Intermediary distribution models have to change. It’s time to embrace virtual ways of building relationships and making sales.

Insurance external wholesalers and field sales managers have been hugely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. They generally rely on in-person meetings to build relationships and make sales. But with the ongoing restrictions, these activities have been greatly curtailed. What this means for insurers is that they’ve been paying these highly compensated professionals to operate as inside sales reps—which is not a sustainable business model.

If opportunities for in-person meetings continue to drop, the cost advantages of inside sales or hybrid sales reps could become more appealing. Our analysis leads us to believe that insurers will place a greater level of value on inside sales teams and the tactics they’re familiar with. And we expect to see an increase in hiring for these roles.

There are a few ways insurers can address the need to reduce costs and boost sales.

For starters, you could look at applying analytical modeling and ethnographic research to your inside sales and marketing capabilities. Why? These types of insights could help you segment the advisor population based on their attitudes and behaviors, and on economic dimensions.

You could also think about creating models of product propensity—imagine if you could figure out which solutions a prospective financial professional is most likely to sell. Or you could use analytics and models to help you craft personalized marketing and sales journeys that could be integrated into your customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

Now’s also the time to revisit engagement tactics and messaging. Creating a more relevant marketing and distribution experience is more important than ever if you want to stimulate virtual and inside wholesaling.

But that’s not all. Other opportunities to consider include:

  • Motivating your people. Being in the field can be intrinsically motivating. When that’s not an option, consider offering daily or weekly sales incentives. Or use gamification to increase motivation.
  • Teaming with your producers differently. Understand that some of your top producers might be struggling. Think about how you can help them grow their business.
  • Enabling virtually efficient allocation. Help your sales teams get better at managing their territory planning. Use virtual tactics and call allocation guides based on their needs and production potential.
  • Focusing on producers who can win. During the downturn, your usual peak performers might be unseated by new winners. Create new producer targeting models to compensate for the changing market.
  • Extending marketing materials to wholesalers. Let wholesalers use approved, segment-aligned marketing collateral.
  • Supporting producer growth through nurturing. Help your wholesalers maintain their connections with high-potential producers and drive new opportunities. Give them access to the full breadth of your digital and direct marketing channels.

If you can make the shift to data-driven virtual and inside wholesaling, you’ll be in a better position to navigate this ongoing disruption. You will find new opportunities to preserve and grow revenue. And you’ll inspire a greater degree of agent and advisor loyalty. 

If you’d like to know more about the human and business impact of COVID-19, please see our site for insurers. Or, if you’re interested in how to grow your intermediary distribution sales, reach out to me directly. 

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