Selling insurance is important but challenging work. In a competitive industry that’s changing rapidly, the obstacles are many. But knowledge is power, as they say, so in Retirement Advisor’s recent Advisor Survey we asked your peers to name these obstacles directly. The answers ran the gamut from specific product concerns to looming legislation worries to straightforward sales hurdles that would resonate equally with those who sell houses or medical equipment or tax planning advice.
Following are the five obstacles that independent insurance agents say are the most significant they’ll face this year, along with suggestions for how to meet them head-on.
1. Lead generation (50.59%)
Selling insurance products comes with its own unique set of lead gen challenges, not least among them the fact that prospects are either a) reluctant to admit they need what you’re selling, as is often the case with life insurance products or b) afraid to plan for one of their own looming obstacles, namely, how they will fund their retirement.
All of this is why, year after year, advisors name lead generation as the No. 1 issue that can make or break a practice. It takes creativity to overcome this barrier, especially with the threat of competition emerging from non-traditional channels. How to do it? The savviest advisors are finding solutions that work naturally for their practice, whether it’s cornering an underserved niche market, finding ready referrals through networking organizations or investing in technologies that will deliver more qualified leads in less time.
Play your cards right and you might find yourself sharing this sentiment, voiced by one of our survey respondents: “I have too many leads and am having a difficult time finding the right person to hire to assist me.”
2. The economy (44.71%)
The U.S. economy is making baby strides back to full health, but we’re still nowhere near the flush years of the late ‘80s and ‘90s. Prospects must make calculated calls about how to invest their money. There is also the fear factor: plenty of consumers are hesitant to trust financial advisors of all stripes, with insurance advisors on the low end of the spectrum. A recent Deloitte study revealed that just 20 percent of consumers believe banks to be highly trustworthy, while 14 percent highly trust life insurers; 13 percent, annuity carriers; and 11 percent, insurance agents and brokers.
The bad news, as the Deloitte survey shows, is that a few bad apples can sour the image of an entire industry. It’s an unjust reputation, and one that needs fixing. The good news is that guaranteed protection products have never been in more demand, and no one is better equipped to offer these products then agents and brokers. Your services are needed, whether or not consumers recognize it. As advisors become increasingly holistic in the advice they give, consumers will start to realize an important truth: In a still-struggling economy, insurance products — and insurance producers — are more critical than ever.