17 Ways to Sell More Insurance by Practicing and Studying Sales

Written by John F. Carroll on . Posted in Sales

sales-practice-insuranceYou’re either born to sell or not.

That’s B.S. (pardon my French acronym).

It’s like saying you’re born to be a world-class athlete and hard work has nothing to do with it.

Try telling that to Ray Lewis.

Sure, we’re all born with different abilities but:

  1. No one ever achieves greatness without practice.
  2. Practice makes everyone better regardless of ability.

But you don’t need practice, right? You’re a natural. You’re a born salesman. You can sell ice to eskimos and plastic surgery to Joan Rivers.

Right?

Then I guess you don’t need to read this article.

But if you’d like to sell more insurance, make more money, and take better care of your family you need to practice.

Here’s 17 ideas for practicing and studying sales techniques.

1) Use a Mirror

mirror-for-sales-practiceIf you think it’s stupid to practice in front of the mirror you’re missing the point.

The mirror doesn’t give you magical insight about your body language or facial expressions, it’s the foundation of sales practice.

Selling to the mirror is like shooting hoops by yourself in the driveway.

It’s not as fun as playing with others but it’s always available, always helpful and time spent by yourself on personal development gives you more confidence.

Are you one of these kids who needs private lessons to get off the couch or are you self-motivated enough to get better by yourself?

2) Role Play with a Colleague

Co-workers are great for role-playing because they know the material, they know all the objections, and they have a lot more experience with different insurance sales situations.

Afraid of how your co-workers will react if you ask them to help you practice sales conversations?

Ask them anyway, getting out of your comfort zone is one of the first lessons in sales!

3) Role Play with a Non-Insurance Person

Sometimes you can gain deeper insight by practicing with someone who doesn’t understand all the intricacies of insurance like you do.

It’s the best way to find out if you’re overdoing the jargon.

And after all, your target clients are not your co-workers, they’re people who don’t know jack about insurance.

4) Record Yourself on Video

If you’re squeemish about role-playing to begin with, maybe just skip to the next one and pretend you didn’t read this.

It’s not easy seeing yourself on video but I promise it can be helpful.

Look for things like:

  1. Proper amount of eye contact?
  2. Do you look confident?
  3. Are you fidgety or visually distracting?
  4. Are you listening attentively or waiting to talk again?

5) Record Your Voice

When you watch a video of yourself there is a tendency to pay more attention to visual cues while auditory ones may be lost.

Also, it’s easy to use a voice recorder or your smartphone to record live sales conversations without your prospect even knowing.

Listen for things like:

  1. Are  you acknowledging and addressing prospect questions?
  2. Are you using the same terms and verbiage of the prospect?
  3. Do you use a lot of auditory pauses (like umm)?
  4. Does your voice sound like you care?

6) Keep a Lost Sale Journal

Losing a sale sucks, but it’s a lot worse when you don’t learn from it.

Whenever you lose a close sale, take a few moments to write down what you may do differently to make the sale next time.

The point is not to focus on what you did wrong but to make sure you learn from the mistake and try something different the next time you find yourself in the same situation.

Who knows, it could be in 6 or 12 months with the same person.

7) Get Peer Feedback

sales-conversation-audio-recording

Ask a co-worker or sales manager to listen in on some of your live sales conversations and provide feedback.

The best salesperson in the world will still benefit from feedback. Even if it’s just 100% positive!

The benefits are mutual because the reviewer gets ideas from you and learns more about their own sales skills by observing yours so carefully.

8) Write Your Own Sales Scripts

A lot of the sales scripts I come across suck.

That’s because they’re either written by someone who doesn’t know how to sell or using language and talk-paths that are unnatural to me.

Plus, if you write it yourself it’s a lot harder to blame the script for your failures.

9) Memorize Scripts First, Then Improvise

Most sales scripts were not written to be read verbatim.

But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be memorized word for word.

A good sales script will subtly and precisely move you through the right questions to ask and important talking points.  Once you know it backwards and forwards it’s easy to improvise all you want without missing your key points.

A football running back’s biggest plays are usually the result of real-time improvisation but he still starts every down with clearly defined plan.

Just like a football player, start from the point of most rigidity and work your way backward to maintain the highest level of effectiveness.

10) Write Mini-Scripts For Every Objection

Keep a list of all the different sales objections you hear and write a script for overcoming every one.

Or better yet, devise a questioning strategy that helps identify possible objections and prevent them before you need to overcome them.

And remember not to overcome an objection until you’ve confirmed it’s the only objection. Otherwise you’ll be running in circles.

11) Pay Attention to Non-Insurance Salespeople

salesman-observationI love talking to all salespeople.

I like to pretend I’m just a regular shopper while secretly analyzing every detail of their pitch.

When I buy I think about what the salesperson did that got me to buy and when I don’t I think about where they dropped the ball.

The more you pay attention to the good and bad sales techniques used on you as a consumer the better you’ll be as a salesperson.

12) Develop a List of Questions

Good questions are the silver bullets of sales.

But if you don’t have your ammunition ready, you’ll never get to use them.

Create an ever-growing list of great questions that get your prospects to stop, think, and give you an answer that you can use to help close the sale later on.

Keep your list in front of your face and any time there’s a lull in the conversation you’ll have something to say that’s a lot better than, “How ’bout this weather?”

13) Practice Getting Back on Topic

One of the most challenging aspects of sales is taking a meandering conversation and leading it back on track.

After all, the sooner you can close a deal, the more time you’ll have for the next one.

During designated role-playing exercises have your partner try extra hard to take you off subject so you can practice getting it back.

14) Use Personas For Role Playing

Every prospect you encounter doesn’t act or care about the same things that your role-playing partner does so ask them to mix it up.

Prior to a role-play, ask your partner to act like a college student, or a single dad, or a retired Vietnam veteran etc.

Not only will your skills become more well-rounded, it’s also a lot more fun!

And an added benefit to the partner is gaining a deeper understanding inside the head of prospects who are different from him or her.

15) Mystery Shop Your Competition

gecko-phoneWho says you can’t call up the competition and get an insurance quote?

It pains me to say this, but call centers have a lot of advantages over local agencies when it comes to developing successful scripts.

Call centers test different scripts and talk-paths because they take 1,000′s of sales calls a day and can’t afford to be using anything but an optimized and successful script.

Call them up, record the conversation and steal everything that you like.

When you combine their research with your local expertise, you’ll win every time!

16) Demonstrate For Others

If you want your employees to be good at sales, you’re going to need to be good too.

And they’re going to need to see how you do it on a regular basis.

And if you’re not any good at sales, go back to #1 on this list and start practicing.

17) Schedule Your Practice Time

So you’ve read this article and now you’re inspired to do some role-playing and become a dedicated student of the sales process, huh?

It’s not going to work unless you commit to doing it regularly.

Pick a slow time during your week and set aside time to work on any of the ideas in this article consistently.

What To Do Next:

  1. Write down an action plan for sales practice and improvement using your favorite ideas on this list.
  2. Share your action plan with a close partner that will help you stay accountable.
  3. Share this article with any agents or sales managers you know that are willing to work hard to improve.
  4. And click the “Like” button so I know you value the ideas I’ve presented here.

“Winning means you’re willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else.”
-Vince Lombardi

 

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John F. Carroll

John F. Carroll is the founder and CEO of InsuranceSplash. For years, John has consulted insurance agencies with internet marketing and sales strategy and he is dedicated to making insurance marketing easy and effective for all insurance agents. If you're an agent, connect with John on LinkedIn, he wants to connect with you!

Comments (3)

  • George Page

    |

    John – Why 17 ways? It seems like a such random number? Bottom line, forget all by number 11 and just BE Ron Popeil. That man is pure genius!

    Reply

    • John F. Carroll

      |

      Good question… I feel like randomly numbered lists sound more complete – like everything needed to be there and nothing was left out… Plus, I got tired at 1a.m. last night and was 17 deep at the time :)
      If you’re interested, here’s a great article about RP by Malcolm Gladwell:
      http://bit.ly/9PuwC6

      Reply

  • Mike Demko

    |

    Awesome post John.

    I’d add: Focus on one thing and do it well for 30 days. Then build on your successes.

    Could be cross selling monoline, Umbrella or even LIFE..

    The simple success formula is:

    Focus
    Practice
    Measure
    Celebrate Success
    Repeat

    Reply

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