Growing Your Organizations Hispanic Market Sales

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The opportunity to sell insurance products to our nations Hispanic population has never been more promising than it is today.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that more than 35 million Hispanic people are now living in the United States, representing an enormous and virtually untapped market for independent marketing organizations and insurance carriers.

What does it take to reach this market? IMOs and carriers may presume that they need to commit vast personnel and financial resources to develop a Hispanic marketing initiative. Not true. In fact, there is no Hispanic “market.” Rather, there is only a communication barrier between you and your customer.

Dont believe the myth that you have to live in Miami, Los Angeles or New York City to sell insurance to the Hispanic community.

When considering your opportunity to sell products to Hispanics, dont underestimate your city or towns Hispanic population.

Although major metropolitan areas typically report larger numbers of Spanish-speaking residents, Hispanic customers may be found in many smaller cities and towns throughout the United States.

Contact the U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov) to learn more about the opportunity in your area.

IMOs dont have to be established Spanish-speaking organizations to successfully market to the Hispanic community.

Any mainstream agency can be successful with Spanish-speaking customers. In fact, you dont need to double your investment or rebuild your infrastructure to reach Hispanic customers, either. The key is to build a fully bilingual sales force within your existing insurance agency.

Your first step is to hire a “champion”un campe?n. A champion is a fully bilingual authority within a mainstream agency hired to focus on the Hispanic segment.

Your champion works within the agencys structure, using the sales principles that are already in place. A champions role is not to go out and sell the products, but rather to recruit and train a team of bilingual agents that will market the agencys products and services to the Spanish-speaking public.

Another common misconception is that bilingual agents require extensive training to sell insurance products. Again, not true.

Youll find that Spanish-speaking agents are already selling insurance products in English, to English-speaking customers.

These agents are simply waiting to be approached with an opportunity and tools to sell to Hispanic customers.

The champion should train agents to position the sale as benefiting the customers family members, which often is a cultural tenet of the Hispanic community.

The effective champion is a strong communicator who understands the needs of the sales force as well as the structure of the IMO.

Your champion becomes the IMOs representative for the Hispanic segment, working directly with the insurance carrier to obtain the marketing support to sell the products.

For every successful IMO, theres a supportive insurance carrier providing the right tools to get the job done. A carrier should support an IMOs Hispanic selling efforts by concentrating on recruiting, service, marketing and incentives.

First, a carrier can assist in the recruiting and hiring of the IMOs champion. When the right person is found for this position, both the IMO and the carrier will ultimately reap the rewards.

A carrier can support the IMO by offering to pay some of the recruiting costs. Consider a 50/50 cost-sharing arrangement to demonstrate support for the IMOs initiative.

Next, the carrier must provide bilingual resources so that an agent and his customers can easily communicate.

Agents who are able to convey their needs to the carrier are more confident in the products they sell. And customers who can converse with bilingual customer service representatives are more likely to maintain and renew insurance policies.

A carrier should provide fully bilingual customer service representatives and a bilingual sales support staff, as well as an executive-level sales contact.

Through these resources, a champion, the agents, and their customers can easily communicate in either Spanish or English.

Bilingual marketing materials are essential for reaching the Spanish-speaking public.

Factors such as age and cultural acclimation often indicate whether a customer would prefer to receive information in Spanish or English.

By providing materials that are fully bilingual and emphasize family coverage, the carrier supports the agents efforts to eliminate the communication barrier.

Name brand recognition is also helpful to IMOs and agents in recruiting and selling. Carriers can build name brand awareness within a local Hispanic community by sponsoring cultural events that attract Spanish-speaking residents.

As a sponsor of these events, a carrier promotes its commitment to providing products and services to the Spanish-speaking community.

Contact the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (www.ushcc.com) to learn more about national events and local chapters.

With a strong bilingual sales force equipped with effective communication tools, its now time to motivate the agent to sell.

As with any other sales team, insurance companies must consider the cultural factors that drive agents to succeed.

Good incentives are based on goals and rewards that match the agents principles. With Hispanic agents, incentives work best when they invite the agents family to enjoy the recognition as well.

Recognition trips, prizes and awards that can be shared with family members can be popular with Hispanic insurance agents.

With the support of a committed insurance carrier and the drive to reach the Hispanic customer, an IMO is well equipped to succeed.

As you hire your champion and communicate needs to your carriers, dont lose sight of the key to Hispanic marketing: Its not a new market. Its only a communication barrier. Dont over-invest in the initiative. Just reach out to your customers and communicate your products and services.

is vice president, field sales, for the Conseco Insurance Group. He can be reached at jesus_dearmas@conseco.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, June 9, 2003. Copyright 2003 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.