Sales automation is nothing new. Industries have always looked for ways to make repetitive, maybe even uncomfortable tasks, easier, faster, and cheaper. Emails, email blasts, text responses, automated web-based quotes, e-docs, online product services and other innovations have all made an impact on how agents do business today…mostly for the good.
The next level of insurance sales automation appears to be the sub-contracting of applications. They call it ‘application assistance’ or something similar. Let’s say Bob expresses an interest in buying life insurance from you. You forward Bob’s name to a service that “interviews” Bob by phone. Bob’s information goes into a database and a life insurance application is produced, then mailed to your client to sign. If needed, a paramed is ordered, and once the policy is issued, you are notified that your commission has been credited.
Sound great? The idea is that the process is centralized, streamlined and you are freed up to make another sale. There is even research, including the Harvard Business School, that applauds low touch sales automation as the new wave AND a good way to reduce customer acquisition costs.
Not so fast. Sales expert and author Ray Vendetti, Cracking The Code To Life Insurance Sales, says that while there may be a place for low touch sales automation techniques, in cases where a single product (like final expense insurance) is being sold, it can result in lower interactions with clients. “Getting clients engaged in the process,” says Ray “helps in building a stronger relationship with your client that may lead to more business and referrals in the future.” Why else would companies like Edward Jones spend millions on TV ad campaigns featuring high touch, personal calls and goal reviews from their financial advisors to happy customers.
I have more problems with the low touch process. What is your perceived level of value when you leave an important function, like applications, to a stranger? And what about your legal exposure? Our insurance continuing education courses and a recent article, Application Blunders, detail the legal liabilities that exist for insurance agents when applications are inaccurate or where key points are not explained. In fact, it is recommended that you spend at least 50% more time filling out applications to mitigate this liability.
There may be a place for subbing out your applications to someone who is professional and efficient. Just make sure that a low touch approach doesn’t end up becoming a no touch experience for your clients. If so, the next level of sales automation could eliminate YOU!
Dave Schoeffler is Director of Affordable Educators, a California Insurance Continuing Education and California Prelicense Education Company.