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Insurance Sales Trends

selling in the insurance industry

richardsonsalestrainingJuly 20, 2017Blog

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Today’s insurance sales industry faces growing complexity and competition at every corner. Insurance has become a commodity market with low growth in mature markets. As a result, insurance companies are shifting the way that they go to the market and interact with their clients.

With new strategies come new challenges in the preservation of market share. Here’s a look at some of those challenges, with some insights on how to overcome them.

Keeping a Client-Focused Approach

For the majority of producers, all sales are conversions. That is, a sale for one company is a loss for another. The insurance sale has become a commodity which underscores the need for a client focus to build relationships and loyalty.

The challenge to make this shift is often a direct result of a ‘system think’ philosophy precipitated by internal processes getting in the way of a customer focus.

As regulations become more complex, customers want an easy way to understand their options and make a choice. As part of this shift, producers are taking a more generalist role to provide expertise around a wider array of products. The challenge is using that new approach to provide better customer-producer relationships that lead to sales.

Ensure that the client experience is exceptional. Engage the client by taking time to ask broader questions to understand their goals, improve the experience, and uncover additional needs. Build trust by integrating client ideas and needs into a meaningful and consultative dialogue. This approach offers future opportunities, especially given the broader generalist focus. For example, discussing retirement plans helps potential clients think about the future and what is at stake. Discussions regarding future goals are different from traditional product discussions, as it requires building trust. Providing insightful needs-based discussions establishes trust.

Using Big Data To Educate - Not Intimidate

Insurance is unique; producers must help customers consider the consequences if they don’t buy the product. For example, actuarial science applies calculus-based probability to assess risk for life insurance premiums which increase with age. Producers can then use that data as a fear factor to entice buyers to act now rather than later.

Although the intent may be to create an emotional connection that drives a quicker sale, it is still a fear-based approach. Customers rarely respond well to this tactic. The challenge is to use this data to effectively educate and engage the customer without creating a feeling of intimidation, which risks the sale.

Incorporating data points into an effective sales dialogue is difficult if the focus is centered around the metrics rather than a meaningful conversation. Although agents are persuasive about the data in a ‘scare the client’ way, buyers are beginning to see through that approach. Providing insights and ideas that engage the client in a deeper dialogue will be more effective. Rather than starting the discussion with price, or other data points, begin the dialogue by asking questions that provoke thought. Then, provide insights that help the client understand the significance of the data. Lead conversations that will educate the customer on the relevant data, bring more credibility to the

Providing insights and ideas that engage the client in a deeper dialogue will be more effective. Rather than starting the discussion with price, or other data points, begin the dialogue by asking questions that provoke thought. Then, provide insights that help the client understand the significance of the data. Lead conversations that will educate the customer on the relevant data, bring more credibility to the Producer and strengthen the ability to close. Be sure and check in with the customer periodically to ensure relevance and understanding.

Creating a Winning Team

We all know how important a finals presentation is to winning the business, and for a producer, it’s a make or break event in most cases. Brokers and other evaluators schedule back to back timeslots for these presentations and are looking for those who stand out. Producers have one shot to make that persuasive and compelling presentation.It is common for producers to call in subject matter experts (SMEs) for these presentations. The challenge is assembling a team that builds credibility, expertise and trust with the customer. If your team isn’t prepared and aligned it can be a disaster for the sale, and in some cases, prevent future opportunities for the company.

It is common for producers to call in subject matter experts (SMEs) for these presentations. The challenge is assembling a team that builds credibility, expertise and trust with the customer. If your team isn’t prepared and aligned it can be a disaster for the sale, and in some cases, prevent future opportunities for the company.

Presenting as a team requires both strategy and preparation. The team must demonstrate a unified front before the prospective customer. An effective team must have an orchestrated approach in which everyone speaks the same language. Before the meeting, define the role of each team member, and clarify who will lead. Do not underestimate the preparation needed to be successful. Practice and rehearse key parts of the meeting including introductions, use of visuals and data, and how you will make the transition between presenters. Brief all participants on updated customer information so that they can tailor all of the responses to the customer's needs and nuances. Ensure each member of the team is trained properly on how to effectively respond to client objections during the presentation. Also, make sure each team member respects the needs of everyone on the team. Be aligned with the objective of the meeting.

Also, make sure each team member respects the needs of everyone on the team. Be aligned with the objective of the meeting.

Transitioning Technical Resources into Sales

Insurance company leaders are constantly concerned with maintaining a robust pipeline of qualified leaders. Pipeline challenges arise from an intensive certification process and high-performer attrition. Meanwhile, high turnover also contributes stress and can impact the length of time leader's stay.

The future of insurance companies is in the hands of their leaders. It is critical to building this talent pipeline to sustain long-term growth.

Employee development is high among organizations with healthy talent pipelines. Talent must be nurtured so that they understand their role and have the skills to execute.

Create a development plan for leaders that equips them with the tools and skills they need to be effective leaders. The result is employee engagement and buy-in around company strategy. Provide leaders and managers with the tools to effectively coach employees, in turn providing the ranks with the coaching and skills they need to be successful. Make sure to have a reinforcement component in place so that skills and engagement is continual and embedded in the culture.

Producers need to transition to a client-focused approach by providing insightful dialogue and building trust. They also need to be able to use data to spark engaging and thought-provoking dialogue with clients, versus using a fear-driven approach. To effectively win as a team, Producers need to ensure that team members are prepared and aligned for every presentation. For companies to survive they must nurture and develop leaders enabling them to build a healthy talent pipeline.

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