Is Your Marketing Plan Defined by Activity or Strategy?

If you’re selling commercial insurance, chances are you cold call. For some producers, it’s the best part of sales; for others, it’s a dreaded chore. Some make 100 calls a day to line up a meeting; others have three appointments after 20 calls and a cup of coffee.

There are no hard and fast rules guaranteeing your success on the phones, but there are some common principles with proven, measurable results that will certainly put the odds in your favor. Ask yourself these four questions to see if your production engine is running at full efficiency:

Do I have a plan? Making 50 calls a day or setting six appointments a week is not a plan—it’s an activity. A plan involves strategy, actively seeking or creating opportunity.

What classes are your markets most interested in now? They write a lot of construction, but perhaps your underwriter needs to diversify with four-walled exposures and is willing to go the extra mile. Maybe your hottest market hit their quota for the year and isn’t inclined to get aggressive on new business. You won’t know until you get a weak quote back, unless you’re keeping in touch. Are any of your underwriters in desperate need of premium to hit their targets as we approach year end?   

Is my prospecting list specific or vague? Your prospecting targets should be specific—location, renewal date, industry, size and incumbent carrier. If the volume isn’t there, you can always expand it, but get through the most likely suspects first—you’ll probably make more than one call to secure a meeting.

What will I say? Look over your list and outline your pitch before you start calling. You should have a couple interesting talking points that imply you have a good working knowledge of the industry, as well as some basic fact-finding questions for possible rebuttals. A big part of thinking on your feet is in the planning. If possible, split your list into several smaller ones—industry program, weaker incumbent carrier, etc.—based on those talking points so you can get into a rhythm.

Do I follow up? Some studies say it takes an average of eight cold calls to reach a prospect. But producers that use InsuranceXdate make an average of 3.875 calls to secure an appointment.

If you keep hitting the gatekeeper, have you confirmed the person responsible for purchasing? Do they normally take quotes every year, or rarely? Is the agent related to the owner? Gatekeepers usually like to help, but don’t turn it into an interrogation. One, maybe two questions answered per call is a huge victory. Start with the gatekeeper’s name—write it down. Now you’re on a first-name basis, and your next call is a little warmer.