Amelia Island, Fla.
With the disability insurance industry under a variety of pressures, the compelling question facing companies is how they can differentiate themselves and get their quality message across.
According to two speakers here, the solution, in a word, is “distribution.”
In a session entitled “Anyone can sell low rate How to help sales reps sell value and relationship,” two executives from Sun Life Financial spoke about creating a company- and industry-enhancing value proposition in the distribution of disability insurance.
Speaking here at the JHA Dynamics of Disability Seminar, Michael Shunney, vice president, group insurance, at Sun Life Financial, said “one of the biggest threats to our success as companies is spreadsheetstheres no face and no relationship on a spreadsheet.”
Distribution is “a companys face to the market,” he continued, adding, “What are we trying to do with this big investment we make in distribution?”
There are many things that make companies different, Shunney said, and these include ratings, track record, customer service, scale, product offerings and financial strength, among others.
But what really makes companies different, he said, is people. “If our talent on the street is better than other companies then well do better.”
Its “a simple truth in a complicated business,” he said, “but most group companies distribute product with people. People differentiate companies. Talent differentiates people. Talented people forge the most enduring relationships. Its a relationship business–talent wins.”
Yet when it comes to how the business traditionally measures distribution talent, the criteria generally lack something, said Drew Niziak, vice president, group distribution, at Sun Life Financial. These traditional measures include how many reps a company has, the production per rep and whether they are hitting their sales targets, he said.
But when one looks at how “we should measure distribution talent” a different set of questions is in order, he explained, and they tend to be more qualitative than quantitative. For instance, he asked, “How disability proficient are your sales reps? Are they an asset to the industry? Do they know their own contract? How well are they positioned in their markets? Do they understand the issues we face? How persistent and profitable is their business?”
If an insurers mission is to “succeed with people,” or to get to the point of having sales reps with concerns such as these, Niziak said there are a number of things a company can do.