Ash Brokerage Taps the Power of Video to Transform Sales
When you and your competitors all sell the same thing, you need a way to differentiate yourself. Your salespeople must do and say things that set them apart from others in the pack—in a good way, of course.
For Ash Brokerage, that differentiator is video powered by Allego. When the pandemic hit in 2020, the financial services firm realized how powerful video is for maintaining relationships with advisors and buyers. Through video messages, salespeople remained a part of their buyers’ worlds while competitors were left doing traditional email and phone calls.
“Video allowed us to be there without being there,” said Mike McGlothlin, EVP of Retirement at Ash Brokerage, during a recent webinar, Driving Sales Success with Video. “And that persistence and penetration into the person’s office without having to drive three hours to be in person was crucial in our success during that time.”
Now that others have caught on to the power of video, McGlothlin and his team are stepping up their efforts with the medium and discovering new ways to use it to continue to stand out among competitors. In the excerpt below, he explains some of their techniques.
Allego: Why is video important in today’s selling environment? How does it help your organization drive success?
Mike McGlothlin: When we hopped onto the Allego platform probably five or six years ago, I knew the world was changing. I needed a better way to communicate with my team that was much more consistent.
That’s because every time that you talk with somebody or hang up from a conference call, the story changes. Having a video library where people can go back and say, ‘This is what we talked about. Here’s the fact we’re going to deal with—fact, not fiction.
Then we experimented with how to use video with our advisors. Our advisors do not have to do business with us. We have to earn every piece of business that we do [with them]. So, we have to differentiate ourselves. And in the financial services space, all the pricing is the same, all of the interest rates are the same, and all of the products are the same from one brokerage general agency to another.
So, when all of our competitors have the same product, it’s how we treat people, how we recognize them, and the kind of service that we provide that differentiates us. And video has played a huge role in that, which we especially saw during the pandemic. It played a bigger role than we ever anticipated, and it’s continuing to play a big role in the sales process.
“When all of our competitors have the same product, it’s how we treat people, how we recognize them, and the kind of service that we provide that differentiates us. And video has played a huge role in that.” – Mike McGlothlin, EVP of Retirement, Ash Brokerage
In fact, video is going to be more important for us now than it was in the first year of the pandemic.
First, we still see a lot of advisors who don’t want a wholesaler in their office because [the wholesaler] visited six or seven producers the day before or they may have done an in-person client seminar. They just don’t want the risk in their office with their staff.
Second, and more importantly, our time is shorter. We’re busier than ever coming out of the pandemic. We have to be razor sharp. So, that time for relationship building is minimal compared to what it was five years ago. Using video with a personalized and steady cadence of communication with the advisor will help with that.
Allego: How do you take the collective wisdom of your team and turn it into digestible, video-based learning content?
McGlothlin: As a salesperson, you always want to hear yourself talk. We love hearing ourselves talk, so you need to be able to curtail that. Video forces you to be super concise. You have to talk about your concept, you have to get that concept across, and then you have to have some type of call to action all within 3-5 minutes because that’s the maximum amount of time that people are going to watch a video.
As an example, one of our top wholesalers has created a video series called Whiteboard Wednesdays where he does a quick video every week. He has a whiteboard on the back of his office, and he will draw things out and talk about the concept. And another person has a series called Transformational Tuesdays.
These advisor-facing videos have created more exposure thanks in part to advisors forwarding the videos to their friends, creating a viral effect. That’s something we would not have been able to achieve if we were to drive to the office for a face-to-face meeting or if we call people up and say they need to meet [with someone from the firm].
Allego: How do you use video to keep your sales team sharp on a wide variety of offerings?
McGlothlin: At our sales conferences, we spend a half day talking with a sales trainer, trying to improve our sales process—working on techniques and tactics. But what really seems to work is, on a weekly basis, our sales trainer sends out a watch-and-learn type of video on Allego that our salespeople are required to watch and respond to. It may include a role-playing exercise or a quiz, and the sellers’ submissions come to me and our outside trainer so both of us can provide feedback.
I’ve also used the roundtable or hot seat approach with my internal salespeople. With these, we pick a product and then send out a PowerPoint that randomizes itself, and [our salespeople have to create a video of their response] and send it to me. That is as close to a real life role play in a virtual world that we can create.
Being able to hear them and see their mannerisms via video is hugely beneficial to us. Seeing their body language tells me a lot about how they’re responding [to buyers in their meetings] and about their confidence level.
Allego: How are you using Allego to create personalized videos that differentiate you, create relationships, and generate repeat business?
McGlothlin: Early in the pandemic, we used videos on social media and through email—more on a mass distribution basis. With video, you can be there face to face without actually being there. And that persistence and that penetration into the person’s office without having to drive three hours to be in person was crucial in our success during that time.
A lot of people have caught on to the effectiveness of doing that, so our next step is to hyper-personalize our videos. We have to move away from emails and videos that are appropriate for sharing with 10 or 15 people and get really specific with a concept and speak directly to the person we’re contacting.
We also have to personalize the sales process and develop a cadence. That means sending an agenda the day before a meeting, sending a quick personal video after the meeting recapping what was said, outlining the path forward, and saying you plan to follow up. Embedding that into the process is the next step to hyper-personalize the experience.
Allego: What are some of the business results and impact you’ve seen since using videos for sales learning?
McGlothlin: We have a couple of really good use case scenarios. The first one: We have a block of business that comes up every five or seven years for renewal. There’s no system to handle 81 different companies, so we hired a person to focus on what we call ‘inforce policy management.’ That involves identifying opportunities for producers that are coming up for renewal. There may be a better interest rate or a better scenario for them.
The person we hired was really efficient in introducing herself to wholesalers via Allego. She did a great job explaining what her role was, that she is going to be reaching out, how to reach her, and things like that.
In the first 12 months after implementation of that, we went from selling $27 million via inforce policy management business to $125 million. That’s a huge, huge increase.
On an anecdotal note, what I really like is the engagement that happens with our videos. One of our Whiteboard Wednesday videos received one of the highest levels of engagement after the wholesaler’s dog walked under the whiteboard. That made the video more personalized and created a conversation. And that’s the number one thing we have to do in sales: create a conversation. And we have to make it personal and be vulnerable.
The other sales success I’d like to share is that I do thank-you videos for our first-time producers every week. I simply thank them from the sales leader standpoint for using Ash Brokerage and let them know if they have any questions, to let me know. And I encourage them to meet with their sales team.
I cannot tell you the engagement that I get back at an executive level from people saying they had a great experience, that a certain person did a great job, this is super unique and this is the type of relationship that I want. Note that keyword: relationship. We’re building a relationship, not a transaction. And video allows us to take it to that next level.
Watch the webinar, Driving Sales Success with Video: How Video Changed Ash Brokerage’s Learning and Marketing Strategies Forever, to learn how to use video to grow your business.