Keys To Increasing Bank Reps Productivity
A survey last year by Cerulli Associates, Boston, found that half of the banks selling insurance havent been as successful at it as they hoped.
If they want to sell more insurance, experts say, banks will have to do better at increasing the productivity of licensed reps and platform people who deal with their customers every day.
Part of the problem is that banks have treated insurance products as an add-on rather than an intrinsic part of their financial services, observes Craig Whitehead, senior consultant with Milliman USA, a Chicago consulting firm.
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To give insurance a clear place in the banks routine, look to your training, he advises.
In the early days, insurance was an uncomfortable sale for most bank reps, Whitehead points out. “They were not sure they could answer the customers questions about insurance, so they didnt bring up the topic.”
Now more and more banks are offering their own sales training and not relying on carriers and wholesalers to do it for them, he adds. That has led to an internal sales force that is more self-assured about bringing up insurance in conversations with customers, Whitehead says.
Clear goal-setting is another obvious but often overlooked step toward higher productivity. Joanne Collins, president of Union Planters Insurance Agency, Memphis, Tenn., says goal-setting is important where a banks platform staff is expected to sell a slew of financial services.
“We dont have bank employees 100% dedicated to insurance,” she says. “So we are competing for shelf space with our own employees.”
Union Planters Insurance, a division of Union Planters Bank, has about 1,700 licensed reps.
“Because they have other functions, we try to think about their jobs in terms of activities,” she says. “In term insurance, for instance, we try to get every licensed employee to sell one policy each month and we keep reminding them they need to do that.”
For all types of insurance products, Union Planters generally ties goals to budget objectives for each branch, such as for total loans.
“A lender knows if he makes 10 loans, I expect at least half would be sold consumer protection life and one quarter would have accident and health. The key is to communicate that goal,” Collins says.
For annuity sales, goals are typically set for the branch as a percent of deposits, then divided among the reps in that branch.
Sharper teamwork is another way banks have been learning to get more insurance sales out of their licensed reps. If done well, the bank can even leverage its team environment as a recruiting tool to attract capable agents.
Glen Milesko, president, Bank One Insurance Group, Milwaukee, notes that most insurance salespeople outside of banks spend a lot of time prospecting and generating qualified leads.
“They constantly put 60% to 70% of their time into prospecting for the next lead,” he says “One advantage in a bank is a life agent has bankers to the generate leads, and that makes you productive.”
Being able to team up with commercial lenders was a main attraction to Kevin Barry when he decided to join Stoneham Savings Bank, Stoneham, Mass., about a year and a half ago. Previously, he had been an agent for CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia.
Barry, a vice president of the bank and an investment executive with its New England Heritage Insurance Agency Group, came to the bank with Series 7 and 24 licenses and with a background in selling employee benefits.