How to Follow-Up the Right Way

We live in a time of information overload. Let’s face it–your email may just be glanced over if not sent directly to the spam bin. If you want to convert your spam to sale, you have to write follow-up emails that work.

Repetitive language and email templates aren’t going to get you any closer to success, especially if you’re using phrases like “just seeing how you’re doing.” Language like this is overused like the words “very” or “good.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with these words; but there’s a time and place. Starting an email with “I’m very excited. Have you seen this very good discount?” is going to send anyone into snoresville.

Enough about the wrong ways, let’s go over how you can send a follow-up the right way. Just keep these ideas in mind: Define, Clarify, and Time.

Define

Like starting a road trip, you won’t get far if you just hop in the car with no destination in mind. If you’re writing a follow-up email, you have to understand what your purpose is. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make.

man sending a follow-up email at his desk
Defining your email is the best place to start. Make sure you know why you’re sending the message in the first place.

The point of defining your follow-up is like setting your GPS. These are the most common types:

  • Reminder- Prompting someone to respond to an earlier email.
  • Thank You- Showing appreciation for a sale or otherwise.
  • Request- Asking for more information or another sales push

Knowing which one you’re writing is going to give you the parameters for your call-to-action. A reminder follow-up has a completely different tone than a thank-you.

Define clearly what your objective is for your email. We’ll take the reminder as an example. You’ve spoken with a client, and the conversation went well. It’s been longer than necessary for a callback, so you decide to reach out and send a follow-up email.

Your needs are not to congratulate them or request anything; you simply need to remind them about your earlier conversation. Your call-to-action is similar to what you’ve spoken about before. Now that you understand this, it’s time to clarify.

Clarify

The immediate message your client takes from your email shouldn’t be “hey, you forgot about me trying to sell you this.” It has to be something human. It’s difficult, but you have to catch their eye with something emotional, something that makes them want to read more.

Your opening line can be the same as your subject line. It has to hook the reader, make them feel something about your connection (or make them regret not connecting earlier). This can involve some homework.

Involve information from the last time you spoke. You can open with “Remember [topic] we spoke about last week?” or “Congrats on [achievement].” Remember to keep these openers professional. While humor is a good way to connect with people, maintaining a professional air during written correspondence is always in style.

After the opening paragraph (and their hook for caring), you must deliver a clear purpose. Be as straightforward as possible without coming off as rude. For example, instead of stating “I’d like to call you sometime this week,” write “I’d love to chat with you about [topic] we covered last time. How does Wednesday afternoon sound?”

The more concrete you sound, the better. People respond well to clear, concise phrasing, especially if it concerns their finances. No one wants to be confused when it comes to their money.

sending a follow-up email with a cell phone
Bonus tip: if you’re sending emails with your phone, make sure they’re still formatted correctly!

Time

So, now that you’ve defined what your follow-up is for, including the call-to-action, and you’ve drafted an email with a clear purpose, there is one last thing to consider. Before you hit the send button, make sure you have the email timed correctly.

This means to be mindful of the situation you’re responding to. For example, if your purpose is to prompt another conversation, like an interview, you’d likely wait a week or so. Nothing irritates a prospective employer more than constant proddings.

However, if it’s a thank-you note or something similar, that is perfectly acceptable within a 24-hour period. The point is to make sure the email’s purpose aligns with how much time it takes up. If someone just needs to read it quickly and can continue with their day, then a shorter time frame is fine. If your email has more of a time commitment attached (like a new meeting or more tasks), then wait longer to send.

Follow-up emails have major power for your business. If you’re looking to drive up conversion rates, nothing works faster than proper communication. People will not only respect you as a reliable source, but they’ll also trust you with their business, valuing your relationship.

2 Simple Tactics to Build a Solid Customer Relationship

As a freelancer, I have learned over time that the customer connection is your strongest selling point. Therefore, a great relationship can take your career to the next level. For agents, your needs are the same as my own: you want strong, solid customer relationships that bring you sales time after time.

But that’s the issue. It’s hard to cultivate these relationships if you’re coming from the wrong standpoint. Throw away outdated sales tactics like “not taking no for an answer.” From here on out, engagement is your cornerstone.

Engagement Tactic: Communication

Take a solid partnership for instance. You won’t have a successful marriage if you don’t communicate with one another (or at least make it happily). Like any relationship, the one with your customer needs to come from a place of genuine connection.

You can build this connection through email outreach, phone calls, and even texting. Studies show that people connect faster online than ever. So, utilize the technology available to reach out to a wider audience.

a customer relationship built with a woman holding a credit card
It’s easy to convert someone to a sale! Just remember that they’re buying with their heart, not their head.

This emotional attachment will keep your connection strong from typing to talking. When you chat with someone, you don’t just want to go on and on about your business. That’s boring. Engage the customer on their level by listening to them, and responding to their needs.

For example, if you’re building a customer relationship, obviously your sales pitch is going to be a topic at some point. The first point in communication is listening to them, show them you’re human too. This can be as simple as talking about a shared hobby sport, or even volunteer work.

Once you get a customer laughing or sharing a story, you collect on the most precious coin of all: emotion. Engaging in the emotional pull will almost guarantee you a sale.

Engagement Tactic: Reaction

Why do people like playing difficult games? Why did you get into sales in the first place? You wanted a reaction.

People like to be in competition because they get something back. It’s why we play sports, video games, and enter contests. The same tactic can be used in your relationships.

Don’t force your connections into one-sided conversations. You need to ask questions that require more than yes or no answers, then listen (take notes if you have to) and react. People want feedback to their own problems, just make sure your feedback is positive.

Remember, they’re answering the phone, or coming to you with a problem. You have their solution, but it can’t be dressed as a sales pitch. That’s one of the quickest way to lose someone, a fatal mistake. It doesn’t say “hello, I want to help you.” It says, “Give me your money. You’re a number to me.”

That’s the last thing anyone wants, including you.

building a customer relationship through a phone call
Use what you’ve learned! Take the time on your phone calls to connect with someone, even mentioning small human things (like a holiday) can help.

So, to wrap up, engagement is what you’re going for. Connect to someone on a personal level, and find out exactly what problems they’re having. You already have their solution; you just need to show them that you care.

Then, react to them. Ask for feedback on how you handled their case. Show gratitude. Give them a bonus gift. Really, anything can be done here to reinforce the fact that you’re offering a service, not a price tag.

Use these simple tactics for a customer relationship, and watch your sales shoot through the ceiling.

How Agents Are Evolving

The insurance industry, and the agents that champion it, are affected by change, just like any other business. However, the changes are slow in coming. With advances in technology, most people can buy anything with their phones–on the comfort of their own couch.

light bulb to show agents evolving with ideas
It’s a bright idea to keep your skill sharp. You don’t want to fall behind in your industry.

While captive agents are aligned with the more traditional insurance narratives, independent agents are seeing more freedom in how they interact with their client base. However, each niche in the industry is affected by market trends, and the smart agent stays on top of them.

Technology

As we talked about earlier, smartphones have changed a lot. People don’t even have to own a computer now to research insurance policies, contact agents, and have conversations about their purchases. We’ve got a faster, better-informed generation of people looking for coverage.

Apps have bashed their way in, drawing a huge number of consumers with their conveniences. Basically, as people use technology to buy things in new ways, they’ll expect many industries to adapt to them. If you’re an insurance firm looking to break into a new market, look at what Uber is doing and try to adopt a similar model.

Local vs. Social Media

With the information exchange, it can be hard to decide on a venue to focus on. For agents, the local scene was the best place to invest time and resources. You could capitalize on word-of-mouth and local ads to gain a client base.

However, now everyone can use a search engine to find information. So, it’s no longer about just your local clients. Now, a new obstacle is balancing them with a wider, online audience.

With a new digital era comes a shift in trust. People want to see someone with a user profile online, so they can check out the agent before contacting them. A trustworthy profile on any social media is one asset any marketer can benefit from having.

However, with important purchases like insurance, it is still important for a local presence. While there are more ways to gather information, people still find comfort in speaking face to face with someone.

In essence, agents should evolve to embrace both worlds.

social media on handheld device for agents to use
You can run a successful business all in the palm of your hand! You just need to streamline the apps that are most useful.

Terminology

The big terms defining the insurance industry are now less defined. A decade ago, you could rely on terminology like “captive, direct channel, or independent agent,” now it’s not as black and white.

It’s become easier and more lucrative to work across industry channels. Captive agents find their companies talking with independent ones more. This is driven by the consumer base. With clients shopping around so much, and with a wider variety of brokers, it makes sense that the entire industry would become more fluid.

All of these together make up the power shift from underwriters to distribution (insurance agencies). In years past, underwriters were the real moneymakers when it came to policy sales. Now? Insurance agents are holding more power and more responsibility.

 

How to Maximize Your Productivity

As an agent, time management skills have a direct impact on your performance and sales. It goes unsaid that they are necessary to excel in your industry. However, even though everyone has the same amount of hours in a day, some people are able to accomplish so much more than others. Wondering how to maximize your productivity like some others do?

Perfectly organized planners and spreadsheets could explain smoothly handling a flood of tasks. But there are other solutions for the rest of us to navigate a variety of commitments and optimize our time effortlessly.

We have an answer to this dilemma – in a career where missing deadlines is not an option, the Covey time management grid is guaranteed to help you to manage your available time more efficiently.

Covey’s 4 Quadrant Theory offers a simple format to organize your tasks. Covey, an American keynote speaker and author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People , uses four quadrants that allow you to prioritize tasks in relation to their importance and urgency. This helps you to decide whether you need to address a task immediately or if you can postpone it.

Responsibilities are grouped into four categories: Important, Urgent, Not Important, and Not Urgent.

Quadrant I – Urgent and Important

In this section, we find tasks that have skipped out of the non-urgent category and have a significant time sensitivity associated with their completion. Urgent responsibilities require immediate attention. These activities are often tightly linked to the accomplishment of someone else’s goal. Not dealing with these issues will cause immediate consequences. While careful planning can help avoid tasks entering this quadrant, tasks will pop up or increase in urgency to land themselves here.

The real skill is to commit time to processes that enable you to work on tasks more quickly and with ease. It also ensures that they get done more efficiently.

Examples: Crises, deadline-driven work, medical/other emergencies, last-minute preparations.

Quadrant II – Not Urgent but Important

Covey’s time management system proposes creating time to focus on important tasks before they become urgent. Quadrant II activities are not urgent, but they are important.

These tasks are your long-term strategies and goals. Staying on top of these in a consistent manner will ensure that you are always one step ahead of where you need to be. This prevents you from ending up in Quadrant I on a frequent basis.

In addition, there are important activities that fall in this category including relationship building and recreation. We often read about organizing our professional lives, but personal lives need to be weighed into the equation as well. To avoid burnout, we need to focus on ourselves, family and friends as part of the equation rather than an afterthought, and Covey realizes this as part of his structure.

Examples: Preparation and planning, relationship-building, exercise, nutrition, and regular doctor checkups to prevent urgent health emergencies.

Quadrant III – Urgent but Not Important

The third quadrant is reserved for tasks that are urgent, without being important. Covey recommends minimizing or even eliminating these tasks as they do not contribute to your output. Delegation is also an option here. At best, these are distractions with high urgency.

Tasks that land in this quadrant often come from sources that regard the task as urgent and important (Quadrant I). Because of emotion, they fail to delineate between the two. When approached with tasks in this quadrant, it is best to delegate, as previously stated, but do so in a way to subside the crisis-level emotion and guide the task into its true “not-important” category.

Examples: Emails, calls, meeting other people’s priorities instead of completing one’s own tasks.

Quadrant IV – Not Urgent and Not Important

The fourth and last quadrant focuses on tasks and responsibilities that do not yield any value—items that are unimportant and not urgent. These time wasters should be eliminated in designated work time as they have little to no value. However, this quadrant can be used as a reward.

While you want to remain out of this quadrant while trying to drive results, some tasks in this quadrant do have there time and place. An effective use of your time would help you operate in this quadrant by choice rather than venturing into it as part of a by-product of aimlessly wandering through your day.

Examples: Busywork, mindlessly watching tv, scrolling through social media, procrastinating important responsibilities.

How Does This Apply To My Career?

If you’re like most people, you probably spend most of your time on activities that either fall into Quadrant 1 or Quadrant 3 because they’re urgent. And, as an insurance agent, you cannot afford to be scrambling to complete a never-ending list of urgent tasks because they weren’t addressed when they fell into the second quadrant – important, but not urgent.

You must manage promoting and selling insurance products and services to your customers above all. But you also have to balance doing your own research on the plans so you can give sound financial advisory services and customer support to your clients. Marketing strategies must be drawn and redrawn from time to time, keeping in mind your customers’ preferences.

If you sell a variety of insurances, such as health, life, commercial, or medicare – you must complete these objectives for each vertical. Long story short, you have your work cut out for you. But through implementing this model, your load will become significantly less daunting.

How to Sell Health Insurance to 26 Year Olds

When it comes to selling health insurance, there is a niche, often overlooked group that requires a different approach than your average 30-year-old looking to purchase a family plan – the 26 year-olds.

The reason selling insurance to this age group should be handled differently is because, similar to any specified target customer, the needs and wants someone is their mid-20s has are unique. They’re purchasing insurance for themselves for the first time, most likely because the lifespan on their parents’ plans has come to an end.

To help you take on this group, we’ve compiled three key tips to provide agents with some insight on the purchasing behaviors to keep an eye out for when encountering a young adult:

Flexibility

Perhaps one of the primary behaviors of a young adult is a “no-commitment” mentality. Many of these individuals, if single, are not looking to sign off on anything that is permanent. Just look at the recent stats from the U.S. Census Bureau – the average age of first marriage for women in 2017 was 27.4 years. For men, it’s slightly older at 29.5 years. At 26, it would be fair to anticipate that flexibility is appealing.

Unlike long-term plans, short term health insurance provides fast, flexible insurance with many benefits. These plans can be extended up to 3 years, and you can pick your deductible amount from many options. You are also able to drop coverage without a penalty if you want to change to a long term insurance option. Premiums are lower than ACA health insurance plans, and you get coverage as soon as a day after applying. We’d recommend, in addition to providing information on long-term plans, you emphasize flexible short-plans if a 26-year-old sounds hesitant to commit to a purchase.

Partnership

Key trait of the 26 year-olds: they’re online. Shopping, of any essence, is typically done via computer, phone, table, iPod, etc. This generation is used to one-click Amazon Prime purchases. As the professional agent, it’s your job to make insurance shopping the same.

Comparison shopping, which any experienced shopper is familiar with, takes up a significant amount of valuable time. Being the insurance agent, you become the one-stop Amazon Prime Insurance stop. By offering your guidance and comparison of plans – you’re doing the difficult work for them. Prove your expertise by doing proper research to give them a well-rounded analysis of plans, prices, premiums, and more.

In this customer scenario, you are, above all, their teammate. Help them to decide on their preferences. Preferences that a first time shopper does not even know they have. If you can help the average young adult find a quality plan that checks off their boxes, you’ve done your job. Remember: you are there to inform and support them in their selection, regardless of what it may be.

The Overall Price of the Plan

If an individual is a 20-something, as mentioned, they are more likely to be single and childless – but that doesn’t mean they will stay that way. Life events are approaching. Marriage, children, mortgages, retirement plans, etc.

Short term plans are certainly cost friendly. However, the downside of waiting to buy a long-term plan is that they might face higher premiums. Emphasize this to your customer; good deals are attractive to a young professional transitioning into “adult” mode.

Keep in mind that health insurance will not be the only major purchase a 26 year-old be thinking about. These life events are cost sensitive, so for a mid-twenties individual who may be in the early stages of a career, it is not far off to assume the plan should fit a specific budget. Be prepared to provide quality plans at a low cost, especially if the customer sounds concerned about a serious purchase such as this.

You’re The Pro

When establishing rapport with a 26 year-old, you must take into consideration the amount of money they are willing to pay, the coverage they are looking for, the premiums offered, and the term length of the plan. If the individual does not have an opinion on any of these answers, be sure to guide them with explanations.

While you are doing your best to sell a plan, your primary approach should be to educate the customer. You are the professional. Create a culture of Q&A between yourself and your client. If you do this successfully, you will establish yourself as an expert in what you do. Your clients will take notice and refer you to more potential clients, and you will quickly become the go-to for guidance in your network of customers. If you put building trust within your community first – the sales will follow close behind you.

The Difference Between AEP and OEP

Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, Medigap, Open Enrollment, Annual Enrollment. There are so many buzz words associated with Medicare insurance sales that it is often difficult to differentiate what it all means. One of the most confusing things to understand as an agent, let alone as a consumer, is what the difference between AEP and OEP is.

We are quickly approaching Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for Medicare Advantage plans, not to be confused with Open Enrollment Period (OEP) that is correlated with Medicare Supplement plans. AEP is an 8 week period from October 15th through December 7th where consumers can sign up for Medicare Part D and/or Medicare Advantage plans.

OEP and Medicare Supplement plans (aka Medigap) is a little more complicated than AEP. OEP is a six month period from the beginning of a consumer’s Part B effective date. This is when a consumer can receive coverage without any health questions being asked. There are a few circumstances that would begin an OEP including:

  • -Particular circumstances for someone on disability before their 65th birthday
  • -An individual’s 65th birthday
  • -Retirement and therefore loss of current group health plan after the age of 65

Once an individual has timed out of the six month period, they forfeit the opportunity to buy a Medicare Supplement plan without any medical questions being asked. A consumer can sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan after that six month period, but they will be subject to health questions that could disqualify them for coverage by some insurance companies.

This graphic from boomerbenefits.com easily explains the differences we have explained above. We recommend using this to help engage and explain the difference with your clients searching for information on their Medicare options.

Medicare insurance is an incredible investment for new agents or agents looking to expand their product portfolio, but it is exactly that; an investment.

Through our research and discoveries with our long term clients, we have found that Medicare consumers are likely to remain on an agent’s books for upwards of 8 years. Though forming a client book will happen over time, lead services are a great way to guide consumers your way over a local competitor. While the marketing costs may be higher than referrals, the volume of potential clients is immediate, and the return over that consumer lifecycle pays for itself.

When you are ready to increase your typical Medicare Supplement volume with exclusive leads, give us a call, because together we succeed!

A successful insurance agency begins with a group of like-minded agents

Why would it matter if you have agents in your office that think and work like you do? It matters because that is an essential part of the recipe for a successful insurance agency.

To shape and perfect your agency, the agents within it must place consistent effort into working qualified leads in a steady, mindful manner. You want your agents to have the discipline and persistence to obtain leads.

Insurance is not necessarily a product that sells instantly. Therefore, it is important for your agency to cultivate habits that drive success. In order to build a solid base of customers, it pays to be persistent, diligent and consistent when working leads. Furthermore, your agency should cultivate a focused, value and customer centered environment.

In order to be a successful agency, remember to devote time to the hiring process. Finding people that are like-minded and have similar goals to yours, makes it easier to grow your agency. While hiring the best fit for your agency, remember to train and mentor your agents. Lastly, inspire and encourage personal development and growth within your agency. Cultivating such an environment will help you establish a highly effective company.

What is your hook?

What is your hook as an insurance agent? More specifically what is the edge that makes your product work for an existing and/or prospective buyer? Most commonly, agents believe that an efficient hook is the emphasis of how insurance protects property, home, family or health. In part, this is correct, but it does not tell you what people are really looking for. In order to engage perspective buyers it is best to track the ongoing trends.

Here is what you need to do to find out what is trending. First, look for page ranks for specific variations people are using when they are searching to buy insurance. Those terms could include: “cheap life insurance,” “inexpensive health insurance” or “cost effective health insurance.” The point is, by putting in various search parameters you get a narrow search field. Examine the pages that you pull up and find out what your competition is doing.

Knowing what the insurance agency down the street is selling, how they are selling it and how they are appealing to customers, gives you the insight to fine-tune your own marketing strategies. Never ignore what another agency is doing in terms of marketing because customers may leave you for them.

Being in the know means keeping track of marketing trends, using them, adapting them and in the long run, keeping your competitive edge sharp and effective.

When growing your brand stay focused, consistent and persistent

All agents will experience moments of struggle while growing their business. However, regardless of the amount of tasks waiting to be completed, it is important to remember that selling insurance requires consistency, focus and persistence.

Successful insurance agents understand the need to stay focused. They cannot allow themselves to become distracted as that leads to a decrease in productivity. There is no time for excuses for distractions that everyone faces each day. Therefore, it is crucial to dedicate a couple hours in the work day to first prioritize the most important tasks and then to complete them.

Staying consistent goes hand in hand with being focused. If everyday you break your day down into various time slots allocated for each task you need to get done, then you will see yourself succeed in obtaining leads and growing your agency. Plan out your work and form a routine for each day at work. Most importantly, stay consistent when you contact your leads and set up a flow of potential customers.

Lastly, even in the face of failure, stay persistent. If you want to continue to grow as a sales agent take chances and be active. Highly effective agents go beyond what is expected by forming a strong work ethic that aids them in accomplishing their goals.

Reasons why many new insurance agents fail

While the concept of selling insurance may seem easy, doing it successfully, however, can be tricky. Many people view the insurance industry as field which offers lucrative career opportunities, and yet numerous new insurance agents struggle and give up. Many factors contribute to this tendency, among them three stand out.

First, new agents tend to expect too much too soon. Like in any other professions, it takes time and effort to achieve a high level of success. Growing a career in the insurance business means having to develop relationships, keep consistent and learn through practice and self-education.

To build on the first point, the second most common reason for new agent burnout is a lack of education and/or training. Many new agents never receive training or a mentorship. However, there are many useful resources for agents looking to self-educate or join an insurance association group.

The third reason for why new insurance agents fail, is that they focus on profit more than the clients. Selling insurance is a people business where building agent-client relationships is key. It is important to not forget that the insurance industry is service business.

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