How can information technology help you increase revenue? Recently I asked leaders of our top agencies how they increase business. In my October article, “Three Simple Steps that Could Increase Your Revenue,” I explained why focus, education, and relationships ranked high on these leaders’ lists of best practices. Here’s a look at how they use IT to boost sales.
Prospecting and training
“Life’s changed. Most people won’t spend time reading books anymore,” explains Dan Rust, Financial Strategies Group. “We have to get our messages out faster and make them understandable in minutes. That’s why having a website is now essential,” he concludes. “It can help educate consumers and assist in recruiting and training new agents, especially if you include videos and podcasts. Then when producers contact prospective clients, they’re more prepared to speak with them because the prospects are more informed.”
While Dan regularly uses digital communication and online tools for training, including email and webinars, he sometimes combines them with other marketing methods-such as flyers on windshields and door hangers on front doors to promote his agency’s services.
Theresa Dilatush, New Course Financial, agrees that having a website is important to attract and inform prospects, although it wasn’t when she started her agency 13 years ago. Theresa, whose clients are mostly small business owners, also works with her local Chamber of Commerce to connect with prospects and is one of a group of eight “core source professionals” who network and work together when needed on cases. The group includes an attorney, CPA, vendor of office supplies, caterer, internet supplier, and other local professionals who provide services to businesses in the community.
Randy Pierson, Gordon Marketing, has seen an uptick in the use of technology by agencies too. He conducts most of his agent recruiting and training efforts via webinars, email, e-newsletters, Skype, text messaging, and YouTube videos, which he also posts on Facebook and LinkedIn. To help ensure viewers watch the videos he keeps them short-three minutes or less. And although he’s been posting videos on YouTube for more than a decade, he says he’s getting much better results now that he can link them to social media sites. To increase interest in his agent training webinars, he keeps them short also-30 minutes or less.
For Ryan Polimeni, Top Rank Advisors, Inc., the internet and specialized online software, including financial planning and social security software, have changed the way his agency communicates and conducts business. Ryan used to market by direct mail, but now uses digital communication because it’s faster and cheaper. And while he still gets referrals to potential producers by word of mouth as well as through online advertising, he says Facebook and LinkedIn are playing a bigger role in his recruitment efforts.
Once agents are on board with him, Ryan, like Chris Shields, Shields Brokerage, Inc., and other agency leaders with whom I spoke, train them via online programs, digital materials and ongoing webinars as well as personal training. “There’s a lack of training in this industry,” admits Ryan. “So we evaluate new agents to determine if they need field and one-on-one training in addition to the more than 30 hours of online training we provide.”
Kevin Kruger, Kevin Kruger Agency, uses social media, particularly LinkedIn, to establish awareness of himself and his agency and to stay relevant. Mike Maloney, Mike Maloney Agency, notes that the networking groups on these sites are a useful way to identify prospective agents, so he often uses them for blast advertising. Once contracted, Mike provides new agents online and one-on-one training several times a week. “You have to teach, coach, and have patience with new producers,” explains Mike, especially since more than half of his new agents have sales and people skills but no prior experience in the financial services industry.
To stay ahead of the tech curve Larry McLean, Your Family Bank