Category: Financial Advisor

Insurance Industry Change: Virtually as Hard as You Make It

 

As a motivational insurance sales speaker and former member of the Million Dollar Round Table, I know that selling insurance is easily one of the world’s most intensive, public facing sales jobs. Though products vary from company to company, the most important product you can offer is you.

Then we come to the pandemic. Suddenly, your firm handshake, your trusty, effervescent smile and the friendly banter gave way to videoconferencing, email and a phone call or two. Who had time to prepare for COVID-19? No one. The screeching halt from face-to-face to virtual sales was calamitous. Some insurance industry sales reps determined to keep fighting; unfortunately, many left.

In an industry where new hire turnover rates are 30 percent after three months, once April 2020 hit, thousands of insurance sales reps joined the millions of sales reps in other fields who quit or walked away because selling was “too tough.”

What’s the Difference?

The online resource Business Process Incubator recently completed (as of July 9, 2020) an insurance industry sales survey entitled: How Difficult It Is For Insurance Companies To Go To Remote Working? The results are eye-opening but not unexpected. Let me summarize several of the challenges.

The survey found that it is hard for insurance sales reps to initially explain what was happening, but those who succeeded in overcoming the confusion during the earliest stages had more robust referral networks.

The survey found it is more difficult to sell an “intangible product” remotely. Customers and sales reps can’t share emotions. It is difficult to break through barriers. This is where a sales rep must focus on selling themselves, outworking the competition, and making a difference.

Managing data security is also seen as a big challenge. Insurance providers and their agencies must bolster security and hire more people to ensure confidentiality and protect extremely important customer information. To that end, sales reps must convey trust and instill confidence.

Working remotely is not easy for the sales rep or customer, however, sales reps can convey the convenience and the lessened stress in buying insurance online. In other words, a negative can be turned into a positive.

While some are challenged, others aren’t. According to the survey, the keys are flexibility and technical expertise. Sales reps must either embrace the challenges or get lost in the confusion.

So, what is the Difference?

It can be argued, of course, that the insurance industry and its sales reps live in challenging times, and that the changes faced everyday are enormous. But hasn’t it always been this way?

In what era has selling insurance been stress-free? In what year have so many customers flocked to us that we didn’t have to work? Truth is, there are insurance sales reps who have a winning mindset, and some who don’t.

The insurance industry has always relied on people with vision who have the determination to succeed. If we look at the points raised in the survey, it’s clear that each challenge in the present-day world of virtual insurance sales can be overcome.

The science community has shown tremendous determination and grit to arrive at several promising vaccine candidates. The challenges against them were many. Yet, they persisted and they are close to winning.

Your mission as insurance sales reps is to be inspired to rise up in a similar manner. The difference is you. Stand up to the challenges – and win!

 

Scott Burrows, Motivational Insurance Industry Sales Speaker, is available for virtual or in-person sales meetings. Contact Scott today through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169.

In Sales, Some Things Change; Resilience Doesn’t

 

As a motivational speaker on resilience and grit, I know that of the many qualities a salesperson needs, resilience – and the daily grit to remain resilient – are never mentioned enough. Perhaps it’s because resilience, the skill of being flexible, isn’t thought of as being cool. It is, and in fact, business resilience yields huge benefits.

Get Tough

I’d like to open these thoughts on resilience and grit by quoting Gary Galvin, CEO of Galvin Technologies:

“While salespeople will find success when they lead with empathy, they’ll find greater success when they respond with resilience.”

He is on the money. When I was in the insurance and financial services industry, I qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table through the resilient pursuit of my sales goals. Of course, I was sympathetic to situations involving my clients, but it was far more important to be flexible to their needs, and to put in the effort to immediately respond to questions and changes.

If I was going to be successful as a salesperson, I had no choice but to develop a flexible mindset.

Michael F. Kay, wrote an article for Forbes magazine (11/7/17) entitled: “Resilience Is A Mindset Of Awareness And Practice.” Kay listed several ways in which this mindset can be nurtured. Among the top methods for cultivation of resiliency are increasing our sense of control: you are not powerless when your sales plans change, you can change with it; it is important to maintain perspective in a changing situation; and you must develop a positive self-concept.

I would also add that if you are part of a sales team, associate with those who also have a flexible mindset. It is easy to be surrounded by negative or inflexible people. They cannot help you. The winners on your team will see opportunity even in adversity.

Get Gritty

However, to be resilient also requires the grit to keep going and to see the big picture rather than the immediate problem. Kori Miller, writing for Positive Psychology, presented a wonderful summary of grit as a component of resiliency:

“Grit is about sustained, consistent effort toward a goal even when we struggle, falter, or temporarily fail.

Resilience is our ability to bounce back after we have struggled, faltered, or failed. It is being able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, take a moment or two to collect ourselves, and then get back to the business of pursuing our goal. It involves optimism.”

We cannot be resilient without grit nor can we possess a “gritty mindset” without resilience. As any successful salesperson knows, in real life we may misquote an important benefit, miss an appointment or inadvertently park in the CEO’s parking space. Those things unfortunately happen. It is how we respond to those struggles that count, whether it amounts to making a detailed correction, profusely apologizing (without fabrication) or sending a dozen roses.

In the end, resiliency and grit are about the courage to stand up after you have been knocked down and to keep smiling.

 

To hire Scott Burrows, Inspirational Keynote Speaker on Resilience and Grit for your next industry meeting, connect with his office today through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169

 

The Changing Landscape for Insurance & Financial Services

 

As a former insurance and financial adviser, I know much has changed in the past few years in the insurance and financial industry. Customers are more sophisticated and they want to be seen as people, not numbers.

Roi Agababa, the CEO of Novidea, a major brokerage software provider for all lines of insurance, recently wrote an article entitled “5 Key Challenges Facing the Insurance Industry.” One of the challenges he notes is that customer expectations have changed.

He points to the fact that “70 percent of customers expect [their insurance] business to tailor communications and services” based on transactions in the past. When they renew, they assume their experience will be “a frictionless experience – hassle-free, no waiting, and self-service where possible.”

This experience may sound less personalized, but it’s not. The new insurance buyers still want personal attention but on their own terms.

“Digital-savvy millennials are gradually replacing baby boomers as the main buyers of personal insurance and, with a phone always in hand, expect to transact anytime from anywhere.”

Business as Usual is Changing

Salesforce Research organization recently surveyed more than 6,700 consumers and business buyers of goods and services around the world. The results were far different than we might have imagined. Some of the highlights of what they found include:

  • When they call your office, more than 75 percent expect the insurance companies to understand their needs and expectations. This obviously requires a thorough knowledge of your products.
  • Millennials do their research. They have undoubtedly studied many aspects of your products before they call. Getting the sale means doing more, knowing more and approaching their needs without condescension.
  • Along with the point above, “59 percent of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to winning their business.” When they ask for options or a presentation, they want it tailor-made not boiler-plate.
  • 84 percent of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. Just because they may find you online or even prefer to correspond with you through texts and emails does not mean they want an impersonal interaction.
  • 63 percent of your insurance or financial services customers want new and innovative products; at the same time, nearly 70 percent are not impressed with ho-hum products that every other representative is offering.
  • Finally, there has been an increase of about 62 percent of concerns about cybersecurity than only two years ago. Expect your current and future clients to ask about cybersecurity within in your firm. How will you answer?

“Business as usual” will never be quite the same. The new generation of insurance and financial services buyers want seamlessness of transactions, expertise, and personalization.

In 2020, you must have the vision to meet your clients’ demands where they are, the determination and daily grit to rise above your competitors, and the dedication to being the best agent you can be.

 

To contact Scott Burrows, Inspirational Insurance and Financial Services Speaker, contact his office today through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169

 

They Once Called Banking “Dull,” No One Believes That Now

 

As a banking & financial services change management motivational speaker who came out of those industries, I am intimately aware of the myths. The biggest myth is that the profession is dull. As we all know, nothing could be further from the truth.

Banking Exchange Contributing Editor Ed O’Leary recently wrote:

“Banking has always been primarily a relationship business…so it seems to me that in a successful commercial lending business model, there remains the need for creative intervention of a human sort…at its heart, commercial lending is a highly interpersonal business where we earn our way by being creative with our customers and their needs and with our banks in the management of the risks of financial intermediation.”

While O’Leary is clearly well-versed of the changes that digitalization has brought to the industry, he is even more aware of the unjustified perceptions that have led to a decline in the industry finding bright new talent.

“The lack of newly trained talent augurs well for lucrative careers and job security. But what might it really portend for the industry? Maybe too many people have paid too much attention to the nonsense that banking isn’t innovative or interesting. I can’t imagine anything further removed from reality.”

If commercial lenders have been wrestling with how they will meet the challenge of change, financial services brokers have been going through even more turbulent times. In fact, and in strange ways, change is forcing all of us to come together.

Are you determined to manage the changes?

Managing the Changes in Financial Services

When I give keynote addresses to brokers on how they’re managing changes within their area of the financial services and banking industry, I am often told, “Scott, it’s overwhelming,” or “You won’t believe what’s coming next.”

Twenty years ago, with the exception of science fiction writers, no one in the financial services community could have imagined concepts such as “customer intelligence,” AI, Blockchain, FinTech companies, cloud computing, robotics or cyber-security for that matter.

One of the many projected changes PWC Global envisions for 2020 is the expansion of the shared economy for the financial system.

“By 2020, consumers will need banking services, but they may not turn to a bank to get them. Or, at least, maybe not what we think of as a bank today. The so-called sharing economy may have started with cars, taxis, and hotel rooms, but financial services will follow soon enough.”

There just may be, as the report suggests, a sharing of financial sources just as we currently experience with ride sharing and apartment sharing.

The changes will force commercial lenders and financial services organizations to be more inventive, more customer service oriented and more digitally savvy than ever before. The good news is that those institutions and leaders who have the courage to envision managing these changes will be rewarded with incredible opportunities.

Are you resolute enough to embrace the possibilities?

 

Engage Scott Burrows, Banking & Financial Services Change Management Speaker for your next industry meeting through this website or by calling us at: (520) 548-1169

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming the Adversity of the Online Insurance Tidal Wave

As a motivational sales speaker in the insurance and financial services industries, whenever I am asked to deliver a keynote address on overcoming adversity, I always feel like I have come home.

After an accident that left me diagnosed as a quadriplegic, I was encouraged by some incredible people to join the insurance and financial services industries. I found a new mindset and developed the resolve to thrive in this highly competitive market. Within five years, I was awarded entrance into the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT). After a second car accident, I was once again challenged to reinvent my life and was inspired to share my story with others as a motivational keynote business speaker. My mission is to inspire insurance and financial services agents, brokers and organizations to overcome the adversity they face in the marketplace.

Fighting the Tidal Wave

Like it or not, the internet is becoming the primary enabler for how people get their insurance information. While the independent or exclusive agent has been the main channel of distribution, each year our industry is seeing a greater influence of direct sales.

According to Techcrunch.com, “While many factors are driving the tipping point in the online distribution of insurance, the thread that ties it all together is actually a simple one: changing demographics. The millennial generation has tremendous buying power, and will soon become the industry’s primary customer, whether in consumer or commercial lines.”

At the same time that the demographic is shifting to be more favorably inclined to a nameless, faceless method of buying insurance, the average age of brokers has been increasing. Insurance companies must understand that new buyers have different purchasing patterns. To quantify this pattern, let’s go back to March 2015 when the Gallup organization compared how different generations are engaged with their insurance companies.

Gallup found in comparing Millennials to Baby Boomers, 31 percent of Millennials were “Fully Engaged” with their insurance providers as opposed to 41 percent of Baby Boomers. At the other end of the spectrum, 27 percent of Millennials were “Actively Disengaged”, i.e., they couldn’t care less where they get their coverage as long as they are covered, as opposed to 23 percent of Baby Boomers.

Writer Jason Fisher in a piece entitled, “2018 Life Insurance Statistics And Facts” concluded that in 2018: “Roughly 50% of adults admitted to searching for life insurance online last year, and about a third even tried to make their purchase online.” Agents and brokers believing that internet insurance purchases are a passing trend need to reconsider their position.

Overcoming the Online Adversity

In study after study, experts found that Millennials and Gen-Xers value interaction with brokers and agents, if not in sit-down meetings, then by email, personalized text messages and correspondence through agency websites. The key is engagement.

The Gallup Poll surveyed 18,000 adults and concluded: “Insurance companies see substantial business gains when they engage customers of any generation. Engaged insurance customers are less sensitive about pricing…they spend more and buy a wider variety of products, including financial offerings.”

You can overcome challenge of the internet but it will take determination to engage your customers one way or another. Customers still want to hear from you. Do you have the grit to reach them?

Contact Scott Burrows, Insurance and Financial Services Sales Motivational Speaker through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year of Change Ahead for Financial Advisors: How Will You Respond?

Every one of us involved in the financial and insurance industry knows that 2019 will be a year of change.

Bob Veres, writing for Advisor Perspectives (December 10, 2018), pointed out at least five major challenges that will impact financial advisors this year. They include new “BI” or best interest standards and fiduciary oaths; planning for the coming Bear market and making clients your partners in the financial planning process; the pressure to shift away from AUM (percentage-based) portfolio revenue models to flat fees; the trend away from traditional insurance agencies to self-directed purchases; and the opportunities in utilizing customized “Robo” software within your practice. Veres concluded that change is never easy and financial advisors and insurance brokers must prepare for whatever is next.

Will You Evolve or Be Left Behind?

How will you adapt your business this year? Have you identified your strategies to meet the comprehensive financial planning needs of clients about to retire as well as younger generations embarking on their careers?

As a financial advisor, in order to stay ahead you will need to wear many hats in managing client expectations. Will you be able to show clients at all stages of their careers the value that you are bringing to the investing equation, and are you determined to make the necessary emotional investment and to be an educator as well as advisor?

In 2019, and beyond, financial advisors will need to focus on new niche markets to differentiate themselves. They will need to embrace the latest tools to set themselves apart in a highly competitive financial advisory market. It will not be a matter of offering customer service, but tapping into technology to access changing regulations and ultimately to use that information to recommend the right insurance and investment products.

The questions asked above, and many more, can only be answered by one person:  you. The expanding workload, the deluge of information, evolving fiduciary rules, the need to offer clients greater transparency, and the maze of ever-expanding investment options will require each financial advisor to have the grit to maintain their success and to rise above average. “Average” advisors will suffer from average on-line ratings especially as more millennials enter the work world. Average will mean being left behind.

Be a Student, Be Coachable

The most successful financial advisors will be those who understand that they are students and not “professors.” Being a student, even if you have been in the business for many years, means updating your practice management, understanding and employing new technologies and the educational components necessary to help your clients reach their goals. It means attending conferences that offer niche market products and opportunities, evaluating the latest practice management solutions and being facile enough to use the social media to set yourself up as an authority.

While new investors may not be sophisticated in terms of investing, they understand technology and how to access information. Financial advisors must match that intensity and sophistication and have the knowledge to answer tough questions their clients find online. It is a tall order but a tremendous opportunity.

The year ahead is where the financial advisor will be a student who is determined to learn what is needed to make the practice successful.

 

For more information on how financial advisors can develop a winning vision, contact Scott Burrows, Financial and Insurance Industry Motivational speaker, through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169