I am often asked about my take on the future of the insurance industry. The industry is not going anywhere, that is for certain. However, I do expect to see a drop in the number of agencies, especially in the independent insurance agency sector, because many will not mold their business practices and processes in time to handle the changes that are taking place. The competition will slowly eat away chunks of their business by simply implementing low-cost or even no cost initiatives, only because they had the foresight to do so.
If the changes of the last decade are any indication of what’s to come, then insurance agents need to be ready to adapt in order to survive through this decade. Gone are the days when you established long-term, meaningful relationships with a majority of your clients. Today, insurance is becoming even more retail and talking to people on the phone or having face-to-face meetings is slowly fading as a means of communication. In this fast-paced society, people feel more efficient communicating through text messaging or social networks and they can just as easily meet with you virtually, saving time and money for everyone involved.
Virtual meetings and events open doors to business opportunities you may have never thought possible just a few years ago and frankly speaking, can make your agency a lot more efficient and profitable, if done correctly. The key is to embrace this advancing technology and learn the proper ways to implement and integrate it into your business.
“Twenty-one touches per year.” Most of us in sales know that is the statistical average number of times you and your company need to interact with a client in order for the client to associate a particular word with you. In our case, the word is “insurance.” However, if you call or visit your clients this often today, you will risk losing them on renewal due to your pestering. You need to get creative and connect with them on different levels such as social networks, email marketing programs and text messaging in order to limit the number of phone calls and visits needed to reach the objective.
The number one industry in terms of online internet lead generation and sales is insurance. This means that most insureds do not have a strong relationship with an agent and their premium is the main driving factor for their decision so they turn to the World Wide Web, a place where they save money on almost everything else they buy. We’ve all been told never to sell based on premium and to educate our clients on the value of coverages and certain carriers. Although this occasionally works, it is not a sustainable way to gain new customers exponentially, especially if you have a competitor selling on price. A majority of personal lines insurance leads are purchased by independent agents and not their captive counterparts. This is simply because captives generally cannot compete on price, making it difficult to produce a profit from lead purchases. Build a plan to handle leads and implement a lead management system to help automate and guide your sales staff so they can spend their time on selling.
Participating in social networks is no longer optional. It’s a must. The benefit of a simple “like” on your agency page is the equivalent of a customer telling 100 of their friends about you and vouching for your services. Best of all, it will not cost you anything other than some time to show your appreciation, answer some questions and come up with items to share about your industry, trends, agency news, etc. Actively embrace this arena now while it’s still in its infancy and growing.
Your prospects and customers want to do business with you on their own terms. Today, this could mean while they are at work, eating dinner at home in their pajamas or while at the movies with their significant other. What means do you have in place to support any of these transactions? You need the ability for a prospect to quote a policy through your website and a secure client portal in order for your customers to communicate with you, view their policy information and more while using a computer, tablet or mobile device.
Information should be at your fingertips at all times because the people you deal with will most likely expect it, as with everything else these days. Are you able to access client information from anywhere? Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are the computers of the future. Soon, we will get to a point where a laptop or desktop PC will become secondary in terms of servicing your business. It’s time to start researching how you can incorporate technologies into your agency to recruit prospects and engage your customers, be it through the Internet, mobile web or mobile applications.
Search engine use will also continue to grow, especially on mobile devices. Most search engine vendors are already working to display a different set of results for searches on mobile browsers as opposed to normal browsers to promote those who are adapting while also adding additional revenue streams from multiple advertising options on the same search. With a growing number of people using their mobile platforms to search for almost everything, it’s imperative that your agency now have a mobile website. If you partake in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and/or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) activities, soon you will need to have separate campaigns just to attract mobile searchers.
Expand your service area. Obtaining agency licenses in multiple states is no longer a long and drawn out process. It can be done online and licenses can be approved in most states within a couple of days. Use this to broaden your range of prospects to neighboring states and beyond. These days, leads can come from anywhere with the power of search engines.
Think of ways to connect with your audience in different ways and on multiple levels. Be considerate of their time and remain tactful in your approach. Do not bombard them with any one method. Use a mix and you will see the difference. It may seem inefficient to you, but your prospect or customer may not even notice how you are subliminally building your relationship with them. Even if they do leave you based on price, they will realize what they’re missing and surely come back.
Even job seekers in the future will look for employers who are utilizing modern tools to help them do their job better and faster. Employers, too, will look for employees versed in these areas. Mobile, Internet and video technologies will highly increase efficiency, productivity and, at the end of the day, profitability.
Learn about and take advantage of what today’s technologies have to offer, stay abreast of the changes happening around you and plan on evolving you and your business to stay ahead of the curve. Those who do not will be left behind because the next few years will surely change how the insurance business is conducted.
The good news is that all of this is possible with the right attitude, people and tools. No insurance agency management system can do all of this, but one that comes close is Aspire by Impowersoft. The system incorporates many of the items discussed above and the company is evolving with it’s users to provide for a more robust solution.