In the mid 80’s I worked at Texas Instruments. One of the many interesting projects that I worked on was “publishing our Understanding series of books”. The last one I worked on was Understanding AI—the cover of that book is depicted below.
I participate in many insurance industry meetings where the primary “pain” is the lack of new recruits for the field force. Just this week, one firm noted a 20 percent shortfall in year to date recruitment. Recruitment has many facets; in addition to a wide range of impacts on the financial outcomes for our marketing campaigns. I will merely touch on three areas where I spend the majority of my time assisting Audience Identification Omnichannel Campaigns Business Intelligence from CRM system Custom Audience The first flaw I normally observe is the lack of attention and effort to correctly build the audience for the insurance offering. Often, the responsibility is delegated to an individual agent—go get us a list of XXXX. It is assumed that this is an easy and unimportant task. Wow, it is the item with the most impact on the campaign’s success. Best practice audience creation requires: -the determination of the significant data points that drive a decision. May require market research data and intensive modeling of large scale data aggregation -the data collection, data integration and database to match the audience identified in step 1 Agents are very bright folks but they are not data or analytical experts. They may try to fulfill this role but they normally fail miserably and resent the firm that places them in that position. And the impact is a multiplier not a percentage. Our DDG target audiences pull 3.5 to 10X compared to the in -house mailing list because we use propensity and predictive modeling. Omnichannel Campaigns Even though most firms operate in a silo fashion the consumer data needs to be organized in a single view scheme. Then when consumers engage with our brand we have the ability to recognize them and respond in a personalized fashion. The consumer might: Mail an inquiry Email the customer service center Search the website for a quote Click a Facebook ad Walk in a brick and mortar location If she/he did walk right up to your desk, could you actually engage them: - using real data about them—turning 66 today -their current or previous policy ownership—term life with approval to convert to whole life, -the trigger event that caused them to walk in—purchased a new home using a jumbo mortgage Now normally, we are seeking to mail, email or call them as our system recognizes that a trigger such as birthday, marriage, move, child birth has occurred. Due to the scale of this effort we need automated campaign tools that implement our business rules on a 24/7 basis. Again, if you are forcing the individual agent to select his campaign tool, set business rules and manage this process the effort is approximately 99 percent doomed. The platform that DDG implements depends on your marketing scheme as they systems have very different strengths and weaknesses. Closed Loop Marketing I am purposefully using an old vernacular here. It is critical to build that an information process that tracks Consumer engagement-date and request Agent response-date and presentation Meeting date—did we meet face to face Sale details—closed for policy form with these premium dollars Many CRM tools exist today. The key for recruitment is the presence of a system to help agent time management. The ability to view the outcomes in business intelligence dashboards maintains the agent focus and morale. In addition, if the customer service center is utilizing the same system then you reduce churn and increase customer satisfaction. Conclusion An insurance firm that generates a constant flow of interested to buy/qualified to buy prospects, maintains a continuous stream of communication with those consumers and assists the agent in sales time management will not suffer a recruitment shortage.
Surprisingly, 2018 marks the 40th year of selling and marketing in my career. My original on the job training focused on sales methods and techniques. Naturally, I was introduced to the concept of center of influence for life insurance production. So, at the risk of boring you already here is a quick list of those original audiences recommended to me: Family, friends CPA/Lawyer Doctor/Dentist Business owners or leaders Government, school, church officials I observed many of my enthusiastic fellow newbies start building their networks of contacts. I also monitored the level of failure to reach the minimum goals. Most of the new recruits did not succeed. Luckily, I was tasked with a national direct mail effort by the CEO within 30 days of my recruitment. And it opened my eyes to the ability to reach out to highly qualified contacts who I did not know. In my small world, I was always the number 1 salesperson due to this knowledge. I normally state that if I had to depend on my center of influence that I would have failed miserably. I grew up in a rural area with lower socioeconomic conditions and very small population. There were 8 students in my grade throughout my K-12 education. In a job of numbers, that was very "slim pickins” Utilization of data, technology and analytics afforded me an infinite universe of influence by comparison. After careful consideration of my firm’s product, my product knowledge and the economic concerns at that moment in time, I could select the audience most likely to: a. need my services b. to listen to my presentation c. buy the policy and d. refer other buyers. Let me pause for a couple of different examples Challenge Agent, 22 years old. New BBA in Finance. No family/friend network. Life Insurance firm—Good Brand recognition, excellent disability policy and cash value life products. Method Selected the Surgeons in the radius area by the year graduated from Medical School. Used direct mail to present a major business issue for them—disability would cause a disruption in their cash flow which would possibly lead to loan defaults. Outcome The mailer produced a 1 percent response, 10 doctors inquired. All 10 set up appointments and purchased disability policy. Then each doctor offered a referral to their fellow doctors in their practice. In this case that was an average of 5. The agent had an ever- expanding circle of strong income professionals who would need his cash value solutions after the original loans for their medical school and practice were paid off. Challenge Agent, 30 years old. BBA in Marketing, making a career change. Senior market insurance services—Medicare supplement and retirement products Method Targeted the turning 62,63, 64, 65,66, years old audience in the radius area. Used direct mail to invite them to a seminar on Medicare. Medicare choices are extremely confusing to most consumers compared to their use of group health policies for most of their lives. Outcome 20 to 40 attendees per session. 50 percent would request a follow up meeting by submitting a complete financial profile stating their primary concerns. The close rate for Medicare Supplement policies is very high. And the same consumer also seeks the alternatives for their retirement funds—money management, cash value policy or annuity. The agent has an ever- expanding circle of satisfied seniors with retirement funds who eagerly recommend his services. Today, I have many more resources at my disposal to create a. custom audience b. write a personalized message c. conduct an omnichannel campaign d. predict the premium production I recommend that you build your center of influence by using data driven marketing. Direct Mail is the foundation of that effort as legislation has restricted initial contacts by phone or email. In the current digital age some young marketers dismiss the use of direct mail. I smile as I know that effective direct mail drives my digital flow of inquiries and initiates my center of influence. Happy Hunting, as my original sale manager used to say!
Over my 66 years, I have purchased many different forms of life insurance. My first policy was with Prudential, small whole life policy. I was newly married; we were struggling to pay our bills. I decided that I really wanted my wife to do more than just survive if I died and left her with all of our debt. I had lost my dad at 42 years of age, my brother at 22 in accidents. So unexpected death was very real to me. And for several years that was my only concern. One day, my wife and I were discussing “the cost of college educations”. Somewhere along the line, 3 children seemed to have moved into our house. After much deliberation, I purchased a Northwestern Mutual whole life policy. The cash value grew and grew as my flock aged into college. All three of them graduated from college without any college debt. As my business grew, I suddenly needed some form of assurance that my family could pay off my line of credit and my buy sell agreement with my partner. I purchased a large amount of term life from American General. Thank goodness, there has never been a need to use these policies. Knowledgebase Marketing became a much larger firm than I could have ever imagined. Thus when we sold the firm in 1999, my private client advisors recommended an IRIT. So I purchased a Manual Life policy to pay inheritance taxes for my children. As the estate tax laws changed I reevaluated and switched to a Penn Mutual policy. So, as I noted in recent email communication to those who work in the life insurance marketing arena, the individual consumer need drives the definition of an audience for that type of policy. It is important to know: What is the client’s financial profile? What are his/her concerns? What are they planning to do now? And at data decisions group we perform market research, collect and aggregate data then process analytics to define the answers to these questions. I am a fan of life insurance for many reasons. It has been a lengthy education: from the day I sat and listened to that first young agent until today; when I have transmitted millions of messages to individual consumers asking them if they wished to review their life needs. And processed millions of positive responses