On April 29, Mark Breading of Strategy Meets Action, a leading insurance consultancy firm, moderated a thought leadership panel on sales, marketing and digital content in the insurance world. He was joined by Monique Hesseling of Strategy Meets Action and Ed Calnan, President and Co-Founder of Seismic. This is the final of their discussion.
Mark Breading: As an industry, insurance has gone through a whole wave of trying to automate the transaction. It’s a lot of what the portals out there are trying to do – automate transactions. Would you agree that there is still a lot of opportunity to further automate transactions and sales enablement?
Ed Calnan: Yes. Some of the companies that have been growing rapidly or been acquired recently are all on the marketing automation side. There’s a lot of talk and a lot of money put into automating marketing. You know when someone hits your website, you know who they are, you know when they fill out a form, you know their demographics. It’s interesting because then when you get to the sales side, we have [information going back to] the first time they touch the company to a [becoming a] profiled prospect with interest in [our] product or services – you take that information, then dump it off to the sales channel.
From that point, it really operates the same as it always has where the salesperson engages that prospect or customer with the same tools and processes they’ve [used] for the last 20 years. Maybe they have an easier way to access content or make sure that they’re walking into the situation with the appropriate things, but the process itself needs to evolve. That’s one of the things that we’re seeing in the market – empowering those sales teams with simple tools to streamline that sales process in an environment where buyers are much more educated that they’ve ever been. Many transactions are still done between agents and customers, but the customers are no longer seeking information. The buying process used to begin with “I feel like I have a need, but educate me on the entire industry.” We have absolutely condensed [that process] through technology. There are statistics that show that customers are 60 percent of the way through the buying process by the time they engage sales. That’s a completely different environment than it was 10 years ago.
Mark: How does a broker use digital materials in the selling process?
Monique Hesseling: Commercial insurance is a very digital content, contact driven part of the market – I’ve never seen a part of the industry where so many documents are floating around and being processed. Brokers and producers tend to collect information from multiple sources to create a proposal, an offering or a discussion document for a potential client or renewal client.
A couple points where digital can help a lot – there are certain data variables that are needed in every offer. For example, exposure data – every insurer will want to know where plants are located, how far they are from other facilities, and that’s a standardized area of communication. Same with client details. Client details are going to be the same regardless of which broker is utilized. Producers use that digital content as a standard, then they plot their own identifiers around it.
A second area where I see insurers using digital content more is on comparisons between terms and rates. Clients are asking [for] more transparency between different offerings from different carriers. Producers are working hard to get this information in front of the clients in an easy-to-manage way. In summary, there is a big need for digital support and communication in large commercial environments. Also it’s less streamlined and less fully standardized, but it has components of standardization, individual [branding] and communication behind it.
Ed: On the life and annuity side, a lot of it is the need to have relevant, compliant materials at [your] fingertips. The platforms for this are starting to change as well. In health [insurance], some of the big [companies] are thinking through smarter ways to plan rollouts and enrollments, and when they go on-site to meet a customer instead of taking down information on paper, sitting at a booth table, they’re using tablets to try to capture that information, customize collateral and streamline that business process. Also plan reviews – we’re seeing a lot of that. At the renewal time at the end of the year, instead of manually going through and analyzing data, they’re really starting to think more intelligently about how those reviews are put together. [They are] leveraging the data they have across the enterprise, but instead of salespeople spending four or five weeks to put things together to present to a customer, [people are] using smarter applications to help streamline that process, free up a relationship person’s time to go out and upsell the account and grow the business.