Your client base is in a different state, your country’s fighting a pandemic, or you just like working from home. Whatever the reason, you want to start running your insurance business remotely.
If the decision is out of your control, you may feel overwhelmed by this new reality. How can you possibly secure enrollments and create relationships with clients without being face to face? Good news — it’s totally possible!
We’ve complied some of the basics of selling insurance from home and staying productive in non-office settings.
Staying Productive While Working from Home
First things first, if you suddenly find yourself working from home and your motivation is lacking or you’re worried it will start waning over time, these tips can help you stay disciplined, and successful!
Try to Keep the Same Routine
One key to not letting your schedule get too out of whack is making an effort to keep the same, or at least a similar, routine. If you started off your day going to the gym, you can still start off with an in-home workout to get your blood flowing and your body moving. If you began your workday with a cup of coffee and checking your emails from clients, you can still easily do that from home.
Try to keep the same schedule as far as when you contact clients, but it might be a good idea to check in with them and ask if their original preferences are the same as far as the best time of day to get in touch with them. You can use the Notes feature in the Ritter Platform to track any changes to your clients’ preferences.
Create a Designated Space for Working
Create a designated space to work, preferably somewhere relatively private so you can keep your focus. Set up shop at your kitchen table or in your living room. If you feel most comfortable working from home in your bed, that’s fine — just don’t be tempted to go back to sleep!
If you feel most comfortable working from home in your bed, that’s fine — just don’t be tempted to go back to sleep!
You may also find that switching up your workspace periodically helps to keep you motivated. Maybe in the morning you may like to work in the kitchen, but in the afternoon you move to the living room. Wherever you choose, make sure you have enough space to lay out the supplies you need (your computer, notebook, applications, etc.) and somewhere close by to plug in any electronics. You can even choose to decorate your space how you would your desk in the office!
While it’s OK to check your phone every now and then or watch some TV during lunch, if you want to be as productive as possible, eliminating distractions is the way to go. We wouldn’t recommend putting your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode in case a client would try to call you, but you can put your phone across the room so you’re not tempted to let it distract you.
If you’re in a room where you’re able to close the door, that may also help, especially if your family is home as well. You can also ask your family to try not to interrupt you for a period of time if you’d like to take an hour or so to focus on an important task, like returning clients’ emails or phone calls or submitting applications.
It can be hard to sit in the same spot for hours on end, and taking breaks throughout the day can actually help you be more productive. Take a walk outside or take a few minutes to stretch your body. You can even use a reward system to motivate yourself. After I complete these applications, I can play a quick game of Candy Crush (or whatever reward system would work best to motivate you). Breaks can boost your creativity and lead to more “Aha!” moments, helping you to stay on your toes and keep your mind working sharply.
Breaks can boost your creativity and lead to more “Aha!” moments, helping you to stay on your toes and keep your mind working sharply.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
With today’s technology there are still many ways to stay in touch with clients. Even though you aren’t meeting with them face to face, you can give them a call or email or send them a postcard to let them know you’re thinking of them. We’ve even created templates that you can follow to make reaching out to clients easy and efficient.
You can also utilize Medicareful while working from home, since it’s a great resource that allows you to remotely enroll your clients in a plan. You’ll even be able to compare plan options side by side and filter your search to fit the needs of your clients. We encourage you to create your own free Medicareful website to help you generate leads, all while staying compliant with the guidelines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The last tip we have if you’re working from home is to think positive. If you’re no longer driving to the office, you’re saving time, money on gas, and even helping the environment! If you find yourself with some extra time during your workday, use it to catch up on tasks that you have previously been putting off. A positive mindset will always help be more productive and successful.
Our team at Ritter Insurance Marketing is always here for you, especially if you need working and interacting with your clients remotely. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support!
Selling Insurance Remotely
Meeting and enrolling clients in Medicare or ancillary plans with no face-to-face contact is possible and even easy with the right tools and information. Ritter agents have access to our proprietary technology and exclusive resources to help them along the way. Of course, it won’t be the same as meeting with someone in person, but you’d be surprised how many clients might prefer it that way!
Remote Meeting Tools
If you and your clients still want the ability to see each other, remote meeting tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts are great options! You can use these platforms in addition to Medicareful to give meetings the personal feel that comes with in-person interaction. Just remember, even though your client isn’t physically in the same room with you, they will still hear and see everything you do on the video call if your video is on and your mic isn’t muted. Choose a quiet space to hold the meeting to limit interruptions and distractions. Also, make sure you dress appropriately and prepare just the same as if this were a face-to-face meeting.
Note: You should not record any of these sessions with your clients, nor should you use them as permission to contact or to collect SOAs. These tools are only to be used in place of a phone or in-person conversation with your client. Using them for any other purpose runs the risk of not being compliant with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Insurance Carriers and Remote Sales
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many carriers have switched gears and are making it easier for agents to sell their Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplements, and prescription drug plans over the phone or online. Many carriers have even started accepting or offering telephonic or electronic Scopes of Appointment (SOA).
Depending on each carriers’ application submission guidelines, you may be able to complete applications over the phone, using a video chat program like we mentioned previously, or using the carriers’ own electronic applications. At Ritter, we feature carrier pages, among our collection of resources in Ritter Docs, that outline helpful information for each of our 120+ partnered carriers like their accepted SOA and enrollment methods. These pages make it quick and easy for our agents to get carrier information they’re seeking.
Use Medicareful for Remote Sales
In the instance of electronic applications, the direct enrollment capability Medicareful provides for 24 preferred carriers and counting is a major benefit for agents running their insurance business remotely. As it’s free, CMS-approved and accepted as a third-party enrollment site by a good number of carriers, it’s really a tool you want use no matter your business’ circumstances. With Medicareful, you even have the ability to send your clients prefilled applications via email or text!
Secure your CMS-approved Medicareful site for remote online enrollments
Selling Insurance by Phone
Phone sales are a classic method of selling insurance, but as every sale today requires more speed and ease, it’s important to be efficient while competitive.
Make Sure You’re Prepared
It’s important to have an idea of the plans in your area before engaging with clients over the phone. You don’t want to scramble in the moment. For fast and efficient plan quotes for Medicare Advantage, Med Supp, Part D prescription drug, and final expense plans, Ritter’s Medicare Quote Engine and Drug Cost Estimator are must-have tools for staying prepared! These quoting systems work in sync with Medicareful and your Shared Client Records. Send clients an invite to create their own Medicareful account on your site, and upon creation, both you and are clients can view and add information like:
- Contact information
- Previous plan history
- Primary care providers, hospitals, and pharmacies
- Prescription drugs (including dosage and quantity)
- Notes of conditions such as allergies, diseases etc.
The information stored in your Shared Client Records will help you provide tailored plan quotes on the Medicare Quote Engine and Drug Cost Estimator, specific to your clients’ needs. No fumbling to enter a client’s information on the spot. You can have it all ahead of time in the Shared Client Record.
Use a Phone Call Script
Another way to prepare for an insurance sales call is to develop a phone script. When writing your script, make sure to take note of the things you want to say. You have limited time to create rapport and grab a client’s attention, and your opening of the call could be a make-or-break situation. Keep your tone friendly and casual, but get right to point of who you are, why you’re calling, and how long the call will take. It’s also a good idea to jot down potential questions you think the consumer might ask. That way you’re prepared with a confident and accurate answer. Just remember to keep the conversation light and be yourself — just as you would in a face-to-face appointment.
Specifically, selling Medicare Supplements over the phone is a popular option. So, developing a Medicare Supplement call script is a great place to start if you have some competitive Med Supp options in your portfolio. Certainly, you can sell other Medicare and ancillary products over the phone, too! No matter which product(s) you choose, just be sure you’re adhering to CMS and carrier guidelines when selling insurance by phone!
Build Relationships and Sales
Take the time to learn about the impact plans will have on your clients with as much focus as you do the products themselves and how to sell them. Then give them a personalized rundown! It’s in this way you’ll assert yourself as an expert on the plans in your area.
Get to know your clients and invest in them! By calling clients ahead of AEP to schedule an appointment, you can build your relationship with them. You can do this by asking about their family, interests, and friends. Keep notes on each of your clients with the CRM in the Ritter Platform, and look at previous notes and bring up something they mentioned the last time you spoke on the phone. With this personability, you’re acknowledging your client as more than business, and ensuring retention and loyalty.
Building Rapport Selling Insurance Online and By Phone
If you’re trying to foster trust with prospects, we’ve got six tips for building rapport over the phone or online, fast.
Without [rapport, you can’t expect your prospects to enroll in that plan you just pitched them — they may think you’re trying to sell them something that’s in your best interest, and not theirs. You also shouldn’t expect any referrals — because why should a client refer their friends or family members to you if they’re not happy with your customer service, or worse, don’t like you at all?
What is rapport and how can you establish it with prospects?
The Basics of Rapport
When your prospects remember you, respect you, and view you as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source for insurance information and assistance, you’ve succeeded in building rapport with them.
Simply put, having rapport with someone means that you have some sort of bond with them. When your prospects remember you, respect you, and view you as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source for insurance information and assistance, you’ve succeeded in building rapport with them.
Tips for Building Rapport with Insurance Prospects — from a Distance
Building rapport with someone tends to be easier in person. Your body position, movements, eye contact, facial expressions, and subconscious mimicking/mirroring can all help to make it happen without either of you even realizing it. However, if you’re talking with a prospect over the phone or online, you aren’t literally seeing eye to eye, which can make it harder for you to do so figuratively as well. The good news is that it’s still possible to establish rapport if you’re social distancing! We’ll cover six ways to build rapport while selling remotely below.
1. Be Punctual
Running a couple of minutes late to an appointment? Your clients should know you’re a busy person because you’re good at what you do, right? WRONG. Picture this: your client waiting, looking at their watch or phone, wondering why a supposed “professional” is wasting their precious time, especially when they only have so long before they have to go to work, head out to the gym, or get things done before their grandbaby wakes up from a nap. Can they really trust you to help them with something complex, like finding the right insurance products for their needs, if you can’t simply show up on time?
Can they really trust you to help them with something complex, like finding the right insurance products for their needs, if you can’t simply show up on time?
Punctuality is such a small thing, but it can have big consequences. Not only is it tied with preparedness and professionalism, but it also directly translates into your credibility, dependability, organization, thoughtfulness, and trustworthiness. Being on time, even for a simple phone or video call, shows your customers that you think they’re important; that you respect them; and that they’re not just another stop on your way to a luxurious lifestyle. Moreover, when you’re punctual, you’re actually keeping a promise to your clients, and that can give them confidence that they chose the right person for the job.
2. Be Prepared
You’ve probably heard it many times throughout your sales career and life — preparation is the key to success. Though it may not be the sole key to your success as a remote insurance agent, it definitely plays a large role in it.
Whether you’re getting ready for insurance sales appointments in person or remotely, you should prepare the same basic way; you just don’t need to prepare far enough in advance to be able to drive to your destinations on time if you’re selling remotely. If you’re doing any video calls, start by dressing in appropriate business attire. Chilling in your PJs is fine for cleaning up your digital CRM on the couch or chatting over the phone; but for video calls, aim for business casual or business dressy — whatever you usually wear for in-person appointments. Don’t forget to brush your hair and teeth, too! Your client may not be able to smell your breath, but you can (and so can your significant other or children), and freshening it up could make a difference in your demeanor, too!
For video calls, aim for business casual or business dressy — whatever you usually wear for in-person appointments.
Also, just as you would for an in-person sale, it’s important to do as much research as you can before any remote appointments. Search your prospect’s area for available plans. Find formularies that are the best fit for their prescription drug needs. Additionally, be ready to counter objections and answer questions. Before you start a call, pull up and review any notes you have on that client, that way, you can ask them about their kids, grandkids, or that new hobby they picked up and further build your relationship. They’ll most likely appreciate that you “remembered” and that you care more about just their money or the sale!
3. Be Personable
There are some people who will always want to get straight down to business, but a little small talk can go a long way when trying to bond with someone. This is true when talking with someone over the phone, online, or in person! You could discover you both like the same baseball or hockey team (Phillies or Flyers, anyone?) or that you both love dogs (who doesn’t?) or hiked Mt. Everest (…maybe not that one). Whatever direction you decide to take the conversation, just steer clear of any tumultuous topics…Cough politics Cough. We’d advise you not to talk politics, unless your client openly, clear-as-day invites you to. There are some people who just love to talk about the candidates and their views, but remember: we’re striving for friends, not foes. Elect to discuss shared likes, experiences (e.g., trips and events), or circumstances (e.g., kids, grandkids, hobbies) instead. Those are nice, non-polarizing, non-threatening topics to bring up during any downtime!
We’d advise you not to talk politics, unless your client openly, clear-as-day invites you to.
4. Be Polite
Engaging in small talk — and avoiding politics — not only helps you be personable but also polite! Politeness is a basic skill that agents need to be liked and successful, no matter how they’re selling. As one site puts it, “We may not always notice politeness, but we usually notice rudeness or inconsiderate behavior.”
If you want to be more polite where should you start? Good manners and please and thank yous help, but two of the biggest ways an insurance agent can show politeness remotely is by respecting their clients’ time and by being nonjudgmental and empathetic. We’ve already discussed punctuality, but being unbiased and empathetic is also important, especially now. Budgets are also crucial to keep in mind. Every clients’ financial situations will be different and it’s important to be accommodating and understanding about what each client may or may not be able to afford.
Avoid using senior speak or talking down to your clients.
To ensure you stay polite during appointments, also self-check the tone of your voice. Make sure it’s relaxed, and not frustrated or hurried. Watch what you say and how you say it, too! Avoid using senior speak or talking down to your clients. Nothing’s worse than offending the person you’re trying to persuade to put their trust in you.
5. Use Reflecting and Clarifying
Many people think sales is for talkers, but to be a great salesperson, you have to be a fantastic listener. Two ways you can improve your listening skills, and thereby, your rapport with clients, are reflecting and clarifying. How can you reflect and clarify during remote appointments?
When your client talks about their problems, preferences, or needs, simply reflect, or restate or paraphrase, their words and feelings.
When your client talks about their problems, preferences, or needs, simply reflect, or restate or paraphrase, their words and feelings. This technique shows your client that you’re focusing in on them, and what they’re saying, and hearing and understanding them correctly. Clarifying, or asking questions about or summarizing what your client has said, takes this a step further. It shows your client you’re attempting to better and completely understand what they’ve said. It can also help you sort out your clients’ coverage priorities and prevent misunderstandings, enrollment errors, or confusion!
6. Don’t Overpromise or Over-Reach!
As an agent, you want the best for all of your clients. You want to help them get the coverage they want and need, secure their enrollments, and have their policies issued in a timely manner. However, whatever you do, just be sure to stay realistic in any expectations you give your clients. One policy never covers everything. There’s always fine print. Additionally, who knows what coverage issue timelines could look like with the ongoing pandemic and safety precautions in place! Ultimately, if you tell a client something that’s not even close to being true, they’ll likely blame it on you.
Stay realistic in any expectations you give your clients.
Building rapport is a two-way street, and definitely something that’s easier said than done! If you’re finding it tough to connect with a prospect, it may be tempting to fudge some specifics, like your interests or favorite sports team. We advise against doing this or trying too hard to connect with someone. Lies, even small ones, are too hard to keep up with and can spiral out of control. You don’t want to sound foolish, not to mention walk a legal or ethical grey line. That will only discredit you, and that’s not what we’re going for here. Rapport is something that needs to be built genuinely and using the tips above will help you do that, even while selling online or over the phone!
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Hopefully, you now know what you need to feel comfortable with working from home and prepared to succeed remotely. Whether you have to work from home due to an uncontrollable circumstance or you’re remote by choice, be confident that your business can flourish no matter your work setting. If you do happen to run into any roadblocks, Ritter is ready to help you work around them! Registering with Ritter is free and easy and we’re always just a phone call or email away.
Editor’s Note: Some of the content in this article was derived from previous Agent Survival Guide pieces, which have been written by various authors.