As the Open Enrollment period quickly approaches, it’s the perfect time to ensure you are prepared to make the most of all those sales opportunities that await you and your insurance industry competition. Selling insurance during Open Enrollment can be lucrative, but it’s also pretty tough if you aren’t prepared. I even found a thread on discussing if it’s even worth it to get involved with Medicare Open Enrollment in October.  The consensus seemed to be “yes” if you make a plan – don’t just sit back and expect the phone to ring.

So, how do you get prepared? Here are a few ideas and recommendations to help you get ready.

Generate leads. It’s crucial that you fill the pipeline. There will be a lot of people wanting to buy insurance, but there are also a lot of people ready to sell insurance. Don’t sit back and wait for calls or email inquiries. Research where to get a quality list, run an ad in a relevant community paper or site, or focus on social selling and other forms of internet marketing.  Find a way to break through the clutter to reach your target audience.

Create efficiencies. It’s a busy time, and it is easy to get sidetracked if your lead management solution doesn’t help you streamline your sales process. Ideally, your solution should provide the following features to help you boost your sales call efficiencies.

  • Inbound lead capture. With inbound lead capture, you will receive your web leads in real-time. VanillaSoft can get your new web lead in your calling queue in less than 3 seconds! That can put you ahead of the competition since the first to respond is typically the one to win the sale.
  • Automatic lead distribution. With automatic lead distribution, you set up criteria that will automate the lead distribution workflow. You can be assured that you will be presented with the right lead at the right time.

Increase call productivity. There are several key features to look for in a lead management solution that will help you have more productive sales calls during Open Enrollment.

  • Logical branch scripting. A good script helps you stay on message when speaking with prospects. A solution that offers logical branch scripting will guide a salesperson through logical, smart calls leading to repeatable, predictable results.
  • Preview and progressive dialing. With preview and progressive dialing, you can create call continuity and increase call activity by 35% to 100%.
  • Message drop. Inevitably you will reach voice mail during your sales calls. Why not be ready with a pre-recorded message to drop on your prospects voice mail or answering machine? With a single click, message drop technology will move you on to your next call while your message is being dropped. It’s a great way to increase the quality and quantity of contacts.
  • Lead nurturing with email drip. A lead management platform that includes email drip lead nurturing will help you stay in touch between calls. You can set up email drips to educate prospects, qualify leads, and encourage prospects to take action.

If these recommendations sound good to you, here’s one more: start your VanillaSoft Free Trial today. VanillaSoft has the features mentioned above and more to help you make the most of every insurance sales call.

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By now you have surely seen – maybe even been challenged to – the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It has been a great effort that has raised awareness for a debilitating disease. This zero-cost awareness program has generated over $100-million in two months for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. That’s an almost 3500% increase over donations for the same period last year. What an amazing surge in donations! Unfortunately, it’s not a sustainable way to raise money.

People are already cooling on the Ice Bucket Challenge. In our short-attention span society, you have to keep it fresh and compelling in order to keep people interested. People should be interested in the cause itself, yes. However, it takes something different to break through the clutter and chaos of our digital lives to reach people and make them understand the cause and the impact a donor can have.

So what’s a nonprofit to do? You could spend time and effort trying to come up with the next big thing that will catch on like the Ice Bucket Challenge, and I certainly don’t discourage that kind of creative fundraising. However, it’s important to never lose focus on methods that have a proven track record with your constituents: direct mail, online fundraising, email marketing, and phonathons. While you are coming up with a new audience-engaging program, keep in touch with current and potential donors. Once you have your new program ready, incorporate these tried-and-true methods to help it take off.

Whether your next big idea involves ice buckets, being “locked up for good,” walkathons, or just raising money through the alumni association during homecoming week, here are some ideas to help you bring together social/viral aspects with the traditional means of reaching donors and raising money:

  • Create a microsite or section of your website dedicated to your campaign.
  • Drive traffic and awareness through email marketing, and social media updates. If you have “mail only” or older prospects, consider a direct mail effort.
  • After your initial rounds of messaging have gone out, it’s time to get one-on-one. Cue the phonathon! Get your volunteers and staff ready to excite your current and past donors about your upcoming fundraising event and use the opportunity to take pledges over the phone.
  • Set up an email drip to build excitement leading up to a specific event or to educate and encourage donors to “challenge” others to participate individually (maybe that involves a video posted to social media of the person doing some specific action and a fundraising challenge).
  • Check out the Google AdWords Grant for free advertising for your cause.
  • Wrap things up with a follow up phone call or email outreach.

What is your big idea for fundraising success? Will you couple it with the important human touch of phone call conversations? If so, I encourage you to take a VanillaSoft free trial and see how easy and effective your next phonathon can be.

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telemarketing success

Many companies have attempted to add a B2B telemarketing component to their existing sales & marketing efforts. Often times, poorly planned initiatives lead to mixed results leaving some people to believe that telemarketing is dead. Not true! Telemarketing can be an incredible sales & marketing tactic when appropriately planned and executed. Follow these steps for a successful telemarketing campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

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This week I read a post on about the importance of a “to don’t” list. That got me to thinking about creating a list of “to don’ts” that inside sales professionals should use.  Here’s my list: Read the rest of this entry »

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It is almost time for your big Fall Phonathon.  Last month, I shared with you a checklist to help you plan your phonathon campaign.  This month, I want to touch on ten important tips for preparing your tele-fundraising volunteers.

Before Your Phonathon Campaign;

  1. Recruit volunteers. Volunteers are a major piece of the phonathon puzzle.  You should begin your volunteer recruitment efforts at least six weeks before the tele-fundraising event. Additionally, you should recruit about a third more volunteers than you will actually need. Why? Because not all volunteers will show up; and of those who don’t show, very few will give you notice that they can’t make it. If you have extra callers on a given night, you can let people partner or tag team.
  2. Train volunteers.  Ensure that your volunteers are trained on three critical components:  your organization’s mission and values, the phonathon script, and how to use the tele-fundraising software.
  3. Remind volunteers when to show up. In a perfect world, everyone would put a note on their calendars and show up when and where they are supposed to be.  Since that’s not likely to happen, it’s up to you to remind your volunteers about training meetings and their assigned calling schedules. Send a reminder one week before and one day before the event.


During Your Phonathon Campaign;

  1. Focus on the mission.  It’s vitally important that your volunteers understand your organization’s mission, goals, and how the donations raised will be used. Donors will be more receptive to informed and enthusiastic volunteers.  Monitor calls to ensure that the mission is the focus of the calls and that volunteers are staying on task.
  2. Assign rovers. In addition to using call monitor features that come with the right phonathon software, you can assign rovers to walk the room to provide encouragement, answer questions, and give support to your volunteers.
  3. Set weekly individual goals. Work with your volunteers to help them set individual fundraising goals. Provide rewards or recognition for those individuals who hit their goals.  This gives your people incentive to work even harder.
  4. Provide food & drink. Don’t let the team lose steam due to hunger or thirst. Provide pizza or snacks and drinks. It’s a great way to show them you recognize and appreciate that they are taking time out of their regular schedules to volunteer.
  5. Take pictures and video.  Photos and video of your volunteers in action add a personal touch to your fundraising elements. Create a volunteer appreciation Pinterest board. Share your video on Vine or YouTube. Get volunteers to post their own photos to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  6. Ask for matching gifts. Be sure that your volunteers are remembering to ask donors about matching gifts. Many employers will match their employees’ gifts to charitable organizations.


After Your Phonathon Campaign;

  1. Thank your volunteers. After you have compiled the data and analyzed the success of your event, be sure to send a brief overview of highlights and successes and a thank-you note to each volunteer.  Let them see how their efforts paid off and underscore that their continued support is appreciated.

Remember, great volunteers and great systems will improve your tele-fundraising productivity. Start a VanillaSoft free trial now and be ready to train your volunteers for your Phonathon this Fall!

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Are you already preparing for your Fall Semester Phonathon? Check out these tele-fundraising campaign tips to make your initiative a success. Need tele-fundraising software? Start your VanillaSoft free trial today!

tele-fundraising software

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warm up cold callsSavvy sales people have learned to harness the web for social selling.  There are great tools for listening to and monitoring prospects online.  However, don’t just stop at social interactions.  Set up a trigger event monitoring system to help you build and qualify your prospect list.

What is a Trigger Event?

A trigger event is anything that signifies a likely buying opportunity.  For example, if you sell hardware and IT services, a press release about business planning to add head count or move to a bigger location could signify an opportunity.  They may need additional equipment, IT support, etc.   If you are a roofing contractor, a trigger event may be the just-starting hurricane season — it’s a good time to reach out to customers/prospects who have requested estimates but have put off repairs.  Maybe you sell contract management services and you notice a client contact’s LinkedIn page says she has moved to a new job – there’s an opportunity to sell to a new company.  Read the rest of this entry »

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sales lessons from don draperAre you a fan of Mad Men?  If so, it’s no doubt that you recently watched or recorded the Sunday opener of the final season.  Don’t worry – no spoilers here if you haven’t watched it yet.  However, I do want to take a look back at some of the sales lessons we can learn from the past six seasons.

Emotion plays a role.  At the heart of every Don Draper pitch, he taps into an emotion that sparks action.  He identifies the passion that will ignite the customer to make the desired decision.  He develops messaging that sells beyond the features of the product itself.  Read the rest of this entry »

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I recently attended the Association of Fundraising Professional’s 51st International Conference on Fundraising.  It was a great opportunity for VanillaSoft to interact with one of the key industry verticals we serve – fundraising professionals.  The conference provided a lot of great information and insights to attendees that fundraisers can turn into action in their organization.  Here are a few great insights from the Twittersphere that fellow attendees posted that I thought I would share.

Much in the same way a company has to provide great products and service to keep a loyal customer, a nonprofit has to service its donors.  Being loyal to the donor includes acts like:

  • Email communications that explain how their gifts are serving the nonprofit.
  • Drip campaigns throughout the year that keep the donor apprised of the organizations activities and goals.
  • Special messages that thank the donor throughout the year.
  • Calls during fundraising season that acknowledge and thank donors for past support and praise the wins gained for the organization through that support.

This photo from the event is a great framework for building your tele-fundraising script.  Before you start your next phonathon campaign, ensure your script includes

  • A hook
  • A promise
  • A brief description of the problem/solution
  • Proof – success stories of how donor dollars have helped reach goals
  • The ask
  • Gratitude for the time, consideration, gifts

What a great reminder of the power of language!  As fundraisers, it’s key to remember the motivations that move people to give often come from an emotional, passionate place.  Ensure your outreach messages contain and match the passion of your donors to keep them engaged.

Regardless of your message or cause, VanillaSoft has solutions to help you deliver the right message at the right time to the right donor.  With a combination of outreach options like email, drip campaigns, and calling campaigns. We can help you quickly and easily get your next phonathon and volunteers up and running in no time.

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Cold calling is an effective – but sometimes intimidating – sales tactic.  However, it’s something that anyone can do, but you have to know how to approach it in order to do it well.  It’s a piece of the selling process that is sometimes necessary in order to increase sales.  So, how do you turn cold calling into an art form?  By debunking some of the common myths about cold calling.

If you buy into these beliefs, then they will become a reality in your approach to cold calling.  By taking another look at these myths Cold Callingwe will see cold calling as an important skill rather than a nerve-wracking nuisance.  As a sales rep, it’s easy to buy into these myths as the truth and allow them to hinder your performance, especially if management doesn’t discourage this type of mindset. Read the rest of this entry »

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