The new normal is something out of a George Orwell novel, or so it seems. The vast majority of the population are donning face masks as they scurry in and out of businesses and are spending an exorbitant amount of time at home and on their devices. It's a strange, new world we live in, and in order to continue to grow in the insurance industry, it's important to utilize the digital world to its full potential. Below we'll cover some important tools you should be using in order to keep your business connected and growing during these challenging times.
In a relationship business where the idea of meeting face to face is no longer feasible, it's important to utilize video chat and messaging tools to keep in touch with existing clients (if you aren't already doing so). You've worked hard to establish good working relationships with your clients and you don't want those to fade away now that you can no longer meet in person. There are so many communication tools that work easily and well and the best part...they're free. Zoom is one of the most popular video tools out there, but Skype, Google Meet and FaceTime are very user-friendly and they all get the job done well. (And FaceTime isn't just for mobile devices, if you have a Mac, you can use FaceTime with your clients on their Macs or their Apple mobile devices.)
Your older clients have adapted and have learned how to use the online world to feel connected. They know how to order groceries and takeout online, they now communicate with family members and attend church digitally. They access Telehealth resources and meet with their physicians via video chat. They get their prescriptions filled online and delivered to their homes. They've learned to embrace technology out of necessity and without technology they would feel lost. It's important to remember that your clients need to hear from you, and by embracing these tools, it makes staying connected and conducting business easier than ever.
Reviews & Online Presence
During these challenging times, it's important to have an updated website and a robust social media presence. 90% of consumers use the internet to find a local business and 82% of consumers read online reviews before they decide to do business with someone. If your website doesn't reflect current information and you have no online reviews, consumers will move on to the next insurance agent in their Google search. An online presence is absolutely critical now more than ever. Your existing clients will benefit as well. If they have questions and can find the answers on your website, that's one less phone call they have to make. Your website and online reviews reflect your business, so you want to be sure your online advertising is an accurate representation of your services and your reputation.
Email marketing is not dead and it's a fantastic way to let your clients know you're thinking about them. There are numerous email marketing providers out there and Mailchimp is one of the most popular services. They offer a free version for small businesses which will allow you to upload up to 2,000 contacts, give you access to their content studio, numerous pre-built templates and even automation. Sending out informative pieces or updating your clients about important news is made easy with a service like Mailchimp. Constant Contact is another robust email marketing service that bases pricing on the number of contacts you upload to their system. You'll get access to marketing automation, mobile-ready templates, reporting and many other features.
Submitting Electronic Business
The beauty of technology is that it allows for so many things to get done faster. This includes submitting applications, receiving payments and getting answers to questions. When you submit your business online and stop the dated paper applications, your underwriting gets approved more quickly, which means your policies get approved faster, which in turn means you get paid faster. It may seem daunting at first to make the switch from submitting paper applications and doing things the old fashioned way, but when you submit a few e-Apps, you'll get the hang of it in no time...and wonder why you haven't been doing business this way sooner. The electronic application also ensures you complete the app properly. It reduces the possibility for errors and omissions and it frees up your time to work with even more clients. Your clients can sign their applications digitally and get their policies faster than ever. Hands down, it's just a win/win for everyone.
The New Normal Isn't All Bad
The concept of social distancing isn't something that normally comes to mind when one thinks of the insurance industry. It's tried and true ways of meeting face-to-face for decades across from the kitchen table or in the client's living room is now a thing of the not-so-distant past. However, with this new normal, it's important to realize that business doesn't have to grind to a screeching halt. By implementing the use of technology in your every day business life you'll find you're actually better equipped to manage and even grow your business. How long this will be our new normal is very uncertain as COVID-19 rates continue to climb, but one thing is for certain, technology will continue to keep us connected and will be our best resource for accomplishing all that we need to in order to thrive.
1. Professionalism is at the top of the list. You have one time to make a first impression. If you blow it, that's on you. Dressing the part, speaking intelligently and avoiding slang or industry jargon will lend itself well to gleaning more clients. The first step to having your clients entrust you with their future insurance needs is to act accordingly. Would you buy insurance from yourself? Trust is huge when it comes to purchasing insurance and financial products.
2. Knowledge is next. If you don't know what you're selling, how do you expect your clients to purchase from you? Study your insurance products and understand what benefits they provide for your clients. If you don't know the answer, simply tell your client you'll research the answer and will get back to them. On the flip side, you don't want to come across as a "know-it-all" and overwhelm your clients with non-essential information. Moderation is key.
3. Technology is on deck for number three. If you aren't technologically savvy and struggle with basic web navigation and software, then it's time to bone up on those skills. Successful insurance agents today submit their business electronically and monitor their business online. They also run quotes and illustrations for clients online at any time of day or night. Everything you need to be successful in insurance is online.
4. Marketing is number four on the list. Carriers will provide you with consumer-facing materials, but at the end of the day, it's up to you to market yourself and your agency. You are your own brand, and you must convey your professionalism (see tip #1) via your email address and online presence. That means ditching the Yahoo email account and purchasing a domain (they're incredibly economical) and doing business with a verified business email address. And while we're talking about online presence, having a website or at the very least a landing page or micro site, is prudent. Many agents get a way with just having a facebook business page and their LinkedIn profiles, but if you can afford a small website to direct your clients to, you're on your way to a successful career.
5. Listening is imperative. You can spiel about the importance of insurance all you want, but if you don't listen to your clients and their needs, you're shooting yourself in the foot. Listening is half of selling. You need to create solutions for your clients and since they can't pick up a Medicare Supplement or Life Insurance policy in their hands and have a tangible product to identify with, it's up to you to listen and then relay the benefits of the solution you create for them,
6. Attention to details. Paying attention to yourself is imperative, whether it be in meetings, how you speak to your clients, how you respond to emails or voicemails. Paying attention to how you conduct your business will go a long way in helping you correct your mistakes and becoming more versed in this industry.
7. Digging deep. That's right. Selling insurance is not for the faint of heart. It takes dedication, commitment and hard work. Yes, you're your own boss, but with that comes accountability. It's up to you to monitor your business, market yourself, bring on new clients, set goals for future growth, make time for continuing education and taking care of your existing clients.
8. Connected is up next. Being involved in your community, networking and having a social presence is paramount. You don't have to be the town mayor, but you do need to be social. Reach out to your clients, follow up with them, let them know about new products and find out how they're doing. Life is not static. It's up to you keep up with the pace and be socially aware.
9. Receiving advice is important. If you have a mentor or someone you value who works in the insurance industry and can impart knowledge and tips, then listen and take advantage of their wisdom. We all know we learn best by actually "doing", but when you can learn from someone who is successful in this business, why wouldn't you?
10. Patience. Lastly, we must address the elephant in the room. Success doesn't happen overnight. If it did, we'd all be jumping on the next bus to Money Town. Remember that hard work and dedication DO pay off and every year you should see incremental growth. If you're not, then you need to unearth why you're not growing and what's contributing to your lack of success. Each day is a new day to call prospective clients, learn about a new product and grow your business by thinking forward. If you take the time to invest in yourself, you will undoubtedly be a successful insurance agent.
No one plans for a tragedy to strike...
...but if one should, having Disability Insurance ensures your clients are covered, allowing them to focus on their road to recovery, while having the means to pay the bills. May is Disability Insurance Awareness month. It's the perfect time to open up the conversation about having disability income.
Speaking to your clients about DI (Disability Income/Disability Insurance) is a conversation worth having. Having insurance that insures the beneficiary's earned income will be provided should they become disabled not only gives one peace of mind, it's just good common sense. Nearly 18.5% of Americans currently live with a disability. One out of every four Americans will suffer a disabling injury before retirement. Statistics like these are hard to ignore.
Life Happens poses this question:
"Without your paycheck, how long would you be able to make your mortgage or rent payment, buy groceries or pay your credit card bills without feeling the pinch?"
"If you’re like most, it wouldn’t be long at all: 7 in 10 working Americans couldn’t make it a month before financial difficulties would set in, and one in four would have problems immediately, according to a Life Happens survey.¹"
¹”What Do You Know About Disability Insurance” survey, Life Happens, 2018
Yesterday was Opening Day in Major League Baseball and all captive agents were on deck to kick off the season. Captive. That’s the key term here: being a captive agent in the American League or National League, playing ball for a specific franchise for a set number of years with a compensation package all spelled out.
What does this have to do with insurance? Captive agents in the insurance industry have a similar contract with a specific carrier: a document outlining which products they can sell, compensation, bonus structure, etc.
That’s where the similarities end.
Most free agents playing major league baseball want to get picked up by a club so they can advance their career and enjoy lucrative income for years to come.
For free agents in the insurance industry, it’s a slightly different story. They are actually limiting themselves by signing with one insurance carrier. Why? Because they have to play by that carrier’s rules and guidelines. Is that so bad? No, but truth be told, if you’re a captive agent you are bound to that carrier’s product lines, you’re limited in your choices and options for your clients, and you’re limited by whatever the pricing structure is for those products. Ultimately? You’re bound. That’s not a very freeing concept now is it?
As a free agent, you can work with a BGA who will assist you with contracting with numerous carriers. BGA’s don’t cost you anything. You contract with them, but all of your compensation comes directly from the carrier. The benefits of being a free agent are endless. Let’s take a look at the most compelling:
So, yesterday was opening day and all the captive agents in the country went to work for the club (or carrier) they signed with. Were you one of them? You can change that. It’s up to you though. If the idea of being a free agent sounds somewhat appealing, we’re here to help. We can’t assist you with an MLB contract if you play ball, but we can assist you with adding an arsenal of products, carriers, choices and possibilities to your portfolio that will lead you down a path of success….and hopefully fulfillment.
Medicare Supplement plans. They’re absolutely necessary for Medicare recipients, and yet only 25% of the U.S. population are purchasing them. Close to 4 million individuals will turn 65 this year according to the National Census, and that, in and of itself is staggering.
Medigap policies are what close the gap on health related insurance costs that traditional Medicare does not cover. Seniors struggle with the complexities of the Medicare system, and assisting them with their choices and giving them solid advice on which plan to purchase is what can set you apart from other insurance professionals. However, before you go writing your clients into Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plans, here are some things to consider…not only for them, but for you, yourself.
By Sam Corey, Jr. and Carolyn Portanova
Carolyn Portanova is the Director of Marketing at The Brokerage Resource and has been with the firm since 2012.