By Stuart Ganis. Stuart is the founder of Ganis Consulting, Inc. a full scale insurance and sales agency consulting firm. and a 24-year veteran of the insurance industry. Follow Ganis on Twitter @StuartGanis

In a fast-paced business world such as today's, insurance agents are constantly racing against the clock to write more policies. The modern-day consumer buys at an accelerated rate and demands faster follow-up. This allows them to make quicker buying decisions. Shopping for insurance is now easier thanks to the Internet. Consumers can browse and shop for policies online, but there among these breakthroughs there remains one problem. The online insurance industry makes it much more competitive to close more deals.

We want our agents to come out ahead of the competition with increased sales. Here are some ways to help you beat the competition that's out there:

Timing It Right

Prospects want the best service possible. This means that they want instant gratification, and quick follow-up. Buyers can use the Internet to their advantage to do more research at a faster rate. Knowing this, agents must be prepared to respond almost immediately to an interested buyer. They must also have accurate and competitive quotes on hand to present.

Recent Velocify research shows that response speed is the single largest driver of lead conversion. Even after just one minute, the likelihood of closing a sale can drop dramatically. However, leads who are called within the first minute are nearly 400% more likely to convert.  The first response is usually decided in seconds thanks to near real-time dialers and quoting engines, which give agents an edge over the competition.

You also want to—quite literally—time it right. There are good times and bad times during the day to call leads. Assuming your lead has a 9-5 job, calling between the hours of 4pm to 6pm is your best bet.

While you should try to be the first to call, you should also be the second, third, fourth, and so on. In other words, call more than once. 50% of leads are never called a second time, so be the other 50% that does and you'll gain an edge in lead generation.

Selling Value

There is an overwhelming amount of choices in today's buying market. Out of all the options, it is your job to convince buyers that your policy is not only the one they need, but also the best one out there. As an agent, you should have complete knowledge of the different insurance policies that you offer. Every person is different and therefore has different needs—the same goes for businesses. Likewise, the insurance industry is constantly changing, and keeping up with these changes will prove helpful when a customer has questions. It's also a bonus if you know about competitive policies. Being able to compare and contract your policy with others is a great way to sell its value and why it's the best one out there.

Emphasizing Benefits Over Price

All consumers claim to shop for the lowest price, cheap doesn't always mean quality. As a salesperson, you should build rapport with your prospects so that they will buy from you even if you don't have the lowest rate. Great agents don't lose sales when they’re within 10% to 15% of the lowest price the consumer finds. You want to find the best rate with the best coverage for all your clients. The price should match the value of the product. Change your mentality to “Best Coverage, Best Price” instead of “Lowest Price”. Rounding out accounts by selling multiple lines will help you save consumers money, earn their trust, and ensure they become loyal clients. Be a sales person—not an order taker.

Making It Easy

Online shoppers want not only the best deal, but also the easiest way to go about closing a deal. You want your customers to have the least troublesome buying process possible, and one way to do this is to digitally send contracts. Instead of making your customer print, sign, and scan, they can just use an e-Signature. E-Signature services like HelloSign or DocuSign simplify this step in the buying process.

Looking For Quality

While leads close faster when agents contact them quickly, they also close faster when they are more qualified. Usually, when a lead expresses great interest in a product of yours, it shows qualification. Using the BANT and CHAMP models to filter for quality leads is a go-to strategy for many agents. Here is a brief breakdown of each model:

(B) Budget: Can your lead afford the product?

(A) Authority: Can they decide for themselves about the product?

(N) Need: Will the product fulfill their needs?

(T) Timescale: Is this the right time to make a decision/purchase?

(CH) Challenges: What challenges is your lead facing going into this decision?

(A) Authority: Who is making the decision? How will your lead go about deciding?

(M) Money: What is your preferred budget for buying a product?

(P) Priority: How important is purchasing this policy to you?

If you can separate qualified from unqualified leads, you'll be able to move through the sales process faster, close more leads, and be ahead of the competition.

The bottom line is that if you want to be on top, you need to adapt. Today's consumer is ultra-fast, and you need to connect with them at a much faster rate. Once you get in touch, build rapport immediately by understanding their specific needs and providing the best benefits and overall value. With the right technology and knowledge, you'll have all the tools you need to close more leads faster than competitors.

For more information on how Velocify can give you the competitive advantage you need to close more policies, check out the Ultimate Contact Strategy research study.