The critical role of communication in 2021

Are you focusing on communication as your key to success? Whether prospecting, meeting clients or continuing to meet client’s needs, communication builds your business.

This article identifies the four key goals and the four key skills of great communication that ensure local agents win against national competition every time.

Goals

Clarity

Suitability may be the most important word for insurance needs. Clarity means asking questions to better understand your clients’ situation and needs. Know how to ask questions that identify if network, price, portability, formulary, brand, service or supplementary benefits are more important. Agents are good at giving advice; how good are you at asking questions to better understand your client’s needs?

Follow up

Chances are that clients are thrilled when you find solutions that work perfectly for them. A great time to ask for referrals is following a successful enrollment.

What about a follow-up call? This may be an even better way to seal a relationship and gain referrals.  Call to see if they have received their member cards, walk through their benefits again, or remind them how to find in-network providers. The follow-up call is a great time to remind clients of free benefits, such as prevention service and gym membership options.

A simple follow-up call can lay the foundation for repeat sales and more referrals.

Changing needs

Client’s age and lifestyles change, so it’s important that everyone is still on the right plan. Send a letter or call to ask if their plan meets their needs. Do this between May and October so clients have plenty of time to decide if they want to make a change.

Make AEP and OEP more efficient by scheduling enrollments rather than discussions. Enrollment periods are characterized as a media blitz, and many clients switch off and may even miss their opportunity to sign up for a more appropriate plan.

Staying in touch

How forgettable are you? The longer you fail to communicate, the higher the chance that clients forget about you or think you don’t care. When the time comes for your services, they may turn to your competition instead. Even if a client does not need a new product, the simple act of staying in touch reassures them you are there when they need you.

Skills

Transparency­. Am I as clear as I can be?

Being transparent creates stronger relationships. Suitability is important, though no solution is perfect in every way. Outline how cost sharing, deductibles, networks and portability works and point out all the pitfalls, as this demonstrates transparency. It is easier to focus on upside benefits and to take more time highlighting downsides, especially when cost is involved. Remember to call clients about a network or benefit changes and watch how transparency builds stronger relationships.

Trustworthiness. Am I building trust?

Regular contact builds trust. When clients recognize they can contact you and get quick responses, it builds trust in your practice. Saying you may not have the best solution or referring them elsewhere may not be easy, but it can be powerful if done well.

Do you set out-of-office messages on your voice and email? Letting clients know your availability indicates your respect for them.

Understanding needs and empathy

Giving your time, asking questions and getting to know clients puts you in a better position to advise. Empathy, the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes, is a critical business skill.

Some clients have challenges, especially when it concerns affordability; some have transport, internet and other challenges. A better solution may be Medicaid, subsidized coverage, or a low-income supplement to ensure you always find the right solution for their needs. Remember that reputation, especially in a community, means everything.

Be aware when using industry terminology or jargon. Be mindful of how you can clearly and effectively explain benefits in everyday language.

Friendship

Your relationship with clients should remain professional; however, the amount of information you have means you know a lot about your clients. This knowledge creates a bond that simplifies communication and makes working with them a pleasure. Great communicators form strong working relationships.

Summary

Local agents are better than any call center or distant agency at communication. By listening, being proactive, picking up the phone or putting on a local seminar, you are well on the way to building successful relationships and being a go-to resource for your community.

As Minnesota’s leading independent general agency, LeClair Group understands the skills local agents bring to our communities. Our team is here to support your business however we can. If you want to discuss ways of communicating with your clients, email us at Sales@LeClairGroup.com.