The old saying, “Communication is key” may be ingrained into your brain, and that’s for good reason. In fact, communication is said to be the foundation of all human relationships.

So, stop racking your brain for the single best way to retain your clients. We have the answer: Always communicate effectively.

The Importance of Communication

There are numerous studies on the benefits of strong communication. Not only does communicating effectively help to create lasting relationships, it also helps build trust between agent and client. Being trustworthy can help to create a sense of ease for your client. It’s part of human nature that once people get comfortable, they don’t like to deviate from something they find familiar. A satisfied and informed client is unlikely to go looking for advice elsewhere.

You can gain your clients’ trust by communicating with empathy and understanding. If your clients feel heard and understood, they’ll be more likely to choose you over another agent who does not display these qualities.

When your clients are confident in you to help them with as big of a decision as choosing a Medicare plan, they are more likely to choose you as their agent in the future and even recommend you to family and friends. We believe relationships built on trust and productive communication are ones that will last and help to increase your client retention.

How to Communicate Face-to-Face

Now that we’ve touched on why powerful communication can help you keep your clients, we want to give you some tips on how to interact with them. Each of your clients will have different preferences, so the same methods may not always work across the board. See what works and pay close attention to each of your client’s needs, but many of these are foolproof ways to ensure your clients will feel heard and valued.

Make the Most of Verbal Communication

When we think of how we communicate, the first and most common method is speaking to one another. When interacting with clients, it’s important to speak clearly and with confidence. Use your client’s name when talking to them and make them feel important. Upon meeting, ask if they prefer to be called by Mr./Mrs. or by their first name.

A main tip to remember when talking to your clients is to never be condescending. People younger than 65 sometimes have a tendency to use “elderspeak” when talking with seniors. This is similar to the high-pitched tone of voice people sometimes use with children, and includes calling older people, especially women, names like, “sweetie” or “dear.” Not only is doing this belittling, but it may make your client feel like you think they are incompetent.

Not only is elderspeak belittling, but it may make your client feel like you think they are incompetent.

Instead, be sure to talk with your client, adult to adult. Let them chat about themselves and ask as many questions as they need to in order to understand their options. Medicare can be very confusing and for many of your clients, this may be their first time buying health insurance or comparing plans that weren’t pre-selected by an employer. Be patient and your clients’ appreciation will likely turn into renewals down the road.

Always Be an Active Listener

Contrary to popular belief, communicating is more than just talking. According to some research, the actual words you speak only account for seven percent of your communication. Some experts say your tone of voice is 38 percent and body language is 55 percent. In addition to these components of how you outwardly communicate, listening also plays a critical role in the conversation between agent and client.

Before you begin your meeting, remind yourself that your purpose is to find a plan that fits your client’s needs, not to sell the plan that will get you the highest commissions. If you go in with the mindset that you already know what plan you want to sell them (and it’s for the wrong reasons), your client will see right through you and eventually express their disappointment.

Actively listening to your client means paying close attention to what they say, responding directly to their comments, and answering all their questions. As their agent, it’s your job to provide feedback and opinions, but in a respectful and helpful manner.

When your client is speaking, allow them to fully finish their point before responding so as to not interrupt them. A terrible mistake an agent can make is thinking about what they want to say next instead of truly hearing their client. Listen attentively and practice patience to ensure your clients feel heard and valued and will want to meet with you in the future.

Exercise Positive Body Language

Now for one of the most essential components of communication — body language. Body language makes up for more than half of how we communicate, yet oftentimes we’re unaware of the impressions our posture gives off. When you’re meeting with a client face-to-face, how you sit, stand, and gesture holds much significance. It can make or break your sale and your client’s decision to choose you as their agent down the road.

Because of this, it’s imperative that you’re mindful of your body. If you’re sitting down, don’t slump or cross your arms. These positions give off the impression that you’re closed off and not open to what your client has to say. Sit up straight, and let your hands fall naturally either at your sides or on your lap to convey your active engagement. Make it a point to not stare into space, as doing so could make your client feel like you’re not paying attention to them. Try to make direct eye contact and make sure your facial expressions reflect that you’re listening.

Also, when sitting down with a client, constantly checking your watch can come across as you being in a rush to finish the meeting so you can be somewhere better. Fully devote the appointment time to your client. If you’re worried about getting to another meeting, tell your client from the beginning that there is a certain time their appointment will end, but you can make time for a second appointment if necessary. We recommend never scheduling meetings close together, but being open and upfront with your client is better than taking them by surprise when you have to leave!

If your physical demeanor is welcoming and attentive, your clients are more likely to enjoy the meeting and feel like their thoughts and questions hold value. How you compose yourself in front of your clients — positively or negatively — will have a huge impact on your client retention. People want an agent who will be engaged, accommodating, and willing to help. Make sure your body language reflects this!

If your physical demeanor is welcoming and attentive, your clients are more likely to enjoy the meeting and feel like their thoughts and questions hold value.

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While many of your actions as an agent will impact if your clients choose to come back, how well you communicate with beneficiaries is quite high on the list of methods to work on and consider. As an agent, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to interact face-to-face with your clients. Make sure you have the right tips and tricks under your belt to make the most of your appointments and increase your rates of client retention.