Editor’s Note: This is the sixth installment of a six-part series on threats to the independent life insurance distribution channel, running in each issue of Life Insurance Selling through the remainder of 2012. To read previous installments, use the links below.
- Part I: Facing up to a graying producer workforce
- Part II: The impact of a universal fiduciary standard
- Part III: Competing against alternative distribution channels
- Part IV: The dangers of ignoring the middle market
- Part V: Combatting consumer apathy
- Part VI: Emerging technology and the future of distribution
Anyone who wants to sell to the ever-growing wave of digitally savvy consumers needs to be able to accommodate a customer wanting to switch modes of interaction according to preference. Consumers may start researching online, which might lead them to a smartphone app. They might finish with questions for a live call center rep or be referred to an agent in their area. And let’s not forget about how social media fits into the picture. Producers who can successfully navigate the compliance issues associated with social media (which more producers are realizing isn’t as daunting a task as originally feared) and make effective use of common social networking tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter give themselves the opportunity to reach potential customers in a setting where they are increasingly looking for help.
Life insurance has traditionally been about community and building relationships, and that’s what social media is all about. Life insurance agents have always been social networkers, educating clients, investing in creating long-term relationships and growing their businesses through referrals long before social media existed. Social media is a logical tool for producers to embrace, as people share details about what’s happening in their lives freely via outlets like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. When they get married, have a child, change careers or move, they post it. These are great triggers for life insurance discussions, and producers have an opportunity to use this information to initiate a discussion. Finding out more about your customers via social media is just part of a natural evolution to be where your customers are.
Fewer handshakes, more clients
It is clear more and more consumers are using online resources to shop for life insurance, but it’s also clear that the agent still has a key role in helping consumers finalize decisions and close the deal.