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A four-step plan to motivate during this crisis

Matt Pais

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Abdullah sees increase in business thanks to proactive strategy with staff.

Many advisors may have felt frozen during the first days of lockdown due to the coronavirus. But Mohamad Manmohan Abdullah, ChFC, CLU, knew that policies could lapse and clients could be confused and uneasy if he didn’t conceive new ways to interact with the professionals that he helps with life insurance, always through face-to-face meetings.

So the 25-year MDRT member from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, created four motivating steps that may seem simple at first but have been immensely impactful in adjusting his mentality (as well as that of a team of 25 advisors that he manages), leading to a 40% increase in business in the last two months:

1. Identify why a change in thinking is needed

After Abdullah understood the need to shift his own approach, he asked each advisor to send him a message explaining why a shift in their mentality was needed as well. It helped initiate a conversation about fears for clients’ policies as well as a continued period of inactivity. Clients were waiting to be contacted, but the advisors were feeling inhibited by the physical distance and stress of the global crisis. “It has to be a win-win situation,” Abdullah said. “The clients will know we are touching base with them to help out, and COVID-19 was creating awareness about their policies and whether they were covered or not. These clients were waiting for us.”

2. Remove feelings that don’t line up with goals

Abdullah wanted to remove anxiety, turn it into action and lead by example. So he determined that he would call all 600 numbers in his phone, even if he didn’t know who he was calling. The point was to initiate conversation with all existing and previous clients as well as friends — just to check and see how they were doing — as well as build the confidence of his team. These were not cold calls to strangers; these were friendly check-ins to people whose numbers he already had.

When the rest of his team took this approach, it shook them out of their funk. Abdullah himself connected with most of the people he called and discovered how many were concerned about their coverage. That included one client who feared what would happen to his business and its $18 million loan if he got sick and died, leading to a big insurance case in the works for Abdullah. “Some clients are diabetic, some have hypertension and other conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus,” he said. “So apart from grocery shopping, they’re also doing insurance shopping.”

3. Write down positive experiences that can adjust mindsets

Despite this success, some advisors were still reluctant to call, especially those with concerns about a family member or friend affected by COVID-19. So Abdullah encouraged these advisors to write down three positive things that make them feel good — from buying a car to winning a prize or anything else good in their life — and use that positive feeling to push them toward making calls. As a result, 18 of his 25 advisors were back to connecting with clients and generating activity, with many finding former clients wanting to revive policies or buy new ones.

4. Remember the first step

As for the others? Abdullah reconnected with them to identify what change still needed to be made. If an advisor worried the client would think they were just calling to push a product, Abdullah helped them reflect on the need to change their mindset and reach out to show clients they just wanted to check in. Discussion of the crisis, the virus and the markets, of course, has been a natural conversation starter. “As of this week, even the last one or two advisors have started moving and gaining confidence,” Abdullah said. “They have seen what others are doing and said, ‘Let me try.’”

Now that some people are back in the office in Malaysia, virtual meetings are continuing with some clients while others are back to meeting face-to-face, wearing any required protective items. But the groundwork has been set with clients who told Abdullah that they wanted to review their policies. “Nobody will say you’re calling for an ulterior motive,” he said. “They’re just grateful that you called to find out how they are doing.”

Contact: Mohamad Manmohan Abdullah


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