Digital Bootcamp

Digital Bootcamp: Week Six: Restarting Leads in a Remote Selling Environment

After you have fully reengaged with your existing clients and engaged prospects, you will most likely need to start to generate new business. At the time we’re writing this, states have announced dates for progressively reopening businesses. While we all hope to return as quickly as possible to “business as usual,” we offer a plan today that can serve as your contingency for a prolonged quarantine or a post-pandemic business environment that looks very different from the one we left in February.

Annuities

Demand for fixed indexed annuities could grow substantially in the downturn. Any client who purchased an FIA before February 2020 from you should give strong recommendations to their friends. We expect, but obviously don’t know for certain, that we will see the guaranteed income sector make a resurgence. That said, lower long-term interest rates will put pressure on carriers to maintain caps and guaranteed income streams. To capitalize on these positive outlooks, we recommend the following:

  • Plan to put the vast majority of your business with carriers that can easily support remote sales.
  • If you plan to switch FIA focus from growth to income guarantees, reassess the carriers with whom you work.
  • Be prepared for rapidly changing pricing environments. Explain the market environment to your clients to avoid surprises if clients delay completing their applications.

Online Leads

We typically see our top individual agents pursue one of five business models for generating new leads: referrals, online leads, seminars, radio/television shows, or event sponsorship. In this section, we focus on online lead generation. We recognize that you may either continue to or start to purchase leads from vendors or from your IMO.  For those who want to take personal control of their lead generation, we’ll cover some basics of online lead acquisition that you can run yourself. In any case, your lead strategy should be based on the clients you want to target, the marketing concepts that will work in this environment, and the products you want to sell in today’s market.

Location, location, location

Spending time researching where your prospects engage on social media will help you focus on a plan and be more effective in your lead acquisition. Be sure to consider not just audience size, but the extent of their engagement. For instance: you may find that your target audience is a sizeable one on Twitter, however their engagement is low – a telltale sign they will not be willing to accept your call to action. Conversely, you may find a highly engaged group of prospects on Facebook, sharing articles and willingly making trusted connections. This group may be an opportunity to pursue new leads.

TIP: Research regional groups on Facebook and even in your own neighborhood via platforms such as NextDoor or Patch.

TIP: Additionally, there are free social media listening tools that can help you better understand your target audience and better prepare your call to action.

Be Social, Helpful, and a Trusted Source

You wouldn’t stand in the corner and ignore the active chatter of a busy cocktail party, would you? If you’re not actively participating in the conversation via your preferred social media channel, you’re missing out on the opportunity to make new connections. Set a goal of joining the conversation and the best way to do is to offer help or advice. Saying, “How can I help?” is one of the most effective ways to encourage interaction and to listen to what your potential customer needs.

Being consistent on any social media platform with topical and accurate information will position you as the go-to resource when a prospect finds themselves in the market.

Tip: Salesforce: How to Generate Leads: Ten Strategies to Help You Generate New Leads

Partner Up

Speaking of being helpful, finding a partner who has equal or more influence via a social media platform may help introduce you to a new audience. While you wouldn’t want to partner with a direct competitor in your area, there might be other local influencers in, for instance, Real Estate or the local Chamber of Commerce who can partner with you on various topics, articles, and virtual events that could result in an increase in prospects.

TIP: Always consider being generous to your partner, they’re going to remember how you helped them and remember a good experience when the opportunity arises again.

Keep Them Warm

Bakers often use a warm oven drawer to nurture their breads, allowing them to grow. Consider the same sentiment when working with a lead list you already own. After welcoming them shortly after acquisition and offering to answer their questions or consider an appointment, take great care to consistently – and gently – keep in touch. Perhaps there’s a new article or rate information that’s interesting to share. Even once per month is enough to remind your audience that you’re here to help.

“Ad”ding to Your Strategy

Social media advertising can be very effective when you match engaging messaging with the right audience. By now, you’ve already researched your audience using social media listening tools or by engaging with them online. Take that information and create ads that inspire, inform, or entertain. Here’s a quick guide to getting started with Facebook ads, which are a great resource for generating quality leads at a low cost.

We have built a number of resources that you can use. We have a growing list of online courses that can supplement social media advertising or an email marketing plan. They include:

We will continue to produce more digital tools that will supplement your online conversation with your clients.

Disclosures

For agent/producer use only. Not for use with the general public.

This information is provided by Nassau Life and Annuity Company for general education purposes only. Nassau Life and Annuity Company and its affiliates, their distributors, and their respective employees, representatives and/or insurance agents do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Individuals should consult their own independent advisor as to any tax, accounting or legal statements made herein. All product sales must be appropriate, based on a comprehensive evaluation of the customer’s financial situation, needs and objectives.

Any references to the products, information or websites of any third party are for informational purposes only. Nassau does not endorse any third party products, information or websites and makes no representations as to the suitability or accuracy of such products, information or websites. Your access to and use of any third party products, information or websites is at your sole risk. BPD40188

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Anthony LaRosaDigital Bootcamp: Week Six: Restarting Leads in a Remote Selling Environment
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Digital Bootcamp: Week Five: Raising Brand Awareness in Your Community While People Are Home

What generally worked for building your insurance agency brand awareness in your community prior to COVID-19 probably still works today. However, the details and tactics most likely require a refresh and more focus on social media and digital marketing. Also, remember that any massive change will present opportunities for your agency to grow in unexpected ways.

Raising brand awareness in your community while people are at home offers fresh opportunities to demonstrate your authenticity, empathy and agility.

Stay active in your community: Associate your brand with doing good

People will remember brands for their acts of kindness in a time of crisis, especially if done with authenticity, generosity and compassion. Donating food, providing free products for medical personnel or continuing to pay employees while a company’s doors are closed are a few examples of doing good. Consumers will likely remember how Ford, GE, and 3M partnered to repurpose manufacturing capacity and put people back to work making respirators and ventilators to fight coronavirus. However, you need to show that your contributions are not solely for commercial benefit but for the good of your community.

Sponsor new events: Support some of the new normal celebrations

Who would ever have ever imagined drive-by birthdays or celebrations of other important milestones? Can you sponsor one of these gatherings and give away branded gifts from the side of the road with a lawn sign promoting your agency?

Remember signage: Show your community colors

Crises can unite communities. Frequently, each locale will show their support for a cause with physical, visible signs, such as yellow ribbons and flags. If you have an office in town, don’t let it look vacant with letters piling at the door. Follow marketing common sense. If everyone supports your local hospital, buy a sign that shows you contributed at the office, even if you really aren’t there.

Support your clients’ businesses: Demonstrate loyalty & empathy

Show your clients in the community you care by using their curbside food deliveries. Purchase gift cards from their businesses to help them keep their heads above water and make it through this difficult time.

Give something away for free: Your advice could help a lot of people in need

Businesses are showing empathy in many ways such as banks waiving overdraft fees, and SAP making its Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse platform free to companies who might be rapidly transitioning to new ways of working. Can you help people figure out their financial quandaries and avoid making simple mistakes? A favor today will build massive goodwill for future business.

Keep building your network: Even face-to-face forums have gone virtual

Don’t ignore your business networking organizations. If you haven’t joined any of their virtual events, make sure to try. You may be very surprised who you meet the next time they hold an online event.

Tell your new story: Amplify all your good acts on social media

Remember to document your time in quarantine. Take pictures of your team in masks. Show videos when you helped out at the foodbanks. Using social media channels to share information on nearly all topics from government safety guidelines to how to help our fellow neighbors and local charities is our new normal. Demonstrate your true personality and show you have adapted to the times.

Don’t stop advertising: Stay in front of the community in a tasteful manner

The need for advertising may be greater than ever in times like these. However, you will probably need to reevaluate the appropriateness of the images and messages. You may want to pull the stock pictures of seniors on cruises!

Will raising brand awareness in your community translate into long-term loyalty or sales? 

There’s no guarantee that raising brand awareness in your community will lead to long-term loyalty or sales. However, doing well by doing good can only strengthen your brand.

In summary, be mindful of 5 things:

  • Be empathetic to the impact of business interruption and adapt to the unexpected.
  • Adopt as many digital ways of working as possible.
  • Connect with your community and customers, understand this will likely have residual effects.
  • Minimize risks to customers. Reach out and ask how you can help them.
  • Embrace the digital transformation that customers and communities are currently adopting. This will ultimately improve how we do business and raise brand awareness today and tomorrow.

Disclosures

For agent/producer use only. Not for use with the general public.

This information is provided by Nassau Life and Annuity Company for general education purposes only. Nassau Life and Annuity Company and its affiliates, their distributors, and their respective employees, representatives and/or insurance agents do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Individuals should consult their own independent advisor as to any tax, accounting or legal statements made herein. All product sales must be appropriate, based on a comprehensive evaluation of the customer’s financial situation, needs and objectives. BPD#40179

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Anthony LaRosaDigital Bootcamp: Week Five: Raising Brand Awareness in Your Community While People Are Home
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Digital Bootcamp: Week Four: Turn Your Existing Clients into Fans Who Refer Their Friends

Satisfied, existing clients who introduce you to their friends may prove to be the least expensive leads with the highest conversion rates. How do you generate these types of referrals during a pandemic? The same rule that applied before the crisis applies today: You have to ask.

Traditional ways still work…with some virtual twists

  • First, and foremost, become comfortable asking for referrals while communicating with clients in the day-to-day, such as when exchanging text messages, phone calls, or during digital or in-person meetings. If you haven’t done this, write it down and/or practice it with a friend or loved one. You must feel comfortable asking for referrals and believe in the value you can provide. Be able to easily describe your target customer and the problems you can solve. For instance, ask, “Do you know someone between 60 and 65 who may be retiring in the next year or two and wants to lock in some guaranteed income now?”
  • Turn every email you send into an opportunity for a referral. Change your email signature to include a message that asks that people forward your email to friends who may need similar help. Better yet, include a link to a short, personal video message that introduces people to you and talks about the services you provide.
  • Thank clients who have provided referrals in the past.
  • Schedule virtual check-ins with your clients. No one may be calling them during this time. Imagine how much peace of mind you could provide if you proactively reminded them about the great decision that they made to protect either their retirement or their families before the pandemic hit. Do they understand the value of any riders they may have purchased? Can you help any of their friends during the crazy time?
  • Get your clients to like your page on Facebook. The average user on Facebook in 2020 has 155 friends.* For those of you targeting the senior market, 62% of seniors who use the web have a Facebook profile*. Imagine what could happen to your business if each positive statement by a satisfied client reached 155 of their close contacts.

*Source: Facebook by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts. Omnicore (April 22, 2020).

Client appreciation events may be your secret sauce

Successful agencies have historically relied on strong client appreciation events for lead generation activities. You can simply wait until the crisis passes before you return to the format that works for you. Or, you can use a little imagination and create events that cost less than traditional formats but achieve results not possible in a physical venue.

How can virtual events really top physical events?

  • You’re not facing much competition. Everyone, for now, is basically stuck at home. Even a mediocre experience may attract more attendees than you expect, at least for now.
  • Geographic limits don’t exist. As long as you have licenses in the resident states of your guests, you can pull people from across the country to attend.
  • You may capture better speakers, musicians, or celebrities to attend at a much lower cost.
  • Breakout rooms available in Zoom (and some other platforms) allow you to create more intimate and controlled experiences to maximize engagement with a larger group of attendees.
  • Use of polls and chat features allow you to create more engagement with more people than ever before possible.

What will remain the same when you host a virtual rather than a physical client appreciation event?

  • These event ideas are all about deepening client connections.
  • Customize your approach to your client’s interests.
  • Keep the selling to a minimum.
  • If possible, enlist the involvement of your spouse or partner for couple events.
  • Whenever possible encourage clients to “invite a friend”. However, include any prospects you know as well.

We have listed some of the common (and uncommon) events available for you today in our strange world. Beneath each we offer suggestions on how to modify to make the event even more potent in a virtual environment.

Cooking classes

Chefs and local restaurants actively encourage take outs. Find a really good restaurant that will prepare preps for meals. Hire the chef to join your event virtually and help people make the meal in their homes.

Tastings (wine, beer, tequila, etc.)

See if there’s a retailer in the area who can ship a nice bottle or bottles well in advance of the event for all to share. Depending on the type and packaging of alcohol you serve, you may need to hold the event as a series. Use the virtual nature of the event to find an expert from a vineyard or brewery not easily accessed by your guests. See if the expert could include a virtual tour of the facilities as part of the event. Really take your guests to another part of the world from their living room.

Golf clinics

Some courses remain closed. However, the pros have often taken their coaching to virtual programs. Find a top pro somewhere in the country who will host a chipping or putting clinic via webinar. Send your participants tripods for their phones and a six-pack of golf balls in advance of the event.

Milestone celebrations (retirement, birthdays, graduations).

For those clients with whom you have many mutual contacts, consider hosting an event to celebrate an important moment. Yes, you could do this through Zoom. You could also organize a drive by parade. Offer branded cowbells or other paraphernalia at a pick-up point to connect your firm with the event.

Game nights

Many classic board games are now available online for you to play virtually with others. “The Game of Life” – which could make for some fun marketing tag lines, Scrabble, Clue, Monopoly, Boggle and more. These old-fashioned board games have become a welcome way to connect with other’s and create a few laughs. Imagine if your guests could play with a celebrity or well-known person.

Sporting events

At least until this fall, all major sporting events have been canceled. Use the opportunity to get a pro player to join your event virtually, talk about their career, last season and what lies ahead. You will get terrific engagement from your clients who love sports.

Fundraisers

Collaborate with your clients to raise money for their cause. Working together to raise charitable funds shows you care about matters outside of business.

Encourage your friends to participate to tell their story via Facebook or Instagram. Follow up personally with each attendee afterwards. And always ask them to introduce you to their friends who could benefit from your services.

5 Helpful Things to Talk to Clients About During COVID-19

Revisit The “Am I On Track?” Conversation

No one enjoys seeing their hard-earned savings drop. But as painful as it may be to see declining balances, the bigger pain point is that plans and goals may need to be put on hold or shift completely.

One of the most impactful things that agents can do right now is to reevaluate clients’ plans to be able to give them the answer to the all-important question, “Am I on track?”

Use Online Tools to Help Clients Understand Their Current Situation

Dynamic tools such as Nassau’s Retirement Planning Worksheet allow clients to record their emotional and financial concerns, goals, as well as their detailed financial profile by entering them into an online worksheet that they can easily email to you as a PDF.

Help Clients Adjust Their Budget (Effectively) As Necessary

For those clients whose plans are impacted by the current economic crisis and market downturns, perhaps one of the most valuable services an agent can provide is to help the client to review their monthly/annual spending to make adjustments, as necessary, to make the plan work again.

Agents can serve as a sounding board to help clients talk through and make potentially difficult decisions. Whether a client is 85 or 35, making cuts to spending can be difficult. In some cases, the expense(s) to go may be obvious, but other times, it may be more challenging, particularly in situations where spouses disagree on what should be cut. Agents can help clients to remain focused on the things which are most important to them and to serve as impartial arbiters when/if desired.

Talk through Making 2020 Roth Conversions While The Markets Are Low

While your gains may not be as large, the decision to make a Roth conversion is influenced in part by tax considerations.

With the new Secure Act legislation, there are now no income limits imposed by the IRS upon Roth IRA conversions. Anyone with a Traditional IRA, 401k, 403b or other similar retirement plan can convert it into a Roth IRA no matter how much they earn in a year. In past years, individuals making more than a defined income limit could not fully convert a Traditional IRA or other account into a Roth IRA. This limit has not applied since the 2010 tax year.

Create A Game Plan for What Happens If The Emergency Reserve Runs Dry

Several analysts have projected the unemployment rate to rise to 30% or higher in the near future*. If that happens, there’s no telling how long it will take, particularly in hard-hit areas, for some people to get back to work and avoid living off of their savings. For those approaching retirement age, this could drastically change their retirement vision.

Given this dynamic, agents should consider helping clients to establish the next-in-line source of cash to use after their emergency reserve runs dry. Notably, although clients may still be months away from running low on emergency funds, it’s important to identify the next source predictable income or cash flow, as it can provide peace of mind. Logistically, some options such as selling assets or looking at immediate income options can take time to secure.

*Source: Steve Matthews, U.S. Jobless Rate May Soar to 30%, Fed’s Bullard Says. Bloomberg (Mar 22, 2020)

Consider Reducing And/Or Temporarily Eliminating Payments That Don’t Have to Be Made

Many individuals’ cashflows are impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis. Agents can help clients understand the types of payments that can (or should) currently be considered for reduction. These may include:

  • Federal Student Loan Payments.  The Department of Education announced that the interest rate on all Federally-provided student loans will automatically drop*. This is worth looking into. Borrowers can call 1-800-4-FED-AID, or visit their loan servicers website to make the change.
  • Mortgage Payments. In some states a mortgage ‘holiday’ may be available to clients who have seen disruptions to their income due to the COVID-19 crisis. The general idea of such a provision is to automatically allow impacted borrowers to defer payments without incurring additional costs and/or impacting their credit scores. Mortgages often represent the largest monthly expense. Any relief could help ease the impact of decreased cashflows.
  • Credit Card Payments. Many credit card companies are offering relief during the COVID-19 crisis. This may include reduced or delayed monthly payments, reduced interest rates, and abated late and other fees. Reaching out to credit card companies could provide some temporary help.

*Source: Delivering on President Trump’s Promise, Secretary DeVos Suspends Federal Student Loan Payments, Waives Interest During National Emergency. U.S. Department of Education (Mar. 20, 2020).

In short… help your clients control what they can today and reassure them you are here to continue the conversation tomorrow.

Disclosures

For agent/producer use only. Not for use with the general public.

This information is provided by Nassau Life and Annuity Company for general education purposes only. Nassau Life and Annuity Company and its affiliates, their distributors, and their respective employees, representatives and/or insurance agents do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Individuals should consult their own independent advisor as to any tax, accounting or legal statements made herein. All product sales must be appropriate, based on a comprehensive evaluation of the customer’s financial situation, needs and objectives. BPD#40170

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Anthony LaRosaDigital Bootcamp: Week Four: Turn Your Existing Clients into Fans Who Refer Their Friends
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Digital Bootcamp: Week Three: Refreshing Your Online Profile in Our New Era

It’s a worthwhile investment

Creating a strong online profile is no longer an option; it’s a necessity. These challenging times have not only changed our life and business priorities but how we interact with others.

Whether you are looking to expand your network or build your business, social media enables you to:

  • Discover new ideas and trends
  • Connect with existing and new audiences in deeper ways
  • Bring attention and traffic to your work
  • Build and enhance your professional and personal brand
  • Demonstrate your “thought leadership” skills
  • Create strong personal connections at scale

If done right, your refreshed online presence gives you an opportunity to attract more people who not only support you but will enlighten your thinking about ways to grow your brand and your business in this environment.

Some of you use social media explicitly for driving business. The vast majority of you use social media to create a personal connection with your friends, clients and prospects. The elements required to create engagement remain the same:

  • Create an online presence that truly reflects your personality
  • Post good content that tells compelling stories
  • Actively engage with your friends and acquaintances

That said, themes and images that created engagement and excitement before February 2020 may have the very reverse effect today. Early surveys already demonstrate dramatic shifts in purchasing behavior, aspirations, and long-term economic perspectives of most consumers. In short, think twice before posting a picture of your visit to the beach, a ride on a posh boat, or a new car.

For the remainder of 2020, we believe that consumers will respond to content that demonstrates:

  • You work hard to serve your community
  • Your advice and products offer safety for families and retirees, and
  • People can trust you to steer them through this economic storm

We suggest you begin with your profile. First, ask yourself three questions:

  1. Are there ways to improve what you already have online? Will a prospect immediately grasp your commitment to providing financial guidance?
  2. Is the profile picture you uploaded last year still relevant? Will a consumer want to trust the picture of the person they see?
  3. Does your bio need to be updated? Have you fully documented your community activities?

Since it’ll be the first impression many people see, improving your online presence includes social media channels. Does that initial impression convey community connection, safety and trust?

We’ll focus on four social media channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Since we are concentrating on business, LinkedIn should be the platform you refresh first.

Four things you’ll need to get started:

Your Photo

Use a high-quality headshot that reflects what you look like today, not 10 years ago. Do not choose a photo of someone else, a group shot, an arm draped over your shoulder or a selfie. It should a professional photo of your face.

Your Background Header Image

It’s time to replace the generic “sky” photo behind your head shot. This is your “billboard.” Put it to good use! There are many free quality LinkedIn backgrounds available online. You may want to choose one that resonates with your personal style or represents your interests.

Your Professional Headline

Your headline is what appears directly below your photo on LinkedIn. The default is your current job title. Rather than using your title, you should include information that attracts visitors to want to learn more about you. Be explicit about how you can help people – but do it in a professional manner. Remember, you get up to 120 characters in your headline.

About/Summary

Add a Summary to better represent the depth of your professional expertise. Most people use first-person voice in their About section, rather than writing about themselves in the third person. First-person sounds more personable. Select one and stick with it.

The Summary is also great for search engine optimization (SEO). Use keywords that are relevant to your industry expertise. The keywords and phrases in your profile—including your Summary and other information—will impact how likely you are to show up in Google searches for:

  • Your name
  • Skills relevant to your expertise
  • Companies where you work

LinkedIn offers a variety of ways to expand your network by connecting with professionals in your industry. You should also post your own content, showing off your thought leadership and expertise on a regular basis.

While you may use your LinkedIn photo for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, consider using photos of a more casual nature. Try using photos that showcase your hobbies or interests.

Twitter offers you 280 characters to express your ideas and thoughts. You can use photos and videos that support your message to help you stand out. Smart, relevant, timely posts can help you raise your profile, especially when you use #hashtags.

Facebook can connect you with influencers in your industry and you can share articles, stories and images. Show the world what matters most to you.

Instagram is more than photos and images, it’s a place for doing business. Instagram’s audience loves cool and interesting visuals. You can combine awesome content with visuals such as infographics or images to build followers.

It’s an art and a science

Be authentic. Think before you post. Experiment and see what’s working and what isn’t. Constantly re-evaluate.

Start slow, select the platforms that align with what you are trying to accomplish. Look to others in the market that are doing this well. Use your common sense.

This new era has given us the gift of time. Investing some time to enhance your online presence today will pay dividends in the future.

Keep Compliance Top of Mind

If you’re using social media for prospecting or to advertise insurance products, keep in mind that all states have specific rules and regulations you need to comply with. And be sure to get approval from the carriers you represent when mentioning their name or products, whether online or in other types of media.

Disclosures

For agent/producer use only. Not for use with the general public.

This information is provided by Nassau Life and Annuity Company for general education purposes only. Nassau Life and Annuity Company and its affiliates, their distributors, and their respective employees, representatives and/or insurance agents do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Individuals should consult their own independent advisor as to any tax, accounting or legal statements made herein. All product sales must be appropriate, based on a comprehensive evaluation of the customer’s financial situation, needs and objectives. BPD#40165

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Anthony LaRosaDigital Bootcamp: Week Three: Refreshing Your Online Profile in Our New Era
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Digital Bootcamp: Week Two: Making A Trusted, Emotional Connection Through a Webcam

Your digital advertising has paid off. A potential client has emailed you requesting an introductory meeting to explore their retirement or life insurance options—or to see if you’re the right person to help them meet their needs. Although nothing beats an in-person meeting, COVID-19 has taught us that sometimes this just isn’t possible.

To make this meeting effective, you have to master three skills. First, you need to learn to be technically competent not only to run your connection smoothly but also be able to easily troubleshoot problems for your potential client. Second, and most important, you need to manage the process in such a way that you create an emotional connection strong enough for someone to trust you with their financial future. Finally, third, you need to manage the meeting in a way that meets all compliance requirements for the carriers you may represent.

Mastering the Technical Process: Devote at Least Three Hours to Learn

When you can’t meet in person, a virtual meeting is a great opportunity to develop a strong first impression. If you’re new to virtual meetings, online meeting platforms—like Skype or Zoom—can seem intimidating. With some practice, virtual meetings can be a reliable and powerful way to get some facetime with potential clients from the safety and comfort of both your own desks.

Five years ago, connecting your laptop to a webcam and finding a client willing to do the same probably proved daunting. Today, just about everyone has learned to communicate through a camera on their phone or computer. That said, you still need to establish a solid set up in your home office that will reliably allow good video and audio connections.

Get the Right Equipment

Good virtual meetings only require standard equipment today. If you have an average internet connection and a laptop purchased in the last two years, you will likely have what you need to host a client meeting. Great virtual meetings may require a high-internet connection, a 4K or better webcam, a high-quality microphone like one used for a podcast, and dedicated lighting behind the webcam.

Resources*
The Best Webcams

Open A Big Pipe

Hosting virtual meetings requires a reliable internet connection. Use a free online resource like speedtest.net to see if your internet can handle virtual meetings. As a general rule of thumb, your download speed should be at least 8mbps, whereas your upload speed should be at least 1.5mbps. For a great experience, make sure you have at least 8mps upload speed and download speeds in excess of 30 mbps.

If you need to increase your speed, limit the number of devices currently using your Wi-Fi, or connect your computer directly to your internet router using an ethernet chord. If your internet speed still proves slower than needed, you may need to upgrade your plan with your internet service provider.

Pick Your Preferred Virtual Meeting Platform

Whether you’re using Zoom, Skype, or another platform, thoroughly test that it works correctly on the device you’ll be using for the meeting. Spend a few hours exploring the platform’s features, reading the user guide, and watching videos online.  Once you feel confident, schedule a 30-minute meeting to test the following questions with a friend/colleague:

  • How do you schedule a meeting? How do your guests join?
  • How do you start the meeting?
  • Test your audio and microphone. Can you hear and be heard?
  • Test your camera. Can you see and be seen?
  • How do you mute/unmute yourself? How do you toggle your video on and off?
  • Can you start and end a screenshare?
  • Can you record the event?

Learn the Other Popular Platforms

Just because you like one conference platform does not mean that your client will. If your clients tend to be over the age of 55, their service of choice may be determined by their grandchildren. Make sure you understand how to use all the other platforms. Today, the most popular ones include Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, and Messenger. You should be able to meet your client on their terms. Make certain you have an account on all of these services in case a client insists on a platform you don’t regularly use.

Resources*
How to Use Zoom
How to Use Skype
How to Make Video Calls with Skype for Business

Creating an Emotional Connection with Your Client

Chances are you’ve been in hundreds, if not thousands of meetings throughout your career. Virtual meetings, however, function somewhere in between an in-person meeting and a phone call. Follow this outline and tips below for leading a successful, rewarding virtual meeting.

BEFORE


The All-Important Pre-Call

A quick call with your client could make all the difference in hosting an effective and productive virtual meeting.

After introductions, define the client’s goal—the heart of why they reached out to you initially. Then, begin ironing out the logistics of your next connection. In addition to the standard date and time, ask if they’d be open to a virtual meeting. If they are, ask if they have a preferred online meeting platform. This may require a bit of prep on your end to learn the platform if you haven’t already. Fortunately, the core skills you develop with one are fairly transferable to another. Regardless, operating in a system your potential client is familiar with will greatly reduce the likelihood any technical obstacles occur during the meeting itself.

If they don’t have a preferred platform, or are new to virtual meetings, suggest your preferred platform and explain its features and ease of use. Close the call in appreciation of your client’s time and your eagerness to work with them in the future. Small touchpoints like this are key to building likability and trust.

Schedule the Meeting, Set Expectations

A day or so after your initial call, schedule the meeting using your online calendar of choice. Send an itemized agenda including the objective of the meeting, topics you’ll discuss, as well as clear, step-by-step instructions about how your guest can join the virtual meeting. Include a backup phone number—just in case. 

Prepare Your Visuals: Screensharing

Insurance products can be complicated. Screensharing illustrations or visuals to help your guest better understand product features can make or break your meeting. Make sure you have them ready in a designated folder for your meeting, or your go-to place on your device.

Get Camera Ready

You don’t need an in-house studio to look professional on a webcam. Follow this seven-bullet checklist to present yourself well virtually and to keep your guest’s attention focused on you.

  • Wear neutral colors (blues, grays)
  • Remove noisy jewelry
  • Place camera at eye level
  • Take a step away from the camera and center your face in its frame. Being too close to the camera may create an uneasy, unnatural feeling to your guest that potentially diminishes their willingness to connect with you.
  • Remove distracting items and background light from the frame
  • Light yourself from the front with natural (window) lighting

Plan a Technology Pre-Check

Depending on your level of comfort, plan 15-30 minutes to test your audio and video before the meeting. Try restarting your device if something that was previously working isn’t anymore. Be prepared to jump in and troubleshoot if your guest needs a hand in joining the meeting. This is where all the time you spent learning the platform will shine.

Be Early

Don’t make a client wait for the meeting to start. Open the meeting at least 5 minutes in advance to reduce the possibility of creating anxiety over the technology for your client.

DURING


Build Trust and Comfort

At the opening of your meeting, create an atmosphere of privacy by shutting the door and putting headphones in. This will show your guest that what they’re saying is confidential. Additionally, if your platform allows it, consider asking your guest if they’d benefit from a recording of the conversation that you could share with them afterwards. Bear in mind: any recording could become public information, so lead the conversation accordingly.

Allocate enough time to break the ice. Try to find common ground to build relatability and likability. If you’ve practiced the skill of mirroring, or the adoption of the physical and verbal behaviors of another as a way to build rapport and agreement during the sales process, a virtual meeting is a great opportunity to utilize it.

Make certain that your camera frames at least the top half of your torso. This will make it easier for your client to respond to your body language and cues. Studies show that webcam calls focused just on heads reduce the chance of establishing empathy and trust.

Eye Contact: Look Into the Camera

While it’s tempting to watch yourself or your client on screen, look into the camera. Just like maintaining eye contact, focusing on the lens will increase empathy and deepen their connection to you.

Be Mindful of Background Noises

Your dog hasn’t barked in years, but they will when you’re in a virtual meeting. To minimize interruptions, it’s best practice to mute yourself unless you’re speaking. Make sure to take yourself off of mute when it’s your turn to communicate.

Keep Them Engaged

When it’s time to present, speak slowly and confidently when describing your points. Remember—because you spent time framing your camera appropriately, you can further emphasize your key messages with hand motions, pointed expressions, etc. Although it’s always tempting to include beautiful landscapes or animal pictures for easy wow-factor in your presentation, pair what you’re saying with visuals that reinforce your many concepts, not distract from them.

Perhaps most importantly, make sure to pause and prompt for questions throughout your presentation and to provide your client plenty of chances to chime in. These openings are not your chance to check that text message you just received or your email. Devote your attention to the conversation, nodding in recognition of the points your guests make, answering questions, and asking targeted follow ups. Dialogues connect people more deeply than lectures ever could.

Close the Meeting in Style

Wrap up the conversation by reemphasizing the meeting’s critical points. Be clear about timeframes and what exactly your guest can expect from you. As the old maxim goes, say what you’ll do, and do what you say. End on a note of positivity to encourage your client to associate you with that mindset when they think about the meeting later.

Resources*

More than Face-to-Face: Empathy Effects of Video Framing
Mirroring in Sales
Yes, There Is Video Chat Etiquette. Here are 10 rules.
How to Use the Six Persuasion Principles in Your Video Marketing Campaigns
10 Smart Tips for Running a Productive Teleconference
How to Forge Trust with Video Conferencing

AFTER


Be Proactive Post-Meeting

The same day, or the day after the meeting ends, follow up with your client, including a meeting summary or recording of the conversation. Reemphasize the timeframe of any deliverables or expectations you discussed and stick to them. Nothing ends a new client relationship faster than a broken promise.

Remaining Fully Compliant in the Process

Make certain you know the exact compliance requirements of the carriers you represent before you start the conversation and those of the states in which you work and your client resides. Some carriers still have insurance and annuity applications filed with states that require you to attest to meeting the client in person and that you have physically verified the authenticity of their identification. Some states still have laws in place that require specific regulatory approval to take applications over the phone or internet. In the last few months, many of these carriers and states have modified the rules to enable virtual sales meetings. However, for your own protection, find out the exact rules before you start the call so you avoid problems down the road.

In a quickly shifting regulatory and compliance landscape, we suggest you adopt the following habits:

  • Record meetings in which you actually take an application. Most platforms allow you to easily do this. However, always remember to ask permission to record the conversation and explain to your clients why it’s helpful for you to do this.
  • On the call, establish the physical location of both you and your client. Given the unusual circumstances of these times, this will demonstrate your diligence in determining the eligibility of the sale and prevent an application from being rejected later.
  • Ask the client to physically show their identification on camera. Most carriers will only need a photo or the ID number as part of the applications. However, at least one carrier requires the ID to be shown on screen.
  • Get a transcription of the call and keep with your client files. Some platforms offer automated transcriptions. If yours does not, consider using an inexpensive service to transcribe it for you.

While it may be more difficult for some to secure new sales in these challenging times, it’s imperative that you continue to comprehensively evaluate each client’s individual financial situation, needs and objectives before recommending a product to ensure it is appropriate for them.

In Conclusion

Create a long lasting, powerful first impression with your potential clients with digital meetings. With the right tools, internet speed, meeting preparation, and just a little bit of practice, you’ll be a pro in no time!

Disclosures

*Any references to the products, information or websites of any third party are for informational purposes only. Nassau Re does not endorse any third party products, information or websites and makes no representations as to the suitability or accuracy of such products, information or websites. Your access to and use of any third party products, information or websites is at your sole risk.

The articles shown as a part of this series are for general information purposes only. Nassau Re and its affiliates, their distributors, and their respective employees, representatives and/or insurance agents do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Individuals should consult their own independent advisor as to any tax, accounting or legal statements made herein.

BPD#40146

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Anthony LaRosaDigital Bootcamp: Week Two: Making A Trusted, Emotional Connection Through a Webcam
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Digital Bootcamp: Week One: Make Your Practice COVID-19 Friendly

Put on your oxygen mask before helping others

Over the next few weeks, we will offer a six-part bootcamp for taking your firm digital. We believe that you should focus more on digital marketing today. Not tomorrow. Today.

In the short-term, you can use email, social media, video conferences, and digital ads to help generate enough business to pull your firm through this crisis. In the long-term, the goal is to build a more profitable, valuable, and efficient practice.

However, before you try something new, you need to feel confident about your business today. In part 1 of 6 of our series, we’ll focus on how to shore up your financials in the middle of a pandemic.

Remember cash is king

Whoever can manage their cash flow will be more likely to survive and thrive in this weird world we now inhabit. To help you do this, you need to follow this simple rule: speed up money coming in the front door, slow down money going out the back.

So: how do you do this as an independent agent, producer, or financial advisor? First, just like you would with your client, start by creating a rough cash flow needs analysis.

Daily Burn Rate

Add the last six months of payments from all your business bank accounts and divide by the number of days in those months. Why go back six months? You will likely find that certain receivables may take a long time to turn into cash in your bank account. These may be annuities requiring 1035 exchanges or hard-to-place, and rated life insurance applications in the pipeline. This will give you an accurate daily burn rate for your practice.

Cash On Hand

Add up all your current bank balances and cash holdings that you can withdraw without penalty or incurring interest. You may be tempted to add in your pre-approved credit lines. Don’t do it. Those forms of cash are debt. You want an honest answer for the baseline calculation of your cash on hand.

Cash Buffer Days

Next, divide your cash on hand by your daily burn rate. This will tell you how many days your business can pay bills without running out of money. Put this number on a wall, a post-it note or in your daily journal.

How am I doing?

Is your number good or bad? The answer depends a lot on your business model. For comparison, restaurants typically generate high cash turnover and operate with low total margins. They typically report a median of 16 cash buffer days. The pandemic put incredible stress on these businesses and forced immediate layoffs in many cases.

Real estate agents, in contrast may wait many months to receive a large commission. They must stretch their savings over a longer period of time. As no surprise, most real estate agencies report a cash buffer of 47 days.

I would expect that most insurance agencies’ cash flow analyses look more like real estate firms. If you run a practice that relies on a seminar selling system that stretches over three months, your cash buffer days may exceed 50 days. In contrast, if you work in partnership with a local bank and sell fixed annuities to retirees over the phone, you may only need 20 days of cash buffer to operate effectively.

If you have a CFO, he or she should tell you that your ideal number of cash buffer days should be long enough to avoid having to use a short-term credit line to make payroll and pay expenses. It also shouldn’t be so long that you struggle to pay your personal expenses.

How do I improve my cash position?

As I mentioned in the beginning, the rule for improving your cash position is ridiculously simple: speed up money coming in the front door and slow down money going out the back. Practicing this requires a lot of attention, discipline, and very consistent management action.

Slow down money flowing out

First, slow your cash flow by cutting costs. Some expenses will automatically end, like client breakfasts, lunches or appreciation events. Others may require some painful steps or long conversations.

If you have a support team, salary and health care costs may be your single biggest non-marketing expense to manage. You probably depend heavily on their support and have long-term relationships. Short of layoffs, you may need to consider cutting hours or asking for reduced compensation. If they have insurance licenses, you may be able to offer variable compensation tied to sales. Rent may be your second largest expense. If you have a landlord, communicate directly and honestly about your financial state. It’s possible they will reduce rent or defer payments rather than lose a reliable tenant.

Depending on your business model, advertising, marketing, or leads may be the next largest expenses. Reach out to any software as a service provider and ask for modifications to your terms. Explore if they are offering short-term discounts or even suspension of billing to help their clients survive in this market. At a minimum, ask for an extension of payment terms.

Finally, remember to call your phone and Internet service provider. You likely have the time now to sit on hold and negotiate the terms and price of your contract.

Speed up money flowing in

First and foremost, start working with the carriers you trust most during this period so that you can confidently submit business that consistently places and quickly pays commissions. However, you will want to work with enough carriers to mitigate the risk of inevitable pricing or underwriting changes. The carriers you select should have robust digital capabilities today and not be playing catch up.

Waiting 10 vs. 30 days to receive a commission payment will have an incredibly positive impact on your bank account. In the next few months, speed depends on using the e-app capabilities of the carriers and working closely with their new business departments. You should expect real-time text alerts, online chat, the ability to upload documents, and on-line payment options for clients.

See which carriers offer value-added benefits or services that can help you speed up your cash flow. Depending on your new business volume, you may be. You may be eligible for accelerated payment of commissions, special marketing assistance payments, or even free leads.

What’s next?

If you follow these steps, you should have more cash buffer days to protect your practice and start to again grow your business. Take this week to go through your financials. If you have an accountant, ask them to help. If you belong to a mastermind group, lean on the members for creative solutions to strengthen your financial position.

For our top producers, we’re offering a livestream program and 1-on-1 sessions on this topic. Ask your primary carriers or independent marketing organization what help may be available.

Next week, we’ll focus on creating a top virtual experience when meeting your clients on screen.

Disclosures

For agent/producer use only. Not for use with the general public.

This information is provided by Nassau Life and Annuity Company for general education purposes only. Nassau Life and Annuity Company and its affiliates, their distributors, and their respective employees, representatives and/or insurance agents do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Individuals should consult their own independent advisor as to any tax, accounting or legal statements made herein. All product sales must be appropriate, based on a comprehensive evaluation of the customer’s financial situation, needs and objectives. BPD#40133

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Anthony LaRosaDigital Bootcamp: Week One: Make Your Practice COVID-19 Friendly
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