This pandemic has flipped many things upside down. One constant is that carrier marketing representatives are still there for your agency. The meetings may not be held at your favorite diner anymore, but that doesn’t mean the relationships can’t flourish. Marketing Rep Diana Fulton from The Hanover tells us that her job of supporting agencies in any way she can has not changed, but her methods for doing that have! Hear how Diana is building strong connections with her agencies even though she can’t visit them in person and steal some ideas for remotely building your relationships with customers!
Edwin K. Morris (3s):
Welcome to the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois Group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor in all things insurance. I am Edwin K. Morris today. We’re talking with Diana Fulton and she comes from the Hanover insurance group where she has held multiple positions over 13 years. She has experience as a commercial underwriter and is now a personal lines territory sales director. Some organizations have a catchphrase, but I hear you have a catch-word!
Diana Fulton (35s):
Robust. We use it all the time saying that we’re going to have robust conversations. That’s what we do at Hanover.
Edwin K. Morris (41s):
I like that, that that’s conversations with vigor. Let’s get, let’s get going. So with vigor and robustness, what’s changed in your world?
Diana Fulton (53s):
It’s been pretty wild. I’m sure everyone can say the same. With my specific role, working remotely has not been historically a challenge since we’re on the road a lot as a, as a marketing rep and in between appointments and doing a lot of work. Once you get back to your computer, what’s different though is having two toddlers at home, full time. And I’m sure anyone with children or animals or any distractions can relate to that, that it’s, it’s a different world now, as far as managing your, your home life and your work life, that’s for sure.
Edwin K. Morris (1m 31s):
So that juggling of, all I can think of is the George Costanza’s when worlds collide, you know, from, from Seinfeld. So your worlds have collided from your home life to your work life. Does that make any difference in how you approach it, the work life other than the juggling?
Diana Fulton (1m 51s):
Yeah, it’s a good question. I think as far as perspective into handling it, we just have to adjust, right? I mean, we’re, instead of doing in-person meetings we’re shifting to virtual, we’re all testing out video, you know, and different audio capabilities, but still setting structure and having appointments, walking through a normal rhythm and agenda that feels traditional, which is nice. And I think from my perspective, and from what I’ve seen, when I’ve had conversations with agents as well, it’s probably even more so needed when you’re in a different environment.
Diana Fulton (2m 32s):
And you can have so many interruptions with distractions, to have structure and purpose and an agenda when you’re having conversations outside of email.
Edwin K. Morris (2m 42s):
So this new structure, do you think it will just continue as things change or do you think it’ll go back to what was
Diana Fulton (2m 53s):
It’s interesting obviously I, well, I think it all depends on what happens. Having an agenda will not change, you know, and structure, I don’t believe will change, but virtual appointments, we’ll see. I mean, we’ll see if we continue to do virtual meetings versus in person. Personally, I love in-person appointments and agendas and meetings with, with agents. But I think that all depends on what happens with COVID-19 and fingers crossed we’ll all get back there eventually.
Edwin K. Morris (3m 25s):
Do you think that that change has been more from your side of the action or from your consumer, your customer side?
Diana Fulton (3m 33s):
Probably the customer side. In conversations with agents, a lot of agents have had to pivot very quickly, some in different ways than others. Some agencies I know, had to place orders of 60 laptops to support their staff because everyone had desktops at the office and really trying to kind of piecemeal what does the work from home environment look like when historically everyone’s been always in the office? So for me, it’s been, I would say in a marketing role, easier to pivot to a transition of, of remote and virtual versus some agencies that are having to evaluate their setup and how to make it work to the best of their abilities.
Edwin K. Morris (4m 22s):
So there’s more of a two-way street, how this is going to work. Because you probably have to have that conversation with each one of these folks, because they’re all going to have different varying levels of, like you say, Oh, we didn’t have laptops. Give us a minute. Okay.
Diana Fulton (4m 37s):
You can sort of view it as evaluating readiness, right. At the end of March after everything happened. And, and we’re in the state of Virginia and when our governor put in stay at home orders, agents had, let’s say one to two weeks to figure out what they needed to do. Are they going to be able to work remotely? Are, do they have the capabilities to work in office because of a limited number of agents in office? So they had to make decisions very quickly. And I had conversations with those agents at the end of March to see where they were. And what’s interesting now is that we’re, let’s say three to four weeks after that.
Diana Fulton (5m 20s):
And situations have still continued to change. Some agents that were in the office at the end of March have now made the decision that they are going to be fully remote. And they really only have someone going in once a day to check mail or, or to do vital items at the office. So it’s consistently evolving, I would say, you know, agents’ readiness and how things are changing in this space.
Edwin K. Morris (5m 48s):
So overarching in the big world of trending from this early on onset, has there been a shift and change in your product delivery versus say the first or second quarter of last year?
Diana Fulton (6m 0s):
I would say as far as the company, we have, in my opinion, stepped up tremendously, as far as additional coverages to offer insurance at this point in time, you think of simple things, you know, if you break down on the side of the road and technically right now, a truck driver can’t even give you a lift to the tow shop or to your house, how do you get home? Little things that we’re automatically including, you know, like $50 for an Uber ride, things of that nature that, not only Hanover, but I assume other companies are starting to come out with to make sure that you’re supporting your clients as well as how do agents have conversations with those clients around what’s going on?
Diana Fulton (6m 45s):
We’ve heard Allstate came out with a 15% give back on auto premiums for April and May. And immediately I started getting a lot of phone calls from agents, what’s Hanover doing? And so we’ve taken a similar approach where we’re also doing that. It’s called the Hanover cares. You know, we’re giving back premiums to our clients and for April and May the same type of situation. So it’s consistently evolving, I would say, not only for agents to consumers, but also carriers to agents, you know, how we’re communicating consistently over this period of time.
Edwin K. Morris (7m 23s):
All right. So with all this stuff going on and transformations like product delivery and product design from your side of the coin, what’s your advice to agencies out there trying to figure this out? What would be your advice to them at this point?
Diana Fulton (7m 38s):
I would say, you have partner carriers for a purpose and lean on your resources. You know, I know as a marketing rep, I would say the one thing I would love to leave agents with is that my number one objective as a marketing rep is to support agency specific goals. So what does that look like? What do agents need help with? Is it new business? Is it retention? Do you need service support? But when you have partner carriers that you can rely on, that’s our goal is to help create, I guess I would say creative solutions, come up with creative solutions to support what the agency needs during this time.
Edwin K. Morris (8m 21s):
It’s gotta be just a constant daily update, right? It’s just, everything is changing so much in a lot of regard that that awareness building has to be up front and ready to roll at all times. Well, thank you very much for this great detail. I’m sure it’ll find very welcome ears.
Diana Fulton (8m 40s):
Of course, I’m happy to be a part of it.
Edwin K. Morris (8m 48s):
Thanks for listening to this edition of the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group. Iroquois, your trusted advisor for all things insurance, and remember get out of the office and sell. I am Edwin K. Morris, and I invite you to join me for the next edition of the trusted advisor podcast.