Sales is a cross-sector job role and the insurance industry is highly dependent on sales executives as the primary earnings for insurers is from selling their products to customers by convincing them to buy their policies. The sales agents, especially in the life and health insurance field, play a crucial role in introducing several policies to customers and finally, persuading them to make a purchase decision.
Digital transformation has enabled insurance companies to reach out to customers directly through advertisement and promotional calls, emails, and social media. In the last couple of years, companies have started focusing on online sales. Unlike offline sales, e-sales provides promotional offers and rewards to attract more customers online. Insurers find this medium more convenient, agile and safe because it eliminates the fraud or mis-selling, enhances post-sales services and ensures faster processing.
Moreover, digital transformation in the insurance industry is also transforming the nature of the business. As per a survey by Deloitte, seven out of ten insurers stated that they have started implementing various digital strategies at different levels, which in turn, has led to a growth in their overall performance.[i]
At the same time, customers also find online services convenient and safe. Online insurance services largely benefit the new generation customers, who are highly tech-savvy and prefer the new age technology rather than the traditional pen-paper culture. Many of them bought their first insurance policy, including life insurance, online without having to listen to prolonged pitches of insurance agents.
EY insurance consumer research shows that over 80% of customers are willing to use digital and remote contact channels (including web chat, email, mobile apps, video or phone) in place of interacting with insurers via agents or brokers.[ii]
Be an online sales agent
Online sales also unlock many opportunities for sales employees. Since most of the prospective customers are digitally literate and use various platforms such as social media, e-commerce marketplace, messaging applications etc., the agents can reach out to them through these platforms to introduce and sell the policies. They do not need to go out and meet the customers directly.
Likewise, sales agents need not comply with office timings because digital solutions help them connect with their customers remotely at their own convenience. Salespeople can maintain a good rapport with multiple prospective customers through WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, LinkedIn, and other myriad channels. They can also build a network of these customers which will help them in the future.
Additionally, all that the sales staff require is a great social media and communication skill and she/he should be digital-savvy. The agent should have hands-on experience in various digital devices and platforms to sell the products. Technology is constantly evolving and so is the digital community. People’s behaviour in each platform is also different. Therefore, the agent should devise a dynamic communication strategy to connect with people on different platforms. They should know how to generate leads and convert them.
Benefits of online sales
Online sale is the most convenient way for both agent and customers to interact. Let’s examine some of the benefits:
- Agile: The agility of e-sales and various online platforms enables agents as well as customers to process the sales/purchase quickly without physical interaction.
- Scalable: The sales agent can approach a vast number of people in a very small fraction of time with the help of online tools.
- Secure: Fear of data breach due to mishandling of documents is high in offline sales. This issue is not so much of a concern as the customer shares details on a highly secure online platform. InsureTech companies are developing highly secure solutions for online services.
- Targeted sales: Online sales enable the agent to target a specific cohort and introduce a specific strategy to sell the product. Almost all the social media platforms let their users share messages in a specific group based on their age, location, and interests. That is how the algorithms work. Similarly, the agent can himself/herself classify prospective customers and interact with them. Starting a WhatsApp Group for each target group will also a great initiative.
- Paperless: The ultimate result of online sales is the reduced usage of paper. Since every policy-related document is shared and verified online, the agent does not need to carry any physical document with him/her. This also contributes to a sustainable green policy.
Building online sales skills
The global pandemic COVID-19 has compelled many insurance companies to move the business online to address the increased demand. Since the insurance industry is one of the essential services, they must continue operations with the new regulations from the government and the regulatory authority. All the insurance companies in India responded quickly to these regulations in the last couple of months.
To realise the desired goal through online sales, the agent should have the skills discussed in this article. The sales staff, especially in the post-COVID world, need to upskill themselves with modern sales techniques and tools. Ergo, this is the discretion of agents to professionally develop themselves to stay relevant and adapt to changing trends.
Professional training institution, Manipal Academy of BFSI is a frontrunner in building competent employees for the BFSI sector and focuses a lot on each company’s future requirements. The Academy is also helping insurers to upskill/reskill their staff.