Insurance Guru: Nervousness is a natural part of telemarketing success

The IHIAA is America's premier trade association and training network for independent health insurance agents.
The IHIAA is America’s premier trade association and training network for independent health insurance agents.

It might seem lonely on the phone sometimes, but you are not alone.

Representing over 1,000 sales agents, the Independent Health Insurance Agent Association (IHIAA) is America’s premier support and training network for go-getters who want to improve their home-based businesses. The IHIAA focuses on generating exclusive leads where agents are not pitted against other agents (as is the case with Internet leads that are sold over and over to competing sales people). Thus, the trade association believes that independent agents can meet and collaborate with each other about the best ways to get and retain new clients.

Mojo was recently pleased to sit down with IHIAA president and founder John Petrowski to chat about his personal sales philosophy and how he personally gets motivated before he gets on the phone.

Petrowski has been a Mojo client since 2007, when he got fed up with the poor quality of his Internet leads.

“For some reason in late 2006, I noticed that less people were answering the phone,” he says. “You can’t sell policies for people you can’t speak to!”

In the past, Petrowski had experienced about 50-60 percent of his Internet leads picking up, but the rate inexplicably plummeted to about 20 percent. He made up for the gap by buying twice as many leads, a practice he compares to “beating your head against the wall.”

The problem: The Internet lead often is an annoyed prospect because he or she likely has been already called by a competitor and likely will be called again by another competitor even after your call.

“Why in the world would you pay $7 for a shared lead when you can hire your own telemarketers and generate leads at $5 a lead that are exclusive to you?” he asks. “The answer is that people just don’t know how to go about it.”

Petrowski buys lists of small companies with no more than four employees — his target for independent insurance plans — and integrates his lists into Mojo. A meticulous record keeper, the IHIAA president used to manually call about 40 prospects an hour. Now, thanks to the Mojo Triple Line Power Dialer, he’s logging 250-300 calls an hour.

It still takes him about 250 calls to land a single client, but he “no longer has to spend half a week on the phone to land one deal.”

Not only that, but the Mojo-generated leads are hauling in an additional $1000 per client (or about $200 in commission) than before. The reason? Internet leads tend to be younger singles. His small business lists tend to include many more family plans.

Once he had the Mojo Triple Line Power Dialer, Petrowski hired three telemarketers at the reasonable wage of $10 an hour, and started generating 2-3 leads per hour — a significant savings over the $7 Internet leads.

But no matter where your leads come from, you need to feel comfortable talking with them — as well as the much larger number of people who aren’t interested in doing business with you. It’s formally called “Call Reluctance,” and it is to telemarketers what Kryptonite is to Superman.

Petrowski confesses being initially nervous and apprehensive every day he makes phone calls. When you stare at the phone for those few moments before getting started, there’s time for the mind to wander and “imagine all the scenarios that will never happen.”

Those fear-filled scenarios include getting the phone slammed in your ear, prospects yelling at you, people insulting you, etc.

“I can count on one hand the number of people who got upset at me,” says Petrowski.

That’s because many people have internalized the stereotype of the telemarketer who won’t take no for an answer, the caller who goes on and on with his sales pitch. Don’t be that person. If a prospect says they are not interested, take the hint and move on.

“You don’t get anyone mad with a ‘Have a Nice Day,'” he says.

So true.

According to Petrowski, getting people to trust you all comes down to developing a script/phone pitch that you feel you can make in a natural conversational tone. There are sample phone scripts in all the sales books and on all the Websites, but they need to be revised to fit your personality.

Just like the American Idol judges who tell singers how to adapt a popular cover song, you have to “make the script your own.”

Also, Petrowski advises not to get caught up in the myth of instant results. Before starting to calculate your sales metrics, give yourself at least 24 hours of calls before starting to track success. Be patient. It takes a while to get into the call flow and feel comfortable with your phone pitch.

“You can’t call for four hours and start doing math,” he says.

If you’d like to learn more about boosting your phone sales numbers, John Petrowski will be appearing on an upcoming Mojo podcast. Please stay tuned here for more details.


(To join the IHIAA, visit http://www.ihiaa.com. The first month’s membership is only $1, creating a no-risk opportunity to see if the trade association is a great fit for you).