An agile approach to new business

A new take on new business will be part of our working lives as we look to build the economy ‘post-COVID’, comments Andrew Bailey at Bridge Insurance Brokers.

Since lockdown began in the UK, our working lives have changed considerably and many organisations have realised that they don’t necessarily need everyone in one place to function effectively.

As the nation slowly makes its way back to work, businesses are admitting that they cannot see themselves operating in the way they did before – and some could be following the examples of Facebook, Google and Twitter, by allowing their teams to work from home a lot more.

It might work for huge technology companies, but how does it translate for more traditional industries, whose teams might be a little older and whose ways of working needed to be a lot more ‘face to face’? In particular, how might the new ways of working impact upon the drive for new business? While pushing for new clients and widening networks was not a priority during lockdown, we will all need to keep moving forward in the future. The key will be recognising that it needs to be done in a different way.

Good salespeople often like the personal touch; meeting people for the first time, finding common ground, building relationships. Most of these elements will be taken away from new business meetings in the near future. Measures that are being introduced to help enforce social distancing and prevent infections will include ongoing homeworking, facemasks and potentially office screens – so we’ll need to find new ways to connect if traditional meetings, smiles and handshakes can’t be part of the process.

It’s all about being agile and using existing networking skills in different ways:

Build up a rapport online

It’s easier than it sounds – and for many of us, it’s already the norm. With a range of social media tools as well as email, it’s quicker than ever to connect – and as ongoing sharing of content providing endless opportunities to engage, people can quickly find things in common. Linked In has seen connections increase by 55% since the start of COVID, showing that people are open to new contacts and conversations. Using a combination of tools to share data digitally can still provide both formal and informal communication to get things moving.

Change your approach

In the same way that long liquid lunches are a thing of the past, meeting for a coffee indoors may also become a memory – for a while. Instead, walking meetings and outdoor activities could come to the fore in order to connect with new colleagues. These are not new phenomena: they save time, they reduce awkward eye contact, you can still have a coffee, just on the move. Umbrella manufacturers will be feeling pretty optimistic right now – but jokes aside, we could well see more covered outdoor areas in towns and cities, to encourage safe socially distant meetings with others.

Use your eyes

Lower facial coverings don’t just make talking less clear, they literally mask your emotions. With 43 different muscles, most faces can apparently make over 10,000 different expressions. For those of us who are used to showing our full face, we might feel a little restricted if we are to conduct ‘in the flesh’ meetings wearing masks. However, according to numerous studies, it’s all in the eyes – it may just be a case of a little retraining. Recognising that this might be a stretch for some (and doesn’t help the hearing impaired), manufacturers are looking into masks that have clear panels over the mouth area.

Get used to online

Zoom has been in every room – its founders’ net worth has allegedly soared to over $4bn since the start of the pandemic as families, friends and business communities have taken to the screens to carry out face to face conversations. Companies need to invest in the right kit for their team as they work from home and carry out their meetings with meetings on this platform (or other popular tools such as Teams and WebEx). It’s not just about the technology: good lighting and a professional background is important to get across a good first impression, along with simple things like having the camera at the right angle, using names more and minimising additional slide content.

The timings around COVID are still unclear and the priority is managing the health of the nation. But as we start to look at the health of the economy, we will have to change our approach to communication. Expert predictions are that whole teams may now look for a more flexible approach, liaising with existing and new customers in different ways.

At Bridge, we are constantly assessing how we can adapt ourselves in order to best serve our clients. Our 50 years of expertise and our creative and strategic broking teams will be able to ensure that policies are the most appropriate and economic they can be, but we know we also need to be agile in our approach – everybody will.

Now, where’s my umbrella….

If you would like to discuss your insurance needs – on the phone, a video conference call or in a walking meeting! – get in touch with Andrew on 0161 234 9346 or by e-mail at: [email protected]

You can return to our news section by clicking here.