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How to Move Your Practice Online

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In 2020, it is possible, even necessary, to sell retirement and income products online. Digital marketing of financial products has become a fact of life after COVID-19.

The virus forced many of your prospects and to adopt new mindsets when it comes to online interactions. It’s likely that most of these clients, especially younger retirees and pre-retirees, will never return to doing business the way they did it before.

(Related: ‘Everything Is About Engagement’: Idea File)

However, the degree to which an agent is successful in going digital depends on how much time and effort they are willing to put into the process. Selling and servicing clients digitally, while it does share a lot in common with face-to-face encounters, requires some adjustments that may be initially uncomfortable for both the advisor and the client.

Here are some initial steps you can that will help ensure your online client interactions are as smooth, seamless, and successful as possible.

1. Survey your existing database.

Surveying clients is a good excuse to reach out to people with whom you haven’t spoken in a while. There are several free or low-cost tools, such as Survey Monkey, to help you create short surveys.

Or, you could call your clients and prospects and ask them questions such as:

  • Has the pandemic caused you to spend more time online?
  • Do you feel comfortable discussing your financial situation in a virtual setting?
  • If you had a chance to attend a virtual presentation, is that something that would be of interest?
  • How can I increase your confidence in planning your retirement and income strategies in a virtual setting?
  • With what kinds of digital platforms are you currently familiar? (This might include ZOOM, Go to Meeting, WebEx, Skype, or other digital tools.)

You may want to ask other kinds of questions, depending on your areas of specialization or client demographics. Your initial survey should be no longer than five questions and be easy to complete. Your clients must be able to do the whole thing and get it back to you in five minutes or less. Some advisors find that doing a short survey by phone is even more productive than sending it via text or email. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to find out what your favorite clients are doing!

2. Digitize your current presentation.

Although you might intend to one day return to in-person marketing, having a digital version of your “napkin” presentation is useful. It’s not only possible to automate your presentation for use as website content or lead generation, but you can also send it to clients who are unable to travel or who live far from your office.

The digital version of your presentation should be “tight.” This means, in most instances, that it won’t run longer than 20 minutes. Unless specifically designed for a more sophisticated segment of your audience, your presentation should not contain too many charts, graphs, or overwhelming jargon. Short, visually-striking, impactful presentations are best to keep your virtual audience focused.

3. Design (or re-design) your website with the end-user in mind.

I am still amazed at how many advisors either have no websites or never update their websites. Your website serves as both your digital business card and a hub for client and prospect interactions. It’s also the perfect place, provided you are careful to secure it, for clients to download and upload documents, review illustrations, or watch your explainer videos and presentations. Your site, then, should always be well-organized, visually attractive, and thoughtfully designed. Good financial sites included elements your prospects and clients will appreciate, such as quick load times, easy navigation, and access to useful content.

To sum it up: Our industry has pushed back against selling safe money products over the phone or online in the past. However, with the advent of more straightforward, efficient tools and marketing techniques, digital income and retirement marketing is now a reality, perhaps even a necessity. Agents and advisors who want to remain in the business and prosper must evaluate, enhance, and improve their ability to interact and service clients digitally.

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Joe EdgeworthJoe Edgeworth is the chief executive officer of the Edgeworth Insurance Group in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He’s been helping clients with life, retirement and long-term care planning since 1992.