The sales and marketing landscape has changed…have you? While many agents and advisors have been “selling remotely” for some years, COVID-19 has driven the importance of being effective up a notch. We will have to learn to create better, more meaningful relationships or turn over a portion of our sales and money under management to transactional apps. COVID-19 has forced both advisors and clients-to participate in, if not to prefer, digital engagement as opposed to face-to-face meetings.
Technology-Driven Client Connections
Personalized, relevant connections will become the differentiator between technology-driven solutions and advisor-driven solutions. Advisors and agents who understand and embrace effective electronic client communication, as well as top-level CRM and marketing automation systems, will lead the way. From the simple to the complex, a modern software-as-a-service (SaaS) Customer Relationship Management tool is your non-verbal personal assistant. This tool speaks directly to you about your most important asset—your client. Choose a system that makes you both responsive and proactive.
Video meetings break down walls between work life and family life. This greater level of transparency and personalization will have long-term implications to client perceptions of needed protections, preferred lifestyles, and the role of the agent/advisor. Some, if not the majority, of your clients may express an interest in continuing to meet “virtually,” so it’s best to perfect your online presence now. Consider if a high-resolution web camera mounted on the top of your computer monitor (as opposed to a built-in laptop webcam) is preferable. We all know a large part of the message communicated and perceived by clients comes from body language and tone. It is for that reason that call center associates are trained to smile—attitude even comes across on the phone. It is difficult to appear professional if you look as if you are sitting in a dark hole due to improper background lighting. Consider using apps that allow you to use one of their backdrops, such as a professional library, or you may want to create your own. The angle of the camera is also very important. You don’t want your audience distracted by an unnatural viewing angle, such as underneath your chin or the top of your head as you read notes. Have you been on a webinar where the screen froze, buffered, or the volume was too low to catch every word? Enough said!
Families Now Keenly Aware of Long Term Care Needs
COVID-19 highlighted that serious illness comes as a part of life—not just as an aging or a longevity issue (although there is that, too!). Historically, it has been challenging for our clients to recognize the extended or long term care “need” and seek a compelling “solution.” Due to the pandemic and ensuing publicity surrounding nursing home, hospital, and facility care issues, all generations have been painfully educated. Now is the time for action!
Grow your business by addressing a top of mind client concern…access and affordability to good extended or long term care insurance and services. Everyone wants to avoid being in a facility when care is needed and instead stay-at-home or age-in-place. Without dedicated funding, remaining at home is often not possible. Moreover, the caregiving chores may fall on family members. This puts your client, as a caregiver, in a role that they may not want to or be able to handle. Being an issue that spans generations may require you to include family members in the planning. Don’t let your client be the one to question why this topic never came up. After all, your client trusts you to be up-to-date on topics of insurance and funding.
Expert Resources for Financial Services Professionals
What if you are not comfortable discussing extended or long term care? Now is an ideal time to get to know a specialist. Kevin Mayeux, CEO of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), has overseen the development of an extended and long term care Center of Excellence designed to be a go-to resource, available to financial advisors. The NAIFA Limited and Extended Care Planning Center (LECP) was launched in 2019 and includes resources and connections to experts in the field. As the LEPC matures, Mayeux’s vision is for the LECP to grow into a “community” of trusted advisor and agent relationships. Using a variety of communication methods, non-specialists will be able to call upon a knowledgeable extended or long term care specialist. Together, they will better serve the client’s planning needs and better ensure the financial security of the family.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made several one-time allowances to make care more affordable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rules for Medicare, Medicaid billing, and payments were relaxed. What happens when the immediate crisis passes? Will you have discussed extended or long term care funding needs with your clients? Since many generations have been touched by the issue, will you grow your business while truly offering good generational advice to your client and their family? The word “planning” is in the name LECP for good reason.
What about the right resources? At NAIFA, we have created the right “community” of resources to provide answers and ideas for individual and worksite clients as they tackle the issues they see highlighted in the news! Open to all agents and advisors, the NAIFA Limited and Extended Care Planning Center is ready to help you step up your game. Visit lecp.naifa.org and learn how to become an effective generational advisor/agent by working with specialists who complete—not compete—with your book of business.