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10 Ways to Start a Great Sales Conversation

Successful agents understand that when contacting insurance leads, talk is cheap but conversations are priceless. The catch is how to start a conversation. Perhaps it is true that the “art of sales-oriented conversation should be a trade secret.” After all, having an arsenal of effective openers to use during sales calls places insurance leads on the path to a closed deal.

  1. Mention current events: “Did you watch the [significant event] the other evening? What did you think about it?”

    Sometimes a social approach works when finding new business leads. Message-Direct suggests mentioning a recently televised event such as a game or awards show. Comfortable, safe topics make people more open to a conversation, so choose events carefully, avoiding anything potentially controversial or contentious. From there, start the sales pitch.

  2. Be curious about the lead’s role: “What can you tell me about your organization... and yourself?”

    Start by learning about both the business and the individual’s role within the company structure. Expressing interest in what they do may lead them to provide information that helps hone the sales pitch.

  3. Discuss industry news: “Did you read the recent [op-ed/blog post] that everybody’s talking about? What do you think?

    Reference a well-known publication likely already read by the lead. Message-Direct points out that you may be able to both get an idea of how they think as well as gleaning information critical to closing the deal.

  4. Stoke the competition: “The reason for my call is we recently helped your competitor, _______ and wanted to see if perhaps we may be of some help to you as well…”

    Making an impression while contacting new customers sometimes requires playing off their insecurities. SalesBuzz refers to this as mentioning the lead’s “pain point(s)/hot buttons.”

  5. Focus on business: ‘What can you tell me about your company priorities?”

    Successful sales calls reveal if the prospect needs the services and can afford them, as well as how the prospect spends budgeted money, writes’s Geoffrey James. “To discover this essential information, start conversations that allow the prospect to "hold forth" on how the prospect's firm does business.”

  6. Name drop: “How do you two know each other?”

    A little research may reveal mutual links on a business networking site, which are great business conversation starters, quickly making you more approachable and credible. According to Message-Direct, “It’s amazing what a difference it makes when you and the person you are calling are both acquainted with the same third party.”

  7. Ask for help: "“I hope you can help me. I want to be sure that what I have would be of interest to Ms. ____…”

    People often like feeling helpful and willingly take a little time to assist someone. However, whether this is a great technique or a horrible one depends a lot upon the person answering the call and timing, according to Until you reach the appropriate decision maker, ask for help from whoever you’re talking to and give them a reason to want to help you. By the time you reach the decision maker, you will have a wealth of information to use in customizing openings and voicemails.

  8. Connect through business functions: “We were both at the __________ (workshop, continuing education, seminar, etc.). I was wondering if your impressions were the same as mine…”

    Even if the event was not great, making this connection presents a great opportunity for building rapport. It may take a bit of investigating to find leads who attended events, but the work can pay off. Just avoid sounding like a stalker!

  9. Ask for insights: “I saw that your company recently announced [something important/significant]. What are your thoughts on that?”

    Although this tactic requires some research and reading, it places the lead “in the spotlight,” according to Message-Direct, giving them an opportunity express their informed opinion about the recent event. Listening to their answer may provide priceless information on how to best present the sales pitch.

  10. Ask about changes in their business: “I just read that your company relocated/or opened a new facility.”

    These “trigger events” direct the discussion to how your services fit with their new setup. Start by saying, "I'm calling because I understand that you just announced a new product line--and since that usually increases inventory costs, you may be looking to for a way to reduce those costs," not "I'm calling because I'm selling a great inventory control system that can save you money," suggests Trigger event discussions provide great opportunities for closing insurance sales. Finding trigger events is as easy as going to the company’s press release page.

Catch Their Attention to Close the Lead

Conversation starters are a major key to successful sales calls. Never forget that sales calls should be conversations, not presentations. Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc., breaks those conversations into four stages:

One: Ask them appropriate, relevant questions about themselves — known as 'conversation starters.'

Two: Practice active, appreciative listening. Three: Share brief, reflective relevant comments about yourself. And four: Repeat the process.

Find the right conversation starter to catch a lead’s attention and spend a little time listening. By offering the right responses, you may be well on the way to converting the lead into a sale.

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