New Mantra: Don’t Engage

It may be wintertime, but the national temperature feels hot. It’s never hard to find tension, disagreement, anger and fear on social media. But now you’re just as likely to feel it in places like grocery aisles and gas pumps, where arguments over politics and the pandemic are breaking out next to carts full of toilet paper and cars with the “wrong” candidate’s bumper sticker.

Whatever your feelings about current events, it’s important to distinguish your personal opinions and actions from your professional persona. This can be especially true for insurance agents, who often build their brand on people’s perceptions of who they are.

Some of us are happy to stay out of the fray, while others feel compelled to take a stand. It’s possible for both types to navigate these divided times by making some intentional choices.

FOR THE OBSERVER

Whether you’ve made a business choice or it’s just your nature, avoiding divisiveness is often easier than trying to figure out how to make your way through it. Even if that’s your desire, though, there are times you may be drawn into a situation that you weren’t expecting.

Say you’re talking to a lead and they bring up their belief that drinking three gallons of apple juice a day is the only protection you need to avoid COVID-19. (We’ll purposely use ridiculous examples here in order to sidestep controversy ourselves.) Sometimes you’ll be able to avoid engaging by changing the topic or making an innocuous comment like, “Sounds delicious!” But what do you do if they keep pressing the subject or trying to get your thoughts about the apple-juice theory?

There are a few different routes to choose that could enable you to move on:

Show vague interest: “Thank you for sharing that with me. I haven’t heard of that before, but I’ll be sure to look into it. Now as far as your deductible goes…”

Use humor: “My gosh…I’m on the road enough that I’d never be able to find a bathroom in time. But thanks for telling me about it. Now as far as your auto quote goes…”

Offer a diversion: “Well that must explain why my son was so healthy when he was young—he loved apple juice. Which reminds me, you mentioned you have children…should we also get you a quote for life insurance?”

Be straightforward: “I can tell that you want to help me out, and I really appreciate that. But I’d love to keep the focus on you and how I can help you with your insurance needs.”

FOR THE PARTICIPATOR

You read. You discuss. You have opinions. You share them. You’re so passionate about your beliefs, in fact, that you’re an active volunteer with the Dog Party.

Now let’s say you’re talking to a lead and they drop something like, “The Cat Party is the only political party that does any good in this country.” When life is more normal, you might be able to enjoy a spirited yet friendly debate. But with so many stressful events happening across the nation, now may be a good time to adopt a new mantra: don’t engage. Or, if you feel very strongly, at least think carefully about how you are engaging. if you choose your words carefully and avoid reacting emotionally, it can be possible to thread the needle. 

Find common ground: “I really appreciate people who are politically engaged—that’s important to me, too. In the interest of time, though, I’d like to go ahead and find out how I can help you with your insurance needs…” 

Shut it down: “I can hear that you are very passionate about your beliefs, but I decided long ago that it’s better for me and my customers if I avoid politics entirely. So let me ask you a few more questions and I can get you a good quote…”

Move it to email: If a client is really testing your patience, try to figure out a way to avoid phone calls. “What I’m going to do is send you an email with a few questions and some information about the company, and then I’ll be able to get you an accurate quote.”

Know when to cut ties: If a potential client says things that violate your personal code of decency, cutting them loose may be your best choice. “I’ll be honest with you, NAME. I disagree with several statements you’ve made and don’t believe I’m the right agent for you. Would you like me to forward your contact information to another agent in the area who can help you out?”

Whether you’re an observer or a participator, one guiding rule can help you through divisive times: Always demonstrate the respect for others that you’d like to receive yourself. The fever point that we are currently experiencing will not last forever, and clients will come and go. When normalcy finally returns, you’ll want to be able to feel proud of how you handled this difficult period.

Hometown Quotes is pleased to provide insurance agencies with high-quality leads filtered by policy type, geographic location and more. Call us at 800.820.8921 to find out how we can help you achieve your sales goals.


Brendan Sera-Shriar

Brendan Sera-Shriar is the CMO for Hometown Quotes and a Staff Writer for Hometown University.

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