Death of a Salesman, a powerful piece of work but this isn’t another discussion about Arthur Miller’s 1949 play. It’s about the insurance industry and I need to focus on advanced markets – the holy grail of the insurance business – because here is where the problem is most acute.
I’ve often heard the axiom, insurance is “sold” not “bought” and although that might be the case I’m not sure how relevant it is in 2015. More important, how it’s “sold” in the business owner market is another story altogether. Here’s the problem (from my perspective as a business owner operating for 35 years).
Advisors who work in advanced markets know quite a bit about complicated insurance issues. They understand how specific products correct a multitude of problems for business owners in protecting what they have worked so hard to build, as well as, helping them preserve their lifestyle and assets. These insurance folks are well trained…in product. And therein lies the problem. Business owners don’t like insurance, they don’t want to talk about insurance and they sure as h**l don’t want to learn about it. Thus NO SALE rings on the cash register many times due to client procrastination or the advisor’s inability to articulate the compelling need. Everyone’s time is wasted. The marketplace is further polluted. The stereotype endures.
Remember, as soon as Mr. or Ms. Insurance Person comes in the door and starts pitching their products (which they view as solutions – and they are correct in that assumption) they sound like everybody else. No differentiation. They are instantly substitutable. And the person they are talking to has either heard it all before or the producer is trying to “sell” long before their prospect has recognized three critical things:
- I have a problem.
- It’s a big problem.
- Here’s who will be affected if I don’t fix the problem.
The solution to this complicated issue is quite simple. When presenting to a business owner or group of business owners, do not talk about “product”. If you can help these folks recognize the problem, all the product knowledge you have will be very important…but only after they feel the pain and are ready for the solution.
So keep the ubiquitous brochures, flow charts, spreadsheets, etc out of sight while you go about this crucial first step.
P.S. It depends on what study you read but there is a fact facing many employers:
- There are 76 million people born between 1946 through 1964, commonly referred to as the baby boomers.
- By many estimates, 9.2 million business owners are over 50 years old.
- An estimated eight million business owners will leave their companies in the next ten years.
Small business drives the US economy. Where’s the next generation of advisors who will help these entrepreneurs and how will they be trained?