Jim Schubert of Southern States Insurance, one of Georgia’s largest independent insurance agencies, offers his take on how the job description of an independent insurance agent is evolving.
Where will they work?
The increasing use of cloud-based insurance tools means the agent of the future doesn’t have to come into the office every day. Wait, haven’t I heard of this before? Oh yeah, remote worker programs. But that’s not for the insurance industry…or so you think. Here’s why I think agents will work more remotely in the future:
• Agency owners buy-in: As they warm up to the idea of remote workers, owners will love the overhead cost savings. Less office rent, reduced furniture costs, fewer Keurig K-Cups (yes, our staff is addicted).
“But how do I manage my salesforce remotely?” Don’t panic. If your producers are in the field with iPads and the like, that means you can Skype them any time you need some Facetime (see what I did there?).
If it makes you feel better, schedule a regular video chat with them at the beginning of the week. Let this be your time to find out what’s on tap for them in the coming days. Although they might not say it, producers will appreciate both the accountability and the freedom that comes with this setup.
We’re already using Skype to keep in touch with some of our more remote offices. It’s free. And quite candidly, the slight awkwardness that’s unavoidable about being on camera encourages both parties get their points out and move on with their day. No more death by meeting. It’s a win-win!
• Agents buy-in: Working from your house (or Starbucks) is what you’ve dreamed of, right? Okay, you won’t get to lurk in your CSR’s doorway whenever you want, but come on! You’re a salesperson. Get out there and do what you do best.
Yes, it takes discipline to schedule time for paperwork before you go hunting for new clients. But, with coaching and encouragement from your sales manager, you’ll do just fine.
Where will they live?
Ever seen the movie Outsourced? It’s a must-rent B flick that will leave you in stitches (That’s old people speak for “funny”). Essentially, a mid-level manager in the U.S. gets sent to India to train his replacement. What I love about this movie is the bond that begins to form between the outsourced employees in India and their American customers, all through phone conversations.
Now, I’m not suggesting that agencies of the future will outsource their producers to India. But I think it will certainly become more commonplace to find agents living in one state with a local insurance license who work for an agency in another state. Or, if not another state, at least 100 miles away from their agency’s nearest office.
How will they prospect and sell?
If you haven’t already felt the effects of social media as an agent, step into the light. It’s here to stay.
Even if Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn go the way of the dodo in the next few years, there will be new outlets to replace them. Now that humans have figured out how to stay in touch in real time over the Internet, that basic ability won’t vanish anytime soon.
• Prospecting: Insurance agents of the future will do a majority of their prospecting (at least the initial legwork) through social media. Right now, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook all make this way too easy. Agencies are dipping their toes in the water, and agents themselves still have a lot to learn about using these tools.
• Mobile quoting and application submission: In the (not too distant) future, agents will sit across the table from prospects they found through social media. They’ll crank out an insurance quote on their iPad in a matter of minutes. If the prospect likes what he sees, he can sign the ACORD applications with his finger, and the agent can bind the policy on the spot. This IS the way it’s headed, folks. Companies like Applied Systems have already made part of this scenario possible through their Mobile Producer app for the iPad.
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