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COVID-19: Referrals more important than ever for advisors

By Susan Yellin | October 23 2020 10:20AM

Bruce Etherington, Ryan Pinney and Gail Goodman

The insurance industry has picked up the gauntlet when it comes to challenges brought on by COVID-19. But while some advisors are now immersing themselves in technology and new ways of communicating with clients, the No. 1 canon remains the same: find new referrals.

A recent Canadian survey indicated that only 14 per cent of advisors ask their top clients about referrals, says Bruce Etherington, a 42-year life and qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT).

“In these COVID times the silver bullet – the referral – has never been more important,” Etherington told the virtual Canada Sales Congress TV Show which was livestreamed this week. “It’s the referral that will unlock the drawbridge and allow us the opportunity to speak with the prospect.”

He said advisors need to put as many people as possible into their “prospect bucket” because once they become full-fledged clients, the prospect pail needs to be refilled.

While they search for new prospects, advisors cannot forget to service their current clients, treating them respectfully and truthfully.

It’s time to evolve

Technology-averse advisors who are waiting for things to “get back to normal” are making a big mistake, said Ryan Pinney, president of Pinney Insurance Center in Roseville, Calif.

“What I think is the best course of action for any advisor today, especially if they are looking at how to reinvigorate their market, reinvigorate their practice and grow when everyone else is struggling, is: it’s time to evolve.”

Pinney said everything his firm has been creating for years now has been digital, whether it’s leads, prospects or online sales, helping to boost his business by about 12 per cent year over year through the pandemic.

“We see this as directly related to our capabilities because of technology, because we know how to use the internet, because we understood how to use social media.”

Advisors who continue to shy away from technology don’t realize consumers are spending three to four times more on their mobile devices today than they were before COVID-19 hit, as well as watching more video.

New ways of getting leads

This constitutes the largest shift to digital ever and provides the opportunity for advisors to try new ways of getting leads and doing business, said Pinney.

He said technology has streamlined the amount of time and energy advisors and their staff have spent on things like paper work, allowing them to spend more time on marketing and prospecting.

Advisors need a digital business card

Nowadays, advisors also need to get a highly professional digital business card, which includes a person’s corporate name and full street address and which are easy to share with potential clients. Call a prospect and they will have your photo, your name and what you do right at hand, said Gail Goodman, a financial advisor coach from Nashville.

Goodman also suggested that when communicating with a prospective client either by email or text, be brief, but ask the prospect to provide times when he or she will be available for a brief phone call in the next two weeks. If you don’t hear from them, try a few days later. After that, let it go.

“There is no magic formula to get everyone to respond to you.”

The Canada Sales Congress itself went through a technological makeover this year because of COVID-19. Rather than the one-day in-person event it has traditionally been, advisors from all over the country – and elsewhere – could view the Canada Sales Congress TV show, featuring 14 speakers and hosted by renowned advisor coach Jim Ruta.

The Canada Sales Congress TV show will be available for viewing online until December 31st. To learn more, consult the agenda: insurance-portal.ca/csc/program/.

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