BLOG: Dealing with impossible insurance agent conversations

How do we “flip the switch” when it comes to getting somewhat disinterested insurance people to seriously embrace technology, asks NDOI’s Lynne Wallace

Impossible conversations. The CEO of a large agency tells me he will need to get his teenager's help to complete his NDOI profile. The owner of a paper file agency tells me they just bought a scanner so they can go paperless. An agency manager tells me she isn't completing documentation in the agency management system because she is doing it "another way!"

We face a great divide in our industry. On one side, insurance people work each day much like the day before. Across the divide are those who work both challenged and exhilarated by rapid fire changes every day. They see that the futurization of insurance is finally within our grasp and are scrambling to be among the first to profit from it. The divide, of course, is in the middle. It's the pit of "irrelevance."

Advance Warning: Surviving the great divide will require "technology." Learning the technology will be harder than expected. It will move faster than we are comfortable with. And, it will cause some people to tech-procrastinate so severely that the industry and its clients will ultimately tire of working around them regardless of how much they know about risk and insurance.

So how do we help "flip the switch" when it comes to getting somewhat disinterested insurance people to seriously embrace technology?

Hopefully you can get them to read this. It's what they should know if they plan on staying in insurance...

1. Technology is needed to compete – just about every agency work process historically carried out through paper can now be achieved with far better quality, faster, and more consistently using technology. It dramatically saves time and money. Agencies that use it will be more competitive and more profitable than their competition. In addition, our ability to offer time saving technology to our clients helps us stand our ground as the tech world competes for a piece of our market share.

2. Clients expect technology – as it relates to technology, our clients do not compare us to other insurance agencies. They compare us to Apple and Google and expect us to hold our own.

3. 100% Participation is required - There is no way an agency divided on technology will stand over time against competition that is aligned and focused on maximizing service to clients using leading edge tech-solutions. Every team member (yes, it includes all producers and owners) must be fully functional in the agency management system and working in it on a daily basis.

4. Paperless is not scanned paper – paperless means that all work flows are initiated and carried out through the agency management system. Scanning paper and saving it on the agency's server is not time-saving, it is double work. And when a team member fails to follow a work flow in the agency management system, he/she is creating double work at some point for someone. Paperless is not about eliminating paper (although that is a very "green" thing to do), it's about working in-sync with one another at rapid speed.

5. Obstacles must be eliminated to win – when we refuse to engage in the agency management system, our disengagement becomes an obstacle that others must work around...and regardless of your position in the company, at some point obstacles get eliminated...usually at great financial and opportunity cost to the team member, the agency, and the rest of the team.

6. Technology drives profit – to compete in 2016, we'll need to accomplish more, with less, in much less time. Technology is the single most significant tool needed to achieve that goal. Without it, agent and agency value will plummet.

There is a difference between expecting to change in order to stay in the game and expecting the game to never change. Learn something new about your agency management system and work in it every day. That way, we'll see you on the other side of the divide!
Lynne Wallace is the CEO and president of VANTREO Insurance Brokerage and co-founder of NDOI, the National Directory of Insurance.

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