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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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What Can You Teach Me Today? Why Your Hiring Focus Needs to Change

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, June 15, 2018

What Can You Teach Me Today?
Why Your Hiring Focus Needs to Change

When you are searching for a new hire, there's an approach to the interview that could lead to a real transformation of your agency.

"As a #Millennial — I like to hire people who I know I can learn from." That comment, which was recently shared on Twitter, comes from Tyler Olson, founder of Modern Foundation, an analytics based social and search consulting firm.

Yes, it's just a tweet, but stop to consider the potentially profound impact that kind of approach could have. Of course, every new hire will require some degree of on-the-job training, and you are looking for someone you think has the initial experience required to come in and learn your agency protocols and move forward from there. However, this one-way view of the employer/employee relationship misses what could provide a tremendous payoff.

You do need someone who can learn. But what about finding someone who can also teach? And what if you deliberately explored the teaching roles of every single hire, even entry-level workers or those in more distant support roles?

You may argue that questions such as "Tell me about your experience" or "Tell me why you're the best candidate" gets at this very issue. But those canned questions will most likely elicit a canned response. Instead, dig deeper.

Start before the interview by thinking about your agency weaknesses and opportunities, not only those related to the position you're hiring for, but even more far-reaching. If your agency struggles with internal communication, ask some questions that explore the candidate's ideas or past experience with just that. "We're always striving to improve cross-department communication—ways to make sure everyone knows what's going on and are on the same page. Have you worked with another group or organization where either you or those around you had an approach that led to improved communication and fewer misunderstandings or dropped balls?" Who knows, you may be surprised to learn that the person sitting in front of you built an organizational app or started a weekly lunch group to improve dialogue.

Next interview, keep this approach in mind. As you focus on finding more potential teachers, you'll also be positioning your agency as a place open to change and innovation — and that sounds like an agency on the move.

Tags:  AIMS Society  efficiency  Leadership  Networking  Professional Development  self-improvement  Social Media  Technology 

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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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Spring Clean Your Sales Process

Posted By AIMS Society, Friday, April 13, 2018

Spring Clean Your Sales Process

Spring cleaning. We do it in our homes, so why not do it at the office?

Taking the time to declutter and dust off some things in your professional life will give you a breath of fresh air. But we're not just talking about tidying your desk. When it comes to sales and marketing, we suggest you perform a mini-audit and evaluate procedures.

Take a fresh look at your personal sales performance and ask yourself what's working and what isn't. Look at where leads are coming from, conversion rates and customer demographics. If you don't already have a platform to track sales data, go ahead and start one now for reference throughout the year.

If you're in a management position, look at your lineup. Consider the strengths of each sales member. Should you reconfigure to make smarter plays? If someone is better with new customers but struggles when it comes to retention, place then at the forefront of the customer journey. Have a one-on-one with every member of the team to see how they're doing. It will likely prompt them to evaluate their own performances and potentially make some changes too.

Next, look at your sales process. How can you declutter and streamline your method? Can some steps in the process be re-tooled or daresay eliminated? How are your marketing materials — outdated or ineffective? Your entire process should be flexible to each client's needs, but also effective to your daily workflow.

Consider the bigger picture, too. How does your sales process relate to your company's actual operations? What about the insurance industry as a whole? Throughout this process, take the time to learn from your customers. Get feedback on how you're doing or things they'd like to see changed. Do they want more or less communication? Fewer phone calls and more emails? How can you adjust your sales process to meet their wants and needs?

Spring-cleaning is also a great time to reevaluate your goals. If you made new year's goals, where are you on the path to meeting them? Go ahead and revise them or set some new ones. Determine tangible ways you can get there, whether it's new clients to talk to, networking events to attend or a new marketing strategy to launch.

You'll thank yourself for taking an afternoon to check in. You'll eliminate unnecessary procedures, avoid making mistakes, sharpen your sales pitch and simplify procedures.

Tags:  AIMS Society  efficiency  insurance marketing and sales  productivity  self-improvement  time management 

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