Producers have numerous challenges writing new business: time restraints, gatekeepers, incumbent brokers, unmotivated prospects, etc. Add in a global pandemic, remote workforces, and communication barriers, and it can become paralyzing. It can be hard to talk about business when the world is going through this type of disruption. Evolve your selling during COVID by planning for the worst and working hard for a positive outcome. Producers should be actively positioning themselves as a strategic resource for their client base and selling the value proposition of your firm. Take this time as an opportunity to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. Stand above by going beyond to service your clients. It is time to differentiate the experience.
This week, MarshBerry is hosting two webinars detailing how producers need to change their sales approach to selling during COVID-19. Specifically, should producers continue to prospect, if so – how should they approach it, and how can they build a virtual sales process? In Today’s ViewPoint, we’re providing a preview into why it’s important to continue sales prospecting during COVID-19.
How to Continue Sales Prospecting During COVID-19
One of the biggest challenges we’re being asked about is whether teams should continue to prospect. The short answer – yes. It’s okay to make phone calls, send emails, utilize social media, host webinars and more. The difference should come down to why they should take your call or pay attention to your note. How can you help them? Instead of focusing on what you are offering or selling, position the discussion around what is their biggest worry and challenge right now and how you can help. The goal of selling during COVID shouldn’t be to have prospecting activity for the sake of activity, rather, it should be focused on explaining why the prospect should take time out of their busy schedule and what information you can share during the requested time together. Can you be helpful? Can you provide meaningful insight and guidance? Shift your mindset to how you can best use this time to prepare and have meaningful conversations.
If you’re fortunate enough to have built a book of business, think about your current client base. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. What challenges are they experiencing during this pandemic? What are their immediate priorities and objectives? THIS is the information you can utilize for new prospecting conversations. Demonstrate an understanding of the stresses and worries a business owner might have right now. Be empathetic and genuinely interested in their well-being – recognize some of their challenges reach far beyond the world of insurance and appreciate their current state.
In the scenario where you have already established a connection with a prospect – don’t wait! Be sure you have adjusted your message to be relevant and aligned with today’s environment – be proactive in initiating the conversation. Reach out now. Secure the “meeting” with a virtual engagement. Changing from a face-to-face meeting to a virtual meeting requires some modifications. Your sales approach needs to change to reflect a new virtual environment.
Challenges in Sales During COVID-19
- Fighting the Commodity Factor: It’s no secret that most prospects already view some producers as a “commodity.” Most conversations tend to sound the same and are filled with empty promises. It’s hard enough to overcome this while face-to-face with your prospect. In a virtual environment, you must hone your communication techniques and have succinct points that differentiate you and your firm. Key differentiators will be memorable when you combine with your sales process, with how you can help them and how you can add value now and in the future. This can set your conversation apart from the rest, even if you’re not in the prospect’s office.
- Your Objectives Remain the Same: If your traditional sales process focuses on discovery (which we would encourage), the same still applies to a phone call or virtual meeting. You want to keep the same type of meeting and conversation flow as you would when meeting in person. Strive to ask more questions. Uncover more about what is important to them, what is worrying them, or directly impacting them both before COVID -19 and now, at the moment.
- Lacking the Intangibles: Not meeting in person with your prospect creates a few extra challenges to selling during COVID-19. You are not sitting across the table from one another, and it is more difficult to read non-verbal cues. However, utilizing technology can still give you a face-to-face experience. Things that can sometimes be taken for granted in the sales process – like building rapport, picking up on culture clues and workspace dynamics, and building trust with your prospects — are now more difficult given the physical void in a virtual environment. Be sure to emphasize these components during a virtual meeting and make time for small talk to ask about them personally and their teams. Most importantly, be authentic. Let your personality come through and, above all, demonstrate your understanding of their situation and that you are there to help.
- Focus on Focusing: In addition to the physical void, producers have an additional challenge when it comes to capturing the focus of your prospect (and even you, at times). Virtual meetings can be great, but keep in mind that your prospect is also likely working from home or remotely. This means there can be additional distractions for them or you. To overcome this, focus on your questioning and communication cadence. Ask more detailed and specific questions to dive deeper into the conversation, acknowledge and confirm your prospect’s statements or concerns back to them, and have full transparency for the best meeting results. Acknowledge if the unexpected interruption occurs and embrace it. Show that you can be nimble and adjust to the situation.
There are going to be challenges in finding ways to increase sales during COVID, and unfortunately, there’s no easy button to press for instant results. Instead, focus on building and maintaining your prospecting activity, creating a value-driven message that resonates with the challenges your prospects are going through, and staying aligned with your meeting goals and objectives, even in a virtual environment.
If you have questions about Today’s ViewPoint or your virtual sales approach, please email Phil Trem, President – Financial Advisory, or Zack Pittman, Vice President. If you and your team would like to learn more about how to increase sales during COVID, explore our Insurance Sales Producer Academy to become a validated producer.
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