Financial advisors are in the midst of a transition to working remote because of the novel coronavirus and social distancing. For sales professionals, nothing beats a face-to-face interaction. The keys to a successful sale relies on that individual or business knowing, liking, and trusting you. It’s not easy to accomplish all three of those factors when you can’t physically shake someone’s hand or look them in the eye when they’re talking about financial security 10, 20, 30+ years down the road.
Peace of mind and security is what we sell, which at this point is heightened even more with fears of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
This is why we just can’t stop the work we do. We must be “out there” even more to assist our prospective clients.
But what can we do if we can’t physically be “out there” to see people? Many companies across the world have incorporated a “work from home” model for years now. Some companies, like Zapier, have a 100% virtual workforce. Other, much larger, Fortune 5000 companies have incorporated a “work from wherever you want” model, as long as the work gets done.
To implement these models successfully, it requires discipline from your workers, but more importantly, total buy in from leadership and access to resources.
Personally, I’ve been working virtually for over 8 years, so I know a thing or two about how to get things done when you’re out “on an island” and your team is spread out all over the world. With colleagues as close as a few miles away and as far as Ukraine (I’m in Los Angeles), keeping it all together requires the right balance of resources and leadership.
Here are 3 things that will help advisors transition to “working from home” while we get through this indefinite quarantine (social distancing) happening across the board.
1. Discipline When Working Remote
Working from home can feel like a “vacation from the office” at first. It’s great, it’s comfortable, and a place with endless distractions. Enjoy it at first, but remember you need to get things done. People are still depending on you.
Create your ideal “space” when working from home. Remove the distractions, and treat your workspace as if you’re about to meet with a client there. (which, you technically are)
Distractions are easy when working from home. TV, radio, kids, wife, husband, pets, deliveries, online shopping, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even day dreaming! It happens! To remain productive and avoid these pitfalls, get in the right mindset. To attain this, start with a few things you can definitely control.
Look and Act Like You’re Going to Work
Get dressed and do your hair like you’re going into the office. Have breakfast and lunch at normal times. If you need to take breaks, step outside the house and get some fresh air on a quick walk (avoiding people at ALL COSTS, of course!)
Now, on the “attire” point, I’m not saying to wear a suit at home, but avoid taking calls in your pajamas.
The way you look and feel will go a long way in your attitude while working from home.
The point is, the more you can mimic the things you would do in your corporate office, the better. Treat it like your job and not a “too sick to come into the office but ok to work from home sporadically” day.
Get Comfortable and Don’t Sacrifice Health
It’s important to upgrade your equipment, including a desk and chair that work well for your posture so you don’t end up having back pain or other issues. If you are dealing with back pain from sitting, check out this article on one-sided lower back pain which a lot of people in the work-from-home era are dealing with. I know we’re not a “healthcare” company, but something like this can eat into productivity, which is something we care about.
Pain does not bode well for efficiency while working.
2. The Right Tools for Efficiency and Communication
So you’re working from home, you’re disciplined, you have your work station, and now you need to conduct meetings like you’ve never conducted before. Here are a set of tools that are designed to make you more efficient and impactful when working remotely.
When your client is handing over their life savings, being able to talk via video conference is going to make that transaction MUCH easier to swallow.
In my experience, the easiest, most reliable video conferencing tool is Zoom. If you don’t want your clients dealing with downloading a file and restarting their computer just to conduct a meeting with you via video, this is your answer.
It’s easy, it’s intuitive, and you’ll have clients thanking you for providing a safe, alternate way to meet with them. This allows you to share files, screens, and even record the calls.
You can sign up for a free account right away: Zoom Plans
If you’re not already, start using a scheduling app such as Calendly. There are plenty of options out there which provide scheduling services without the constant back and forth to get a time booked, but none do it as well as Calendly.
I’m not going to get into the nuances of why this is better than the next service – you’ll just have to trust me – but I will talk a little about how much time is wasted by sending the “Sure, what are some times that you’re available to meet?” email.
Think about how inefficient this is – the person now goes to their calendar, picks out a few times, tells you via email, then you have to look at your calendar, make sure it’s free, and if it’s not, then come back to the client with alternate times, and the circle of inefficiency continues.
Why not… “Here’s my calendar link, please pick a time that’s suitable for you.”
This would take the client LESS TIME to book a meeting than to find times that work and email you for confirmation. Once your client books the meeting, it’s automatically added to your calendar along with an email confirmation.
You can setup as many meeting types as you need, illustrated here:Scheduling the meeting itself for your clients is also a breeze, and takes less than 30 seconds:
If you have an assistant, he/she should still use Calendly on your behalf. It’s free to sign up and begin using. Visit Calendly.
Email should not be the sole means of communication you do between your team. Personally, I use email almost entirely to communicate with prospects or clients. 99% of my communication with my team happens on Slack. There’s no reason for you to ever send an email to your colleague or manager that simply “confirms” something or gives a “status update.”
Save time for everyone involved by using a tool that was literally made for remote work.
From Slack’s website:“Slack brings the team together, wherever you are
With all of your communication and tools in one place, remote teams will stay productive no matter where you’re working from.”
You can create Channels with groups or teams like Sales Managers, L&D, Underwriting, etc. but also have conversations with individuals just the same. It’s also much easier to find a conversation within Slack than it is to sift through emails for specific key words.
Here’s what a typical Slack interface looks like:
Check out Slack today and see how your inbox becomes less cluttered and your team becomes more productive.
Bonus: TRELLO for task management
Another great FREE tool that helps you keep track of all the outstanding projects you’ve got in progress. Trello allows you to create “cards” for each task, add collaborators, keep comments, files, checklists, and progress all within that same card. It’s a Kanban style of project management, which is system developed by Toyota manufacturing in the 1960s. I’m not going to get into why this works, so just google “Kanban” if you’re interested.
We could write a separate post on each of these tools, so for now, I’m just going to keep it to the “high level” minimum.
This is what a typical Trello board might look like:
You can get VERY creative with how you use a Trello board. There seem to be no rules or limits on what you can use it for.
Take a look at Trello for more information.
I’ve given you high level tips on what to use. If you have questions about these products and how to best implement them for your team, reach out to us at TheCloser@taylormethod.com or comment below to get the discussion going.
This should go without saying given our current environment where companies have no choice but to create a virtual work environment on the fly. As hard as it may be for a first timer working from home, imagine a manager trying to “manage” their team in a way they’ve never done before.
This requires total buy-in and support. Depending on your team, it may require a team Zoom call every morning to get the day started off right. Having a consistent line of communication with your team is important because it’s easy to lose track of what’s happening when everyone is virtual. Some team members need that additional interaction to keep them on track and motivated, while others are self-starters and can adapt easily.
This is what managers will inevitably have to juggle to hone their management style through this transition.
Results will still be based on numbers, of course. It should be seamless to keep track of the same benchmark figures you use for productivity.
How many calls are being made?
How many appointments are being booked?
How many Apps are being submitted?
Are you keeping up with your trainings? Nobody wants to stop watching Taylor Method videos, right? 😉
Above all, be a guide for your team and make sure they have what they need to be successful. Understand it may take some time to adjust and your support and flexibility during this time will make the transition much easier on your team.
Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something new about your team and how you can apply this “virtual workforce” model beyond this pandemic. Companies in industries other than Insurance and Financial Services have been implementing flexible work schedules for years and they successfully attract top talent year after year.
We will overcome this “once in a lifetime” event. Commit 100% to this transition and keep an open mind about what changes can continue to work well for your team after “social distancing” is over.
I wear lots of hats
Eszylfie Taylor is the founder and president of Taylor Insurance and Financial Services and the Creator of The Taylor Method, his online sales system for financial advisors. He attended Concordia University on a basketball scholarship and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. Prior to founding his own brokerage, he was a standout financial advisor at New York Life, finishing his career there as the highest producing advisor in the history of the African American market.
Mr. Taylor has been a Million Dollar Round Table Top of the Table producer since 2011, which places him in the top 1% of advisors worldwide. In 2015, he was the recipient of NAIFA’s Advisor Today Top 4 Under Forty award. Today, as an active advisor, he continues to build on the sales language, concepts, and tips that contribute to the curriculum on The Taylor Method.