By Lloyd Lofton
Do not sell insurance in person. It isn’t a suggestion; it's the law – at least in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf joined many other governors across the U.S. in issuing a stay-at-home order.
COVID-19 is changing insurance agents’ selling habits.
In 2010, the Affordable Care Act trained consumers to feel more comfortable entering their personal information in an online application and buying insurance virtually.
Today the COVID-19 virus crisis is retraining agents and advisors to become more proficient selling virtually.
With Pennsylvania’s “stay at home” order, the governor closed non-life-sustaining businesses.
Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said, among other things “While insurance is considered a life-sustaining business, especially during the unprecedented health crisis that we’re experiencing today, in-person sales and brokerage are not designated as life-sustaining, and have a detrimental effect on the safety and well-being of all Pennsylvanians.”
Any agent or broker who violates the stay-at-home order will be reported by the department to the state police and may have their insurance license revoked if they repeatedly violate the order.
How Ominous Is This For The Industry?
It was Napoleon Hill who wrote, “Within every adversity is the seed to an equal or greater benefit.”
When the ACA stormed into the health insurance industry, doom and gloom was predicted, commissions plummeted, and agents despaired over what would happen to their book of business.
Broker-dealers, carriers and agents pivoted to ancillary products and learned how to package sell. They blended major medical plans with critical illness, term life and accident plans. The reduced commission was quickly replaced, and many agents stepped out of their comfort zone.
Many moved to the senior market, where they found a growing market. Agents learned to replace lost Social Security when a spouse passed away, they learned generational marketing and they became more proficient with needs-based selling.
Every day, I’m talking to agents, working with call centers and coaching individual agents to see the value in growing their relationship skills to ensure their continued success in this new environment.
Phone Sales Vs. Virtual Selling
You know when you get a call from a telemarketer, don’t you? They use a “tell;” they ask for you by your first and last name!
Why is that a “tell”?
How many of your family, friends or relatives call your house and say, “Hi, can I speak with Lloyd Lofton (or Mr. Lofton)?”
None – right?
That’s smiling and dialing.
That’s phone sales and there’s a reason you use the same way to get them off the phone, because it worked last time.
It’s not that we may not be interested, we just don’t want to be sold, isn’t it?
That’s phone sales.
Virtual selling is sharing your computer desktop and asking open-ended questions that are about them.
You talk to them about the things they use the most, in the order they use those things.
To demonstrate, you illustrate.
In virtual selling, you use the tools you have to illustrate interest, concern and knowledge. Tools such as:
- Your voice.
- Your words.
- Your listening skills (listen to understand, not to respond).
- Your solutions.
What is a virtual presentation about?
- What they are concerned about.
- What they feel.
- What they feel is a problem.
- What they see as a solution.
Virtual means you must:
- Involve them.
- Slow down.
- Explain what’s going to happen next.
- Spell out what you are doing next.
- Clearly set expectations for your follow-up.
I know it’s out of your comfort zone, but here’s the thing.
People like you, people trust you and people already do business with you.
Every day, they hear news that is disturbing and concerning. Now is the time for a highly trained, licensed professional to inform them, educate them and care enough to hear them out.
Lloyd Lofton is the founder of Power Behind the Sales. He is the author of The Saleshero’s Guide To Handling Objections, voted 1 of the 11 Best New Presentation Books To Read in 2020 by BookAuthority. Lloyd may be contacted at [email protected].
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