Every kid is asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” At times I thought I knew and then came to find out that (no offense to high school teachers) high school teachers don’t make very much money. Then I thought I wanted to be a movie producer and director. Ultimately I decided on marketing—it was a field in which I could use my creativity, my sales abilities and my love for educating people all in one medium. The future is uncertain for all of us and nobody has a crystal ball to gaze into the future, but everyone can pivot until you find the perfect fit. This is how successful businesses are developed. And yes, most successful businesses, or rather agencies, are developed, not founded.
As I have looked around this industry, and talked to agents and agencies over the years, I see trends come and go. I see people trying to differentiate themselves, sometimes with silly investments. Some work and some don’t. The insurance industry is currently in a state of transformation—the wave is coming. The question for you is: Will you be a disruptor or will you be a casualty of disruption? From 1995-2005, the music, photography and video rental industries were dramatically disrupted. From 2005-2015 it was print media, TV, travel, and ecommerce. The next wave of disruption has already started. We are in the midst of disruption in some of the largest industries in the world as insurance, financial services, retail, healthcare, and automotive are dramatically changing. If you don’t want to be a casualty you have to be thinking about, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In other words, you have to be looking to the future. What does the next generation of agents expect and want? How do you take your knowledge and experience and turn it into a factor in the disruption cycle rather than an obsolete skill?
Experience + Technology = Winning Solution
Most people in these industries that are in the midst of change are scared, and to be honest they should be. Blockbuster sure didn’t seem to be worried, nor think they would go bankrupt, when they turned down the opportunity to buy Netflix for four million bucks. However, they also failed to realize that if they had combined their expertise of the video rental industry with the newest technology in Netflix they would have been unstoppable and probably still around today. This analogy probably sounds pretty similar to many insurance agencies today. You have all of the industry experience and knowledge of how insurance is sold—but that is only half the solution in today’s technological age! You now have to combine that with the right technology in order to create the winning solution for both today and the future. The right technology needs to fit in your pocket while providing 24/7 support, automation, sales acceleration features, data and mobility to your agents. Combine knowledgeable, skilled insurance agents with technology and you will begin to see what I see everyday—agencies selling more efficiently, selling higher volumes, and dramatically growing their agent base because the agent of the future wants to work for companies that arm them with the tools to succeed.
At IXN we believe in the idea that life insurance will be both sold and bought in the future. Agents are an incredibly important part of the sales process of both, especially when they are focused on getting the client the right coverage. Ultimately you have to find the right mix of technology for your agency. Once you have the technological and digital tools and the right training in place you will see exponential growth. At IXN we believe that mobile is the best way to do this. We see first hand everyday the benefits of putting the business of selling life insurance in the pocket of your agents. Through our mobile app platform I have seen agencies go from a handful of agents to over 1,200 in a matter of a few years. I have seen the application process go from an hour of filling out forms to a five minute quick and easy experience that has an application dropped from an agents phone to the carrier.
This is the future of insurance sales and marketing. In today’s world I don’t care who you are—baby boomer, gen-x, millennial or whatever generation you spawn from. If you go anywhere you take your phone with you. You don’t always take your laptop. I recently spoke with an older agent who ended up at a dinner party with a bunch of younger millennials, none of whom had life insurance. There was a discussion about who worked where, which ultimately lead to a discussion about life insurance and the need for it. Well, this agent was seasoned and had some good information, could talk to the levels of life insurance and the products that may meet these young professionals’ needs. However, one of the millennials was interested in knowing cost. The agent pulled out his agency’s mobile app, ran a needs analysis, got a quote and ultimately ended up submitting a case for life insurance that night—all from his mobile app on his phone—directly from the party. He closed a sale at the moment it was hot. He could not have done that without mobile technology; the power you need in your pocket 24/7.
Adoption, Who’s Driving It?
One of the hardest parts of this equation is adoption. It seems easy, right? Give your agents the technological tools they need and they will definitely catch the vision. Unfortunately it isn’t that easy. Some agents will engage and adopt immediately, but your agents are humans and humans are creatures of habit. They need you to help them bridge the technological gap. The mentality of “if we build it they will come” does not always work. They don’t always adopt and come on their own. Here are some best practices I have seen agencies do that help the agents adopt technology and success:
Webinars: Invite your agents into your virtual office and share your screen of your phone or computer—show them how it is done.
Regular email marketing campaigns: Make sure you and your agents are up to date on the latest sales trends and technologies—and remind them.
Push notification campaigns: If you have an agency mobile app, interact with your agents via push notification. This will bypass their spam filters and not get lost in their weekend emails.
Social media interaction: Be social, have fun. Show the agents what your day looks like with short snippets, images and interaction that help them catch the vision.
YouTube tutorials: Most computers nowadays have some sort of screen recording technology. You can make short tutorial videos and upload them to YouTube and share them via your website and/or mobile app.
Dial campaigns: Call your agents individually. This is sometimes hard if you have a lot of agents. Pick some of your top agents and call two per day. This goes a long way.
Tutorial automation, step by step automated emails: If you have a CRM like we do there are oftentimes tools for creating sequences or campaigns. We use Hubspot Sales CRM and we can create sequences that automatically go out at intervals. Keep it at the forefront of their minds.
Mailer campaigns: Sometimes good old fashioned snail mail is the way to get through.
Sales roadshows: This one can be time consuming, but there are few substitutes for looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand.
There are countless things you can do to drive adoption and, while you may not have time for all of them, make sure you incorporate your technology tools into your current programs as well as adopting some new ones. Agents will respond and it will help you drive adoption. Once you have a routine down the agents will expect it and it will become second nature to you. The technological revolution is finally upon us here in the insurance industry. It is nothing to be scared of at all, as it will make the insurance agent’s job that much more productive, efficient, and easy! Embrace technology and embrace future success.
This article was published by Broker World Magazine.