Agency Performance Partners


Posted on December 5, 2022 by Heath Shearon

Even from the beginning, my father taught me that relationships are the main thing in business. I remember in my early twenties when we would suit up and knock on doors. He would talk to me about building rapport. 

He would say you have about 30 seconds for them to like you. He would tell me when you walked into the room; you have to start scanning the room to find things that would help to connect immediately. 

He would say to look for pictures of kids, hobbies and interests, favorite teams, and tell me to look for anything that could strike up a conversation and make myself familiar. I was trained back before we had Google, back before there was social media, before I became a sales trainer, and it’s always been about building rapport. 

I love that now, through many of our courses, we talk about building rapport.

When you get a prospect or a client on the phone, whether for the first time, on a retention call, or even a service call, any opportunity you have on the phone with a client is just that. It’s an opportunity to build rapport. 

Anytime you have an interaction, it is an opportunity. When the phone rings, it’s an opportunity. When you drop in on someone at their place of business, it’s an opportunity; meeting someone at a networking event, or even at the grocery store, is an opportunity. 

This may, in some cases, be the only time you get to make that first impression.

Let’s talk about what that opportunity looks like. When you start that phone call, please take a few minutes to tell them about you—not in a goofy telemarketer way, but with a few key facts to introduce yourself.

  • Tell them your name.
  • How long have you been in the business?
  • Why are you in love with the insurance business?
  • Why did you choose to be in the insurance industry?
  • Why did you choose the agency where you work?



There are hundreds of thousands of insurance agencies in this country. I bet if you called all of them, they would all sound the same. They would all look the same. 

They would all say they have the best products, service, the quickest turnaround, or something in between. What you want to do at this time while building rapport is to separate yourself. 

The only thing that separates you from the competition is YOU. You are the difference. 

Why should they choose to do business with you? Why should they stay on the phone with you instead of calling five other people? You have the opportunity to tell them that right now. 

Maybe you have a story of a personal thing that happened to you that brought you into the business, and maybe you have a unique stance. Perhaps you have something to connect with them on. 

You may have gone to the same school. Root for the same team? Maybe you love the same foods? Have the same hobbies? Explore that. 

As we’re talking about this, I’m talking on a sales call in about 2 to 5 minutes. It’s all I’m asking you to do throughout the call if you have an opportunity. With the right insurance sales training this is all possible! Instead of awkward silence on a call, take that time to build rapport. 

While on the Phone

After introducing yourself and building that trust, let’s quickly and intentionally turn the conversation about them. In the high-pressure sales world, it may seem like taking the time to foster a relationship is a luxury you can’t afford. 

Every contact with a prospect should be seen as an opportunity to close the deal as quickly as possible. But that’s just not how sales work anymore. You may need the proper insurance sales training. 

Buyers need to know that they can trust you, that their needs are being understood, and that you have the knowledge and expertise to recommend a solution to their problems. 

To do so, you must take the time to learn more about them. Ask them about themselves, their kids, family, dog, where they live, and what they do. 
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Again it’s about finding common ground to build rapport. Here are some common questions we recommend here at APP:

  • Why are they shopping?
  • Other than price, what’s important to them in selecting an agent
  • How did they hear about you? Web, referral, other? This will impact how you sell the lead.
  • Other than the policy you called about, what other policies do you currently have? 

We always recommend that not only does this become part of the agency’s sales process but that these questions become part of the sales intake forms. 

This breaks up the monotony of the typical sales call and makes the phone interaction that much better. If the prospect is buying a new home or car, get excited and show the appropriate tone of voice and level of excitement. 

A positive phone interaction will make you feel better about the call and help drive closing ratios up.

YES! A positive phone interaction can help drive closing ratios and client retention, but it can be challenging for some agents. One of the obstacles many agents face that hinder success in phone sales is a lack of trust from their prospects. 

To ensure your phone sales technique is effective, here are three ways insurance agents can build trust over the phone.

“A real salesman knows how to engage Anyone Anywhere Anytime in a sensible conversation.”

3 Steps to Building Rapport

  1. Make Each Call Personal

While using scripts can be helpful, remember to personalize each call. Avoid sounding like a robot or reading through a list of pre-written questions like the teacher on Farris Bueller’s Day off. Instead, introduce yourself, assign a few simple questions, and listen for your contact’s responses. 

Make each call more personal by using your client’s name and speaking with a smile. You connect with your client and create rapport using your client’s name. 

I make this a practice is every aspect of my life. I do it at the grocery store, my kid’s sporting events, extracurricular activities, etc. Also, another tip I learned even more through the pandemic was that when you smile, your tone often exudes more positive energy.

  1. Practice Active Listening Skills

One mistake insurance agents sometimes make talking too much during a sales call. Make sure you prioritize listening and presenting clear, concise, and captivating information. A recent Harvard University study showed that people tended to like individuals who asked them more questions than those who did not. 

By asking your client or prospect questions over the phone, you are allowing them to provide you with helpful details and present interest in their situations and needs. Repeat key information to reinforce that you are listening to their concerns. People just want to feel heard. They want to seem noticed. 

  1. Be Empathetic & Establish An Emotional Connection

Consumers often feel frustrated because they believe their needs and concerns are not being heard. Showing empathy and a deep understanding of your prospects’ needs will help you break down barriers and overcome objections. 

One way to establish an emotional connection with your prospects is to identify and describe their pain points. By doing this, your contacts will begin to view you as dedicated to understanding their issues and genuinely interested in providing solutions. 

Remember to be relatable and human. Listen to their stories and resist the urge to make it about you or tell your story in an attempt to connect. Just listen, and be empathetic to their needs at that moment. The more you can do that, the better the connection will be. 

“Rapport is the ultimate tool for producing results with other people. No matter what you want in your life, if you can develop rapport with the right people, you’ll be able to fill their needs, and they will be able to fill yours.”Tony Robbins

Outside of building trust, building rapport also helps you to build confidence and will help you gain control of the call. When you have control, you can open up the opportunity with greater ease. Imagine the typical agency phone conversation. 

Hello, this is Jane Doe. How can I help you?” 

Immediately this gives control to the prospect or the customer on the phone. What you want to do is use Rapport Building to gain control of the conversation. When you have control of the conversation, you can be sure and control the pace of the call, the content of the call and show authority in the interaction. 

This is such an overlooked step in the sales cycle. Establishing control of the call allows you to gain the information you need, build emotional intelligence as well as build familiarity, thus making you more trustworthy. This is also a great opportunity to reassure the prospect. Use language that lets them know that you’ve got this. 

You will be their agent for this policy. Let them know that they can stop their search now. Reassurance is key, as it also lets them know that you know what you are talking about, yet also lets them know that they can save time but just calling you and not having to shop around because you are going to do it for them. It’s also a great closing technique, to close from the jump of the call. 

You don’t always have to be the most intelligent person on the phone call or have all the answers to all of the potential questions. However, if you can build rapport with your clients and prospects, you will not only increase your closing ratio but also build confidence in your sales calls. From the very beginning of my sales career, I was always taught to build relationships and gain trust as quickly as possible. I hope that this blog has helped you to be able to identify ways to do that.

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