Life is drastically different than it was two months ago. Storefronts and offices are closed and social distancing guidelines are in place, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your business on hold. In fact, your work is more vital now than ever.
With the vast majority of the American workforce now doing business from home, you’ve likely started looking around to find the best tools for doing business remotely and continuing to network and sell. We’ve rounded up our team’s top recommendations for doing business virtually in these unusual times.
External Communication Tools for Virtual Work
Personal touch is important in sales, but when you can’t be in the same room as your clients and prospects it can be challenging. Phone calls are more personal than e-mails, but they still lack body language and facial expressions that can be crucial when selling and enrolling clients in a new product.
Video conferencing platforms are a great tool for sales professionals wanting to maintain the personal aspect of sales. You may think your clientele is not technology-savvy enough to effectively utilize a video conferencing platform, but many video conferencing tools have user-friendly interfaces making calls a breeze for users of all levels.
Zoom Video Conferencing
All it takes for you to get started with Zoom is a free account. If you start using Zoom as a primary communication platform you can always upgrade to a paid account for longer video chat times with more users.
Zoom is known for its ease of use, specifically its screen sharing feature that allows you to seamlessly integrate visual aids into your conversations just like you would at any other sales meeting. And all your client needs is an e-mail address and an internet connection on any device to join the call.
Zoom has gotten some negative attention recently for privacy issues. The company wasn’t prepared for the sudden boom as a result of COVID-19, but they are actively working on correcting the issues. In the meantime, you can still use Zoom worry-free by simply taking the extra step to set the meeting to private. It’s also preferred that your client join the conversation with a device other than a phone, even if they don’t turn the camera on, for extra security.
Google Hangout Video Conferencing
Google Hangout is a favorite because, like Zoom, it’s free and easy for users of any age to navigate. Screen sharing is simple and, depending on what type of account you have, you can add up to 24 participants. In addition, Google Hangout offers a chat feature that allows you to send messages through an instant messaging thread even when the other person is offline.
It’s also more secure than most of its competitors and integrates seamlessly with Google Calendar and Gmail. Participants don’t have to have a Gmail account to participate in Google Hangout conversations, and it’s available on your desktop, as well as Android and iOS devices.
Hangout may not be the best word to describe a meeting where you plan to close a sale. That’s why Google has an enterprise video conferencing platform for G-Suite customers, Google Meet. Sounds a lot more professional, right? We agree. But despite the name, there is nothing wrong with using Google Hangouts to video conference with clients and prospects if you aren’t a G-Suite user.
Internal Communication Tools for Virtual Work
Every aspect of the way you do business has changed in the past couple of months, not just your sales approach. If you are wanting to improve your team’s remote processes and communication, these tools might be the answer you’ve been looking for.
Slack is an app that provides an efficient alternative to traditional email. It is primarily used for internal communications and workflow management. When you work with a team, a sudden move to 100% remote work can be challenging and stressful. With Slack it’s easy to communicate, share files, collaborate on projects, and video conference with built-in tools. While Slack has free services, some features may require upgrading to a paid account.
Another benefit for your agency is that Slack is compatible with a variety of sales integrations like Salesforce, HubSpot, and more, helping you move through the sales cycle quicker and more efficiently. What’s even better is that your team will be able to see progress, no matter where they are, in real-time. Seamless service for your customer and streamlined communications for your team is a win-win for your agency.
If you’re an Office 365 user, Microsoft Teams is a free alternative to Slack, as long as you have less than 300 users. What makes Teams a game-changer is that it seamlessly integrates every Microsoft Office 365 app into a single platform. This makes it a one-stop-shop for workplace productivity within a single platform.
We’ve talked a lot about video conferencing so far, and you’ve probably been wondering “what about Skype?”
Microsoft has built Skype into Teams, meaning high-quality video conferencing with a slew of additional features to help your sales, like background blur and transcripts.
Teams does allow you to communicate with users outside of your organization, but it takes a few extra steps on your part and requires them to create a free Microsoft account if they don’t already have one.
Marketing & Networking Remotely
While reaching prospects through events and in-person meetings might not be possible right now, there are still plenty of opportunities to market and network remotely.
Now is a great time to step-up your social media engagement, if you haven’t already.
Engaging with Business Leaders on LinkedIn
If your clients are primarily businesses, such as agents in Group Benefits, LinkedIn is a great platform to increase engagement with since it is directed at business professionals specifically. You’ll be able to easily connect with business owners and decision-makers in your area and offer positive support to those who may be facing hardships in relation to employee benefits in the changing economic situation.
You can also take time to establish your brand by creating a LinkedIn page for your agency and promote through a variety of advertising options like sponsored content and in-mail ads. As the number one platform for lead generation, taking the time to build your LinkedIn presence both at the personal and agency levels can pay off.
Reaching Individuals through Facebook Engagement
For agents trying to connect with individuals in their community, it’s important to have a presence on Facebook. Creating a Facebook business page allows your business to interact with people on Facebook while building your brand.
Facebook Ads can also be a great, and cost-effective, way for your agency to reach a larger audience. With Facebook Ads you can specify demographic information to help your boosted post reach to a specific target market, such as Facebook users in Scranton, Pennsylvania who are between the ages of 64 and 65+. Facebook makes it easy to reach audiences in broad and specific categories.
But even if you don’t have extra money to spend on boosted posts, simply interacting with your friends can help push your sales in the right direction. Be a resource and let people know you’re able to help if they need it. Word of mouth is the most effective marketing strategy and social media is where the majority of it is happening right now.
Of course, before you use any tool, don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the carrier compliance guidelines for your carriers and market. If you have questions, reach out to our team.