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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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Why You Should Use Humor in Your Marketing

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, June 22, 2018

Why You Should Use Humor in Your Marketing

Even after you've forgotten the content of a joke, you remember the fact that it made you laugh. Humor is a tricky little devil, extremely difficult to nail, but powerful when done right. Out of all the stories you hear throughout your week, you are most likely to share the ones that make you laugh. After all, who doesn't want to make people laugh?

Unfortunately, humor is fairly subjective. So if using humor is risky, why bother with it at all?

In a recent article for the Atlantic, Nigel Hollis writes, "The first trick of advertising is to make people pay attention. Funny ads attract attention."

Insurance is not perhaps the most intriguing of topics, and that's putting it lightly. Your brand must connect with people on an emotional level to succeed, and that's where humor has its value. This is especially true for everyday brands that might otherwise go unnoticed by the average consumer. 

Writing for Hubspot, Kim Speier states "Humor is a way to sell your brand without outwardly selling something." When you appeal to a consumer's emotions, she says, "you're able to engage them and make them remember you." And that, my friends, is half the battle.

Even if a customer may not remember the exact details of a product or the message of the ad, you've just built brand recognition.

However, that positive association is lost if the messaging isn't consistent or recognizable. Speier cautions that without brand awareness — a distinct knowledge of their consumer base and persona — marketers' attempts at humor can seem inauthentic or even offensive. Know what your brand stands for and who your target audience is before attempting to reel in laughs, and customers.

But that doesn't mean your brand can't be funny, in addition to being serious and trustworthy. Consider a few of the examples Speier provides in her blog post, ones that she chose precisely because the products are considered dull. Dollar Shave Club razors. Charmin toilet paper. State Farm insurance. Old Spice deodorant. Allstate insurance. Clorox bleach. Wonderful Pistachio's...well, pistachios of course.

Chances are you recognize most, if not all, of these names. There's a reason for that — their ads managed to tickle your funny bone.

It's easy to entertain people by marketing a cool or exciting product, as Speier says. "But the real gift is with those who can take something that people don't typically enjoy shopping for and make it an experience they will actually look forward to."

So whether your joke elicits a full-on belly laugh, a wheezing-you-can-barely-breath-laugh, a reluctant snort, a quick chuckle, or even a smile, you're on the right track.

"If there's one thing for sure, it's that people love to laugh," Speier concludes. "We could all afford to smile and laugh a little more in our lives, and if you're a brand that can make us do that, we're going to appreciate it. So keep the laughs coming!"

Tags:  agency value  Branding  business value  Goals  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Networking  Personal Brand  Professional Development  self-improvement  sellability  teamwork 

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Are Brainstorms Washing Away Success?

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, May 25, 2018

Are Brainstorms Washing Away Success?

Play nice. Share. Get along. There’s no “I” in “team.” Collaboration is key.

We’ve been coached since childhood to collect everyone’s opinions and ideas, believing it’s the single best way to find the best solution. Although it’s true that businesses use teamwork as the foundation of success, has our propensity to brainstorm inadvertently crippled business in some ways?

Renowned Wharton professor and leadership expert, Adam Grant, thinks so. He maintains that when people work so hard to develop consensus — essentially going along to get along — originality suffers, threats are overlooked, and disaster can remain undetected until it’s too late.

Instead, he recommends “brainwriting,” which begins with each individual developing a list of ideas on their own. Only after everyone has thought through the issue privately and committed positions to paper does the team meet to discuss and evaluate. Why is this more effective? “The wisdom of crowds mostly comes when you put people in separate rooms and get their judgment independently,” Grant explains.

It appears he’s not alone with his hypothesis. In his book, 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, Richard Wiseman says, “Over 50 years of research shows that people often reach irrational decisions in groups … and highly biased assessments of the situation ... strong-willed people who lead group discussions can pressurize others into conforming, self-censorship and create an illusion of unanimity.”

While Forbes contributor Natalie Peace sides with Grant and Wiseman, she believes there are still opportunities for brainstorming, albeit in new ways. She recommends:

  • Provide strong leadership and a process framework to follow. People often want to have "no rules" brainstorming, but that can quickly derail or stall.

  • Give everyone time to think in advance of the session (essentially following Grant's "brainwriting" idea).

  • Make contribution mandatory. No sitting in the room just nodding. 

  • Any idea can be shot down, but must be replaced with an alternative.

How do you feel about brainstorming? Do you love it or hate it and why?

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

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How to Thank Your Clients During the Holidays

Posted By AIMS Society, Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How to Thank Your Clients During the Holidays

The holidays are here — and the new year is fast approaching. It's the perfect time to show your gratitude and say thank you to your loyal clients.

Saying thank you shows customers that you care — and making them the focus of your marketing efforts can help build your brands. Beyond giving every single one of your clients their own gift, there are a few simple ways you can show appreciation:

  • Give a social shout out! Our friends at Aartrijk made personalized videos for each of their clients with a quick clip showing their thanks. You can even shoot them on your iPhone and use free video editing software to add a little holiday cheer.
  • Feature the stories of your customers. Instead of making the emphasis on you, turn it around and shine the spotlight on your clients. Share stories, testimonials, successes and results to elevate customer loyalty and personalization.
  • Go old school and send a holiday card. Depending on how many clients you have, it may be worth it to send cards in the mail. It shows you've taken the time in a heavily digital world to say thanks in a much more personal way. (P.S. Handwritten is even better!)
  • Have a holiday open house. Pick a day to invite everyone to the office. Get a few appetizer trays or host a giveaway to get people in the door. It's a great way to focus on face-to-face interaction and relationship building.

The biggest theme here? Get personalized and be sincere. It doesn't have to be over the top. Just a simple "thank you" will do the trick.

What are some ways you're thanking clients this year?

Tags:  AIMS Society  business value  Holidays  Networking  self-improvement  thank your clients 

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