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Silver linings in a pandemic

Timothy Inklebarger

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Baksh finds opportunities to make connections in the age of social distancing.
Photo credit: Francis Chu Foon

On a fall Saturday morning in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago,Saad Anthony Baksh, BSc, has just finished a video conference with colleagues who are also MDRT members. “We meet once a month and share techniques and discuss best practices and ideas for qualifying for MDRT,” said Baksh, a 13-year MDRT member from Marabella.

In an era of isolation, Baksh is embracing technology to continue connecting with clients, colleagues and industry leaders in new ways. This includes the recent videoconference he arranged with colleagues and MDRT President Ian Green, Dip PFS, a 23-year member from London, England.

Baksh says the widespread use of videoconferencing technology to connect people safely is among the opportunities that have arisen from the pandemic. “Because of the technology, I was able to ask to have a meeting and share ideas,” he said, adding that the efficiency of the technology has also allowed him to meet with more clients.

Maintaining those connections is important in the twin-island nation of 1.3 million, where about 80% of Baksh’s clientele — he has about 1,200 active clients — comes from referrals. His multiline practice, which he describes as a “one-stop shop” for financial services, attracts a wide range of clients in need of everything from life, home and auto insurance to retirement planning, mortgages and fixed investments.

Maintaining connections is key for Saad Baksh. Eighty percent of his clients are referrals.

And staying top of mind is key for gaining more clients, making social media all the more vital during the pandemic. Baksh emphasized the importance of building trust with clients to get referrals. “When I’m prospecting, I always plant the seed and say, ‘Don’t keep me a secret,’” he said. He often inquires about clients’ family members and close associates, and has an effective tactic of asking the question: “If you have a dinner party, who are the five people you would invite?” He then asks them to contact the prospective clients and let them know to expect his call. “That warms the person up; that is the culture in Trinidad,” he said.

Building relationships has served him well in the pandemic, when maintaining clients has been the biggest challenge. “A lot of clients are facing economic challenges, so we had to go back and make adjustments, and I had to reemphasize the importance of having coverage,” he said.

A sense of security has been lost by many during the last year because of COVID-19, and although some clients are cashing in their policies, others who have not been economically impacted by the global health crisis are considering coverage for the first time, Baksh said.

That’s why now it’s more important than ever to have a presence with clients and in the community, he said. Baksh maintains a high profile through his involvement in MDRT, his reputation as an endorsed public speaker and his marketing efforts on various social media platforms.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” he said, noting that it has become increasingly important to have an online presence and that he typically connects with clients through Facebook and Instagram. He is in the process of hiring and training a digital marketing professional to increase his social media presence.

Social media is already an important source of lead generation for Baksh, but he’s confident that a dedicated digital marketing employee will help him grow his business — particularly with millennials. “Especially now with the COVID-19 issue, people are on social media all the time,” he said. 

Being responsive and showing clients you really care about them goes a long way toward securing their business and recruiting them to assist in prospecting, Baksh said. “My phone is on, and I always respond — even when I’m traveling. I view my role as a problem solver for them.”

3 tips for taking advantage of our online-first reality

Baksh says that while the pandemic posed challenges for the industry, it also opened new doors that helped make 2020 his best year on record. Here are a few things to watch out for in the online-first reality.

1. As a trusted advisor, take the opportunity to connect with clients in a personal way. In a time when many are dealing with isolation and depression, reaching out is a chance to be a “ray of light” in their lives, Baksh said. He still sets reminders for himself to periodically call priority clients. “Ask how the family is, and if there’s bad news, you have to empathize and sympathize and give encouragement,” he said. Perhaps now more than ever, clients want to know that you care, he said.

2. Use video conferencing to connect not just with clients, but with industry thought leaders as well. Baksh hosts a monthly meeting with colleagues to share ideas for qualifying for MDRT — and once the pandemic hit, the meetings went virtual. Baksh said the new meeting format made him realize there was an opportunity to invite guests from remote locations, opening up possibilities for engaging with faraway thought leaders.

3. Consider hiring a marketing professional to oversee your social media presence. Baksh said he believes online presence is so important that he is adding a dedicated staff member to his team. Baksh said he already has a strong online presence, especially on Facebook and Instagram. Baksh says that while it’s OK to be yourself on social media, don’t forget to maintain a professional demeanor. “I keep telling advisors that we are always on the job,” he said. “If they are in a social setting, they need to maintain their composure.”

CONTACT: Saad Baksh saadanthonybaksh@gmail.com

 

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