Rethinking The Role of Agents in the Insurance Sales Cycle

When we talk about the business of insurance, one would be remiss to not speak of the physical sales channel that is an insurance carrier’s bread and butter – its integral agents and distribution partners. Policy solicitation and sales for customers rely on the physical channel of distributors, brokers, agents, bancassurance, IFAs – which still constitute over 90-95% of policy sales. It is crucial for insurers to not only retain and attract the best agents but also to continually empower them with the right tools to become true advisors to customers.

The digital era and its new wave of growth have not only brought changes for insurance customers but also in customers’ expectations from the agents who are on the frontline. With the changing landscape, it is most important to grow the advisory capabilities of agents to help them enhance sales as well as customer relationships. Let us look at how new-age tools can help insurance agents become more effective at each stage of the selling process and improve policy sale closures:

  1. Financial Needs Analysis: Technology can vastly improve an insurer’s recommendation engine, to find the best-suited products for customers at varying life stages. The use of industry-standard, company-specific models and advanced AI propensity models empowers agents to step beyond high commission product and their comfort zones, and sell products truly befitting the customer’s financial objectives. Not only does this significantly reduce customer dissatisfaction and mis-selling, but it also positions the agents as true advisors in the eyes of their customers.

    C2L BIZ Promise: SymbioSys Sales Tool seamlessly integrates industry-attuned, regulatorily compliant algorithms in the sales journey, helping agents map customer-specific needs to products.

  2. Comparative Assessment of Products: Insurers often carry an extensive suite of products with many of them catering to overlapping needs. The right tools can position agents as drivers of consultative sales; helping them generate detailed illustrations of each product’s benefits through the policy’s lifecycle, and compare these insights to advise their customers better.

    C2L BIZ Promise: With SymbioSys Sales Illustration Tool, agents can generate instant, interactive illustrations for customer benefit, comparing across products for enhanced customer engagement and well-informed sales.

  3. Iterative/Collaborative Refinement of Products: Collaborative sales involving needs assessment and in-depth comparison can help tailor customer segment-based offers from a wide range of products, no one size can fit all these segments. Detailed Illustrations supplemented with a few solvers can help refine to meet the nuanced needs of each individual customer. Agents need to be able to solve a client’s specific objections (e.g. a target fund amount for retirement or children’s education) using tools such as withdrawal calculators and customizable riders.

    C2L BIZ Promise: SymbioSys Sales & In-Force Illustration Tools give agents an additional layer of advisory refinements to cater to customers’ unique needs and hesitations in the field itself, concretizing their standing as holistic client advisors.

  4. Documentation and Requirement Handling: Documentation requirements for policy issuance can vary a lot depending on customer profile (factors like occupational hazards, smoking habit, family medical history and others). An agent’s engagement with a client is significantly enhanced when he can correctly and instantly identify the requirements – forms, questionnaires, additional documents – for that particular customer. Reflexive digital tools can help agents intelligently filter questions to ask only absolutely necessary ones to fill the documents so that they never miss out and all submissions are in good order.

    C2L BIZ Promise: With SymbioSys eApplication Tool, insurers can configure any eApplication form to assist distribution partners in improving sales efficiency and inspiring client confidence as trusted advisors and not just agents.

  5. Ability to make Final Policy Decisions on the field: The final step before policy issuance is underwriting. While it’s now common for standard no-risk cases to be processed automatically with Straight Through Processing (STP), underwriting in the remaining sub-standard, ‘riskier’ cases (e.g. smoker, customer with occupational hazard etc.) calls for more diligence. Analytical tools can intelligently review and make rule-based, Rated Decisions on non-standard cases quickly, enabling agents to underwrite a case right in front of the prospect.

    C2L BIZ Promise: The SymbioSys Auto Underwriting Tool can help decentralize underwriting to the point of sale, for improved customer experience and faster sales closure. Many insurers have used it to continuously kaizen their rules and consequently achieve a higher STP rate.

With the advent of simpler, embedded/direct-to-customer products, we see a future where insurance agents will specialize in mass-customized selling of niche products, bringing more value to customers by understanding their specific needs and matching them to more sophisticated tailored products. Their role will evolve beyond traditional selling to advisors who are able to analyze various products and conduct consultative sales keeping the customer’s best interest upfront. It is more important now than ever before for insurers to invest into priming its distribution agents and get truly ready for “Segment of One”.