How well does your staff handle inbound insurance leads?

After hearing a recorded call from a referral to his office, Bill Abbott, agency principle at Abbott Insurance Agency, wrote his team a memo.

Bill was not happy with what he had heard.

According to Bill, (across all marketing channels), he was paying $52 an inbound lead. After hearing how his team handled these inbound insurance leads, Bill decided he had to step in or he risked wasting thousands of dollars generating leads.

Whether his team didn’t know how to handle inbound leads or simply didn’t care to put in the effort necessary, didn’t matter. It was time for things to change.

So Bill sat down and wrote his team an open letter on to be successful handling inbound leads.

In his letter, Bill outlines how independent insurance agencies can extract more value from inbound insurance leads.

Below you will find an edited version of Bill Abbott’s open letter to his team.

I’ve taken the liberty of expanding on a few ideas and genericized the content to fit any independent insurance agency.

Feel free to use this letter in your own agency.

Click here to download an editable version of this letter

Open Letter on Handling Inbound Insurance Leads

Dear Agency Team,

When a new client calls for a quote, we have an opportunity to help someone and gain a new client.

Mishandling these opportunities leads to squandered sales and wasted effort.

This is a consequence we all must consider and take ownership for.

If we add up the cost of marketing, materials, tools and salary, we pay between $50 – $75 per quote opportunity. Yes, $50 – $75 for each call, referral, walk-in and internet lead has a significant cost to our agency.

This is why we must make a conscious effort to take advantage of every inbound opportunity our agency receives.

How we handle each and every quote is a direct reflection on each of us as people and our agency as a whole.

Below is outline of the standard we all us hold ourselves accountable to:

1) Use the Script

Phone scripts don’t have to be complicated or long to be effective. Every time we answer, every one of us should use the following script:

“Thank you for calling Abbott Milano Insurance Agency, this is <insert name>, how may I help you?”

This script is simple, direct and effective.

This script states who we are, who you are and your intent to provide value.

This helps all inbound callers feel comfortable speaking with our agency.

2) Be Enthusiastic

Quoting new business is a large part of how we grow our agency.

We have to be careful not to give prospects the impression their request for quote is an obligation.

Enthusiasm is the key.

We have to LOVE quoting new business.

There is nothing worse for the reputation of our agency than a client getting a feeling of you being bothered, bored, too busy or that quoting isn’t what we even do at the agency.

Each and every prospect must feel welcomed and met with enthusiasm.

We want prospects to feel confident in their decision to contact us. This begins by speaking clearly and with authority.

They took the time and effort to ask us for a quote, we must give them the same consideration.

Always with enthusiasm.

3) Establish Rapport

We need to establish a relationship from the beginning of the transaction. This is how to retain our clients into future.

Too often we move directly to information gathering.

Efficiently collecting pertinent information and delivering timely policy quotes is vital our success in the modern marketplace, but this is all we do, then our services are no different than the direct and captive competition we fight so hard against.

What makes our agency special, is making our clients feel special.

We must care about our clients.

We must think and care about the customer experience we provide, every time to every customer.

How do we know what experience our customer wants?

It starts with building rapport through follow-up questions. Asking thoughtful follow-up questions show a deeper level of caring most customer will not experience with other insurance providers.

Here are a few examples:

Initial question: “Where do you live?”

Follow-up questions:

  • “What’s the best part of living there?”
  • “I love to try to restaurants. What’s your favorite place to eat there?”
  • “I’ve heard [insert local attraction] is great. Do you go there often?

Initial question: “What do you do for a living?”

Follow-up questions:

  • “My [niece/son/grandchild] wants to become a [profession]. Do you have any advice I should pass on?”
  • “What is it like working there?”
  • “Do you have to travel a lot in that position?”

Initial question: “Did you attend college and if so, where?”

Follow-up questions:

  • My friend graduated from [college] in [year]. They said it was really [something interesting]… true?
  • What was it like going to college [in the South/on the West Coast/in a big city/in a small city/etc.]?
  • Were you big into [school]’s [football/basketball/sports team or club of note]?

“If you want someone to be interested in you then let them talk about themselves” ~ Dale Carnegie

The connection established through follow-up questions builds trust and respect for us as people and our agency.

4) Set Expectations

Much of distrust and perceived commoditization of the insurance industry can be tied back to miscommunication of expectations.

It’s imperative we establish early in the quoting process, a set of expectations around our unique process.

We do things the way we do them for a reason. It’s very likely the insurance buying process was quite different with their prior provider.

Each insurance buyer is going to carry with them a set of expectations based on their prior experience.

We have to assume that experience was less than stellar or they’d still be using their prior provider.

With each new inbound insurance lead, we must establish their current baseline understanding and expectation of the insurance buying process. We do this through follow-up questioning.

Then realign those expectations based on our process.

What could be so different? Here are just a things new inbound leads may not understand:

If they came from Direct Writer:

  • Why we ask more questions about their risk and insurance needs
  • Why our quote turnaround time may be longer than they’re used to

If they came from a Captive Agent:

  • Why they’ve never heard of the insurance carriers we use
  • Why we have multiple carriers and what that means for insurance buyers

These are just a few examples. I’m sure we can think of many more.

When handling inbound insurance leads, properly setting expectations from the start is often the difference between adding new business revenue to our agency and wasting time.

5) Solution Focused

Cannot be gatekeepers, but rather tour guides on the path to insurance solutions.

It’s easy to find obstacles to success.

  • No prior coverage
  • Hard to understand accent
  • Not familiar with our agency
  • Tough to place risk
  • Seemingly price driven

The fact is, inbound insurance leads call us because they have a problem.

For our agency to thrive we must be the solution.

Furthermore, regardless of the circumstances we must help them feel welcomed, at ease and confident in their decision to contact our agency.

It doesn’t if how much you have to do, how tired you are or how many times an “account like this one” didn’t work out.

The insurance buyers who call our office need help. We must help them.

Take ownership for finding a solution.

Ask the right questions, establish rapport, be enthusiastic and do everything you can to make working with our agency easy.

Then follow-up, follow-up and follow-up some more.

Together We Win

We are a team.

We succeed or fail together.

Inbound insurance leads will play a large role in our future success.

I hope that we can buy into the vision set out in this letter.

Feel free to come see me with questions or comments.



The Rub

When it comes to success handling inbound insurance leads, doesn’t matter if it’s personal or commercial insurance leads, customer experience is everything.

The ideas in this letter are a good to place to start.

Special thanks to Bill Abbott for sharing his original letter with our team.

Don’t forget to click here to download an editable version of this letter.

Thank you,

Ryan Hanley

P.S. If you’re not yet receiving referrals from, you can click here to learn more.

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