period. For example, a change in the number of employees or higher value autos may cause an increase in the garagekeeper’s limit. However, all policies with a premium of $5,000 or higher will be automatically audited on an annual basis. For premiums less than $5,000, audits are normally ordered every three years, but the timing is generally up to the policyholder’s discretion.

Any time you get a large number of cars in one place, the need for insurance is high. Unfortunately, the higher risk can carry higher premiums. Fortunately, UIG’s comprehensive garage program can give your customers great coverage at a reasonable cost.

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