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Grow Your Creative Muscle

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Friday, July 26, 2019

Grow Your Creative Muscle

When we hear about creativity, it's almost always related to the liberal arts. Artists, musicians, writers, and dancers are bestowed with a creative gift, while the rest of us watch from the bleachers.

We often fail to consider how much true creativity is necessary for daily life, including the workplace. Innovation, imagination, inventiveness, and resourcefulness are all parts of a creative mind. No matter what your job, creativity can give you the spark you need to solve a tough problem, work with difficult people and impress your boss.

Creativity is like a muscle in your brain. The more you work on it, the stronger it gets. Even if you don't consider yourself a creative person, don't give up! Check out these 4 steps to help you become more creative.

  1. Try something new. Whether it's visiting new museums, trying out yoga, or just watching a genre on Netflix that you usually wouldn't, expanding your horizons can help you break through your creativity barriers.

  2. Play. Make time for your inner child. Children have incredible imaginations, and reminding yourself of what that was like can be a good step toward opening up your creativity. Try putting together a challenging Lego set or hosting a fun game night.

  3. Ask questions. Even if you feel like you already know the answers, take the time to ask more questions. Curiosity can help discover new things that allow our brains to make new creative connections.

  4. Be wrong. Don't let the fear of making a mistake hinder your creativity. The world needs new ideas to solve complex problems. Don't hold back your creative instincts just because you aren't sure what others will think. In fact, mistakes can serve as a launching point for the right solution.


What are your tips for becoming more creative? Let us know what you think on Facebook.

Tags:  AIMS Society  CPIA designation  efficiency  email marketing  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  Social Media  teamwork  thank your clients 

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The Secret to Inspiring Others & Selling Smart Ideas

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Friday, June 28, 2019

The Secret to Inspiring Others & Selling Smart Ideas

“Ideas are the true currency of the 21st Century,” writes public speaking coach and author Carmine Gallo in his book, Talk Like Ted. “So in order to succeed, you need to be able to sell your ideas and yourself persuasively. That ability is the greatest skill that will help you accomplish your dreams.”

To provide the tools to create strong presentations and deliver winning talks, Gallo studied hundreds of TED Talks and interviewed the most popular TED presenters and top researchers in psychology, communications and neuroscience. The result is expert advice on creating and delivering engaging and memorable presentations. Below are Gallo’s tips for inspiring any audience.

  1. Let Loose. Passion is contagious, but you can’t inspire others unless you are inspired. It is vital to express your enthusiasm and passion for your ideas. Identify your connection to the topic, and inspire listeners with this meaningful connection.

  2. Master the Art of Storytelling. Because stories stimulate and engage the human brain, storytellers must tell stories that touch the hearts and minds of listeners, as well as express passion and inspire.

    For an  example, listen to public-interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson deliver the 2012 Ted Talk, entitled, “We Need to Talk about an Injustice.” Stevenson’s passion for his topic generated the longest standing ovation in TED Talk history. Not only did he spend a majority of his speech sharing stories, but he also welcomed his grandmother and Rosa Parks onstage to share their personal stories, too.

  3. Have a Conversation. Only after creating an emotional connection, building rapport and gaining trust, can you practice true persuasion. In order to achieve this, your presentation should feel relaxed, similar to having a discussion with a friend. Consistent practice and internalizing the content are two ways to create this conversation.

  4. Stick to the 18-Minute Rule. Nobody likes a long, overloaded and meandering presentation. Instead, you need to inform, while also holding people’s attention. So what’s the best length? Only 18 minutes.

    TED Talks curator Chris Anderson says, “Eighteen minutes is short enough to hold people’s attention … [and if you make points precisely] … it’s also long enough to say something that matters.”

  5.  Lighten Up. Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that laughter relieves stress and increases endorphins, but improves the immune system, relieves pain and enhances mood. And humor can help charm your listeners because it makes you more likable, which in turn, makes others more willing to do business with you.

Ideas can change the direction of your life and potentially change the world. “You don’t need luck to be an inspiring speaker,” Gallo writes. “You need courage — the courage to follow your passion, articulate your ideas simply and express what makes your heart sing.”

Tags:  AIMS Society  Branding  efficiency  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  sellability  time management 

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Delivering Exceptional Experiences for Every Customer

Posted By American Insurance Marketing and Sales (AIMS) Society, Friday, February 1, 2019


Delivering Exceptional Experiences for Every Customer


What's the key to creating outstanding customer service?

According to Nicholas Webb, a corporate strategist  and thought leader in the areas of customer experience design and innovation, the key is to build an exceptional experience for customers.

He maintains this success comes by following these principles:

  • Understand your customers by learning what they love and hate.
  • Invent human experiences across five touch points.
  • Express these experiences through digital and nondigital means.

In his book, What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint, Webb defines the five touchpoints at which to invent human experiences:

1.The Pre-Touchpoint Moment
This is the research phase where potential customers explore your business via websites such as Google or Yelp. In addition to an online search, some customers may assess your physical location by driving by to look at the outside or even walk in to critique your office space and staff. Basically, potential customers are taking this time to educate themselves about you — and your reputation.

2. The First Touchpoint Moment
This sets the tone for how customers perceive your service, brand or product. It is the point when customers actually engage with you — and the point where first impressions really do matter.

Webb offers Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa as an excellent example. As guests enter the hotel, they are immediately greeted by enthusiastic, friendly staff and treated like royalty. The hotel’s goal is to help guests get in the vacation mood and jumpstart an amazing visit to the “happiest place on Earth.”

3. The Core Touchpoint Moment
Webb describes this phase as consistently reinventing great ways to serve customers. While your customers may have been happily using your service, you can’t become complacent. Instead, you need to find ways to keep them coming back. This means continuously delivering.

He highlights Trader Joe’s grocery chain as a good example of the core touchpoint. The store’s attention to detail translates into offering pumpkin spice cookies and coffee in the fall, as well as fresh vegetables and flowers in the spring. Trader Joe’s focus is always on the customer.

4. The Perfect Last Touchpoint Moment
This is the final moment that a customer has with your service or product. At this point, you must provide a memorable goodbye — one that makes them want to come back. This is your opportunity to say, “Thank you, and I hope you valued the experience enough to return."

5. The In-Touchpoint Moment
After a customer’s experience has ended, it is very important to stay connected. According to Webb, “You must approach this with an absolute commitment not to sell them anything, but rather to consistently and pleasantly provide them with ongoing value. You want them to willingly come back to you of their own accord, not because you’re shoving some One Time Only shenanigan down their throat.”

The bottom line, insists Webb, is that customer experience is more than just treating customers well. “It’s about architecting a machine that serves others,” he explains. And Webb’s five touchpoints allow any organization to create a customer experience that does just that.

Tags:  AIMS Society  email marketing  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  self-improvement  sellability 

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Top 10 Productivity Tools for Sales & Marketing Professionals

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, November 16, 2018

Top 10 Productivity Tools for Sales & Marketing Professionals

Orchestrating a team can be challenging. Whether you have a team of five or 20, every member has a unique personality and preferences. You also may have a host of processes and systems that you're using in the office.

When was the last time you looked at how you're getting work done? Are you being as productive as possible?

When you use the right productivity tools, your team's efficiency and collaboration will increase — resulting in more sales and better organization. there are a host of technologies, apps and systems out there that are designed to improve workflow.

Here are the top resources for insurance professionals:

  1. DocuSign: Incredibly popular in the insurance industry, DocuSign is an e-signature service that helps reduce inefficient paper processes and email contracts in record time.

  2. Slack: If your team is wasting time with inefficient communication processes, consider using Slack. It’s one of the most effective ways to instantly communicate and message your team members — and it works on both desktop and mobile. You can create “Channels” for specific purposes like marketing and only invite those on the marketing team.

  3. Google Docs: This is one of the most user-friendly tools out there for document collaboration. Think of it as a free online version of Microsoft Office. You can create and share word, spreadsheet, forms and presentation files (like proposals, pitches and sales letters) with other team members in real time.

  4. CamScanner: Download this app to easily scan any document and save it as a PDF. It will even enhance the scanned images and lift out important pieces of information like dates, titles and prices. You can also add notes and drawings to your scanned images.

    Note: If you have the Google Drive app on your phone, you can not only access your Google Docs but scan receipts and documents. You can share files immediately and access them later.

  5.  Trello: This collaboration tool helps you organize and prioritize projects and tasks. You can see who’s working on what, where something is in a process and what the next steps are for each prospect. Trello is great for delegating tasks, creating automatic to-do lists and keeping things transparent.

  6. CRM: You’re in a customer-centric business, so it makes sense to have an effective customer relationship management (CRM) system. It’s essential for growing your agency and managing leads and customers every step of the way. HubSpot has a free CRM, but if you’re looking for something personalized, consider Salesforce, Insightly, Zoho and Infusionsoft.

  7. SignOn Once by ID Federation: If you struggle with maintaining passwords and IDs, you’re not alone. It’s one of the biggest pain points among carriers and agencies. SignOn Once enables one identity to replace multiple logins for insurance system users. That way, you can spend less time resetting passwords and more time focused on serving prospects and clients.

  8. Evernote: This is the system for someone who loves sticky notes and keeps infinite tabs open in their browser. With Evernote you can take pictures, save websites and write to-do lists. It’s like your very own digital notebook. You can create different sections for different areas of focus and tag each document or idea — keeping everything you may need in one spot.

  9. Voice-to-Text: You may not think this would be helpful, but have you ever thought about how much time you spend typing something instead of saying it? Or have you ever had a great idea while waiting and didn’t have time to type a note? Voice recognition software has been around for a while, but the technology is finally advanced enough for the translation to be correct instead of jumbled. Consider a robust software like Dragon or start with a free app like Cortana.

  10. Zapier: If you have plenty of leads coming in but are getting bogged down with the follow-up process, consider an automation process. For example, if you get an email with an attachment, you can set up a “trigger” that copies the attachment into your Google Drive and then alerts you in Slack. You can integrate all of your systems like email, social media, email marketing and so much more.

Tags:  AIMS Society  Branding  business value  efficiency  email marketing  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  self-improvement  sellability  Social Media  teamwork 

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Turn a Prospect’s ‘No’ into a Positive Experience

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, July 20, 2018

 

Turn a Prospect’s ‘No’ into a Positive Experience

 

When it comes to discussions about sales strategy, one of the most entrenched concepts is “don’t take no for an answer.”

 

But the reality of sales prospecting is that “no” is an answer you will probably hear — often. Despite your best efforts, it is sometimes the only answer the prospect is willing to give.

 

Insisting on changing “no” to “yes” can, in fact, do nothing more than turn off a prospect and shut you out from any future discussions about what benefits and services your company could provide in the future. Persistence in the face of a repeated “no” can lead to antagonism and frustration for both you and your prospect. Once your prospect perceives you in a negative light, trying to turn that perception around will be almost impossible.

 

Taking “no” for an answer, when done right, can turn a negative into a positive and lead your prospect to possibly becoming a valuable client.

 

At the outset, you need to respect your prospect and their answer. At that first or subsequent call, a prospect may have his or her defenses up, expecting a lengthy, ambitious pitch that does not respect their time or response. Accept “no” graciously and you just might surprise them, prevent that feeling of antagonism and leave the conversation where he or she might be willing to reconnect with you in the future.

 

After you accept a client’s refusal, don’t just walk away and treat the prospect as a waste of time, either. Having shown respect for their answer, it is now time to reach out and build a foundation for the future. Ask their permission to speak again at some point. Aim for a second conversation in the future to reconnect or send an email about something of interest to them, just to keep in touch. This is an opportunity to build a relationship and shape your brand in the prospect’s mind.

 

Your main objective should never be to force a “no” into a “yes,” but to avoid a bad sales experience. One helpful strategy is to do some homework before making the call. Identify the prospect’s need and have an answer that shows why your product is their solution. Not only does this give you a firm basis for conversing with your prospect, but it also saves time — for the both of you. First, you’ll avoid calling upon someone who has no real need for your product, and they won’t have to listen to a pitch about something that has no relevance to them.

 

Most importantly, when doing your homework, make sure the person you contact is someone who can say “yes.”

 

To prepare, turn to LinkedIn, the prospect company’s website, and any other publicly available material that helps you understand who the decision-makers are and how your product or service will benefit them. And when you make that call to that person, listen to what they are saying, ask questions, and learn how what you are selling will complement their business.

 

Respect, courtesy, and a little homework may not conclude the sale today, but invoking those concepts can open doors to a future book of profitable business tomorrow.

Tags:  agency value  AIMS Society  business value  efficiency  Insurance Education  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  productivity  Professional Development  sellability  time management 

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