Sometime in February, when this pandemic was ravaging China and we had a few cases in India where I live, I started thinking about what would happen with my business if restrictions are put in place. Will my business stop if I’m not meeting with clients? The thought was terrifying.
During a crisis of this size, investment and insurance are not always at the top of everyone’s agenda. I was afraid to call prospects and seek appointments. Then the real blow came with the news that the pandemic was going to stay awhile and almost everything would have to be locked down. I knew then I needed to find a way to keep working and meeting prospects and clients.
I had my doubts as to how prospects would react or if they would even be comfortable in joining a video conference. I had to try, though, so I applied the fundamentals of cold calling with a few strategic tweaks — and it worked. These work-from-home times have become the most productive of my career.
The new way to call on referrals
When a client now gives me a referral, I first call the prospect, introduce myself and my organization. I send them a scan of my business card on WhatsApp. This makes the person mentally prepared to shift from a hard copy to a soft one and helps them accept this form of interaction.
Next, I request a time slot for a discussion and ask if they are OK with a Zoom/video meeting. If they say yes, I send my bio and specialization information via email or WhatsApp.
In my first Zoom video meeting, I met a gentleman who had been retired for six months and was at home with his wife and teenage daughter. I was not too sure how he would take to a video call, but to my surprise, he was in the video-call “meeting room” almost 10 minutes before the scheduled time! He was skeptical at first, but as the meeting progressed, I could read the signs that he was impressed. He found it interesting to buy life insurance in a “virtual marketplace,” even though he could have purchased life insurance online before.
Perhaps he liked my confidence in pitching an insurance policy in a video call because, in a matter of minutes, the entire family was on the screen. We discussed the current pandemic and its impact on personal finance. We briefly discussed his annuities, savings and tax plans. I noticed that he had stopped funding his Employees’ Provident Fund post-retirement, which could cost him in terms of his taxes, and the deadline for filing tax returns was fast approaching.
It was easy for me to offer them a solution, and it did not require him to meet me or my staff or exchange any physical documents. Thanks to the digital platform, documents were exchanged online, and he paid his first premium through a bank transfer. The deal was closed.
This was my first business during the lockdown period with a client whom I had not seen or met earlier. I jumped with disbelief! Yes, this is possible! Not only that; surprisingly, clients and prospects were more comfortable with video calls than I was. I guess the edge here is that despite being virtual, the client is not speaking to a chatbot but to a real advisor.
I also found some of the advantages to the video call apps, such as easily adding people to the video call — such as a spouse, children or the client’s accountant — and inserting a PowerPoint file, flyer or comparison sheet.
These days in self-confinement have so far been the most productive in my career. And I’m also reconnecting with my friends, relatives and old clients. Most of them are ecstatic when I tell them on the phone, “Guess who this is? Would you like to join me in a video meeting?” Now I’m religiously calling them almost for an hour every morning and meeting them on a video call in the evening.
As Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
Plabita Priyadarshi is an eight-year MDRT member and a Top of the Table qualifier from Mumbai, India.