21 May Field Sales for a Changing World : Ensuring Business Continuity
The shift to remote work has more than nudged insurance companies to rapidly adapt to digital processes and invest in innovative tech for Process, Operation, and Automation. Data collected from daily operational activities like scheduling calls, updating distributors, viewing business metrics, underwriting claims, updating lead status, etc, are all being stored in a CRM. Digital will change the way the workforce interacts and software development as we know it.
When I talk to CIOs, 2 big topics come up: near-term remote work & long-term business transformation. For the latter, I’m hearing: less business travel, kill manual processes, digitize every customer and supplier interaction, and enable flexible work patterns.
— Aaron Levie (@levie) May 2, 2020
Sales teams work out of multiple locations, not just their designated offices – say airplanes, buses, trains, etc – they’re usually on the move. With the global pandemic, the United States has about 70+ million working from home. 75% of people say they’re more productive remotely due to fewer distractions. 90% plan on working remotely for the rest of their careers.
At Aetna, 47% of their workforce working remotely saved the company over 70$ million annually, and Nationwide announced a permanent shift in its workplace, a majority of workers will follow a WFH strategy, transitioning permanently to a hybrid operating model.
With equity markets well down and peoples’ savings being impacted, a lot of individuals who’ve been planning to retire soon are staying in the workforce longer. The average age of a life insurance agent in the US is 59, and typically push products to people who are within 5 years of their own age [ if you’re 59, you’re selling products to people within the range of 54 – 64].
There’s a shift in space among agents who are from a mixed age group dynamic, a growing millennial field force. The insurance industry in banking doesn’t change until something forces it to. The current environment requires a fundamental shift from the traditional sales approach – physical interactions. A lot of current reps on the field are heading towards retirement. Not only are they less likely to use digital tools, historically, but they’re also much more vulnerable to contracting Covid. A lot of people in the insurance industry are very cynical about the pace of change but recent events might just help drive this change in distribution that’s long overdue. – Chad Hersh, VP at Capgemini Leading L&A and Group Benefits for North America
Many young customers aren’t sold on the need for life insurance; however, once educated on the benefits, they’re likely to purchase a life policy. The demand for life insurance is surging and probably will stay that way for a while. But if we think about what the insurers of the future are going to look like, it’s the field sales model. Historically, insurance has not been a customer centric business at an insurer level.
What insurer carriers are doing, more broadly? 3 key trends observed in the field-agent product model:
- Flexible offerings to merchant customer segments
- Automation and AI and digital-only initiatives for efficiencies
- Customer experience with minimal purchase journey
Of the five key areas we’re focused on, one of them is Digital Acquisition – low touch straight through experiences for individuals, members and distributors from quote-through-enrolment. For Individual Life and Group Life, being able to get your products quickly and easily is critical. On the Group benefits side, with the unemployment rates, though temporary, people have to re-enroll in benefits when they get back to work. The idea is a highly digital process involving a lot of self-service. Agencies can spend that time with dozens of other customers – it’s a win-win. There will definitely be places where processes can’t be automated, but wherever possible it should. This shift fundamentally changes the need for digital tools for agents. Chad Hersh, VP at Capgemini Leading L&A and Group Benefits for North America
There is going to be a rise in re-enrolments; people who have a newfound interest in life insurance, health insurance, banking and saving products over the next couple of years. Looking at the steps involved in the stakeholder management and distribution processes, a lot of current activities are done manually (eg, how do you compensate agents with non-monetary compensation, reward points, trips etc). This data currently is collected and viewed on spreadsheets. Licensing and contracting agents has been a nightmare and marketing has rarely effectively been done online in enrollment.
Carriers need to figure out where the field sales force adds value. If you look at the value chain in distribution, it starts with interaction at a digital marketing level. Getting to a point where digital marketing draws people in, and confirms their details. Here’s where automation steps in. Listen to Chad as he walks you through how digitisation works for an insurance company:
These are really interesting times we’re in, most call it the perfect storm. A moment we’ve not had before, for companies to build out the technology that could make remote work a lot easier for those who can benefit from it. Covid-19 has been an accelerant to the idea of customers having greater acceptance with digital delivery of content, creating seamless experiences. What’ll happen though is that sales professionals may face the challenge of meeting these timely expectations, however the content they share with leads or partners will be highly interactive and engaging. That’s why we partnered with Vymo for this webinar, we believe that engaging with customers is more important now than ever.” Craig Dunham – GM, Financial Services at Seismic
Internally, sellers need more guidance. Managers would need to double down on their internal communications by prioritizing their teams’ activities and by providing necessary tools and technologies. The financial services industry has been laggards in this space for reasons like:
- Big data architecture sitting in old antiquated systems
- Need to be hyper-sensitive to private customer data
- Restrictions put forth by regulatory bodies
Sellers are transitioning their operating models, from road warriors to digital workers. In the new normal, the idea of phones being a distraction is no longer relevant. Digital transformation helps buyers, partners, and customers filter through the noise, and help match customer expectations
The essence of creating a compelling digital buyer experience is understanding the needs of the customers’ value propositions and framing solutions, and messaging that resonates with them.
In the digital age people look to manage their own work, a sense of independence, if you will. Customers don’t necessarily need an agent to take care of certain activities. With continued engagement, an agent is on top of customer expectations, market trends and the right partnerships to invent the future at a scale necessary to stay competitive. Remote working tools help field-agents optimise productivity.
Here’s a recording of the entire session:
Please feel free to share this with anyone you think will find it useful or relevant.
About the Speakers:
Chad Hersh is currently leading the Life Annuities/Group Benefits practice for CapGemini in North America. He has a long and varied background in insurance technology and operations, including such previous roles as:
- Executive Vice President at Majesco, a leading provider of core systems for insurers in life/annuities/health/pensions and property/casualty lines of business globally, where he led the life/group businesses globally
- Industry Analyst, as a Managing Director within Novarica’s insurance research practice and as a senior analyst at Celent. Mr. Hersh’s research is focused on e-business and core systems strategies for insurers, as well as emerging technologies
- e-Business Director at AIG American General
- Roles in IT and management consulting, including CSC (now DXC), and EY.
Craig Dunham is the General Manager of Financial Services at Seismic . He’s responsible for driving product innovation and go-to-market strategy within Seismic’s Financial Services market vertical. Craig has held several other roles at Seismic including, leading Seismic through its acquisition (and subsequent integration) of the Savo Group. Overall, Craig has 17+ years of experience in Financial Services and Financial Technology — serving as an investment banker, then later becoming an early employee at Capital IQ, helping grow the company through its acquisition by Standard & Poor’s. At S&P Capital IQ, Craig was most recently the Global Head of the Desktop Application Specialists, responsible for product consulting services across several S&P Capital IQ analytics products.
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