sAccording to the study, the average advisor is licensed to sell for 7.5 insurance companies, though that number includes respondents who self-identified as captive and non-captive career advisors. Independent insurance-focused advisors are licensed to sell for an average of 8.6 life insurance companies.

When asked what insurers can offer to help advisors sell life insurance more successfully, leads was the No. 1 response, cited by 42 percent of respondents (Figure 5; click to enlarge). When assessing how best to support advisors, however, companies would be advised not to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach but to customize their support services based on the unique needs of different segments of the advisor population. Advisor needs tend to vary according to the focus of their practice and even age and gender, and many of those needs evolve with experience and production levels.

For example, the need for leads to drive life insurance product sales is less important to advisors whose primary focus is investment advisory or property & casualty, presumably because these advisors are cross-selling life insurance products to their existing books of business. On the other hand, products that are easier to understand are more important to investment advisors than advisors whose primary practice focus is life insurance.

As Figure 5 illustrates, there can also be some wide variance in needs based on advisor experience levels with selling life insurance. The need for leads tends to decrease as advisors gain more experience. However, the desire for a simpler application process and more liberal underwriting tends to increase with experience, as does the desire for more product innovation from insurance companies. Nearly 9 in 10 advisors (87 percent of respondents) utilize an insurance wholesaler in their life insurance sales process. s

Advisor needs from insurance wholesalers and marketing organizations are somewhat varied from their expressed needs of insurance companies. However, as with insurers, leads are still the most desired area of support from marketing organizations, listed by half of the survey respondents (Figure 6; click to enlarge). Interestingly, the need for lead support peaks among advisors in the middle range of life insurance sales production. More than half (53 percent) of respondents who wrote between $25,000 and $100,000 worth of life insurance premium in the past 12 months cited the need for leads, slightly up from the 51 percent of advisors who wrote less than $25,000 of first-year premium. Among advisors who wrote more than $100,000 worth of life insurance premium in the past year, 45 percent listed leads as an area of desired support from the marketing organizations they work with.

Where marketing organizations can add the most value is in “pre-sale” advisor support areas. Of the top six most desired areas of support, five are activities related to helping the advisor more successfully attain a client meeting: leads (50 percent), new sales concepts/ideas (30 percent), appointment setting (28 percent), sales and product training (28 percent) and better client marketing material (25 percent).

Underwriting assistance is the second most common need advisors have of marketing organizations. However, the need for underwriting support varies with advisor experience levels. The more experience an advisor has selling life insurance, the greater the need for underwriting support. Among advisors with less than three years’ experience selling life insurance, for example, 23 percent communicated the need for underwriting support, compared with 27 percent of advisors with three to 10 years’ experience, 34 percent with 11 to 20 years’ experience and up to 37 percent of advisors with more than 20 years’ experience.

Click here for more content from LifeHealthPro’s 2013 Life Insurance Study.