How to pump up your pipeline with new sales tactics during the pandemic
- How to adapt your sales tactics during this pandemic? First, change your viewpoint.
- Next, prepare for the long game. Customers may not be buying right now, but they ARE reading and researching. Make sure you’re the one they find.
- Be a resource for your clients and prospects. Read, bookmark, and post helpful articles and tips.
- Stay connected with your customers.
- Spend more time on your social media and review sites, making sure to answer questions and provide help.
For many agents, it’s a whole new world working from home. Distractions aren’t from coworkers – they’re from your kids. You can’t meet face-to-face to present your proposal. Cold calling is difficult – most everyone is reluctant to buy right now. And you’re seeing your pipeline go stale. It’s time to adapt your sales tactics during the pandemic.
Here’s a good reminder to cheer you up: “Insurance agents and advisors are smart, intuitive and resourceful. We’re used to having more month left than check, we’re used to investing in leads that lead to nowhere and we are resilient to market fluctuation and industry changes. Long-term the coronavirus will not have a meaningful adverse impact on our business,” said a recent ThinkAdvisor article.
Still, you may need additional tools and helps to keep your pipeline moving. We’ve rounded up a slew of tactics and tips, tools, best practices to provide you with usable sales tactics during the pandemic. that may help you right now.
Learn more: Download our free Sales Prospecting eBook here.
Change your viewpoint to change your sales tactics during the pandemic
Marketing Profs advises, “Think like a reluctant buyer, not a hungry seller.” View everything through a buyer’s lens. What new risks are your prospects facing? Your proposal and your sales materials must be able to sell on their own, answering two critical questions: Why should I choose you to handle my insurance? What can you provide that others can’t?
In other words, now’s the right time to fine-tune your value proposition. It’s a careful balance to keep in mind: While your prospects need to understand why they need your offering now, you don’t want to create anxieties that lead to buyer paralysis. No doubt you’ll face new questions, so try to think through what those may be and prepare your answers.
In a nutshell: Prepare yourself for the long game right now. Nurturing your clients AND prospects is key. Yes, they may be reluctant to buy right now. But because you’re creating a relationship where you’re providing them with helpful information and they’re beginning to see you as an authority or a well-informed business consultant, in the long run, chances are greater they’ll turn to you.
What are your clients (and prospects) looking for?
They’re looking for help with their PPP (business loan via the Paycheck Protection Program). Help with premium payment options. With claims. And they need your suggestions on how they may need to alter their policies, to lessen or increase their coverage.
This is the time for you to shine as a hero, showing them how you’ve helped other clients with these issues, and setting a time where you can work with them as well. So be sure you share these success stories on your website, social media and emails.
Read & take notes
Property/Casualty 360 offers this advice: Take the time now to read through coverage forms. Don’t understand some of the language or product nuances? Call your underwriter, who’s also working from home and may have a little more time to walk you through the policy. Also ask, what types of claims are you seeing for this type of policy right now? That way, you can sculpt your messages to your clients and prospects around avoiding those claims with these loss prevention steps.
Other ways to expand your knowledge:
- Most insurance publications and groups offer free webinars; take advantage of them.
- Free sales training (you never know where you could pick up a helpful tip!): Hubspot, Lessonly, RAIN Group and AgencyRevolution.
- Free marketing training (each requires you to create a login to view their materials): LinkedIn, Hubspot, Marketing Profs; also, google “free insurance marketing training” and take your pick from the long list of options.
Keep yourself up-to-date with the pandemic and its effects on the economy in general and in your clients’ industries; bookmark articles you’ve found helpful. You’re going to use those on social media and in emails to both clients and prospects.
Be intentional with your reading, however: Don’t spend hours reading Facebook quasi-news. Instead, keep to authoritative sites such as the CDC and SBA. If you’re a personal lines producer, bookmark helpful personal tips like how to grocery shop, how to keep kids occupied, even working-from-home tips like those in our blog. If you’re in commercial lines, keep most of your bookmarked articles relevant to your clients’ businesses, but it’s ok to bookmark a few personal tips. Here are a few to consider:
- How to protect your unoccupied property during the pandemic
- How to manage remote workers when everyone’s working from home
- Cyber security and data protection in our new reality
- Operating your essential business during the COVID-19 crisis – webinar
- Map: COVID-19 Cases, Plus 11 Steps Your Organization Can Take
- Small business owners, here’s how to get started on your Paycheck Protection Program loan
- Coronavirus emergency loans – small business guide and checklist
- OSHA’s quick reference guide for reopening your business
Share your knowledge
Here’s another way to expand your sales tactics during the pandemic. Marketing surveys show that people are reading significantly more content online right now – so take advantage of this trend to post your content on your website, blog and social media. Be a resource for your clients and prospects.
Continue casting a wide net for new leads by freshening your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. Be sure to update the office hours.
On your social media pages, pass along the articles you’ve bookmarked with a description (maybe 200 characters) as to why you like these articles. In other words, don’t just say “Here’s a helpful article!” but comment intelligently as you pass it along. You can post longer articles that you’ve written on Facebook Notes or LinkedIn Pulse.
If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to set up your professional (as opposed to your personal) Facebook page. Add your “office” hours and a thorough description of your business; add success stories; and be sure your page inbox is set up so you can answer questions. You may also want to set up an automated response to frequently asked questions, as a time saver. An automated response you may want to use: “Thanks for your message. We’ve moved to online appointments while our office is closed. Please email or leave a message to make a virtual appointment.”
Now’s the time to post testimonials from your clients. Don’t have any? Recount a recent episode about how you helped a client cover their risks, saving them time…money…and peace of mind.
Share the articles with your clients as well. It’s best to stay away from making blanket statements like “you’re covered for that,” because you’re not a claims adjuster. It’s ok to say, “In broad brushstrokes, here’s what’s covered, but every claim will be handled independently, and I can’t speak to a specific situation.” If you’re unsure, check with your underwriter.
Find new local LinkedIn groups to join. Search your first connections’ contacts and send an email invitation to connect. Need ideas on what to say in your emails? Review our four-email process here.
Don’t forget your current clients. Other agents working from home are hustling to find new customers. Your clients whose policies are soon expiring are their targets. You’ll want to start early to nurture them into a smooth renewal, finding out any issues they’re having and how you can help solve them.
Call them; make sure they know you’re available via phone and email. Consider downloading Google Voice. It’s a free service that lets you make and receive calls, texts and use call forwarding, all via your Google web portal. That way, if you’re using your personal cell phone or personal land line to conduct business, you can differentiate between business and personal calls.
Email your clients every couple of weeks with a reassuring message and add links to articles you’ve seen that offer personal ways to cope right now. If your carrier has agreed to premium delays, or if there are other concessions offered, be sure to communicate them clearly – more than once. View more tips on working from home on our blogpost, Stuck working from home? Tips to maximize work AND play time.
Because your nonessential insurance clients are also working from home, most likely they’re finding more time on their hands. Take advantage of it: Email them with timely tips (not the ones we’ve already seen published a hundred times from a hundred vendors). Post those tips and good resources in your blog and on your social media (you can even post entire articles on Facebook Notes and LinkedIn Pulse Posts. Consider starting an e-newsletter again, if you have something new and helpful to say, that hasn’t already been said.
Use a calm voice that does not minimize the impact of what is happening, but does inspire confidence that you’re doing everything you can to chart a thoughtful course and care for everyone’s well-being, suggests Property Casualty 360.
You’ll also want to be sure your customer service reps and other support team members are armed with FAQs and messaging to help them respond correctly to concerns and questions from your clients.
More ways to prospect
Register your business on local digital directories. If your agency isn’t already listed, create your listings and add your own contact information. We’re referring to Google My Business. Apple maps. Bing. Yelp. LinkedIn company directory. See the whole list of 57 with links to each, plus how authoritative each directory is (so you can decide which to concentrate on first). Again, if your agency isn’t listed, feel free to list your agency – with yourself as the main contact.
Keep tabs on your social media and reviews
Here are more practical online marketing and sales tactics during the pandemic. During this time, when most commercial clients are finding that the coronavirus and its effects are not covered by their business interruption insurance, insurance companies and agents are NOT the heroes. Facebook, Google My Business, Twitter, Yelp and Better Business Bureau are the perfect places for clients to vent their frustration about your business. Unfortunately, this means that a significant number of people will end up seeing the negative feedback on your business’s social media profile or on review sites.
While you can’t prevent negative feedback, you can nip it in the bud and prevent it from getting out of hand. Monitor your social media profiles and review sites regularly so you can quickly respond and resolve these problem posts. Refrain from becoming defensive or angry in your response. Be polite and patient, despite the negative feedback and try to take the conversation offline. Doing these things will show people that your business takes care of customers, says Lift Local.
Check (or create) your local Google My Business agency listing. Update it; add helpful articles that offer ways to cope during the crisis. Post encouraging messages and remind folks that you’re open (remotely) for business via phone or email. Then monitor closely for any reviews, positive or negative.
Video conferencing tips
An informal video chat is great way to meet a first-time prospect and ask discovery questions that you weren’t able to glean through your research. It’s also the best way to present and walk through your proposal.
“Our virtual meetings have had a big impact,” says Beth O’Reardon, Southern California business development leader for our Workers’ Compensation and Core Commercial programs. “We’re seeing tangible results in submissions directly following our video chats.”
You may want to consider a regular 10,15-minute round-up (weekly? Biweekly?) where you discuss latest events and how they may affect your commercial clients within each vertical. Make it live, but also record it so you can send out the link afterwards. Include such information as how you can help them with their PPP requests, how your carriers are helping with adjusted rating factors (and how you’re offering one-on-one consultations).
Here are 4 free tools to consider using:
- Zoom, the most prevalent (in spite of Zoom-bombing).
- Cisco Webex, up to 100 participants, for 90 days.
- MicrosoftMeet or Teams, who also has a free “Crisis Communication” app built with Microsoft Power Apps for any customer to download, customize, and deploy to their organization.
While you’ve probably used video conferencing tools at the office, you’re facing additional challenges now: poor lighting, shaky internet and surprise appearances by dogs or kids. Here’s a good resource to learn some tips and tricks for recording professional content at home and with limited equipment. View the video, https://business.brighttalk.com/webinar-video/polished-events-in-a-webcam-world/.
If you have enough content for a specific industry vertical and type of policy, you may want to consider using Facebook Live. This is assuming that you already have a professional Facebook profile (NOT your personal one). You can create a Facebook event, multiple posts and notify your followers that you’ll be hosting this webinar via Facebook. Send emails as well. Then you can post this video to your page. Learn more here.
Here are three more resources to help you with video conferencing:
- 12 Little Things to Check Before Your Next Web Conference Call
- 12 Handy Tips for Running Better Remote Meetings
- How to Participate in Video Conferencing Calls Without Looking Like a Fool
There you have it! Our best tips and tools for helping you keep your sales process humming while you’re working at home. What others have you found to be helpful? Share them here!
And don’t forget to download our latest eBook, Top 14 tips for insurance sales prospecting to fill your pipeline.