One young agent’s tricks of the trade to master cold calling

By Greg Wassberg | March 6, 2006

Like many of you, I started my insurance career with an empty desk and a phone. Over the years I have learned some tips or “tricks” I have used effectively to generate sales.

Cold calling was the first lesson I had to master and I took a different approach than many people. I have and still do feel any activity done outside the office is always better than doing something in the office. Here are some cold calling techniques I have used and they worked.

Pest extermination technique — I wanted to call on contractors when I started as they usually provide larger premiums. However, most contractors dislike insurance and especially insurance agents. One day I called on a scaffolding contractor and he mentioned to me that I was the fifth insurance agent to see him that week. He then went on to say that, “All insurance agents are like fleas around his renewal date.”

The very next day I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a can of Raid flea spray. I taped my business card to the can and went back to see him. I said to the business owner, “I bought you this can of flea spray to keep the other fleas away and I would like you to work with this flea because I am immune to the spray.”

This novelty item worked and the contractor allowed me to be the only agent to work with him on his insurance for the next year. Since contractors tend to be difficult, it often takes something “out of the ordinary” to get their attention. I took this approach with almost all the contractors I could find. I probably was the largest buyer of Raid Flea Spray at that Wal-Mart for almost a year. Did this idea work every time? No, but it worked often enough.

Get to know a day care provider technique – I was fortunate to stumble onto this technique because I had small children when I started in the business. I was also fortunate to send my child to a daycare that was somewhat “hard to get into.” Because of that I was able to interact each morning with some high-powered parents, especially mothers.

As time went on I decided to volunteer at the daycare for any activity they had, like birthday parties, field trips and reading stories before naptime. At each activity I would naturally interact with other individuals who were helping and would be as nice and helpful as I could. A day care setting is very exhausting, these individuals, mostly mothers, appreciated all the help I could give them.

Over time, some people would ask me what I did for a living. I would tell them I was an insurance agent. Inevitably, someone would say, “My husband owns a business and he could use some help.” Another door opened and off I went!

Webelos belt technique — Many of us went through some sort of scouting program. The fun part of these organizations was collecting or earning badges and awards. Life as an insurance agent is very similar. Get involved in your town!

I am a firm believer in community involvement. Examples are Rotary International, Chamber of Commerce, Masons, church, local Governments, Scouts, hunting clubs, card clubs, or any other activity where you can meet new people. As you earn these individuals’ trust, they will naturally inquire if you can help them.

Do these activities take time? The answer is yes! Do these activities take away from your family? The answer is yes!

A retired insurance agent once told me, “If I would work 16 hours a day for the first eight years, I would never work eight hours a day again.”

You must commit to this business through time and effort if you want to be successful.

The drive-by shooting technique — I have told this story to anyone who would listen, as some of my most successful accounts have come from driving down the freeway.

If you see a commercial truck while on the road, you will notice that many of them have the phone numbers and names of the business on them. The next time you see a vehicle of an account you want to call on, pull over to the side of the road. (Note: You must do this because talking on the phone while driving is dangerous.) Call the phone number and ask the receptionist to put you through to the person handling the insurance.

Tell that person that you were driving down the road and noticed a very courteous driver and wanted to let him or her know what a fine company they are operating.

Let the person know you are an insurance agent and that you like to work with businesses that operate in a safe manner. Six out of 10 times, at least, you will get an appointment.

Some of these ideas may seem funny or unbelievable, but they work. If you get nothing more out of this article, please remember to be creative and have fun. Over time, you will build a book of business and do less cold calling.

Greg Wassberg is a producer with Crockett Insurance Services in Crockett, Texas.

From This Issue

Insurance Journal West March 6, 2006
March 6, 2006
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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Latest Comments

  • January 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm
    youngman says:
    Cold calling works. Starting from scratch is hard, and if you are not willing to pick up the phone or go talk to new people then you are destined to fail. If cold calling was ... read more
  • January 20, 2014 at 12:05 pm
    Libby says:
    Join the club, Bernie. We all feel the same way! LOL!
  • April 1, 2013 at 5:01 pm
    Bernard Pang says:
    Super article. need more like that. I am just starting selling insurance with Nationwide in Atlanta GA. Finding it hard to get clients and sometimes wondering why i joined ... read more
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