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Insurers vow ‘muscular’ response to over-regulation

Insurers aren’t known for their aggressive pushback against overly meddlesome regulations. American insurance companies – like any massive industry – have a large lobbying presence. But they tend to tread carefully around regulators for the obvious reason that insurance officials have much power to approve or reject rate hikes, especially in California. It’s dangerous to provoke those who have so much sway over the bottom line.

That’s why this headline in the British-based trade journal, Intelligent Insurer, has caused quite a buzz: “PCI will be muscular as we continue to combat regulatory overreach, says CEO Sampson.” PCI is the Chicago-based Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, which represents “1,000 companies that write 35 percent of the nation’s home, auto, and business insurance market,” according to its web site. CEO David Sampson recently gave some remarks.

The publication summarized them as follows: “A sharp increase in the instances of state regulators making requests for data from insurers is a major cause for concern” for PCI, “adding to an already big regulatory burden and increasing costs at an already challenging time for the industry.” Specifically, Sampson said, “Some of these calls have absolutely no connection to the primary purposes of insurance regulators, which should be to assess the market conduct of insurers and their solvency.”

In July, I authored an R Street white paper that looked at one egregious instance of what Sampson references. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones wants insurers who write business in California to divest “voluntarily” from most thermal-coal investments under the guise of protecting insurance companies’ solvency. The department will also publicize companies that don’t comply. The “Carbon Risk Climate Initiative” requires them to answer myriad questions about their investments. Again, the stated goal is to assure solvency.

In reality, Jones seems to be using the agency’s legitimate authority to make sure that insurance companies have the wherewithal to pay any future claims to venture into a dubious crusade that has some fairly obvious political benefits for ambitious politicians. Jones can say he is battling climate change, even though the potential long-term risk of coal-related investments already is reflected in the price of insurance company stocks. Furthermore, as the study pointed out, these investments represent a tiny fraction of the companies’ overall portfolio. In other words, there is virtually no insolvency risk here.

Sampson, as reported by Intelligent Insurer, echoed this point: “The data calls that Sampson cited as being unreasonable include a request by the California Insurance Commissioner for insurers to annually disclose their carbon-based investments including those in oil, gas and coal, and another by five states that required insurers to disclose levels of diversity in their workforce.”

It’s one thing for a think tank to point out the obvious, but another thing for the insurance industry – usually as careful in its public statements as it is in its investment portfolio – to vow to speak out more aggressively against such overreach. “Our members are concerned and have directed us to be more muscular in our approach to pushing back against that trend,” according to Sampson.

The specific approaches noted in the news report were fairly general, so it remains to be seen what this might actually mean. But Sampson’s words were significant enough to garner attention in Great Britain. If the industry follows this up with action, it might even get some attention in Washington, D.C., and even in Sacramento. It’s about time.

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Activity vs Sales – Predicting Producer Success

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Sales iQ

Activity vs Sales

Which is the better predictor for producer success?

Many agency principals and sales managers believe that compensation and commissions will motivate their producers. That’s true for those who are motivated solely by money. Many studies show that people, producers included, are motivated by several different influencing factors. Some are positive influencers, some are negative . But they are equally potent, powerful forms of motivation. The most frequent responses to surveys on motivation that ask “What motivates you to perform at work” are:

  • Money
  • Recognition
  • Competition
  • Peer pressure
  • Fear of failure
  • Personal satisfaction- A job well done

To effectively manage and motivate producers, managers need to understand and determine specific motivation factors for individual producers and develop methods of rewarding them in the ways they want to be rewarded.

While CRM systems cannot be used to create personal satisfaction incentives, they can be used to address all other motivation factors listed in some form.

I have come to the understanding that tying compensation to activity to help drive prospecting is a critical non optional behavior that helps create opportunity for success.
  • Posting wins creates recognition
  • Posting activity and results creates peer pressure
  • Both 1 and 2 create competition
  • Lack of activity compared to peers creates a potential fear of failure factor

Agency principals and sales managers are beginning to understand that compensation plans for producers, especially young or newer producers must include compensation based not only on results, but on activity as well. I am a firm believer in tying compensation to activity for young or new producers. It’s also not a bad idea to implement activity based incentives for for experienced producers who’s production has stalled. This will result in plump pipelines, more at bats and, if the experienced pro can close, . . . more new business.

New producers who do not have high activity levels are doomed to fail. I see this consistently when working with new and experienced producers. Activity is a key behavior that develops successful salespeople. Fortunately, activity can be a learned behavior and skill set that managers can easily monitor, measure and instill in producers. Activity is also a yardstick mangers can use to measure performance to make decisions that save years of frustration and hundreds of thousands in wasted resources on producers who won’t prospect and sell. Knowing the importance of activity plays in developing of successful Producers, I suggest you find a method of doing this using your CRM, or Agency Management system. In the absence of these an excel spreadsheet will do nicely.

It’s not difficult or complicated. What I want to measure with respect to activity are 4 things.

# phones calls

# of new business appointments

# of visits with centers of influence or clients for referrals

# of cold calls

Leaders can then run these reports to monitor and compare activity to activity based goals they set for producers. Obviously it’s also important to capture these contacts in your agency data base for use in marketing initiatives and for future follow up.

I have come to the understanding that tying compensation to activity, providing a method for producers to record their activity and monitoring their activity to help drive prospecting are critical non optional behaviors that help create opportunity for success.

Good luck with your producer development!

Your Sales iQ iQ Consulting Inc.

Agency Growth Acceleration

www.iqsalescoach.com

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Infographic: Recap on 2015 Marketing

About Kelly De La Mora

Kelly De La Mora is the Sales and Marketing Coordinator at Wells Media Group, Inc. Having graduated Sonoma State University with a degree in Creative Writing, she likes to write in her free time and also frequent various San Diegan Taco Tuesday happy hours. Fish tacos are preferred over carne asada. She can be reached at 800-897-9965 X125 or kdelamora@insurancejournal.com

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Negotiation Skills

As agents, we are required to negotiate frequently as a natural course of doing business.

We negotiate every day of our lives with clients, prospects, underwriters,marketing reps, and Agency personnel.

We negotiate on everything from rates to coverage, and from services to deadlines. We also negotiate internally with agency staff to get what we need to win and keep business.If you are like me, they didn’t offer electives on negotiation in college, and you’ve probably never received any formal training or education on negotiation. Most of us have learned basic negotiation skills from the school of hard knocks. The education process has been difficult, frustrating and costly.

Negotiation has been elevated to an art form by guys like Trump and has taken on an almost mystical status. All of these factors, real or imagined have transformed negotiation from a learn-able skill that applies the disciplines of preparation, positioning and strategy into
a “secret discipline” that is understood by only the astute few. Most of us enter negotiations with a pit in our stomach and this hesitancy and fear typically results in poor outcomes. Embracing negotiation, as an effective tool and a learn able skill will significantly improve results, revenue and relationships. Let’s devote a few minutes to review some key concepts and the universal laws of good negotiation.

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First: Never enter negotiation without preparation. The preparation Process involves understanding the position and interest of the other party, and then establishing an approach that makes them feel that they are winning or at least not losing. This involves asking questions, taking notes and dis- engaging to prepare.

ALWAYS disengage; think about it, plan, and reengage.

Second: Don’t negotiate too soon. We often give away much more than we need to by negotiating before we’ve been asked to give anything. Understand, that an objection or concern does not require that we go into negotiation mode and begin to give ground.
Last: Don’t lead with price. Always begin negotiation by understanding what it is the other party is wanting, and explore options and alternatives other than price to bring more value, vs. committing to price concessions. The goal is to create an atmosphere of cooperation and a feeling on the part of both sides that we are working together for a win/win solution.
Always start by evaluating potential outcomes, and what each looks like. There are 3 potential outcomes to any negotiation.
Best outcome – Acceptable outcome – Walk away

The goal is always for both parties to walk away feeling like they have not given away too much. The very best way to accomplish this is through transparency and Honest Business Conversations. Honest Business Conversations lead to solutions and to partnership instead of adversarial conversations. Once we have established our objective which should be “What a win -win looks like for us” and we understand the other parties position and interest, we can effectively prepare for the negotiation session.

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Key’s to preparation are:
Knowing what win – win looks like – Knowing what a lose looks like for us – Knowing what concessions we are prepared to offer, and what they are worth. – Knowing when to walk away
Anticipation of issues and concerns helps us prepare effective solutions. Anticipation of objections helps us prepare value propositions that lead to more effective, constructive conversations. Think through the potential issues, concerns and objections you uncovered and then think through options and approaches that address issues and objections.
• Rehearse
• Engage
• Introduce considerations
• Use Value Propositions
• Give and take
• Close
Books on negotiation:
Getting to yes – Fisher, Ury
Getting More: Diamond
Difficult Conversations: Stone, Patton, and Fisher

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Millennial Confesses: Insurance is Cool

As a millennial, it appears to me that a majority of anyone outside of this particular generational group possesses a sort of mixed-feeling consisting of fear, intrigue, obsession and annoyance when it comes to us.

It’s like we’re some sort of elusive vampiric (is that a word?) human-creature-night-dweller: only when the moon dully illuminates the night sky in its waning crescent phase do we crawl from our caves, hastily texting on our smart phones while simultaneously asking Siri where the closest pho noodle house is.

A simple search of the word millennial on Insurance Journal online yielded me plenty of results. A few of my favorite are as follows: “Millennials Aspire to Be Workplace Leaders; Seek Training”, “How to Interest Millennials in Insurance Careers”, “Study: Social Posts Provide Clues to Millennials’ Attitudes” and “In the Workplace, What Do Millennials Want?”.

It’s like we’re the actual rainbow fish and the insurance industry is scratching their chin, furrowing their brows, trying to invent the impossible bait to reel us in.

Panicked tone, voices cracking, everyone scrambling to explain the extraordinary amount of worry they have during their monthly company meetings: How do we market to millennials?!?

BIGFOOT SIGHTING—I’m a millennial, and I work (kind of) with insurance.

Correction—I work in insurance advertising. I just wanted to seem a little more exotic/extremely rare saying I worked in the actual insurance industry.

Do I know what the difference is between comprehensive general liability insurance, comprehensive liability insurance, and comprehensive personal liability insurance? Heavens no. Do I tangibly understand the content in the insurance industry-related press releases I schedule? Up for debate. My creative writing degree didn’t necessarily prepare me for the insurance industry rhetoric (or lack thereof).

But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that my heart drops out of some part of my body it’s not supposed to when I watch my iPhone descend through the air onto the inevitable ending doom that is concrete—a slow motion, heart-breaking consequence of balancing it on top of my packed-to-the-brim purse.

Was that negligence on my part? Putting a fragile, caseless ticking-time bomb of a shattered mess iPhone on top of an already balancing act that is my bag? Well I suppose yes…but you can’t blame me for being in a rush to make it in time for Taco Tuesday happy hour deals at Mi Ranchito, dude! [End millennial use of “dude” here…I promise.]

Ok great Kelly—you’re irresponsible with your iPhone and you like to frequent happy hour deals. What does this have to do with millennials and the insurance industry?

As I performed the simple task of googling “millennials and insurance” [insert eye-roll here from my usage of Google as a verb], I received various results all in agreement with one another. I’ll say it once, I’ll say it again, I’ll say it with everyone else saying it—we don’t really care.

We don’t care about insurance. Car insurance? More like why would I get in a car accident…I’m an impeccable driver. Renter’s insurance? Um…did we invent locks just for looks or…? Oh man don’t even get me started on life insurance. Isn’t time just an invented concept and the only guarantee in life is death?

Alright I think it’s safe to say I’ve been reading too much Nietzsche. But honestly, I believe (and this is me speaking for myself) that we tend to focus on the financial now: bills that mom and dad aren’t fronting anymore, student loans, and buying ripped clothing that my mom doesn’t understand why I purchase if they are already ripped in the first place are EXPENSIVE. And more than likely, we’re newly inaugurated into the real world and don’t have the wealth of money and life experiences to know that things happen, and that we need insurance to help with those inevitable things.

And that’s just insurance in the noun that it is. When talking about the insurance industry and the possibility of millennials working in it, I retrieved some solid google results.

Basically what it came down to was this: we want to be creative. We’re willing to put in the hours (even extra if you can believe it) to be a part of something great. Innovative. With a wow factor. Applicable to our own lives.

Gosh, can’t you just feel the ground rumbling from the thousands of applicants running to San Francisco in the hopes of making their way into a tech start-up? The opportunity to be a building block for an app that allows you to have your own personal butler, someone who runs all your errands for you and delivers them right to your door? The opportunity to say yes, I work for the [insert app name here] app that allows a complete stranger to go make that horrendous Sunday-afternoon-lines-a-mile-long Costco run for you. That’s pretty cool.

But if millennials really deconstructed what they do on a daily basis in conjunction with insurance, they would be horrified at the congruency between the two.

Purchased an iPhone case? You’re insuring that if you drop your phone (whether you’re on your way to a Mexican food cantina for happy hour or not), it hopefully doesn’t break.

Slid your credit card for those $250 Ray Bans? You’re insuring the fact that now you don’t have to annoyingly squint as you’re driving into work every morning. (And you can look cool for all those babes you cruise by, too.)

Brought a jacket with you to the bars? Honestly, that’s a tough insurance policy. Because I’ll be darned if I carry that thing on my arm all night, but also I’ll be more darned if I’m cold.

Along with a jacket, you decided to wear wedge-heels with you to the bars? No, there’s no insurance there. That’s blatant recklessness—you’re going to sprain your ankle.

I don’t think insurance is boring, a waste of money or in any way a waste of my (precious) millennial time. I think it’s that moment you lock your keys in the car—you gasp out loud and twirl around from walking away from your car to realize that they’re sitting on your passenger seat, the same place you threw them subconsciously due to your 8am coffee-less state. But WAIT—you have a hide-a-key tucked away in that filthy space between your back tire and trunk.

That’s insurance.

And to have something have your back is pretty cool. (Just like that personal butler app.)

So, you brave soul who read the entirety of this piece, I ask you this: are you a millennial in the insurance industry yourself? Or are you still at your post outside, binoculars in hand and camera ready to snap that photo of Bigfoot?

[Blowing magical millennial conch shell] Gather around fellow millennials (along with anyone else out there) and let me know your thoughts in the comment box below.

About Kelly De La Mora

Kelly De La Mora is the Sales and Marketing Coordinator at Wells Media Group, Inc. Having graduated Sonoma State University with a degree in Creative Writing, she likes to write in her free time and also frequent various San Diegan Taco Tuesday happy hours. Fish tacos are preferred over carne asada. She can be reached at 800-897-9965 X125 or kdelamora@insurancejournal.com

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