These days, more and more insurance is being sold online or over the phone. This is certainly a more efficient way to do business. It allows agents to sell business without ever talking to the client. Quoting and enrollment tools like Quotit can help brokers put their business on auto-pilot; brokers can make sales even when they’re not at work.
Unfortunately, not every client likes to do business this way, and that’s especially true of business owners shopping for group health coverage for their employees. This type of sale usually requires a face-to-face meeting and a good amount of consultation to find the right solution for the client. The same is true of Medicare business. While more people are signing up for coverage over the phone, many clients prefer an in-person meeting so their son or daughter can attend and help them make a decision.
In those cases where a face-to-face meeting is preferable, where do you usually meet—at your office or at the client’s office/home? It’s possible you do a little of both, but most agents have a preference. Here are some of the pros and cons of both meeting places.
Go to the client
Many agents offer to meet the client at his or her home or place of business. For some, this is the first suggestion; they don’t even give the client a choice but rather ask when they can stop by to see them.
A lot of clients like this option because it’s easy and convenient. They don’t have to go anywhere, so it saves them the travel time. It also allows them to invite others to attend the meeting. If discussing a group policy, the business owner can call in the HR manager and other decision makers so they can all hear about the options at the same time. When discussing Medicare or another individual product in a prospect’s home, he or she can invite family members to attend or even ask a neighbor who might also be interested in the solution to listen to the presentation. Additionally, any documentation that’s required for the sale, like company paperwork or tax forms for a group plan or the Medicare card and existing insurance information for a Medicare sale, are easily accessible if the broker travels to the client.
There are also some disadvantages to meeting the client at his or her office or home, though. One disadvantage is that they are more likely to be interrupted. In a business setting, there are constant interruptions. Someone might need a quick signature from the business owner; there might be an important phone call that the employer has to take; or the client might cut the meeting short if something more important (or at least something the employer perceives as more important) comes up. When meeting in someone’s home, children and pets can serve as a distraction, there might not be a good spot to meet if the kitchen table is covered in junk, or the client might feel obligated to clean the house before the meeting.
One other disadvantage of traveling to the client is that it takes a lot of time. Agents can only meet with so many clients in a day, especially if they’re traveling from place to place, and being away from the office can result in missed phone calls, delayed emails, and missed opportunities. Those are among the good reasons to ask the client to come to your office.
Have the client come to you
The fact is, agents are professionals, and in many other professions the client meets at the professional’s office. Most doctors don’t make house calls; most attorneys have big, fancy offices that will be impressive to their clients; and most CPAs ask their clients to bring their tax documents to them. While there are always exceptions, most clients don’t think twice about traveling to someone else’s office for an important meeting.
And insurance is important. It’s true that clients don’t necessarily like talking about it, but that doesn’t make it any less of a priority. And because it’s important, the client should be willing to travel to the agent.
When agents schedule meetings at their office, they reduce the time they have to spend on each client because they cut out the travel time. As already mentioned, this allows them to spend more time working right up until and immediately following the meeting, so they can answer emails, make and return phone calls, or do necessary paperwork.
Another advantage of meeting at the office is that that’s where the agent’s computer and files are. It’s easy to retrieve any necessary information, print off paperwork that needs to be completed, make copies for the client, and submit an online application.
For agents whose office doubles as a retail location, they might also get walk-in clients, especially during the Medicare annual election period and the individual open enrollment period. Agents who are out in the field will miss this walk-in business.
A personal decision
Every agent is different, and if you’ve made a decision either to travel to the client or work primarily from your office because that’s how you like to work, great. But if you haven’t put much thought into it or considered the other ways to do business, perhaps you should. Either way, don’t skip out on the technology. There is a certain percentage of the public that prefers the do-it-yourself approach to health insurance, and having the online quoting and enrollment tools to serve these individuals will definitely help you sell more business.