Across the country, work and life as we knew it ground to a halt and we entered a radically different landscape. In the insurance and financial services industries, financial professionals have been faced with the need to adapt their approach to work to stay afloat.
Every day, I’m encouraged by what I see and hear from our financial professionals. Although many businesses are facing slowdowns, with workers turning their attention and free time toward projects around the home, that’s not the only way to make the most of the coronavirus shutdown. Most of the financial professionals I’ve been in touch with have been using their time during this pandemic to invest in their businesses and themselves.
Here are five ways I recommend financial professionals make the most of this time.
Rethink Your Business Planning
By the time the virus had spread across America and businesses and the economy started to shut down, we were most of the way through the first quarter. Annual budgets had already been set based on forecasts that were suddenly looking unattainable.
Now, forecasting the rest of the year is very difficult. Consumer sentiment for visiting face-to-face with financial professionals is fluid. And even if the willingness is there, social distancing restrictions might make that a moot point.
At Brokers International, we are being very careful on expenses. We’re limiting the “nice to haves” and spending just on those items we really need. While you can’t predict your inputs like you can in a normal year, you can control your expenses as much as possible. Financial professionals should be careful what they spend right now, because it is extremely difficult to forecast what this year may look like — especially if there is a second or third wave of infections and shutdowns.
That causes us to take a very conservative estimate of trends.
Engage in Holistic Planning
Now is an excellent time for financial professionals to explore new products, or at least different products from those they have traditionally sold. Independent financial professionals especially may want to look at other lines of insurance they haven’t sold as much of in the past. Consider adding supplemental health lines of business since people are interested in long-term care, critical illness, disability and also unemployment needs during this time.
Consider life insurance in the business setting as one example.
If you are discussing insurance options with business partners, explore small business policies that would allow one partner to maintain control in the event of the other partner’s death — something they may be more interested in planning for given the current environment.
Look into other lines and see how you can expand the products you can offer. With holistic planning, you discuss needs, wants, dreams and aspirations from a financial perspective. Meeting those needs typically requires a holistic strategy promoting a variety of financial products.
Invest in Business Management and Professional Development
The insurance industry requires financial professionals to engage in continuing education, depending on the state in which they live. At this time in particular, when you may find yourself with some extra time on your hands, you should take advantage of continuing education opportunities. The good news is most of them can be done online.
Pay attention to industry designations that are good to attain, such as earning your CFP designation. Most industry designations can be completed electronically or through the mail. Adding these types of designations makes a lot of sense while you have some downtime. And it’ll set you up for greater success when things get back to normal.
Beyond education, invest in your business. Look into how you can market your products and your business to new markets. Maybe you’ve focused on mom and pop businesses in the past. Branch out and see who else you can prospect to. And learn some new methods of outreach so you can target those prospects effectively.
Gain Fluency With New Technology
If you have only written paper applications in the past, consider gaining familiarity with the carrier e-app process and brushing up on the virtual sales process.
Up until recently, most carriers did not provide digital applications and nearly all required paper applications. Now, due to COVID-19, almost every carrier has introduced a digital app.
That’s a good thing because digital applications typically contain fewer errors, which speeds up the application process. Fewer manual errors may reduce the time required to underwrite a policy because it’s usually in good order and no one has to call and fix it. And the faster it is issued, the better it is for both you and your customer.
Now is an opportune time to get used to the electronic process. We can walk you through that with a demo app. If you can get used to the carrier and the system today and learn how to fill out a digital application, you’ll be ready to run as more business opens up.
Continue Prospecting and Client Outreach
Finally, take time to familiarize yourself with all of the modes of digital communication — WebEx, Zoom, MS Teams, etc. Use several because your clients and vendors are using all of them. Understand the costs, statistics and benefits with each one.
Next, reach out to your existing customers. Make sure they understand you are still in business. As individuals review their retirement strategies, they may want to talk with you about their options as they plan for the future.
Rarely does the public think about life insurance — death, birth, marriage and divorce are what brings it to mind. Unfortunately, because we are hearing daily in the news about the death toll, it’s firmly in the public mind today. That’s a conversation people are more receptive to today than at other times, both due to mortality and the economic situation caused by the pandemic. People are out of work or being furloughed, with vulnerable financial situations.
With that in mind, there are lots of ways to get in touch and meet with someone.
Digital lists and social media channels Facebook and LinkedIn can be an excellent source of potential new customers. Don’t shy away from email, direct mail and Facebook messenger, either.
There’s so much email now that the volume of handwritten mail is less than it used to be. At Brokers International, we’re encouraging some agents to go back to direct mail as a prospecting tactic. Send a handwritten note with a third-party article. Everyone has the ability to shoot a short, good-quality video on their phone. Consider filming a video and send it out via email.
And for larger groups, set up a virtual prospecting seminar or meeting. Instead of doing live informational meetings, do the same type of invite but send it to a larger portion of the population and get your message across that way.
The bottom line is that now is the time to think differently about prospecting to people you aren’t familiar with.
These are trying times, and everyone is doing their best to keep their business going. But if you take advantage of extra time you may have and the new tools available to you, you can come out of the coronavirus crisis in better shape than you were before it hit.
If you want to talk about how to gain every advantage you can during this crisis, send me a direct message. Helping brokers and businesses is what I do best.