Are you like me? If we’ve ever met, you’d know I’m a “cup half-full” guy. I feel the pressure of all that is happening in our industry – economic uncertainty, fewer agents coming into the business, the average age of advisors nearing retirement – and know the challenges agencies like yours are facing every day. Then, my mind races as I think of all the opportunities these challenges present.
Let me share some solutions with you in this post.
In this post on Experts, I explained how partnering with an IMO as an extension of your support team puts you in a better position for sustainable growth by becoming the preferred source for placing complex cases.
We also reviewed how talent is one of the five forces that holds agencies back from being relevant into the future. Although employment remains strong for now, recession fears and rising interest rates will likely force businesses to take conservative measures to protect the balance sheet. According to newly released LIMRA research, agency owners will be able to attract and recruit more financial professionals as the unemployment rate rises and talent becomes more readily available. Owners should stay ahead of this evolving situation and prepare now for a new pool of talent. With this in mind, let’s look at what you absolutely must do to get and keep producers energized and recruits interested in your agency.
Steps to take today to get and keep producers motivated.
Customer service, contracts and compensation are all too often the focus of IMOs. Those that continue on this path are ignoring the most important tool that agents need: Marketing.
The concepts associated with marketing in the 21st Century are not elusive but they are complex. Prospecting requires several steps:
- Identify the target audience who you want to serve
- Create messaging that reaches and resonates with them
- Repeat the message and marketing process
I note that this is complex because we all know that you can pay someone to put a message together, send it out and get a certain amount of openings. But, then you don’t see any business coming in from that effort, or you’re not getting the right people to talk to. Iterative optimization of these steps makes sure that the people who resonate with and respond to your message are actually the people who you want to talk to.
Fintech and Insuretech companies have taken this form of target centricity to the next level through artificial intelligence (AI.) Let’s walk through an example of how one agency is using data to better understand consumer behavior, determine where the best opportunity is, and achieve a great ROI within the steps defined above.
- Identify the target audience who you want to serve. A firm that I’ve been working with has developed a system I absolutely love. They use a scorecard around ability, intent and propensity of an individual and then overlay that with an algorithm around the behaviors that they like to see and know that could lead to a life insurance sale. Every month, they kick out a dashboard of clients with the highest propensity, intent and ability to purchase life insurance.
- Create messaging that reaches and resonates with them. With an understanding of consumer behaviors, this tech company then helps position the right messaging – and deploy it through various digital mediums that bring the story to life – allowing them to make a more meaningful connection with the intended target audience.
- Repeat the message and marketing process. The campaign is revised and “fine-tuned” as more data becomes available. The data points of the buyer are indicating their behaviors and where they are most “ripe” to receive the message. In the iterative process, the message continues to be tweaked and deployed through different mediums and channels. With a receptive buyer already targeted, the firm breaks through all the noise and clutter more easily and accelerates the consumer-to-client conversion.
It’s not about the noise you create, it’s about the CONTENT you deliver.
Agents know consumers are searching for the benefits found in life and annuity products, but they’re looking for different options on how to reach those consumers to make a sale. When you have a marketing funnel solution in place, your producers are able to tailor content to the need and drive their target audience from awareness, to consideration, to conversion and even after-purchase support and advocacy.
What’s important here is that this is more than a “selling process.” It’s a strategy that allows agents to be consultative by helping an individual personalize and implement the solution that’s right for them. This really energizes me as I think about the future of our industry – the convergence of AI and humanness -- and how we can help individuals face their financial future with confidence.
Understanding the different approaches used for prospecting leads.
So let’s take a step back and look at the types of processes for lead generation.
The straight line sales process relies on a firm’s in-house marketing department. This requires deep expertise in many areas, such as SEO, geo-fencing and User Experience (UX) research, to generate ROI, and therefore, as you might suspect, comes at a great expense and even distraction to an agency.
A funnel process provides producers with many levers that they can use to build meaningful relationships that attract and retain clients for life. The multiple funnels approach really centers on the content, before engaging the customer, and then making sure there are multiple avenues to get those messages out on the firm and its value. Perhaps you’ve heard the old marketing adage about the “Rule of 7,” the principle that it takes seven touchpoints in the customer journey before it resonates with them and they take the desired action.
Savvy leaders are mastering these practices with the help of talented team members who specialize in it.
Matchmaker = Rainmaker
We know that the insuretech and fintech industry is growing. So where would an agent even begin to start to explore vendors and best solutions? Who from your agency has the bandwidth to research and investigate?
Someone has to play the role of matchmaker to provide the right solution to the vendor. I think the best way to go about this is to outsource it to someone who does this full time. Play the role of matchmaker by finding the right vendor partner for your producer – whether they want to focus on a specific product like DI or annuities, or a specific target audience, such as single or divorced women.
Using a vendor partner as a consultant will help your producers keep multiple sales funnels flowing. The partner would understand each agents’ goals and needs and work with them create new opportunities. Helping producers grow through this individualized training model can foster lasting retention power for an agency owner.
IMOs are known for having the vendor connections needed and enable access at a lower cost of acquisition for the agency. I love playing the matchmaker role between agency and vendor partner. We’ve done the research and negotiated pricing, so there’s minimal risk for the agency owner. Plus, making these introductions allows agencies to take advantage of exclusive partnerships that we have developed.
There are several ways an IMO partner can provide support:
Marketing Dollars: IMOs can adjust the economics beyond what a carrier would pay an agent in the form of marketing dollars. They've got marketing spend where they carve out dollars to be able to allow for a producer to draw down that money and be reimbursed for podcasts, books, radio, TV, and other lead generation assets.
Third-party Review: IMOs also invest a lot of time researching the offering of a third party to deem them valid and successful. This endorsement typically includes a reduction in price based on purchasing power of that IMO. So instead of an agent spending time vetting all of the emails in their inbox to find the right vendor solution for the message they are seeking to deploy, they can rely on the IMO for the reference AND the discount. This brings down the barrier of entry down from a knowledge standpoint of review of the vendor, but also possibly an economic value, too.
Coaching: The last three years in particular have seen an increase in marketers taking on more of a business coaching role. And that's where you see a lot more success because you're really getting in and making an impact for the producer. Why? Because you're learning more about the producer. What I see the best agencies doing are peer-to- peer learning opportunities where successful folks are sharing ideas together, whether that's virtual live and in person in the format of study groups.
Build meaningful relationships that attract and retain clients for life.
Marketing funnels help you increase stickiness with agents by enabling them to build:
- Intentional content that resonates with an individual’s need
- More effective marketing campaigns through ideation
- Authority with their target market and
- An authentic lifestyle business.
Outsourcing the funnel creation process to an organization who makes this their area of expertise is the best way to achieve deeper relationships and exponential growth.
Multiple sales funnels help ensure sustainable revenue to meet your agency’s goals, whether that’s business valuation or growth. Don’t miss out on it this opportunity to expand your success! Let’s chat about how we might be able to help!
Plus, be sure to check out the Escape Velocity Resource Center. You’ll find so much great content on the 5 forces that are holding your agency back from reaching its full potential.