Working remotely has it’s pros and cons. Some folks thrive on making calls in their pajamas while others are dragging from the weight of working in their living space and being isolated from loved ones at the same time. Some of us are fortunate enough to be trapped with our families but are wondering when things will get back to “normal.”
Unfortunately, no one yet knows the answer to that question so we all have to adapt to a virtual environment, one that is heavy on phone calls and online chats to keep our sales teams feeling connected and pumped up. Motivation and productivity are contagious, so agency owners need to step up, set the tone and use the technology tools at their disposal.
Below, we have some suggestions for keeping your producers producing amidst the coronavirus crisis.
Arrange Meetings More Regularly
In-person meetings with your sales team are not really an option these days, even though insurance is considered an essential business. Most of your producers are working remotely, but you can still have face-to-face interactions. Zoom seems to be the go-to video hosting service, but GoToMeeting is very popular too.
Let’s say you usually have biweekly meetings in the office. Take it up a notch and touch base once a week. Expect your producers to tell you exactly what kind of headway they are making and the status of revenue to date. They will benefit from a little more oversight during this period of social distancing. With the somber tone the coronavirus pandemic has set, rejections can feel more defeating than usual, and if you have a team of producers, they are not around to console one another either. You’ll need to be the rock or designate a team lead to give some extra support.
Not only will check-ins via video help you set weekly tasks, expectations and goals, but both parties will also benefit from the human connection. There’s nothing better than a video conferencing session if there’s ever any confusion you need to clear up. It’s even better than a phone conversation.
When you do a video conference, ask about how things are going at home. For most of us, it’s a really tough time, even if we have loved ones close to us! There’s talk of some groups having after-hours happy hours on Zoom too. Why not? If you’d normally take the team out for drinks after meeting certain goals, you can still celebrate small wins. Just do it virtually.
Buy Leads for Your Producers
Not only are we all keeping an arm’s length from one another literally, but many of us are completely thrown off by the course this coronavirus is blazing. Some producers are asking, “How do we do business while in quarantine?” Buying your producers high-quality insurance leads makes for a much more efficient use of time than making cold calls.
It’s an especially important time to keep your team busy, and there are more opportunities to sell insurance than ever. Are you alerting your producers to the new price breaks that auto insurers are offering? Do your health producers know that open enrollment just opened up due to COVID-19? Insurance technology companies are in touch with these insurance shoppers.
What’s nice about buying leads is that all leads are tracked so you can just pop into the SmartFinancial dashboard if you feel you need to check up on what your producers are doing or not doing with the investment you’ve made. If they are working the leads properly, you will have a strong ROI. If they call once and abandon the lead, they are wasting your money.
In the SmartFinancial dashboard, you’ll know exactly how many leads you bought and you can even make notes. You can expect a summary of how often and with what means your producers have been working these leads. Calls are also recorded so you can review them with your SmartFinancial Account Manager.
But the most important thing to remember is that purchased insurance leads need to be nurtured in order to close.
Use a Chat System
This can be a great way to inform your team about new opportunities and changes in policies you’re writing. For instance, right now many auto insurers are giving customers price breaks. Instead of scheduling a meeting, if you use a chat system like Slack or Google chat, you can get everyone chatting and answer questions quickly. What’s nice about most chat systems is that they keep a chat history so you can find important information if you need to backtrack on a conversation.
Having a forum for publicly posed questions and answers will prevent you from wasting time answering the same questions with different members of your team. It will also encourage a culture of comeradery, with each member helping the others along too, as we all stumble through this remote-work situation that’s new to many of us.
It helps to be social, and now that you’re not able to be together in an office, you can at least be there for each other virtually.
No longer can you give your best producer a literal pat on the back, a shake of the hand and a bottle of the best Scotch you could get your hands on. If a producer is still knocking it out of the ballpark during this period, you’ll need to give recognition and appreciation in a way that truly counts. “Great job” in an email or on a group slack message won’t do. Make sure to send an individualized gift of thanks or have a virtual celebration -- or do both.
Let’s face it, it’s easy to kick back at home, take base-pay and do close to nothing, especially with the stimulus check coming. Now, most of your producers won’t have this mentality, especially if they want to make some real money, but it’s tempting to give into defeat with nightmarish scenes unfolding every night on the news and face masks everywhere you turn when you go food shopping. In short, it’s a tough time to stay optimistic, so shine a light wherever you can, and make your appreciation for strong sales felt now more than ever.
Hire the Right People
More than ever, it’s important to have a sales team that is self-determined and self-motivated. As harsh as it may seem, if your folks are not self-sufficient, this may be time to hire new producers. Organization and time-management skills are essential to a remote sales team. There are lots of great people out of work right now. If your staff is beginning to get lazy, it may be time to fire warning shots at the very least.
Make Sure You (and They) Are Available
When you’re in the office, the producers really have nothing better to worry about than making the next sale, but when they are home there are all sorts of distractions that can deal vital talk-time a big blow. You’re not there to look over their shoulders but giving a fair warning that they should be around and available during work hours is sometimes necessary to spell out.
Calling at random times every few days to check in is also a good way of keeping your team members on their toes. You’re reinforcing the idea that work time is and should remain work time. Some producers will need a little more micromanaging than others, but we all need to communicate more clearly with one another throughout these uncertain days.
You’re also letting your employee know that you’re there if they need support during this very bizarre time. For instance, make yourself accessible if they need upgraded hardware. Computer issues can really slow down someone’s work. If you’re buying insurance leads, for example, your producer really can’t get much done if s/he can’t get online.