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When to log off: Making the most of your summer vacation

making the most of summer vacation

It’s no secret that the majority of Americans are “workaholics.” According to CNBC, nearly half of U.S. workers put in over 50 hours of work per week without extra pay.

Constantly being on the clock can make it hard for you to log off when it’s time for a vacation.

A report from the U.S. Travel Association reveals 212 million vacation days were unused in 2018, which is an equivalent to $62.2 billion in lost benefits. This year, reports show 4% of Americans will not ask for personal time off this year at all — even though their companies offer it.

Your paid time off (PTO) is part of your compensation package and taking advantage of those benefits can make you more productive in the long run. We know it can be hard for some to take time off, and can be even harder to unplug and de-stress while on vacation. Sometimes work is just unavoidable, but we’ve listed a few strategies below to make your experience seamless.

Here are some helpful ways to make the most of your OOO status and enjoy your vacation:

Before you go:

  • Don’t over-commit. A Glassdoor survey reveals that 66% of Americans admit to working while on vacation. If you know you’re heading out of town, don’t take on new projects when you know you won’t be able to finish them. Be honest with yourself before promising due dates and give yourself enough time to complete the task. If a project is left unfinished, tag in a colleague to assist well in advance.
  • Write an effective out-of-office email. You probably already know that it’s proper business protocol to set an OOO email if you’re unavailable during work hours. Perfect your OOO email by keeping it short and sweet. List the dates you’ll be out, a point of contact and when you’ll be returning. Wired.com recently shared these useful tips for crafting the perfect OOO email.
  • Be mindful of adding to your coworkers’ workloads. More than half of America’s workers say filling in for a colleague can be a “significantly stressful event.” To keep from doubling your teams’ workloads, plan for who will handle your tasks/projects while you’re out. You’ll want to provide your coworkers with all the documents/emails/information so it’s easier for them to help you. They will appreciate how seamless you made it for them to fill your shoes (and might return the favor when it’s time for their own PTO). 

While you’re gone:

  • Turn off email notifications on your phone. Turn off all notifications on your phone so you’re not distracted while trying to relax. Receiving a constant stream of notifications from your inbox will make you feel anxious and pressured to respond right away.
  • Don’t talk about work. According to a Glassdoor survey, 14% of responders said a family member or loved one complained about their workload while on vacation. Your workaholic tendencies can affect your family’s vacation time, too. Enjoy your time away and be present in the moment.
  • Limit your email check-ins. Give yourself boundaries when it comes to checking your emails. This Fast Company article recommends you allow yourself 15 minutes in the morning and evening to check emails while on vacation. Checking in periodically, but not spending too long engaging, can help manage your work-related anxiety.

When work comes up while OOO, these tools can help. We know vacations can’t always be 100% work-free. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to make those situations easier and help you get back to enjoying your time off.

  • The Pomodoro technique is a useful time management tool that uses 25 minute time-block intervals to teach you how to work with time instead of against it. Working and taking breaks in segments can help you prioritize your workload in a more efficient way (and remind you when it’s time to get back to your vacation).
  • Boomerang allows you to schedule or snooze emails ahead of time on both Gmail and Outlook. Pretty handy option to use while on vacation so you can schedule emails for a later time and return to your trip activities.
  • InsureSign (the No. 1 e-signature software for usability) makes it simple to get any document signed from wherever you are. Just realized you forgot to get a contract signed before heading to the beach? Then quickly hop online, and send it off for signing electronically in seconds with InsureSign. (The final digitally-signed document will automatically be emailed back to you, so it’ll be sitting in your box when you’re back from OOO time.)  Start your risk-free 14-day trial today by clicking here.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, taking the time you need to truly unplug can reap major dividends for your mental health, enhance your productivity and ultimately, set you up for success. So go ahead: book a flight and pack a bag. It’s good for you.

The 12 best sales tools in the United States, according to real users

Looking for a way to make your sales process smoother and more effective? G2 Crowd, the world’s leading software review website, has you covered.sales tool e-signature

The site recently dug into its more than 20,000 real-user reviews to identify the top 40 digital tools for sales professionals. Charleston-based InsureSign found itself near the top of the list, sitting at No. 11 and the top-ranked e-signature software platform on the list.

While the full list can be found on G2 Crowd’s website, we’ve highlighted the top 12 featured tools your team can use to make “closing the deal” just a little bit easier.

1. Zoom (G2 Satisfaction Score: 98)
Don’t let distance keep you from giving a face-to-face sales pitch. Zoom video conferencing software provides you with everything you need to conduct virtual meetings, including video, audio and screen-sharing experiences. Zoom is available for all major operating systems.

2. Groove (G2 Satisfaction Score: 97)
See all of the details of your customer relationship in one place with Groove, the leading email tracking software. Over 8,000 users rely on Groove for lead intelligence, email management and sales engagement. The software even allows you to store commonly used templates and reminders for mass use.

3. Skype (G2 Satisfaction Score: 95)
Skype allows you to communicate and collaborate with team members and potential clients effectively. The Microsoft-owned company is considered one of the first pioneers in the video conferencing arena and offers users innovative features such as live audio subtitles.

4. SalesLoft (G2 Satisfaction Score: 96)
Streamline the selling process with SalesLoft, one of the top sales engagement and email tracking platforms. SalesLoft offers real-time email tracking as well as in-app analytics to help increase pitching effectiveness. The platform also lets you assign confidence scores to prospects for easy tracking.

5. GoToMeeting (G2 Satisfaction Score: 96)
With over 18 million users worldwide, GoToMeeting is one of the most popular video conferencing software options on the market. Connect with colleagues and prospects alike over video conferences, screen shares and audio connections. GoToMeeting also offers post-call transcripts, allowing you to spend more time making your deal and less time focusing on note-taking.

6. Skype for Business (G2 Satisfaction Score: 96)
Looking to take your virtual communications to the next level? Skype for Business provides users with a host of premium collaboration tools that are fully integrated with all Office 365 products. Skype for Business also allows up to 250 participants in a single meeting, which is perfect for larger group pitches and webinars.

7. ZoomInfo (G2 Satisfaction Score: 96)
Search, identify and target quality leads with ZoomInfo’s sales intelligence software. This growth acceleration platform allows you to find the best contacts and companies for your sales efforts. ZoomInfo also offers in-app market insights to help ensure you’re presenting the best audience with your pitches.

8. BlueJeans (G2 Satisfaction Score: 96)
Say goodbye to lagging audio and sound malfunctions during sales pitches with BlueJeans video conferencing software. This online meeting platform offers Dolby Voice, which ensures that your conversation audio is as clear and natural as possible.

9. Cisco Webex Meetings (G2 Satisfaction Score: 95)
Download your pitches and meetings in their entirety with Cisco Webex Meeting’s video conferencing platform. In addition to recording your calls, this platform also allows you to send reference documents to potential leads during meetings with easy-to-navigate in-app integrations.

10. DealHub (G2 Satisfaction Score: 95)
Ensure your entire sales process is as smooth as possible with DealHub, the leading CPQ platform. With DealHub, you can quickly send out quotes and relevant files, as well as automate several aspects of the sales process. The Salesforce-integrated platform also offers guided selling, contract management and buyer engagement tracking.

11. InsureSign (G2 Satisfaction Score: 95)
InsureSign, the industry-leading e-signature software, allows you to send sales documents for signing in minutes. Customers can then receive the documents instantly from any device, including over text message. InsureSign even allows users to set up templates for commonly used documents.

12. DiscoverOrg (G2 Satisfaction Score: 95)
Make sure you’re connecting directly with the right decision makers with DiscoverOrg’s Sales Intelligence software. This actionable sales platform allows sales reps to gain access to organizational charts, verified contact information and advance lead search.

Ready to take the first step towards a more efficient sales process? Start getting your closing documents signed more quickly and conveniently than ever with our easy-to-use e-signature platform. Sign up for a risk-free 14-day trial today.

Q&A: How a Kansas law firm gets legal documents signed within minutes

Andrew Werring, Werring Law Office, LLCIt’s no secret: attorneys, paralegals and law offices in general have to deal with a lot of paperwork. Not only that, it’s an industry that requires meticulous record-keeping, and there’s little room for error when it comes to getting signed documents right the first time.

Andrew Werring, a native of Atchison, Kansas, opened his own legal practice in 2005 in his hometown. At the Werring Law Office, LLC, his team focuses on criminal defense, debt collection, estate planning/probate and domestic matters.

We sat down with Andrew to see how our easy-to-use e-signature software, InsureSign, is helping him clear cases off the docket incredibly quickly – all with the peace of mind that comes from security.

InsureSign: Tell us a little about your practice. 

Andrew Werring: We’ve been practicing since 2005 in a small community in Kansas. We have a general practice focusing on creditor rights, criminal law, and matters of estate planning and probate.  

InsureSign: What was life like before InsureSign? How did you get documents signed before?

Andrew Werring: Prior to using InsureSign, we would obtain signatures with a simple pen and paper. We then progressed to emailing or faxing, then having pro se litigants sign and return by fax or email. Some could “sign” by using a photo-editing software. Such steps often took a great deal of time and delay in getting the signed copies back to our office for filing.

InsureSign: How are you using InsureSign in your practice? What kinds of forms or agreements do you typically use InsureSign for?

Andrew Werring: We use InsureSign daily to obtain signatures from pro se litigants. We regularly use the program to obtain signatures for contracts as well as for court documents, such as Agreed Orders of Judgment, as well as other agreements to return to court. We like that we can send documents for signing by text message, and schedule an automated daily reminder for the recipient to sign and return the documents.

Those who have used InsureSign have really spoken highly of the software and its convenience. Our judges allow us to file the document with the additional data page InsureSign provides, as we can prove that we’ve obtained permission to use the electronic signature of opposing counsel/party. InsureSign’s certification page makes that extraordinarily easy.

InsureSign: How has your firm changed since adopting InsureSign?

Andrew Werring: Our ability to obtain and file signed documents has sped up exponentially. What used to take hours at best can now be handled in a matter of minutes and even seconds. We even debate using the program for in-person signatures because it’s so easy to use.

InsureSign: Which InsureSign features have been most useful?

Andrew Werring: The daily (or other frequency) reminders are wonderful. That tool allows us to ensure the person has not only seen the document, but actually signs it.

InsureSign: What would you tell another attorney who’s considering trying InsureSign out?

Andrew Werring: With the increased prevalence, and in some cases mandatory, signing of documents for electronic filing by using an “/s/ NAME” signature, I think the situation is ripe for abuse from all sides. I believe that the software and its simplicity allows for more assurance on the part of the “signor” that what they have consented to being filed is what is, in fact, filed.

With the ability to drag and drop any document into InsureSign, you can quickly create and email a proposed document for signing to a party without having to print, sign, and scan the same. It’s just simply quick and easy to use.

To learn more about InsureSign, or to try it risk-free in your firm for 14 days, visit insuresign.com/law-firms.

Tools for Freelancers & Contractors: Getting Ahead in the Gig Economy

Tools for Freelancers and contractorsAre you a freelancer? If you’re not now, you might be soon. A recent report from Intuit projects that by the year 2020, more than 40% of workers in the U.S. alone will be part of the gig economy.

But what about the structures we’re leaving behind with traditional businesses? The good news is this: technology can bridge a lot of the gaps left by shedding the old business model. No billing department? No office phone line? No problem. Below are a few affordable tools you can use to make your new solo business run more smoothly, giving you more time to focus on work… and making money.

  • Timely (timelyapp.com)
    Track your time and keep tabs on your project budgets with this smart time tracking app. Timely can also help you forecast your time weeks in advance, so you can plan your schedule and identify any free time for new projects.
  • Flip (getflyp.com)
    One of the downsides of freelancing: it’s tough to keep your professional and personal life separate. This service gives you the ability to use multiple phone numbers from the same device, helping you reserve your personal cell number for talking to your friends and family.
  • InsureSign (insuresign.com)
    Signed agreements protect you by making sure your clients and partners deliver on their promises. No need to be limited by time or distance, though! With InsureSign, the easiest-to-use e-signature service on the market, you can secure signed, initialed, and checked fields in minutes. You can even deliver messages by text message if your work takes you on the road.
  • Hootsuite (hootsuite.com)
    Social media isn’t a “nice to have” anymore—it’s a critical way that potential clients and customers interact with brands, big and small. You’re your own brand, so get your message out there! Hootsuite lets you schedule posts in advance and monitor Facebook and Twitter from one simple-to-use interface.

Whether you’re considering making the leap from a 9-5 or you’re already living the freelancer life, technology can be the key to making your dreams reality. Take a few minutes and research one of these digital tools for freelancers today.

Four Digital Tools for Healthcare – InsureSign eSignature Software

According to a recent article from Healthcare IT News, the healthcare industry is “poised to leap forward in terms of technological change.” It’s true—healthcare providers are increasingly turning to technology to provide better care and expedite old processes.

Whether your practice is big or small, these digital tools (including eSignature software) can help healthcare professionals like you improve customer service and patient care.

healthcare providers can benefit from eSignature software

    1. HIPAA approved communications tools:

       Clinical communication can be slow, but using a secure collaboration tool eliminates long wait times. These tools can help you get lab results, consults and critical information much more quickly.
      Try: Uniphy Health, www.uniphyhealth.com.

    1. Cloud-based billing and scheduling software:

      Often working in tandem, a billing and scheduling software automates these tedious but critical processes, and can eliminate human error.
      Try: Practice Suite, www.practicesuite.com.

    1. Real-time patient feedback software:

      Enrich your patient relationships and improve customer service by getting on-site feedback, immediately after a patient visit.
      Try: Humm, www.hummsystems.com.

    2. eSignature Software:

      By utilizing eSignature software, you can secure signed agreements and patient paperwork in minutes. Patients can fill out forms securely, remotely, and from any device in real time.
      Try: InsureSign, www.insuresign.com.

Don’t be afraid to try new technology—being an early adaptor can put your healthcare practice ahead of the pack, earning patient loyalty and streamlining your day-to-day operations. Check out these digital tools today.

Millennial Insurance Agents Rely on Digital Tools, Relationship-Building

What’s it like to start work in an insurance agency in 2017? What values do millennial grads bring to the industry? We recently sat down with Jack Griffith, Commercial Lines Associate Producer at Kinghorn Insurance of Beaufort, to learn about his experience just starting out as an agent.

digital tools for insurance agentsInsureSign: Tell us about your career so far.

Jack: I graduated from the Darla Moore School of Business at University of South Carolina in May 2016. I started working with Kinghorn Insurance of Beaufort in July in 2016. Before starting here, I had no insurance experience, so the past 8-9 months have been a baptism by fire.

InsureSign: What did you think about the insurance industry before becoming an insurance agent?

Jack: I didn’t know too much about it. I told them in my interview that I knew what a premium was and what a deductible was, but otherwise, I was a blank slate. I thought the insurance industry was stuffy, but that’s not true at all. I’ve found my job to be very interesting.

InsureSign: What do you like about being an insurance agent?

Jack: As corny as it sounds, I’m a people person and I do enjoy helping people. I like this work because I feel like I’m serving as a partner, helping people understand their policies and how they can protect their livelihoods. Especially small business owners—they work so hard to build something from the ground up, and it can be gone in a second. That’s where we come in.

InsureSign: What would you tell young people considering a career in insurance?

Jack: It’s not a “get rich quick” scheme—you’ve got to be patient for it to pay off. We need to have more young people in the room, new blood and fresh ideas. It really is interesting work and I’m finding it to be a fulfilling career choice.

InsureSign: How do you think technology has changed the day-to-day experience that most insurance agents have?

Jack: It’s been huge. In high school, I worked in law offices, which were pretty similar to insurance agencies in that they had entire rooms dedicated to paper files. Now, we have everything on an agency server. When I get a piece of paper in the mail, there’s no reason to keep it—I throw it away after scanning in.

InsureSign: We’re proud to call your agency a customer of ours. What are some pain points or challenges that InsureSign has solved for your agency?

Jack: It’s great to get signatures without having to set up a meeting and chase somebody down. With InsureSign, you simply hit send and can have the signed document returned in minutes. I know it’s good for our customers too; if you get a phone call at 5:30 p.m., you can solve somebody’s insurance crisis by 5:35.

InsureSign: Do you have a favorite InsureSign feature?

Jack: It’s nice that it’s flexible in signing order. If I need to sign something and a client needs to as well, we can do it all in real time, rather than sending documents back and forth via mail. Having so many different activity fields is good too… you can leave placeholders for initials, check marks, etc. It’s not just signatures.

Best of luck to Jack in his career!

Interested in seeing how digital tools can streamline your insurance business? [Click here to try InsureSign free.](http://insuresign.com/sign-up-prices/).

Taking on Google: Four Survival Tips for Independent Agents

For the tens of thousands of independent insurance agencies across the country, Google’s news about entering the “insurance marketplace” may feel like a shot to the gut. (More from Insurance Journal)

Joe Floyd

Joe Floyd, president of InsureSign

By using digital tools like InsureSign and leveraging your local presence, you can be in a better position to succeed. Why?

Because Google and similar companies are completely online.

Agents doing things the “old way” are completely offline.

As a tech-savvy agent, you can master both local and online to take on the competition and win.

No. 1: Invest in Online. Has your website been optimized for key terms your potential customers are searching for on Google? It’s now more important than ever to make sure your website is easily found. Granted, it’s impossible to compete with the big players on terms like “best car insurance” or “best rental insurance,” but you need to be sure you’re optimizing for terms key to your local service areas, like “car insurance in Dallas, GA.”

Don’t have a big budget for search-engine optimization? Create regular, fresh content for your website (blog articles, news announcements, etc.), and post consistently. Fresh and frequent content helps with organic search-engine rankings.

No. 2: Become More Social. What do you have over Google? You’re local, you understand local customer needs better and you have lots of key insights to offer insureds. Become active on social media sharing relevant news and insights with your existing and potential customers. And the new blog content you create for your website? That’s great content to share on social media to direct people back to your website (helping to improve your organic search-engine optimization even more).

No. 3: Use eSignatures. Competing with online insurance providers may seem daunting. But, once you start using e-signatures, you can service accounts no matter where your customers are. With e-signatures made for insurance professionals, there’s nothing stopping you from competing with anyone – local or online. With InsureSign, your location suddenly becomes global.

No 4: Emphasize The Personal Approach. A large number of new customers will always come from personal referrals and relationships. Now is the time to highlight to your customers that, by working with you, they’ll always have one direct contact – versus being sent to a call center or a message board – and someone personally invested in saving them money. People like dealing with people, not automated robots.

Tell us, how are you preparing your agency for Google’s entry into insurance?

Joe Floyd is president of InsureSign, and he and his team have spent more than a decade developing insurance-industry software.  

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