Managing and Marketing to Millennials: Why It’s Worth Getting to Know Your Younger Customers and Employees

Managing and Marketing to Millennials: Why It’s Worth Getting to Know Your Younger Customers and Employees

By: Michael Miller, State Director Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa

Lazy. Narcissistic. Entitled. The way they’re often portrayed in the media, it’s no wonder that Millennials sometimes get a bad rap. And while there are of course individual exceptions, these broad generalizations about Millennials simply aren’t true. There’s a lot to like about the Millennial generation as customers and employees. Which is good, because they’re quickly dominating the marketplace and the workplace.

A Look at Millennials

A Millennial is one of 71 million individuals born between 1981 and 1996. Most Millennials are the children of Baby Boomers, and the Pew Research Center estimates Millennials will surpass Baby Boomers in population by 2019.

Millennials grew up using technology. The older ones remember a time when the internet didn’t exist; the younger ones don’t. Millennials came of age during the Great Recession and either experienced financial challenges themselves or watched their parents struggle (or both). Most who earned college degrees have student loan debt. All of these factors contribute to the way Millennials buy insurance and how they approach employment.

Selling to Millennials

Experts project Millennials will increase spending by 15 percent annually over the next few years, while Baby Boomers will increase spending by just 5 percent. This is a great opportunity for your agency if you know how to sell to the younger generation.

Make It Easy

Amazon invented one-click ordering for a reason, and it had nothing to do with Baby Boomers. Millennials value an efficient, streamlined buying process. That’s why your agency must have an online quoting system that makes it easy to shop for insurance without providing pages of information. It also pays to provide policy documents electronically. Make sure your carriers offer automatic withdrawal for payments, too.

Expand Communication Options

Millennials prefer to communicate via email, text, and social media and consider talking with people on the phone the nuclear option. So how do you build customer relationships with Millennials? Reach out over email or by text to set up in-person appointments. Have a presence on social media and interact with your customers there regularly.

Show Your Value

You know you face lots of competition online from the Geicos of our industry. Take a look through their websites and you’ll see how easy these companies make it to quote a policy and how little information they provide to buyers so they can make informed purchasing decisions. Millennials may buy online, but they also tend to do their research and read reviews. Make your website a resource for potential customers and ask your current customers to review your agency online. A few positive reviews can turn shopping Millennials into buyers.

Hiring Millennials

Yes, it’s possible to work with Millennials without them driving you crazy (at least most of the time). And with 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day, you’ll need to work with Millennials to continue to grow your agency.

Take Advantage of Their Tech Skills

Does the idea of incorporating social media, texting, email, and online quoting into your agency fill you with dread? Then hire a Millennial! Millennials are digital natives, and communicating online comes naturally to most of them. Millennial producers and CSRs will be comfortable communicating over email and text. They may also be able to help you add valuable content to your website and interact with customers on social media platforms for you.

Understand What Motivates Them

Having grown up during the Great Recession, many Millennials are simultaneously seeking to make more money and wary of traditional retirement benefits. They saw these products fail their parents and are cautious about experiencing similar financial pain. Working at an insurance agency on commission may be the perfect set-up for self-motivated Millennials. But don’t rely on your 401(k) plan to attract and keep Millennial employees. Instead, show them how selling insurance helps them protect families and businesses (Millennials generally want to feel like their work is making a difference). Then, give them some flexibility in where and when they work. Many agency tasks can be performed remotely.

Remember That Everyone Wants to Hire Them

Millennials may work a little differently from Gen X and the Baby Boomers, but they still work hard, have expert tech skills, and bring energy and new ideas to their workplaces. This makes them highly attractive to employers. If your agency doesn’t hire the Millennial who walks through your door, your competitor might.

Soon, the Millennials will outnumber Baby Boomers. You fail to market to and hire the younger generation at our agency’s peril. With a little knowledge and some flexibility, you’ll find that marketing to and working with Millennials is easier than you think.

Smart Choice® Resources for Attracting Millennials

Smart Choice® offers several resources to help your agency attract Millennial buyers and employees, including:

  • Affordable, professionally designed websites with the Smart Choice® Web Builder
  • Deals on three online rating and agency management systems to streamline agency processes
  • Online CE training through CEAuthority for internet-savvy and time-conscious agents
  • Smart Start™ internal brokerages to help new producers learn the ropes
  • Express Markets™ to help your new agents earn 100 percent commissions with low or no production requirements

To Make The Sale, Leave

To Make the Sale, Leave

By: Josh Seibert, Sandler Training®
  

The STORY:

Nick was having trouble trying to close the prospect. Still never having attended any company sales training courses, he hit upon a solution to the problem. One of the most experienced salespeople was in the back, and Nick decided to go and ask his advice.

“If you could excuse me for one moment,” Nick said, “I just remembered that I have an important message for one of the other fellows who is in the back room . . . I forgot to give it to him earlier.”

“You are going to come back, aren’t you?” asked the prospect.

“Of course,” responded Nick, “why would you think I wouldn’t?”

“Oh, I know I’m a royal pain in the butt when it comes to making a decision about buying something,” responded the prospect. “Most of the time, the salespeople get tired of trying to convince me and wander away, and I never see them again.”

Nick wasn’t sure what to say. He really needed to get the experienced salesperson’s advice so he turned and headed toward the back room.

“Wait a minute,” said the prospect, “I don’t want you to leave. I’ll buy it.”

“You’re sure?” asked Nick, hoping he hadn’t said too much.

“Definitely. Wrap it up.”

When the customer is out the door, thought Nick, I’ll go back and ask the experienced salesperson what to do the next time this happens.

The RESULT:

Nick did something very important for the wrong reason. From the prospect’s point of view, which is the only one that counts in selling, Nick was getting up to leave, never to be seen again. Again, the prospect would be left standing alone, not having bought anything. This pressure on the prospect, which Nick applied without realizing it, was enough to make the prospect give up and buy. Unfortunately, if Nick does ask for advice, he’ll probably be told the wrong thing.

DISCUSSION:

Getting up and leaving a prospect is almost impossible for a salesperson to consider. Why would you ever want to give the impression that you are going to walk out the door?

The reason for getting up and leaving is to let the prospect know it is time to make a decision.

The pressure is now on the prospect where it belongs.

This is not a tactic that you want to try with every prospect you come across. But if you have reached the “end of your rope” with one, you have nothing to lose by trying. The worst that could happen is you won’t make the sale. But then, you had no chance anyway.

APPROACH:

There are many ways to get up and leave. One approach is to physically start to move away.

Another is to simply look at the prospect and say, “Off the record . . . I get the impression that you haven’t come to a decision. Let’s assume that you decide it’s over. You don’t buy. What happens now?”

This verbal getting up and leaving forces the prospect to see a future in which he does not have your product/service. If he is in enough pain to be seriously considering buying, then looking at a future without buying is more painful. The only catch to the verbal leaving is that you MUST wait for a response. Do not rescue him or physically leave him.

Do not change “What happens now?” to “What happens then?” The word “now” brings the future, without your product/service, into the present, and as a result, pressure to decide becomes overwhelming.

THOUGHT:

“Leaving” the prospect makes the prospect want to come to a decision.

 

Josh Seibert is the president of Training & Development Solutions, Inc., Sandler Training located in the Piedmont Triad.  He can be reached at 336-884-1348 or www.training.sandler.com

©Sandler Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

One Year Later: Progress and Potholes In Cyber Risk, The Most Dangerous Threat No One’s Talking About

One Year Later: Progress and Potholes in Cyber Risk, the Most Dangerous Threat No One’s Talking About
By: Michael Miller, State Director Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa

A year ago in this magazine, I introduced the most dangerous threat no one is talking about in the insurance industry—cybersecurity—and why that was great news for your business. For every four business owners who walk into your agency, three will not be protected against cybersecurity risks. It’s a staggering number, and one that gave you a valuable opportunity to help your clients.

Now, a year has passed, and I wanted to update you on the state of cybersecurity risks today and the progress—and potholes—our industry is making to help protect individuals and businesses.

Notable Cyber Risks in 2017

More data breaches occurred in the first half of 2017 than in all of 2016. Misconfigured security settings, out-of-date software, and lack of strategy on how to prevent and stop data breaches were largely to blame. Uber, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), and Verizon all experienced cyber-attacks and data thefts, affecting millions of consumers.

But the largest breach of 2017 occurred at Equifax. In September 2017, Equifax announced 145.5 million consumers were affected by a data breach. That’s nearly half the US population’s sensitive information, including addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and credit card information. The breach was absolutely massive, and experts believe it will cost consumers and Equifax around $4 billion to ameliorate.

Progress and Potholes within the Insurance Industry

Fortunately, the insurance industry continues to develop products to protect consumers and businesses from cyber risk. More than 60 carriers now write monoline cybersecurity policies, with gross premiums into the billions of dollars. Popular carriers include many in the Smart Choice® program, such as Travelers, Burns & Wilcox, Liberty Mutual, CNA, and Crump. Experts at the NAIC believe the number of carriers who offer cyber risk policies and the types of liability those policies cover will increase over the next few years.

However, protecting against cyber risk with insurance is still relatively novel for consumers and businesses. Many continue to learn the hard way that their general liability policies don’t cover losses from a data breach, hack, or other cyber-attack. This puts businesses and consumers at risk of having sensitive information stolen, held ransom, or used against them. Businesses face their own set of cyber risks, from damaged reputations to loss of valuable assets such as customer lists and trade secrets.

What 2018 Has in Store for Cyber Risk

While cyber insurance and cybersecurity regulations will grow stronger and more numerous this year, so will the intensity and frequency of cyber attacks. Sophisticated attacks using artificial intelligence will be increasingly difficult to identify and prevent. Bad actors will continue to hijack consumer and business networks and hold them ransom. Cryptocurrency technologies will sustain attacks, too.

With these threats on the horizon, you can’t afford not to offer cyber insurance to your consumer and business clients. This year, learn about the cyber insurance policies your carriers offer and develop a plan on how to cross-sell them to your current commercial insurance clients. Once you have your pitch down, start promoting cyber insurance in every conversation you have with potential commercial insurance clients. Become the local resource on cyber risk and offer solutions that empower businesses to protect their own data and the personal information of their customers.

What Cyber Insurance Covers

Cyber insurance policies cover liability and property losses that occur when a business is hit with a cyber attack.

Coverage may include:

  • Business interruption from cyber attack
  • Computer fraud
  • Costs of credit monitoring, fines, and loss after a data breach
  • Cyber extortion
  • Data loss and destruction
  • Funds transfer loss
  • Liability from data breaches
  • Liability from web content
  • Notification costs in the event of a data breach

Sources:
Burns & Wilcox
CSO
NAIC
Property Casualty 360

Take Responsibility For Your Performance

Take Responsibility for Your Performance 

Josh Seibert, Sandler Training®

 The STORY:

Mark had been making a decent living for ten years as a salesperson. Always in the middle of the sales charts, Mark was comfortable with his selling skills. At least he was until taking his most recent sales position three months before. In his new position, he was at the bottom of the sales chart.

I don’t understand, thought Mark. I’m doing the same things here that I did in the other companies and I can’t get anywhere. Maybe it’s the quality of the prospects; they are pretty dismal.

No, he thought, they’re pathetic.

Particularly rankling was the situation with Susan. Hired on the same day as Mark, with six months of sales experience, she was consistently climbing up the sales chart. She probably does better because she’s a woman, he thought. The prospects aren’t expecting a woman, and that’s her edge. Yeah, that’s it.

Of course, he decided to himself, the other reason I’m not doing as well is because the territory

I’ve been given is mined out. Nobody could sell to these idiots.

Feeling somewhat better, Mark closed up his briefcase and decided to drop in at the mall.

Perhaps I need a new suit to bring my luck back.

On the way over to the mall he wondered for a moment if he should have signed up for the sales skills seminar the company was offering. No, he decided, that’s only for people who don’t know which end is up. The only salespeople there would be the newbies and the company brown noses.

 

The RESULT:

Mark is equating the length of his selling history with quality. In addition, he has convinced himself that his current situation is not his responsibility. Will a new suit help Mark?

 

DISCUSSION:

While Mark may seem to have an over- abundance of excuses for not performing well, it is not unusual to hear many of these same ones from the majority of salespeople. The common thread through all of these excuses is the total refusal to accept any responsibility for current performance.

“It’s not my fault I’m doing (fill-in one of the following: poorly, marginally, about average), it’s because of (fill-in anything that the salesperson has no control over).”

The number of years someone has spent in sales does not guarantee success today with a prospect who has just walked in. Success with a prospect is guaranteed when the salesperson accepts responsibility for performing in a professional manner. If the prospect buys, great.

If the prospect doesn’t buy but gives you five warm referrals, great.

 

APPROACH:

Ask a consistently successful salesperson, in any product area, what he attributes his success to, and you will hear many different things. The common thread will be, “I take complete responsibility for my success or failure in sales.”

Every salesperson knows he should have a positive mental outlook. The only problem with that phrase is that it is meaningless. But it sounds good.

Either a salesperson takes complete responsibility for his or her sales, or the sales will not be made. They will not be made because there is always an excuse for why not.

 

THOUGHT:

A salesperson’s sales are a result of his taking complete responsibility for performance.

 

 

Josh Seibert is the president of Training & Development Solutions, Inc., Sandler Training located in the Piedmont Triad.  He can be reached at 336-884-1348 or www.training.sandler.com

©Sandler Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Life In The Fast Lane

Life in the Fast Lane By: Pat Wedeking

Life insurance is important…we all know that.  Life insurance rates have gone down significantly over the past 10 years as people live longer…many of us know that. Now life insurance is easier to transact… I know some of us might even challenge that one.  This article seeks to update you on the latest advancements in life insurance underwriting and how Smart Choice® is embracing this change making life insurance easy.

Americans are dangerously underinsured when it comes to life insurance; the opportunity to do the right thing for your clients and earn a significant income doing so has never been greater than it is today.  One of the largest life insurance growth markets in the world is the U.S. middle market and companies across the globe are recognizing this and investing in the effort to deliver life insurance to the masses.  As a result, there is more competition and prices have come down consistently for a decade. Recently, more and more companies are introducing new, better ways to get life insurance in force quickly.

Accelerated Underwriting Programs are hitting the market in a big way right now with different carriers introducing their version of Accelerated Underwriting each month.  These programs rely on data to assess risk as opposed to what used to be invasive bodily fluid draws asking your clients to give blood and urine to a medical professional they’ve never met in order to determine the proper underwriting class.  “What kind of data?” you ask, the list includes driving records, prescription data, credit scores, lifestyle index scores and the life insurance industry’s centralized database they call the medical information bureau (MIB.)  Add it all up and many actuaries are saying this is an equivalent way of assessing risk.

What was a 6, 8 or 10-week process can now be done in a matter of moments. Policies that used to be issued quickly at rates that are 200% to 500% of fully underwritten rates are now being issued at the same lowest rates available.

This is an evolution – or a revolution – so still most policies are underwritten the “old way” but more and more we are seeing products and processes that accelerate the process.

One of the carriers on the Smart Choice Quick Life platform, for example, has eliminated the need for blood and urine for all cases with face amounts of $500,000 and under.   Another carrier on this platform is offering some applicants the chance at the best prices without blood and urine up to $1 million and still another is reviewing all cases that fit a certain profile and giving us pleasant surprises with “Issued as applied for, underwriting requirements waived” messages often within hours of submitting the case to underwriting.

Yet another carrier has gone one-step further… the furthest of any carrier in the market today.  This carrier is instantly issuing policies up to $1 Million in face amount for all applicants who fit a certain profile and where data is available for consideration.  These are policies are issued on the spot, delivered electronically, with electronic payment and at a price that is most competitive.

Smart Choice has embraced this evolution and offers access to instant coverage through the expansion of the Smart Start program that we call Smart Start Life.  This makes Smart Choice among the select few in the country to have access to this product.  In partnership with InsureNOW, part of the largest distributor of life insurance in the United States, this program is available to Smart Choice offices nationwide.

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How to Sell (More) Life Insurance:

  1. Create awareness that you offer this type of insurance. We call this one “State Farm Sells Life Insurance” because this company is one of the top sellers of life insurance in the country simply by letting it be known that life insurance is available to their policy holders. No commercials, no pushing or pressing, just awareness.  Let your clients know that you offer life insurance.  Ask us, we can help you with email signatures, announcement letters and emails and even a customer friendly shopping mechanism you can link from your website.

Life Happens Pro ( https://lifehappenspro.org/ ) offers a simple, cost effective way to leverage best-in-class life insurance marketing resources to drive business to you.

  1. The one sentence that works. “Life insurance rates have gone down. Part of our service is to see if we can save you money so I am going to have our life insurance expert give you a call. Okay?”     When you get a “yes” to that simply enter the name and contact information into the Smart Start Life online form and you will hear from our life insurance expert that will act on your behalf.  Wait for commissions to arrive.
  2. Offer a Policy Review. “When is the last time you reviewed your life insurance progam?”  is another great question to ask.  They either say “Recently” in which case you can ask if you can review to see that they got the best price available – or they say, “It’s been a while” to which you can respond with an offer to do it right away – or they say, “I don’t have life insurance” which is your queue to help that family.
  3. Ask all Business Owners about Life Insurance. What can be an emotional, slow decision for families becomes a simple economic decision for most business owners. Buy Sell agreements and Key Person policies are some of the easiest life insurance sales you will ever make.
  4. Use a Quick Entry Process. Make your life easier with a new breed of processes that take the processing burden off your task list.  Smart Choice Quick Life and Smart Start Life are two of the best available.

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Brief Bio

Pat Wedeking is the Founding President of the Life Insurance Direct Marketing Association (LIDMA.org) and the Chair of the Life Happens. He is the founder of two life insurance distribution companies and now operates Crump’s InsureNOW platform.  Pat lives in