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How to use Prospecting to Fill Your Pipeline

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Insurance agencies and producers struggle filling their pipelines with targeted, quality prospects and effectively turning those prospects into clients. Here are tips for tackling this critical part of the job.

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How to use Prospecting to Fill Your Pipeline

  1. 1. Prospecting The scariest and most difficult part of a scary and difficult job
  2. 2. PROSPECTING – Creating opportunities for sales conversations As much as we’d like to say there is a “magic bullet” to filling a pipeline, that just isn’t the case. However, there are ways to make your efforts more effective and efficient. Three basic ways to create a short-term opportunity: client referrals, center-of-influence referrals, and cold contacting. There are also ways to make opportunities created by each more valuable.
  3. 3. HEALTHY PIPELINE o New business goal o Targeted avg revenue/opportunity o Close ratio o Conversion ratio The primary goal of prospecting is to create a healthy pipeline. While there is no one definition of what constitutes a healthy pipeline, every producer has their one definition of what is healthy for them. To determine that for yourself, you must know your numbers. When you know your number, then you can determine how many opportunities you need to create. CALCULATE YOUR HEALTHY PIPELINE 1. Divide your new biz goal by your avg rev/opportunity to determine the # of deals you need to close. 2. Divide the # of needed closed deals by your close ratio to determine how many finalist presentations you need. 3. Divide the # of finalist presentations by your conversion ratio to determine the # of opportunities you need to create.
  4. 4. For prospecting efforts to be effective, you have to clearly define your ideal client and use it as a filter before you allow anyone the privilege of being in your pipeline. IDEAL CLIENT  Size of business  Industry  Location  Position in company  Buying style  Personality alignment  Benefits philosophy  Advisor or Vendor?  ?
  5. 5. More important than telling a prospect your story is making sure you know the details of their story CAPTURE THEIR STORY • INDUSTRY – What unique challenges does their industry provide? • ASPIRATIONS – What are their goals/objectives? • DECISION MAKERS – Who are they and what are their concerns? • BUYING STYLE– How will they decide whether or not to hire you? • CHALLENGES – What is holding them back? • RELATIONSHIP – Are they looking for an advisor or vendor?
  6. 6. Raving fans “A” – Ways you delivered value “B” – Who they know CLIENT REFERRALS Most producers don’t ask their clients for the favor of referrals. And, those that do typically don’t get results. Why? In addition to the favor of a referral, they ask the client to do the job of figuring out who to refer. It’s healthy to ask strong relationships for favors, but it’s not fair to ask them to do a job, YOUR job. Let’s fix that. List the clients who love you most – your raving fans. For each raving fan, make two lists  “A” lists all the great things you’ve done for each client. This will reinforce for both of you that you’ve done a great job.  “B” is a list (w/ contact info) of companies they know, companies you’d like to know. (Sources – LinkedIn, biz neighbors, other biz relationships, other members of boards on which they sit, etc.) Now, with the “job” part done, its easy for them to do you the favor of introductions.
  7. 7. CENTERS OF INFLUENCE Just like with clients, referrals from COIs have the potential to generate a significant number of high quality, high-close-ratio opportunities. The problem is most producers don’t develop or effectively manage these potentially valuable relationships. These have to be more than lunch buddies, they need to be treated as the strategic partnerships they are. The keys are to choose COIs carefully and then manage the relationship strategically. A good COI • Considered best in class in industry • Respected by their peers • A leader in the community • Has access to your ideal clients • Will benefit from the introductions you can make • Is in active growth mode themselves Rules of engagement • Both sides understand why relationship exists • Introductions go both ways • Meet formally on a regular basis • Each meeting has an agenda to ensure it is productive • Follow up plan exists for all introductions
  8. 8. COLD CALLING Despite the headlines, cold calling is not dead. It may be more difficult than ever, but it still works. To make it work, be committed. Be committed to understanding your value proposition so you can clearly communicate why someone should take a meeting. Be committed to practicing your conversation. And, be committed to getting in the dials. (Hint – Cold calling is easier when an effective marketing strategy is in place. Be sure to visit our marketing page.) 1. SCRIPT & PRACTICE – Know what you’re going to say before you pick up the phone or knock on the door. 2. PREPARE – Beyond practicing your script, prepare by knowing the solutions you offer, the value of your sales process, WHY someone should meet with you. 3. DISCIPLINE – Schedule your calling time, track results, be consistent. 4. ANTICIPATE OBJECTIONS – They’re going to happen. Make a list of objections, script your responses, and practice using them. 5. DO IT ALL AGAIN
  9. 9. AGENDA Send an agenda prior to every meeting. It shows professionalism and ensures both sides are prepared, that the right topics are covered. BONUS SECTION | “KEEP IT MOVING” The one thing that is more dangerous than an empty pipeline is a pipeline with stagnant opportunities. This is more dangerous because it gives you a false sense of security. There appears to be future new clients, but if they aren’t moving forward, you will never close the deal. THE STANDARD As early in the sales process as possible, establish the standard you need to hit to earn the business. UP-FRONT CONTRACT Start each meeting with an agreement of the decision to be made that day. (Hint – It should always be about the next step) HOMEWORK Following each meeting, send a summary email of key points. Include an assignment (read an article, etc). It will get them further vested in the conversation. NEXT STEPS Both you and the prospect should always know what the next meeting will focus on and when it will take place, as well as how close you are to satisfying the STANDARD.
  10. 10. Well, what are you waiting for? Go prospect! Just kidding (sort of). While we hope you find our ideas helpful, we’re sure you still have questions. Contact us to learn more.

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