How to Build Rapport Selling Insurance Online or Over the Phone

Don’t let social distancing get in the way of your insurance sales! If you’re trying to foster trust with prospects, we’ve got six tips for building rapport over the phone or online, fast.

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Without rapport, you can’t expect your prospects to enroll in that plan you just pitched them — they may think you’re trying to sell them something that’s in your best interest, and not theirs. You also shouldn’t expect any referrals — because why should a client refer their friends or family members to you if they’re not happy with your customer service, or worse, don’t like you at all?

What is rapport and how can you establish it with prospects?

The Basics of Rapport

BusinessDictionary.com defines rapport as “A positive or close relationship between people that often involves mutual trust, understanding and attention.” It goes on to say that, “Those that develop rapport often have realized that they have similar interests, values, knowledge or behaviors.”

When your prospects remember you, respect you, and view you as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source for insurance information and assistance, you’ve succeeded in building rapport with them.

Simply put, having rapport with someone means that you have some sort of bond with them. When your prospects remember you, respect you, and view you as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source for insurance information and assistance, you’ve succeeded in building rapport with them.

Tips for Building Rapport with Insurance Prospects — from a Distance

Building rapport with someone tends to be easier in person. Your body position, movements, eye contact, facial expressions, and subconscious mimicking/mirroring can all help to make it happen without either of you even realizing it. However, if you’re talking with a prospect over the phone or online, you aren’t literally seeing eye to eye, which can make it harder for you to do so figuratively as well. The good news is that it’s still possible to establish rapport if you’re social distancing! We’ll cover six ways to build rapport while selling remotely below.

1. Be Punctual

Running a couple of minutes late to an appointment? Your clients should know you’re a busy person because you’re good at what you do, right? WRONG. Picture this: your client waiting, looking at their watch or phone, wondering why a supposed “professional” is wasting their precious time, especially when they only have so long before they have to go to work, head out to the gym, or get things done before their grandbaby wakes up from a nap. Can they really trust you to help them with something complex, like finding the right insurance products for their needs, if you can’t simply show up on time?

Can they really trust you to help them with something complex, like finding the right insurance products for their needs, if you can’t simply show up on time?

Punctuality is such a small thing, but it can have big consequences. Not only is it tied with preparedness and professionalism, but it also directly translates into your credibility, dependability, organization, thoughtfulness, and trustworthiness. Being on time, even for a simple phone or video call, shows your customers that you think they’re important; that you respect them; and that they’re not just another stop on your way to a luxurious lifestyle. Moreover, when you’re punctual, you’re actually keeping a promise to your clients, and that can give them confidence that they chose the right person for the job.

2. Be Prepared

You’ve probably heard it many times throughout your sales career and life — preparation is the key to success. Though it may not be the sole key to your success as a remote insurance agent, it definitely plays a large role in it.

Whether you’re getting ready for insurance sales appointments in person or remotely, you should prepare the same basic way; you just don’t need to prepare far enough in advance to be able to drive to your destinations on time if you’re selling remotely. If you’re doing any video calls, start by dressing in appropriate business attire. Chilling in your PJs is fine for cleaning up your digital CRM on the couch or chatting over the phone; but for video calls, aim for business casual or business dressy — whatever you usually wear for in-person appointments. Don’t forget to brush your hair and teeth, too! Your client may not be able to smell your breath, but you can (and so can your significant other or children), and freshening it up could make a difference in your demeanor, too!

For video calls, aim for business casual or business dressy — whatever you usually wear for in-person appointments.

Also, just as you would for an in-person sale, it’s important to do as much research as you can before any remote appointments. Search your prospect’s area for available plans. Find formularies that are the best fit for their prescription drug needs. Additionally, be ready to counter objections and answer questions. Before you start a call, pull up and review any notes you have on that client, that way, you can ask them about their kids, grandkids, or that new hobby picked up and further build your relationship. They’ll most likely appreciate that you “remembered” and that you care more about just their money or the sale!

3. Be Personable

There are some people who will always want to get straight down to business, but a little small talk can go a long way when trying to bond with someone. This is true when talking with someone over the phone, online, or in person! You could discover you both like the same baseball or hockey team (Phillies or Flyers, anyone?) or that you both love dogs (who doesn’t?) or hiked Mt. Everest (…maybe not that one). Whatever direction you decide to take the conversation, just steer clear of any tumultuous topics…Cough politics Cough. It may be an election year, but we’d advise you not to talk about the candidates, unless your client openly, clear-as-day invites you to. There are some people who just love to talk politics but remember: we’re striving for friends, not foes. Elect to discuss shared likes, experiences (e.g., trips and events), or circumstances (e.g., kids, grandkids, hobbies) instead. Those are nice, non-polarizing, non-threatening topics to bring up during any downtime!

It may be an election year, but we’d advise you not to talk about the candidates, unless your client openly, clear-as-day invites you to.

4. Be Polite

Engaging in small talk — and avoiding politics — not only helps you be personable but also polite! Politeness is a basic skill that agents need to be liked and successful, no matter how they’re selling. As one site puts it, “We may not always notice politeness but we usually notice rudeness or inconsiderate behavior.”

If you want to be more polite where should you start? Good manners and please and thank yous help, but two of the biggest ways an insurance agent can show politeness remotely is by respecting their clients’ time and by being nonjudgmental and empathetic. We’ve already discussed punctuality, but being unbiased and empathetic is also important, especially now. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many American families are struggling physically, emotionally, and financially. Their budgets and time may be even more limited than usual, and it’s crucial you keep in mind why they may be even more protective over their potential premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

Avoid using senior speak or talking down to your clients.

To ensure you stay polite during appointments, also self-check the tone of your voice. Make sure it’s relaxed, and not frustrated or hurried. Watch your what you say and how you say it, too! Avoid using senior speak or talking down to your clients. Nothing’s worse than offending the person you’re trying to persuade to put their trust in you.

5. Use Reflecting and Clarifying

Many people think sales is for talkers, but to be a great salesperson, you have to be a fantastic listener. Two ways you can improve your listening skills, and thereby, your rapport with clients, are reflecting and clarifying. How can you reflect and clarify during remote appointments?

When your client talks about their problems, preferences, or needs, simply reflect, or restate or paraphrase, their words and feelings.

When your client talks about their problems, preferences, or needs, simply reflect, or restate or paraphrase, their words and feelings. This technique shows your client that you’re focusing in on them, and what they’re saying, and hearing and understanding them correctly. Clarifying, or asking questions about or summarizing what your client has said, takes this a step further. It shows your client you’re attempting to better and completely understand what they’ve said. It can also help you sort out your clients’ coverage priorities and prevent misunderstandings, enrollment errors, or confusion!

6. Don’t Overpromise or Over-Reach!

As an agent, you want the best for all of your clients. You want to help them get the coverage they want and need, secure their enrollments, and have their policies issued in a timely manner. However, whatever you do, just be sure to stay realistic in any expectations you give your clients. One policy never covers everything. There’s always fine print. Additionally, who knows what coverage issue timelines could look like with the pandemic restrictions and safety precautions in place! Ultimately, if you tell a client something that’s not even close to being true, they’ll likely blame it on you.

Stay realistic in any expectations you give your clients.

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Building rapport is a two-way street, and definitely something that’s easier said than done! If you’re finding it tough to connect with a prospect, it may be tempting to fudge some specifics, like your interests or favorite sports team. We advise against doing this or trying too hard to connect with someone. Lies, even small ones, are too hard to keep up with and can spiral out of control. You don’t want to sound foolish, not to mention walk a legal or ethical grey line. That will only discredit you, and that’s not what we’re going for here. Rapport is something that needs to be built genuinely, and using the tips above will help you do that, even while selling online or over the phone!

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