When I first entered the industry there were three “retired” agents who would sit down in the building’s lobby café, lamenting about how it used to be and how the industry was coming to an end. The new guys didn’t know how to sell or how to recruit and all hell was breaking loose.
Every time I walked by, I thought I was watching a scene out of “Death of a Salesman.”
Funny how things repeat themselves. About a year ago, I started talking to people about selling term insurance online. People external to the industry loved my concept and marketing strategy. People within the industry told me I was crazy. There was no way it would work. Insurance can’t be sold on the Internet. I didn’t know what I was talking about.
Was this realistic thinking or fear? Wasn’t the industry all fanatic about “Who Moved My Cheese?” several years back? Hadn’t we proven the Internet was more than a trend by now?
The more I followed the online term market, researched and did my due diligence, the more I began to understand that it was fear. Perhaps fear of the unknown, but fear nonetheless. And the more I listened, the more I wanted to create a new revenue stream out of the online term market.
The Internet is going after the sales the industry shuns: the small term policies. When you look at the travel industry, you can find the perfect analogy. Long ago, we went to travel agents for every travel need we had. We had no choice. But as the Internet grew, we were given alternative options. While it dramatically shrunk the travel agent forces, it didn’t eliminate them altogether. Today, if you want to book a weekend trip to New York City, you log on to Expedia or the like. If you’re planning a month-long safari in Africa, you call Abercrombie & Kent.
And that’s my prediction for the life industry. In the not-so-distant future, clients needing a simple term policy will log onto their choice of website and handle the transaction. Those wanting the benefits of an accumulation product, estate tax funding strategies or anything more complicated will call their advanced markets-style advisor.
While I strongly believe basic term insurance needs can and should be sold over the Internet, I also believe the other uses/forms of life insurance and financial planning strategies can’t and shouldn’t be sold online. There are too many variables that can only be communicated with real conversation.