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For insurance carriers looking to enhance the producer experience, improve their efficiency, and get them to sell more product, the key is to have one integrated sales support system.

This system needs to support every aspect of the selling process. This starts with prospect tracking through to policy issuance and post-sale service which, if properly done, can lead to cross-sell and up-sale opportunities.

In addition, carriers need to generate leads to producers based on customer insight and prospects life events. Also, every policy change should be viewed as a potential sales opportunity and a lead generated.

External data mining opportunities can be used to create prospect pools, which closely meet key demographics of existing customers. Lead generation can be a huge differentiator in winning more independent producer business and can increase the productivity of captive producers.

The next step is to perform richer needs analysis. A producer needs to be able to enter basic customer financial information and get multiple product alternatives to fill the customer need based upon the carriers experience with similar demographic profiles. To make this capability richer, the basic information gathered by the producer should be enhanced with external data sources and considered in the needs analysis.

In addition, the customers existing holdings should be automatically factored into the needs analysis as well.

Lastly, the competitive position of products should also be considered.

Once the producer selects one or more products, an impactful sales presentation needs to be automatically generated. This presentation should clearly lay out how the customer need is filled by the selected products, as well as generating the appropriate illustrations and compliant output. It should also provide the producer with the ability to quickly modify and update the illustration to show the client or prospect the impact of the suggested change.

It is only through this iterative process that clients can gain comfort with the solutions offered. Report generators today can support the creation of highly graphical and professional presentations. This presentation generation capability allows the carrier to manage its image with the buying public.

When the producer completes the selling process, the application should prefill with any information already gathered. The application itself should be electronic and allow for digital signature. Automatic transmission to the home office should occur and any statutory output should be generated automatically and provided to the customer.

In addition, underwriting questions should expand or contract based on specific prospect responses. By the time the application reaches the home office, virtually all applications should be in “good order.”

During the underwriting process, a significant number of cases should be “auto issued.” This is because of the current availability of online MIB reports and prescription data.

Producers should be able to go online and track the status of all their outstanding cases in process. In addition, they should be able to view their pending commissions as well. Once the policy is issued, the sales system should automatically generate additional sales suggestions, which would meet other areas of customer need.

Currently, many producers view the delivery of a policy as an “end event.” In the future, producers need to be more active in relationship management and selling existing customers related products that can enhance their lives.

The producer sales experience articulated above assumes that the sales system is tightly integrated with core back office systems. For example, a carrier may have multiple policy admin systems, but to the producer it should seem like one. In addition, this scenario assumes CRM, underwriting, and customer analytic applications are integrated as well. (The chart illustrates a sample integration vision.)

Another assumption of the sales process described above, is a customer specific consolidation of each of a carriers customer transactions, and related demographic data collected during the sales/relationship building process. Because of acquisitions and multiple policy administration systems, most carriers do not have this capability. This makes it difficult to effectively cross-sell, and maximize the customer as an “asset.”

By supplementing external demographic, behavioral, and life event data, the value of the customer profile can become a powerful strategic asset to drive incremental sales.

Another benefit to consolidated customer data profiles is the ability to perform proactive asset retention activities. Most carrier asset preservation units respond when a customer has already notified the carrier of their intent to surrender. By analyzing changes in customer transaction patterns as well as customer profile data, persistency risks can be identified and acted upon prior to a surrender request.

The other benefit to consolidated customer data profiles is that it is the key to compliance with the Patriot Act legislation. One of the fundamental requirements of the act is to “know your customer.” This requires a consolidated view of all of a customers transaction activity in order to be able to identify suspicious activity.

In order to effectively apply the concepts listed above, carriers need to begin with a detailed analysis of each of their distribution channels. They need to understand the demographics of the buyers, products that are sold, and the characteristics of the producers selling in those channels.

In addition, the cost of acquisition and average case size needs to be documented as well. In many cases when this analysis is done carriers find channel conflict and channels that are not currently profitable. Without detailed distribution channel analysis it is very difficult to “tune” each channel with the appropriate products, producer tools, and rationalize costs.

Other benefits related to this new distribution paradigm include the basic capability to do cross-channel synchronization, and cross-channel prospect lead reuse. Insurance carriers are under threat with growing domestic and international competition. As has been said many times before, the best defense is a good offence. By getting better leverage of existing system investments, a new distribution paradigm will emerge that improves the competitive positioning of most carriers.

Alan Royal is a director with Sapient Corporation and leads the distribution offering. He can be reached at ARoyal@sapient.com.

David Shapiro is CEO of Info-One, a technology solutions provider. He can be reached at dshapiro@info-one.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, October 21, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.