The New Normal: Preparing Your Insurance Agency's Reopening

Fran Majidi
April 21, 2020
Reopening economy

Pretty soon, businesses will open back up. Once restrictions are lifted, there may be very little instruction from the government as to how to get back to “normal,” if there will ever be such a thing. We’re here to help.

It’s probable that people will return to work with the coronavirus still raging, albeit at a controllable level. We’ll all be lifted out of quarantine when officials decide that there is, once again, sufficient capacity at hospitals to admit new patients. That’s a far cry from saying that we’ve defeated COVID-19. It’s more like we’re planning around the virus. People will continue to get sick so we’ll continue practicing social distancing and operating remotely as much as possible.

You’ll probably be operating in a hybrid model of pre-coronavirus operations and how you conducted business during the lockdown. Most of your new business will come to you from purchased leads and telemarketing campaigns. People, namely clients, will still be reluctant to shake your hand, if they come in to see you at all. It’s unlikely that you will see the same traffic you did before the pandemic. Some are saying we will never get back to that kind of “normal” again.

Only time will tell what the future has in store for us, but as you prepare yourselves to return to your offices in the near future, remember to make sure to send employees home if they have a fever or display any symptoms of the flu.

Here are a few other good tips in mind as you open for business again.

1. Provide Additional Training

This is a good time to get your staff used to the idea of doing most of their work over the phone. As mentioned above, you’ll be making initial contact with consumers from a distance. You will likely never meet any of the people you talk to in person. Most folks are going to only come up for air when they have no other option. To stay ahead, phone sales and even video conferencing are the options you’ll need to train your folks to do well.

Selling over the phone demands an entirely different skill-set for producers and agents who usually meet clients in person. You don’t get to see the other person and make eye contact. You don’t see their gestures and facial expressions. It’s harder to have this person build confidence in you. These meetings are trickier, but they may be the only way you will make contact with some prospects.

To ensure the perfect call, we stress deep listening, following up at the right time (on time) and sounding informed because you know exactly what you’re selling.

Remember to fine-tune your email marketing campaigns too. Lastly, go over best practices for texting clients, who may or may not respond well to this form of communication.

2. Sanitize the Office

If you have an office, reorganize desks and furniture to provide maximum distancing between employees. Do a deep cleaning of the carpeting. Have disinfectant wipes handy and encourage staff to regularly clean their surfaces and computer equipment.

You may want to consider purchasing protective gear for yourself, your clients and prospects. Having hand sanitizer and clean masks handy may need some forethought seeing as essential commodities are still hard to come by in some areas.

3. Set Up a Video Conferencing Space

Choose an area that is private and professional, preferably with a blank or solid backdrop. This is where your producers and agents can go to have zoom meetings with clients.

Video conferencing is an invitation to start a relationship that will grow for years to come. It’s the next best thing to meeting in person and some would argue that it’s better and less time-consuming.

Make sure to strongly advocate using video chats as a form of relationship-building. Emphasize that this is the new normal.

4. Update Your Marketing Plan

The plans you made before the coronavirus pandemic may no longer be relevant. Even before the coronavirus hit, you should’ve been buying leads in order to compete in this tough market. It’s not too late. Now’s the perfect time to try it out by re-allocating marketing spend away from community and networking activities and into a budget exclusively for purchasing data leads and live transfer calls.

Before buying leads, train your producers and agents on how to really work the leads. If you’ve got new producers you want to train, the cost of shared leads is low and you can hone your new hire’s skills using recorded calls. Buy your biggest closers both leads and live-transfer calls, during which the customer is on the phone wanting a quote after filling out a form with their information.

Plan to call your leads at least 4 to 8 times before you start pointing fingers and playing the blame game with your lead provider. Data leads are not one-call closers. We highly suggest investing in a solid CRM for the sole purpose of keeping track of leads. Otherwise, it’ll be chaos trying to remember when to follow up with all these contacts.

5. Hire Fresh Blood

There are a lot of well-qualified people looking for work today. Now is a great time to add new faces to your staff and train them on your processes, even before you get back to the office. Train new producers with very affordable shared leads. All the calls are recorded so you can work with your new hires and your assigned Account Manager to get the pitch just right, the follow-up a little more persuasive and whatever else needs to be done to get your new folks to close.

And good luck!