If you’ve been wondering when the mobile revolution will truly take hold in the life insurance business, get ready: it’s happening this very moment.
This may seem like hyperbole since, after all, we’ve had laptops for decades and smartphones have become increasingly prominent in our business lives. But it is the latest technology development — the tablet — that is as big and important as the futurists claim. This portable device is accelerating the mobile revolution. For those life agents who adopt and master it now, tablet use can provide a competitive advantage and a means to increase client satisfaction and sales in the near term.
Not quite convinced? Here’s some compelling data you won’t find anywhere else. In September 2011, the ING Life Companies (ING) conducted a survey of about 6,000 users of its ING Presents desktop software platform to assess their satisfaction with our illustration system. We also wanted to learn about the types of mobile devices they were using so we could better serve their needs. About 525 of these agents/users graciously answered the survey. Not surprisingly, about two-thirds of respondents said they used one form of smartphone or another. About one-third said they used laptops. What was a surprise — a real eye-opener — was that about 12% said they used tablets, primarily Apple’s iPad.
Consider that the iPad has only been available in the marketplace for about 18 months, and tablets, generally, for about two years, and you get some idea of the swift pace of adoption of this technology among insurance agents. Why the haste to get ahold of this technology? Because it can help enhance a wide range of activities that will make agents more effective.
Here are just a few areas where tablets, or smartphones in a pinch, can help you improve your business:
Better Client Connections
Clients are the center of your business, and the more you are in synch with them, the more ably you can connect and keep pace with the changes in their lives. Web-based client management systems are an ideal way to centralize all of the information you have on clients, continually update it, and then access it from anywhere. Your mobile device, properly used, gives you instantaneous information about your client, from specific financial information, to a spouse’s or child’s name, to the street where he or she lives. This kind of fluency with a client’s life lets you demonstrate, rather than merely say, “I really know you.”
More Agility as an Educator
Life insurance is a highly complex subject, wrapped inside a larger cipher known as financial services. Your clients all have different aptitudes for understanding life insurance concepts, which requires you to be very agile and responsive when you conduct assessments and explain certain topics. New mobile tools, particularly tablets, give you ready access to two types of information.
The first is your library of downloaded information, which might comprise a range of articles, PDFs, product summaries, educational materials and other resources that you can pull up and share with the client to reinforce a key point. Since you create this library, it can have anything you think you might need in a conversation, from simple illustrative graphics to full blown brochures on estate planning, business planning or retirement planning. Wherever your conversation with the client might lead, you’ll have the resources to follow it. If a particular article intrigues a client, email it right on the spot.
The second type of information available from your mobile device, more on-the-fly, is any web content that may be fluid or interactive, such as online calculators or Social Security administration information. While this second type of information is only helpful if you have a decent Internet connection, take heart: according to a report from the Wireless Broadband Alliance in November 2011, public wi-fi hotspots are set to grow in number globally from 1.3 million in 2011, to 5.8 million by 2015 — a 350% increase. For a small monthly fee, you can also have 3G or 4G access for times when you do not have access to a wireless connection.
More Effective Presentations
Laptops are a great business tool, but they are designed for a one-person audience — you. When you present on a tablet, this piece of technology becomes common ground for you and the client. You are not so much presenting as you are guiding your client on a journey — tapping and swiping through slides and graphics, unveiling new ideas and images, all with the goal of achieving clarity. Insurers are increasingly providing tablet-ready, compliance-approved presentations that form the foundation for this positive interaction.
Faster Sale Closings
Indeed, the implementation of tablet or other mobile technology in your agency can accelerate the sales process — without rushing it and with an improved client experience. The reason for this is the speed and facility with which you can create and modify illustrations for clients and formalize quotes. With mobile devices, it takes just minutes to conduct these two crucial processes, and importantly, they can be accomplished in one meeting.
When you are with a prospective client, the last thing you want is unnecessary breakpoints in the dialogue, yet that is what many agents are forced to do. When inefficiencies in the sales process result in an agent saying, “I’ll get back to you on that,” the momentum is stopped and uncertainty prevails. That dialogue may in fact get back on track with another meeting or phone call. Or the sale might never happen at all.
By using a mobile product illustration system on your tablet, in particular, you can let a prospective client take an active role in shaping the policy. If they are interested in a different death benefit amount than the one you are showing, you can quickly make a change and show how it affects price. If that individual is uncertain about a proposed premium, you can quickly present another one more suitable to their needs and circumstances. The built-in interactivity of the device creates a more fluid dialogue between agent and future client, making the journey from concept to sale less intimidating and more likely to succeed.
As with any new technology, there is a learning curve for using tablet devices. But don’t be afraid to get started. Acquire a device. Give it a test drive. Start building your library of key documents. Connect with your carriers to see what software and resources will work with the device. Figure out how to print documents from it. That said, it would be wise to become well-versed before using it with a client. Start selectively with those who you know and trust. The last thing you want is for your technology to backfire and result in a poor experience for you and your client.
Ultimately, an agent’s professionalism, knowledge and interpersonal skill will remain the center of attention, regardless of the sophistication of these emerging technology tools. Yet, the more quickly you adopt and leverage these tools, the earlier you will reap the benefits of a more streamlined business process and a permanent, real-time connection with your clients.
Diane Eder is vice president of sales technologies for ING U.S. Insurance Sales Support, where she oversees the continuing development of sales and educational solutions to help agents and financial professionals more successfully meet clients’ needs. During her 25-year career leading ING’s sales technology, Diane has guided the development of the company’s award-winning ING Presents desktop software and has integrated the company’s sales solutions into web and mobile forms. Most recently, in November 2011, she helped roll out ING Life Illustration Express Mobile, an innovative tool that agents can use on their tablets and mobile devices.
Life insurance products are issued by ReliaStar Life Insurance Company (Minneapolis, MN), ReliaStar Life Insurance Company of New York (Woodbury, NY) and Security Life of Denver Insurance Company (Denver, CO). Within the state of New York, only ReliaStar Life Insurance Company of New York is admitted, and its products issued. All are members of the ING family of companies.