To stay on top of what's happening in the industry, I read a lot. Trade publications, industry forums, social media, article comments, various newsletters.
I often come away from this time with two thoughts. First, there is a lot of passion for this industry. So many people have found purpose in what the general public considers to be a boring business. But, there are also some commonly held beliefs that are concerning.
I see agents who are either refusing to see what's happening with consumers and in the industry. Or, they see it but believe it won't have any effect on them or their business.
These myths can hold you back. They can keep you from making the changes necessary to compete in today's market. It's time to bust these five common myths.
1. Insurtech will replace the independent agent.
Change is happening in this industry. Consumers are demanding a transparent, easy experience. And, insurtech startups are lining up to fill the gap that currently exists.
Insurance agencies are not travel agencies. Insurance is a more complicated purchase than booking a flight or hotel.
So, will we see insurtech replace the independent agent channel? No, we won't. But, that doesn't mean these startups won't have an impact on the industry.
But, it's not just insurtech that is affecting us. The on-demand economy is expanding into insurance. Always connected consumers used to Amazon, Netflix and Uber want the same ease of use from us.
Just subscribed to @Lemonade_Inc for my renter's insurance. The process was fast $ easy + the app and branding are just amazing. Good job!- Florent Ferere (@florentferere) February 16, 2017
Will every consumer want to use an app to buy insurance? No. Which is why insurtech will not replace independent agents. But, this is the effect insurtech and other technology companies will have on the industry.
2. I don't need to change.
Planning to retire or sell your agency in the next year or so? You probably don't need to worry about changing your strategy or operations.
But, if you want to not only be around but also grow, you need to take a hard look at your agency.
Are you making it easy for consumers to buy from you? What holes in your processes, technology, operations do you need to fix?
Consumers are different in 2017 than they were in 2007. Through our smartphones we can order just about anything we want or need without any hassle. Our customer service needs can be solved via chat, email or social media. We no longer have to call and talk to a person.
If you don't adapt to what consumers want, you will lose clients. Now is not the time for 'But that's the way we've always done it.'
3. Millennials are fresh out of college without much to insure and are price conscious and not loyal consumers.
When you talk about a generation, remember that you're talking about a large age range of the population. Millennials range from 22 to 36. So they are not all fresh out of college, living at home and just starting out in their careers. Some have been working for 10 or more years.
At the older end of the generation, I have two cars and a house to insure. Plus, we have life insurance policies. I'm an ideal client for my insurance agent.
Even those Millennials who are younger can still make great clients for your agency. If your agency offers different lines of business, selling an auto only policy to a Millennial is a great way to get your foot in the door. That Millennial may not have much to insure at first. But, you'll have an opportunity to round out the account in the future.
Plus, it's not just Millennials who are price conscious. The promise to save 15 percent or more can sway consumers in general. Wanting to save money is not limited to the younger generations. So how do you compete?
Market on price; sell on value. When you sell on value, you don't just have a new client. You build trust and loyalty.
Millennials are the same as your older clients. They want advice and guidance on what's best for them. The difference between Millennials and older generations is how they communicate. (Even that gap is shrinking as more people become comfortable with and used to technology.)
Instead of calling you or stopping by your office, they want to do everything on your website or via email. Meet them where they are, and you'll have a new generation of clients.
4. I get all my leads via referrals so I don't need to market my agency.
Don't get me wrong. Referrals are a great source of leads. Referred leads trust you because the referrer trusts you. Therefore, they're more likely to close and become a client.
Asking for and working referrals is smart business. But, relying on referrals as the only source of your agency's leads is a mistake.
What do you do when referrals slow down? Or, worse, you go a few months without any referrals?
You need to have a range of lead sources. So, when one slows down your sales pipeline stays full because you've got other sources.
This is when an agency marketing plan can help. Using a mix of offline and online marketing can help you diversify your lead sources.
5. CE is the only ongoing training needed.
Just because you have received your license doesn't mean your education is complete. CE is the box you have to check to maintain your license, but learning doesn't stop there.
If you're not continuing to seek opportunities to learn and improve, you will miss out on critical knowledge and opportunities for agency growth and success.
If you're not looking forward, you're going to get left behind.
There are events, like ITC Agent Conference, dedicated to bringing you information on topics you won't find in a CE course but are important to your future. Topics like insurtech, marketing, sales and operations.
I know it can be hard to take the time away to go to a conference. But, I promise you it is one of the best investments you can make in the future of your agency.
Don't let these myths hold you back. Lead; don't follow. Start working ON your business instead of IN it. Find resources that will help you take your agency to the next level.
The Modern Agency monthly blog series discusses various topics related to the success and growth of independent insurance agencies in the modern market.
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