Life Insurance Telesales [Ultimate Guide]

Building a profitable life insurance telesales agency takes a dedication to constantly analyze, optimize and refine processes. During our 20+ years of combined experience in life insurance telesales, we’ve identified four “Growth Levers” that determine profitability.

The four “Growth Levers” that we share below are the foundation to your business and the backbone to your sales process.

Whether you’re a veteran or a new agent just breaking into the industry, this guide is for you. Not a single online agent utilizes all four perfectly, but you can definitely improve.

At Digital BGA, we help you to realize within your own business, where you can maximize and refine these growth levers. If closing more business and being profitable is your goal, all you need to focus on is how to increase and improve just one of these four levers.

From here on out, your growth plan is to optimize these levers. This is what is going to make you more money.

Growth Lever #1: Lead Acquisition

You are not in business if you do not have a predictable flow of high-quality life insurance leads. Lead acquisition is literally the basis of everything you do.

If you do not have a method for acquiring new, profitable leads, you could be the world’s most talented salesperson and it would not matter.

Working inconsistent, low-quality leads will put you out of business immediately, so always consider it priority #1.

At Digital BGA, we’ve spent years developing and partnering with proven, profitable lead sources that are scalable. Meaning, we know through sales data that our leads are converted at a high ratio and are therefore worth further investment. If we so desired, we could invest more money into digital marketing to further increase our leads and scale, while also duplicating across multiple sites. 

Prior to Digital BGA, our business was literally building lead sources. Lead acquisition is what we do, it’s in our DNA. 

For agents in our VSA Program, one of the biggest advantages they have is a consistent stream of exclusive, high-quality, convertible leads at no cost to them. For agents outside our program who are generating their own leads, we help you maximize this lever to generate more.

For example:

Let’s say you’re an independent agent with a website that converts 4% of its visitors. This is an okay conversion and it’s kept you busy enough. If increasing sales was your goal, we’d ask the question, “how can we increase site conversion from 4% to 5%?”

Notice how we didn’t jump to an unrealistic figure like 8%? Gradual adjustments can provide big results.

By making small adjustments to your lead acquisition tactics and increasing your rate by just one percent, you will have a 25% increase in site conversions and a possible 25% increase in overall revenue.

How does that sound?

Growth Lever #2: Lead Conversion

The next step in the system is converting a lead that you get through your website into an application.

In life insurance telesales, lead conversion is arguably the biggest driver of maximizing revenue.

Lead conversion has everything to do with what you’re saying to your prospect and what you’re selling. It also has everything to do with your sales system and CRM.

Prior to you ever speaking to a lead, your sales system should be serving up the next best candidate. This allows helps you to know if you’re calling a client fast enough.

With lead conversion, there are upwards of twenty variables at work at all times. It is these variables you should be a/b testing and refining, including:

  • What you’re saying
  • What you’re quoting
  • What verbiage you use in your texts, emails, and voicemails
  • What time of day that you’re calling each time zone
  • How many times you’re making contact
  • How many days between each touch point
  • How many leads you’re calling
  • How long you’re talking to each person
  • What products you’re quoting

Any combination of these factors could be affecting your sales.

For example:

Let’s say you have 100 leads, only make contact with 30 of them and sell three.

  • The first concern we have is that you did not make contact with enough people. If you’re unable to reach more than 30%, you can make small tweaks within your CRM to eventually reach 40-50%.
  • The second concern is that you only closed 10% when you could be closing 20%. So then you need to ask yourself if you kept them on the phone long enough, pitched the right product if you really answered their objections and understood their needs or any other number of factors.

Let’s be honest, salespeople get lazy and sloppy. We fall into routine patterns of sending the same text message every time without testing other options. For whatever reasons, we do not look at ourselves objectively and make the adjustments necessary.

At Digital BGA, we diagnose where your sales process needs help. We would listen to your phone calls and take your numbers to help you understand where there is room for improvement. Some of this can come from sales training, but the majority of it has to do with your process and how you’re communicating with clients.

Growth Lever #3: Placement Ratio

Your placement ratio is also known as your underwriting conversion.

A typical placement ratio for most agents is around 50%, which is honestly pretty mediocre. In our experience, veteran agents who sell a lot of non-medical exam products and know how to field underwrite are more in the 70-80% placement range. Sometimes even higher.

It sounds obvious, but having a higher placement ratio makes a huge impact on your income.

There are three main drivers that help determine your placement ratio:

The first driver is knowing how to field underwrite.

Agents of all types misquote regularly. They oftentimes have a client apply for a quote at a low price and then have the case come back as approved other than applied. For budget-conscious buyers, being presented with a higher premium than expected oftentimes causes the deal to fall through. This obviously impacts your placement ratio.

With Digital BGA’s Underwriting Response Engine, you can type in any health condition and you’ll receive a range of what to expect and what questions you need answering. This decreases the number of times an agent will need to call somebody back because they have a health condition they do not know how to underwrite.

For example, an agent could type in a condition such as “aneurysm” and our Underwriting Response Engine will tell you how to rate and quote, which products are automatic decline and which carriers may accept them.

Using tools such as this to your advantage will make you a far more capable field underwriter.

The second driver is placing non-med products.

If you consistently push for fully underwritten policies, the likelihood of deals dropping off is much higher. In the 2-3 months that it takes for these to get approved, clients have more time to experience buyer’s remorse, cancel the medical exam, reject the paramed at the door, or find a better price. This obviously affects placement ratio.

On the other hand, if you’re selling no medical exam products and positioning them with a sense of urgency, the placement ratio will be much higher. Think statements like “get it done today” or “strike while the iron’s hot.”

The way that we’ve approached increasing placement ratio through these two drivers is by having an Option 1 and Option 2 within your pitch. Tell them that they can either go with a fully underwritten product or a non-med product and explain why the latter is much more efficient for them.

This usually results in two things:

  • They understand that you, as their independent agent, are behind whatever decision they ultimately make
  • They choose the path of least resistance, even at a higher price point

Six times out of ten, clients do not want to deal with the drawn-out, complicated steps of a fully underwritten policy. The best agents will use that piece of information to close more deals and increase placement ratio.

The third driver is spreadsheeting carriers.

One of the biggest drivers of poor placement ratio is agents spreadsheeting carriers. They assume that the client wants the lowest price instead of the best value or most convenient. They review 20+ companies, but only show the client the top one, two or three.

Typically a non-med product may be separated by a 10-15% difference in premium, but data shows that the likelihood of the client moving forward is higher.

One of the top pieces of sales advice: don’t think with your own wallet!

At Digital BGA, we provide our agents with training and tools to pitch the right products to the right people and to do so efficiently. Tools like our Portal and Field Underwriting Search as well as our 1:1 coaching help agents increase their placement ratios by substantial amounts.

Growth Lever #4: Retention, Cross-Selling & Referrals

Even after you’ve sold a policy, there is still one more growth lever to optimize: client retention, cross-selling and referrals.

This lever refers to Customer Lifetime Value, meaning the amount of income associated with the relationship of each client. Successful marketers know that it's more cost effective to keep a client and benefit from them than it is to acquire a new client.

Tip: the stronger this growth lever becomes over time, the less reliant you are on Growth Lever #1.

The typical agent will try to schedule a yearly review of their in-force policies. However, the unfortunate truth is that most agents don’t make it a full year or get too busy to schedule a review.

As an independent agent, you need to focus on retention and cross-selling immediately.

The first part is retention

Retention is the message you deliver after a sale.

Be sure to thank them for their business, provide them with your contact information and then profile them to sell additional products.

The truth is, most people are great candidates for disability products. You may also have many clients with high enough incomes who might be in the market for or possibly not know about indexed universal life insurance products (IULs).

Remember, there are always ways that you can monetize your business after a sale is done.

The second part is referrals.

Referrals are leads that you did not have to purchase but were just handed to you. They are rarely asked for by agents, but people are usually willing to give it to you. Over time, referrals have a compounding effect when you ask every client to keep you in mind for their friends, family, and colleagues.

So get comfortable with it and make it a part of your process.

The third part is cross-selling.

If you purchase 100 leads that cost $15/each or $1,500 total, you are going to place on average 3-5 policies selling basic life insurance. Out of those initial sales, 20-25% of them will buy another product immediately.

As an example of a client where you placed a life case, “oh by the way, for an additional $40 a month, you can get a $2,000/month disability policy. I already have all your information, are you interested in applying? It only takes about 10 minutes.”

Just like that, by being helpful and not overly salesy, you can pick up another 10% in commissions. We call it, the power of “oh by the way.”

Cross-selling is simple and has the ability to dramatically increase your bottom line revenue.

At Digital BGA, it is our business to help life insurance telesales agents become more profitable. The way we do this is by helping you realize a little bit of gain here and there, spread across at four Growth Levers. By the time we’re done working with you, you will have massive cumulative, sustainable gains for your business.

Interested in learning more? Get in touch with real humans today.