From the Front Line: Smart Choice Magazine, Issue III

From the Front Line
[From the 2018 Smart Choice Magazine, Issue III]

By: Luke Royal, Indiana State Director

According to Pew Research center, anyone born between 1981 and 1996, who will be ages 22-37 in 2018, is considered a Millennial. As a millennial working in insurance, my age is actually something I avoid bringing up, like the plague. With all of the labels my generation has acquired, both good and bad, most millennials, including myself, actually don’t identify as one. After working with hundreds of agencies and dozens of carriers, one thing is for certain – I see a shortage of millennials sticking around in our industry. To help curve this trend, I would like to highlight some key moments that have helped shape my career, as examples of ways, together, we can support more millennials in this business.

Like many others, working in insurance wasn’t something I originally planned, but it has been a great decision for me. Starting a new career in the industry did allow me to create, let’s say, several “coachable” moments. It can be appealing to change gears and try something else before you have a book of renewals. A week without progress can be tough. Receiving a cancellation is tough as well, but something we all must go through. Fortunately, I have been blessed to have great encouragers and mentors along the way that have helped make those moments not as bad. If you notice hardship or not, it never hurts to inspire and encourage those around you. All of us can likely relate to a deal that fell through for reasons that may or may not have been our fault. Encouraging the millennials in our industry will help maintain their interest, boost their efforts, and ultimately add to your bottom line.

To help millennials be successful in our industry, I suggest you take the time to coach and invest in them. With the amount of change occurring and something new around every corner, it takes time to learn everything. Millennials can spend their life reading tutorials, blogs, articles and even magazines like this, but 90 percent of what I learned came from individuals who purposefully coached me and were available as open resources for when I had questions – so many questions.

One lesson that my generation could benefit from is consultative selling. How many agents do you know who sell solely based on price, and leave out the value they provide as their local expert? Millennials are accustomed to buying basically everything online, without any personal interaction, and as a result, carriers are progressively marketing their products as commodities. The need for a true insurance adviser is greater than ever, as a result, and all it takes is a little coaching to make a profound difference in the effectiveness of what you do.

Coaching a millennial to help them set their foundation in insurance is still separate from being a true mentor. Mentoring is a long-term commitment and encompasses a larger breadth of involvement. It’s not necessarily a monetary commitment as much as a time commitment. For example, a mentor helps elevate professionalism and character, while a coach equips someone for the task at hand. There is no shortage of exemplary character around and the best way to mentor is by holding yourself to a higher standard that others see. Being a sounding board of reason, sharing experiences, lessons, and communicating what has made a difference for your career, so that the next generation doesn’t fall into the same ruts, makes all the difference to someone new to the business. You can be a mentor to anyone, but a millennial in this industry might be the most in need of your time and expertise.

With the pressure of new technology and the shift in how consumers want to transact, we need millennials to help us stay relevant and to keep the local agency alive.  As a result, millennials that chose to make a career out of insurance have a great future ahead of them. But, they won’t be able to do it without your help. You can be instrumental in bringing new talent into the industry and perpetuating the role of an agent by being an encourager, a coach and a mentor. I believe it could be a mutually rewarding experience for every generation and age group in our industry.

Sources:

Defining generations: Where Millennials end and post-Millennials begin

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