Friday, June 26, 2020

My Plan Before Covid Struck

When I wrote my book on sales, "You're Going To Be Great At This!" in 2017, I had a strategy in mind for marketing it. I had been attending my local Toastmasters group for a few years and was working on my speaking skills. While there I met some people who were also aspiring authors and were working on presentation skills to support their books. 

My plan was to use my book, my speaking engagements and my insurance agency to all promote each other. If I spoke, I could mention the book and my agency. When meeting insurance clients, I could mention my book, etc. I could also speak locally to civic and other organizations on insurance topics, hoping to attain to clients, as well as talk up my book. 

Things were starting to happen. I was asked to speak to some new real estate agents about sales, and in my talks I mentioned the book, as well as life and disability insurance. One of the interesting things that happened was that I was enjoying it all. The change was fun and interesting. 

As I mention in the book, the first thing we are selling is ourselves, and I took that thought and ran with it. My agency grew a bit slowly, but steadily. Not only did I get a few more life insurance clients but I also met some agents who wanted to work with me. And I also met some great people along the way who were willing to give me some guidance, which I can always use. 

In a nutshell, I had created a PR firm with one exclusive client - me. 

Then the virus hit and things changed quickly. My insurance business dropped some, but not horribly. Since I typically meet people in coffee shops or their place of work, I just couldn't get out to see people with the quarantine in place.There was interest in some policies since a pandemic was hovering overhead. However the speaking engagements I had booked evaporated.  I was looking forward to doing one in particular, which was ironically at a long term care facility, speaking to a networking group consisting of good people who offer products and/or services to seniors. The people now had a whole new set of problems to deal with and I wasn't on their radar at all.

Taking a good look at the rest of the business community I could see others adapting to the brave new world. More video conferencing would have to happen. "Distancing while selling insurance" became my new mantra. And since I was selling myself, I needed to step up my social media game. More than ever, I was going to have to find more efficient ways to market my book, my insurance practice and my burgeoning speaking business. 

We've had the systems in place to take insurance applications over the phone for years. As a matter of fact, I've done it a handful of times and had no issues. Now I just needed to let people know that this was available as an option. Slowly, people are starting to realize that they can book an appointment with me online and have a good conversation to discuss their needs and budgets.

Using that knowledge, I transferred it to my other businesses. Where I was planning on speaking to a group in person, I can now use Zoom (or another app if needed) to speak to groups. And thankfully my book sales have continued to be steady. 

My hope is that when this is all over and we get back to a sense of normalcy again, I'll be able to get in front of a group, large or small, and give another one of my talks, either discussing insurance products we offer or the sales process. A colleague and good friend said that he thought the Covid situation was going to give us all a "reset" on all businesses, not just insurance sales. We are all having to make changes that may stay with us for a while. That's fine. I'm definitely flexible as long as it works. 

Let me know if you have had to make changes and if they are working. In the meantime, I hope you all have continued success and I look forward to seeing (or hearing) from you soon. And as always, stay healthy!

Chris Castanes is the president of Surf Financial Brokers, as well as a professional speaker helping sales people be more productive and efficient.

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