The sales cycle for an insurance producer is longer than ever. In this episode, I share 3 pivotal marketing strategies you must leverage to shorten the path from suspect to sale.


Video Transcript:

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Hey. Hey. Welcome back to bullpen sessions. My name is Andy Neary, and this is episode 269.

Today, I’m going to share with you three pivotal strategies to shorten your path to sales success. In this episode, we are going to talk about how you can shorten the sales cycle so that you can win more business faster and improve your odds of winning every time you have a conversation with a prospect. Well, welcome back. We are in week two, January 2024.

I’m sure those lofty sales goals, the excitement of those lofty sales goals are still in full effect. You still may need some help with some clarity on how to build an effective marketing strategy. If so, make sure and go back and watch last week’s podcast Episode Episode 268, where I helped you build a weekly bulletproof marketing plan. Now, today, I’m going to help you actually shorten the sales cycle from beginning to finish, from suspect to sale.

So let’s face it, the sales cycle is your number one enemy Y because it’s longer today than it’s ever been. Think about this. There are more insurance brokers in the industry than there ever been. There are more insurance brokers competing with you today than you’ve ever had before. And so everybody is competing for your prospects attention. Therefore, the sales cycle is getting longer.

And it’s why more often than not, they’re just deciding to stay right where they’re at because they think you’re all the same. So we’ve got to change that today. We’ve got to build a better mousetrap. I’m going to help you do that. If you stay with me till the end, we’re going to actually build a killer marketing strategy for you.

So make sure you hang on until the end. You see, without trust or credibility, the sales cycle is pretty long today, and that’s what we’re going to try to attack. And when I look at insurance production today across the landscape, I still see far too many brokers who are spending the majority of their prospecting hours cold, calling. It’s a very traditional way of prospecting.

It’s how I was taught 22 years ago when I got in this business is how most insurance producers are still taught to prospect today. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be a part of the game plan, but here is what I am saying. If that is your mode of prospecting today, your sales cycle is just going to be very long y because you’re calling mostly suspects.

These are people who do not know who you are, even if they give you an appointment. Number one, you have zero trust and credibility with them. When you walk in the door to the no show. Rates for cold calls are extremely high today. I talk to agencies every week who are using a cold calling service. The one problem they cannot figure out how do we lower the number of no shows, just part of cold calling?

And number three, if you can get a prospect off a cold call who is so pissed off at their broker right now, you do have a chance to shorten the sales cycle. But my point is clear right now, if you’re only strategy is the cold call, your sales cycle is going to be extremely long now for definite reasons sake.

The sales cycle, in my opinion, starts when you have your first appointment with a prospect, you have your first conversation session. That moment from the day you win the sale is the length of the sales cycle. So think about this. If you are lucky enough to be booking appointments through the channel of cold calling, the challenge is you’re walking into that first meeting with very little, if any, credibility or trust built with that prospect whatsoever.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t win the business, I’m just saying the sales cycle is going to be very long by the time you actually do win that we could be talking two or three years. And I know given your sales goals, I know given your sales plan by your sales manager, you may not even have that long.

So we’ve got to shorten this. We’ve got to find a way to speed this up. And that’s what we’re going to do today. I’m going to share three pivotal strategies you need to be using today so that you can shorten your path to success. Now here’s what I urge you to do. I’m going to urge you to give these three pivotal strategies to your colleagues, to your sales manager, to your marketing department, because they need to be part of this process.

So take notes. When I walk through each of these three pivotal strategies because this is what’s going to speed up your path to success. So let’s just dive right in. Number one strategy, number one to speed up the path to success, to shorten that sales cycle is you have to create a ton of free content. Now, when I talk about content, what kind of content am I talking about?

Number one, social media content. Now, if you are in the business, the business platform business, business space, like most of you listening in are LinkedIn is the number one place you have to be that is the B2B platform on social media. Podcasting is another form of free content. I know you think that sounds crazy because you sell insurance.

Why would I ever think about starting a podcast? Because it’s just another form of content. It’s just another way to educate your prospects that you didn’t have ten years ago. And public speaking is another beautiful form of free content. The point, though, is you have to be using free content today to build awareness and name recognition with your prospects.

You see, if you want to speed up your sales success, you have to work hard to start building trust and credibility with your prospects long before they ever meet you. It’s a must today. You can’t just walk into a prospect completely cold and think you have a legitimate chance at winning, at least not anytime soon. But if you can start building awareness through free content, what you’re doing is building that name recognition with your prospect.

The more they see this content from you, the more consistent you are creating it slowly but surely you are going to build some trust with them. Now you’re nowhere close to actually getting that first conversation on the app point on the calendar, but the work has already started. So let’s talk about what kind of content. Well, if I were creating a marketing strategy today to shorten the sales cycle and I’m going to use social media, I’m going to use a podcast channel, and I’m also going to use public speaking, my only goal is to educate my prospects, and that’s what I’m going to urge you to do.

Just educate your prospects. Look at who your ideal prospect is, Look at what their problems and their concerns are, and create content that helps them overcome those problems and those concerns. One of the biggest mistakes insurance producers make when creating content is they’re trying to speak at a level to display the level of their knowledge. But the reality is they’re losing their prospect because they’re talking way over their prospects.

Head If your prospect does not know why their insurance premiums are going up right now, they do not even know what their problem is today. You coming at them with some high level strategy like reference based pricing or some kind of captive strategy is going to make zero sense for them before you can get them to even consider any other type of solution.

Your education has to be basic. You’ve got to teach them things are not aware of. You’ve got to make them realize they have a problem. So if I’m going to create content right now, free content to build name recognition, I’m going to build educational content that educates my prospect to help them uncover the problems they are not aware of having today.

It’s that simple. And there’s a couple key points here I want to make with you when it comes to this content. Number one, do not judge the content. And if you do find yourself judging the content, you’re doing so because you’re afraid of what your peers are going to say. I know creating a video or writing an article on the pros and cons of fully insured plans or pros and cons of essays or FSAs is not sexy, but it might be what your prospects needs, and that’s all it matters.

If your prospect could benefit from the piece of content you should be creating it. And at that point it becomes a game of volume, a game of quantity. If you’re creating this content and you’re putting it out on LinkedIn, you’re putting it out through a podcast, you’re out on stages in your market talking to your prospects about this stuff.

You’re going to build a lot of name recognition, and with that comes trust and credibility. You’re going to be considered the go to resource. And again, we don’t even have the first meeting on the calendar yet. So my advice to you is you have to make free content a part of your strategy this year. This is step one.

This is the key, pivotal strategy. Number one, you have got to leverage more this year, free content. And the last piece of advice I’m going to give you with free content is you have to save the best for first. This is a piece of advice I got from one of my mentors, Rory Vaden. I used to be the guy that loved putting out content, but I never wanted to share too much because I was always afraid I was going to get used for it, right?

I was always afraid that my prospects would just take all of my hard work and give it to their broker. Now, I’m sure some did, but I can guarantee one more business than I lost when I shared as much value as I could. And so when you sit down to create this free content, do not hold back. Share the good stuff there, the good strategies, because this is how you’re going to build trust faster.

The more value you bring and the more often you do it, the faster you build credibility. Remember our credibility velocity formula, right? The value times volume equals credibility. Velocity. So step one is creating a ton of free content to build awareness and name recognition. Let’s talk about strategy number two lead generation. Now that you’re putting out a bunch of free content, you want to start building leads.

Now, here is what a lead is. Not a lead is not going to some publication service and buying a list of 5000 suspects who have no clue who you exist, nor do you know if they’re the numbers or the names or the email addresses on that list are even good. That is not lead generation. What lead generation is about is building a list of qualified leads because these people have voluntarily given up their contact information.

Yes, they are giving you the contact information. How do we do that? Well, here are a couple opportunities you could explore this year. Number one, webinars. Webinars are probably the most common form of lead generation we use in the insurance industry. If you host a webinar, anyone who signs up has to put their name and their email address in to register.

That’s how you get their lead, right? How about video series? How about you create a series of videos that you put out there that bring a ton of value to your ideal prospect, But in order to be able to download those videos, they have got to give you their email. You can do the same thing with white papers in playbooks Build something so valuable that your prospects want to get their hands on it.

But. But, but. In order to get their hands on it, they got to give you some contact information. That’s good enough. They’ll be willing to give it up about public speaking. Public speaking is not only an amazing way to build awareness and build name recognition, but it’s a great way to build leads because you can actually generate leads on the spot while public speaking.

But you can also use the stage to build your lead list. And when we think of leads and lead lists, here are the two big important types of lead lists I want you to think about this year. Number one, email lists. Yes, that’s the most common form we use today. However, I’m going to urge you to focus on quality over quantity.

I would much rather have you have a list of 200 qualified email contacts versus a list of 1500 where 95% of them are junk. Go with a smaller but more qualified list. It’s easier to build it when you know exactly who your ideal prospect is. Now, the other type of lead list we don’t think about enough is social media.

If you’re using LinkedIn actively and you are sending out good invite requests to potential prospects when they accept that’s a lead because they’re voluntarily saying, yes, I am willing to accept or connect with you. The same goes for LinkedIn newsletters. LinkedIn newsletters is another tool that’s been out there for about a year. The very under utilized tool on LinkedIn.

But why I love LinkedIn newsletters is the moment you have yours. You’ve published your newsletter, you’re building a list of leads because people are volunteering to subscribe to your newsletter. Hi, it’s Andy NEARY and thank you for listening. Do the Bullpen Sessions Podcast. Did you know the ideas shared on this show? Are things we actually specialize in helping to implement?

If you’re an insurance professional and you want to turn your credibility into consistent client acquisition, visit complete game consulting dot com and schedule a free strategy call again that’s complete game consulting dot com to request your free strategy call. All right. Let’s jump back in to today’s podcast episode, Your mindset and you get to see the list. It is a list of leads.

Now I get it on LinkedIn. You’re going to have a lot of your peers, maybe a lot of career reps has connections, but if you play the game the right way, if you use LinkedIn to build your business and you’re sending out good connection requests, you should start building a list of qualified leads. The prospects, It’s that simple.

So now you have two important lead lists. You’ve got email and you have got linked in. What is the purpose here? The purpose here is you have a qualified guide leads. Now here’s where trying to shorten the sales cycle goes wrong with new leads in hand, qualified leads in hand. You hump their leg as fast as you can.

You can’t just call them immediately and ask for an appointment. No, no, no, no. That is not the strategy of building a qualified lead list. I used to get so frustrated with some of my teams at agencies because we would host a webinar, we’d get 25 prospects to sign up, and then we’d take the list of people who registered.

And the next day they told us, Go call them book appointments. It’s like, that is not how this works. The purpose of getting leads is to nurture them. So whether you have LinkedIn leads, you have email leads, your job is to nurture them. How do you do it? You continue bringing them valuable content. If you just keep posting good content on LinkedIn, you will nurture your LinkedIn connections.

If you write valuable LinkedIn newsletters, you will nurture your newsletter subscribers. If you send out an email every one or two weeks that brings value to your email list, you will nurture them you. A purpose of a lead list is not something to call day after day. To ask appointments from it is to nurture them to continue building your trust and credibility that you need to win your business.

Win their business. Now, with steps one and two in hand, what are you doing? You are building a ton of awareness and name recognition. You’re doing a heck of a lot more giving than asking. Now you’re building qualified lead lists via email and social media, and you’re continuing to build trust and credibility through valuable content. Now, this is where the magic starts to happen, because as these qualified prospects start dropping into your sales pipeline, they’re coming in qualified, you’re going to have better conversations.

Naturally, the odds of you winning the business will go up naturally because you have already been bringing these folks value for months. Which brings us to strategy number three. If you want to shorten the sales cycle this year, you have to have a repeatable sales process. None of this willy nilly recreating the wheel with every new prospect anymore.

This is why you’re not winning. When people get in the pipeline, you have no process. You’re repeating strategy. Number three is you’ve got to build a repeatable sales process. Now I’m going to give you some important tips about building a repeatable sales process. First, let’s talk about why you should build a repeatable sales process. A repeatable sales process makes it easy for your prospects to hire you.

It’s a way you play offense with your sales process. Too many sales processes today are defense. You’re doing everything you can, preparing yourself for the know, preparing yourself for the objection, and your whole process is defensive. This is why you’re not setting yourself up for success. You’re giving the prospect all the control and everything is done in a rehab auctioneering mode.

Instead, we want to go on offense with our sales process. So here’s a couple tips to make your sales process more offensive. Number one, keep the process simple to follow. When you think about a simplified sales process, in my opinion, that process has no more than three or four steps. Maybe it starts with a discovery meeting or a discovery call.

Then it turns into an assessment followed by some data gathering or fact finding, and then you come back with your proposal. You come back with your solution. No matter what steps you use in your sales process, Keep it simple. My advice No more than three or four steps. I see too many producers right now almost brag about how many steps are in their sales process because it looks sophisticated, but it’s the very reason they’re not winning any business, because all the process is hearing as, Wow, that sounds like a lot of work and that sounds complicated.

We’re good. We’ll stay right where we’re at. You got to keep the sales process simple. Number two, with that process, just a piece of advice. You got to make sure everyone on your team follows that process. If you’re an agency owner or a sales manager listening in right now, every one on your team has to follow the sales process.

One the days of Johnny doing it this way, Jane does it this way and Billy does it this way or over. You can’t do that anymore. You can’t let your producers operate on islands anymore. One team, one process. This is how you will scale your growth in 2024 and beyond. Now, the second key point I want to talk about sales process is you have to work hard to build trust before the first meeting.

You have to have a little mini process before the first meeting. What do I’m talking about? Well, when a prospect agrees to an appointment, think about what you’re doing between the time they agree to the appointment and the actual first meeting itself. For too many the answers, nothing’s happening here. Meeting goes up on the calendar, the invite goes out, and then the producer kind of just crosses his or her fingers, hoping the prospect shows up for the first meeting.

Instead, you’ve got to play offense, build a little process that helps you build credibility before the first meeting. If I were you, here’s what I’m doing. Number one, the minute that invite goes out to the prospect to set up the first meeting, I’m sending out a welcome email. The welcome email is just going to welcome them. Talk about our process a little bit, get them prepared for the first meeting, Tell them some things we’re going to cover in that first meeting, I’d actually include an introductory an intro video when they’re introducing myself so they get a chance to meet me even before I walk in the room.

It’s just getting them prepared for the first meeting. We don’t do that enough. Think about what your prospect is thinking when they get that from you. They’re saying, Wow, this producer is not messing around. She’s prepared. They’ve got a legit process here. How about sending out reminder emails? Think about how simple that is, but how often we don’t do it.

I know I used to be afraid to send out reminder emails because it was the prospects chance to cancel. No, you have a process you have to repeat and your time is valuable. I’m sending you a reminder. If you cancel. Hey, no problem. You probably weren’t a fit anyways. Send out those reminder emails. Number three Get the agenda out to the prospect before you ever conduct the first meeting.

You want them fully prepared for the first meeting. If you want to make the first meeting effective. And it’s a great way to respect their time and they know it now. The third tip for a repeatable sales process. So number one was make it simple. Number two was build trust before the first meeting. The third tip I’m going to give you enough in running an effective sales process is sell with a little more exclusivity this year.

You’ve heard me talk about this in previous podcasts, but I’m going to restate why this is important. What do I mean when I say sell with exclusivity? Number one, use time in that first meeting to walk the prospect through your process. Be clear about how your process process works. What’s the next steps if today goes well, to talk to your prospects about who you are not to sit for, what kind of prospects are not a fit for your your process, your system, Tell them who you’re looking to work with.

I’ve had our clients talk about how many new clients they’re looking to bring on. If you are looking for a half a dozen wins this year to make it a good year, tell your prospects. I’m looking to bring on six new groups this year. Here’s why. And then let them know what objections they’re going to have right away.

Think about that one for a second. What I would tell my prospect, all the reasons why they will not choose to hire me right away. I’m going to call the objections out before they come out of their mouth. Whoever speaks the objection first wins. So I’m going to give them all the reasons or the objections they’re going to go through their head as we start working together.

So focusing on telling your prospects who’s not a fit, talking about who you’re looking to work with, giving them the objections they’re going to have in the process. All that is doing is speeding up your path to success, because if you tell them who’s not a fit and they are that type of business, all right, no harm, no foul.

The meeting took 15 minutes. You’re onto the next one. If you tell them who you’re looking for, looking to work with, and they are that type of prospect that just increased the value of this interaction, this this conversation. And then if you give them the objections they’re going to have before they ever come out of their mouth, when those objections do pop up in their head, you’re going to help them overcome them faster because they’re going to say, yeah, you told me I was going to thank this.

It works today, folks. I know it goes against traditional sales coaching, but there is nothing that says traditional about what type of environment we are in today. We are no longer in the traditional sales environment, but with these three pivotal strategies, Intel, here’s what’s going to happen for your business. Number one, you’re going to have more qualified leads coming into your pipeline, which increases your odds of winning.

You’re going to walk into the first meeting with trust and credibility, at least increased trust and credibility. Think about that. What would it feel like to walk into a first meeting with a prosecutor? Trust you already feels like they know you. there is not a better feeling than that. And you’ll save yourself a hell of a lot of time and money because you have a process you can repeat your words.

I don’t know what else to tell you, but I wanted to use this episode as a follow up from last week where we focused on building a bulletproof weekly marketing strategy to talk about how you can shorten the sales cycle this year. And I truly believe it comes down to these three pivotal strategies. Number one, put out a ton of free content this year, make it valuable.

It’s only going to build credibility and name recognition for you and your firm to work hard to generate leads. Again, we’re not talking about buying a huge list of suspects. We’re talking about generating qualified email and social media leads. Nurture them with valuable content, give away the good stuff, because that’s only going to build more credibility and more trust with you.

And then strategy number three is when they come into the pipeline as a qualified prospect, use a repeatable sales process to turn them into a client. If you do these three things this year, you will speed up your sales cycle, you will speed up your path to success and you’ll no longer be frustrated because that first meeting you had with that prospect went nowhere because you walked into the meeting with zero trust and zero credibility.

This strategy changed my life. This strategy is one of the core reasons I built complete game consulting was because I wanted to help other producers do exactly what I did for myself. I am not a strong sales professional. I wasn’t born with the skill, but I became a hell of a lot better when I leveraged these three pivotal strategies.

If you do the same, you’re going to win more with less prospects and you’re going to speed your path up to every hour. And this job gets a hell of a lot more fun when you’re having a hell of a lot more success. Trust me, be good. Thank you for taking the time to listen to today’s podcast episode.

Remember, if you find value in this episode, do me a favor. Give it a like share it, post about it. Go subscribe to make sure you get every episode from us every single week. And my only ask from you is that if you have anybody in your life, whether it be a teammate, a peer, family member or a friend, please share this podcast with them.

That’s how we grow. We only grow through word of mouth and I would be forever grateful if you take the time to do that. All right, now it’s time for you to take what you learned, and it’s time for you to go out, share your message with the world, execute clarity and consistency is everything. Be well.