Combat Direct Market Disruption by Being a Values Based Insurance Agency
I spent many years in leadership working with some of the most recognizable direct-to-consumer auto insurance brands. So, understandably, I get a lot of questions or receive many opinions when talking with insurance agency owners about the direct auto insurance marketing channel.
It’s understandable, these marketing systems present a particularly challenging threat to the personal lines insurance agency channel. Frankly, a challenge we at Agents United, IronPoint Insurance Services, and SIAA are striving to help insurance agency owners tackle head-on.
My insights, however, cannot quell the despair one might be feeling. The reality is this: the money, sophistication, innovation and technology invested by the direct carriers will continue to disrupt the personal insurance category for years to come.
This is a reality with which we all need to come to terms.
However, this reality DOES NOT spell the end of the insurance agent channel for personal insurance, or auto insurance specifically. As I said, this is a reality we here at Agents United and SIAA are willing to help your fellow insurance agency owners understand, and combat.
The research leads to certain conclusions
Working for some of the most recognizable insurance brands, I’ve been privy to research on this very topic, and from this experience I’m led to conclude that consumers who intrinsically select the direct channel will do so no matter the form your marketing, sales strategy and/or processes take.
The translation: for personal insurance, nearly 30% of the market is not inclined to purchase via a conventional, terrestrial, neighborhood insurance agency.
I don’t want to spend time here discussing if this is something directly attributable to millennials or not, there is plenty to say on that topic, and certainly millennials contribute to this phenomena. The importance is not the drivers, but how we work within the context of the new realities of our market.
So, does this change how we, as insurance agency owners, should develop our strategies, processes, and sales craft?
Embrace your intrinsic competitive advantage
When I’m asked to speak on the nature of online marketing, while I truly believe it’s important for all insurance agencies to have a well conceived digital marketing strategy, I’m very direct that one’s marketing strategy needs to be founded in what makes each agency unique.
So, what is this?
For most of us, this is going to involve the value the insurance agency brings to the sales transaction and throughout the lifetime of the customer relationship … with emphasis on relationship.
By comparison, direct players do this from their advantage, arguing convenience, efficiency, cost savings, and modernity.
When you’re marketing your insurance agency, you need to be expressing it’s value. It needs to come through in everything you do when promoting your agency, to the service you provide, and the way your training your staff and setup your processes.
Your value needs to be intrinsic in every transaction you generate.
So what is this value? Well, that is going to be different for each of us. What is important, is that the value you offer is “valued” by your consumers.
What about price?
This brings us to one very simple and stark reality, regardless of the channel, the one universal truth that binds both direct-to-consumer and agency consumers is price. And while it’s true, there is much nuance to what we mean by price, the fact is that in many ways it is always going to be an issue. It’s in the basic nature of consumers to want to receive the best deal. Marketers and those who develop the sales process for either need to understand how to get over the price objection.
I don’t claim to be the best to advise on how to develop a top-tier values oriented sales process, I’ll leave that to those better suited to counsel sales tactics and strategy.
What I do know is that a values oriented sales tactic needs to be the strategic driver of your sales process, and it needs to be inherent in both the insurance protection you sell and in what YOU or your INSURANCE AGENCY bring to the relationship.
Value is King
Value is so important, you can’t wait until your closing pitch to reveal this to your prospects, it needs to be interwoven throughout the entire process, it needs to be inseparable from you, your products, and your agency. The consumer needs to feel that there is a real opportunity cost to elect another agent or direct market if they aren’t working with you.
How you derive this value, is up to you, it’s your differentiation … your positioning. There are many books and venues who can teach you how to develop a values oriented sales process. The important thing is to get it done.
As I conclude this post, what I want go back to what was said earlier about the direct-to-consumer carriers and alternate marketing systems, they are disrupting our market, especially in auto insurance.
This cannot be denied.
But the numbers remain in favor of the insurance agent. In order to continue to be the dominate channel for purchasing auto insurance we need to position around our strengths, the value we bring, the value of the products we sell, and the help we provide families and businesses when it’s needed most. If we do this, there will always be a place in the the market for the insurance agent.
At Agents United and SIAA, our member issuance agencies strive to provide the greatest value possible. We provide training on sales process and marketing as one of our many benefits. We also help agents gain access to the best insurance carriers and products, helping our members deliver value in each and every sale. Let us know if you’re interested in talking about joining Agents United and SIAA.