Wouldn’t it be great if every time someone called for a quote, they instantly became a client? Most agents invest a great deal of time in handling inquires and make quite a few cold calls, but only a small percentage become clients.

Other agencies turn a significantly larger percentage of those contacts into paying business. What’s their secret? In most cases, they’ve developed a highly effective program for following up with those contacts. If you’re not following up with leads in a systemic way, you’re probably losing quite a bit of business.

Why you need to follow up

Advertising experts will tell you that audiences need to see a commercial at least seven times before they’re likely to act. That’s why national advertisers run the same ads again and again. Similarly, you may have to talk with a prospect three or four times to convince him or her to choose your agency. If you stop trying after the initial contact, you won’t land the business.

Some agents worry that following up seems pushy or desperate. However, that isn’t the case. In fact, your prospects develop a more positive view because they believe their business is important to you and that you have a genuine interest in meeting their needs. That allows you build an emotional connection that can help you close the deal.

When should you do it?

The first follow-up should take place immediately, and one of the best ways is to send a short, handwritten message like “Thank you for the opportunity to quote your coverage, and please call if you have any questions.”

Make your next follow-up within five days. All it takes is a friendly call (or message) offering to answer any questions about the quote and the coverage. If your quote includes an important point or a key competitive advantage, don’t forget to reiterate it briefly.

If the prospect hasn’t turned into a customer by this point, they may have chosen another carrier. Eventually, their policy will come up for renewal, and if they’re less than thrilled with the price they’ve been paying or the service they’ve received, they may be willing to switch. By staying in contact, you’ll be on their mind when that time comes. You can use periodic mailings, email newsletters, and similar tactics to educate them about coverage and provide information.

Keep it scheduled

If you simply plan to follow up at some point, it probably won’t happen. Human nature is to focus on the day’s crises and push other items behind. So develop a plan for following up. Perhaps you can set up a simple “tickler” file that reminds you of who you need to check in with each week.

A prospect who asks for a quote about auto insurance is likely to be in the market again in six months, so be sure that you’re in touch with that prospect before her renewal notice arrives in the mail.

Don’t forget current and past clients

You should also follow up with your current clients. As I noted, customers want to feel that their business is important to you. If they only time they hear from you is through their renewal notice, they won’t feel important. But if you check in with them every three months or so, they’ll feel valued.

It’s also worthwhile to follow up with people who have been clients in the past. It’s possible that they’re not as happy with the service they’re receiving. They may be willing to come back — and reaching out to them may be all it takes.

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