Canadian Underwriter

Why brokers’ virtual meetings will survive the pandemic

July 8, 2021   by Adam Malik

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Virtual meetings during the pandemic have allowed brokers to conduct more structured client meetings with a sharper focus, according to an expert from Aon.

Sixteeen months ago, at the onset of the global pandemic, video meetings produced some confusion because everyone was dealing with an unfamiliar situation, Bill Besse, chief client officer, commercial risk solutions at Aon in Toronto, told Canadian Underwriter recently. Moreover, no one really knew how long the pandemic — and the need to use videoconferencing — would last.

“It seemed like right at the start of the pandemic, we were concerned [about] executing with our sales strategy in 2020, [but] not really understanding how long things were going to last,” he told Canadian Underwriter. “Then we quickly shifted to, ‘We need to do things differently.’ Then we quickly learned that we were in for the long haul on this — and we still are.”

Once that realization took place, brokers needed to take a “re-think [of] our approach [to video meetings], there’s no question about it,” he added.

Virtual meetings enabled brokers to have more focused and strategic client meetings, Besse said. “It allowed us to bring to those meetings more of our resources so we can have our expertise available in a certain area of focus. We can make people available no matter where they happen to be located to attend those meetings.”

That made for better meetings, Basse added. “And, to be honest, the meetings were a lot more structured, and a lot more on point, which made our teams be more well-prepared for those meetings. That was great.”

During a Canadian Underwriter webinar, 2021 Brokerage Executive Outlook, leaders noted that brokers were eclipsing sales records during the pandemic. That was thanks to the ability to cut down on travel, meet with more clients, and spend more time working with them on solutions.

Basse echoed those sentiments in an interview. Meeting virtually allowed brokers to reach out more regularly and dig deeper into the challenges clients were facing. They were able to gain insights and learnings that might typically be unavailable in normal times, Basse observed.

“We were touching base with clients, touching base with prospective clients, and we were gaining more and more insights,” he said. “It was easier for us to share those insights as a team. Then we could focus our solutions based on the insights we were gaining.”


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