Editor’s Note: This article originally published in June 2013. Dates and ages have remained unchanged from the original piece.
Want to do business with agent Brian Greenberg? Drop that telephone. Don’t bother blocking out an afternoon appointment. No need to Google Map his office.
Greenberg’s clients can find him (or, at least, his services) online, 24/7, at CompassQuote.com and TrueBlueLifeInsurance.com. There, customers can learn about life insurance products, compare quotes and fill out an application — without ever coming into contact with another human being.
In fact Greenberg hardly speaks to, let alone sees, any of the hundreds of clients he serves each year. And that’s fine by him.
“I made the MDRT this year and I didn’t meet with one client,” the 36-year-old Phoenix-based producer says. “I didn’t have to drive to any appointments, go to anyone’s house, convince anyone they needed life insurance.”
Greenberg is one of a growing number of agents and carriers venturing into online sales and turning long-held life insurance sales beliefs on their head. Chief among them? The idea that potential life insurance buyers need to be goaded by an agent.
“I don’t believe insurance should be sold,” Greenberg says. “I believe insurance should be bought.”
Greenberg didn’t always think that way. He worked as a traditional agent with MetLife right out of college and did well for himself. “It was a good experience,” he says. “I was a good agent.”
But Greenberg still suffered his fair share of client objections and dead-end sales. “It was a lot of rejection, a lot of trying to convince people to buy life insurance,” he says. “You ended up just trying to get in front of people, no matter what, even if they weren’t interested in life insurance.”
Certain there was a better way, he set out in 2003 to create a website that would let customers come to him. Greenberg took CompuLife quote software and, with his web skills, customized it to boost user-friendliness and collect additional info.
The result? CompassQuote.com and TrueBlueLifeInsurance.com, which have sold roughly 1,400 policies in the last three years.
Greenberg says the sites’ success is due to a couple of things: a constant focus on search engine optimization (90 percent of his clients find him through search) and a lack of sales trickery. For example, Greenberg built his site so prospects don’t have to enter any contact information in order to get an insurance quote — a notable distinction from the lead generators disguised as online quote tools offered by other agencies and carriers.
“They can get all the information they need, and they don’t have to be contacted by anybody,” he says. “I didn’t want to use the site to just collect email addresses and contact people later. I wanted to be the polar opposite. I wanted to be the ethical and honest guy.”
And the invisible one, too. Once prospects run a quote on one of Greenberg’s sites, they can select their desired price and start filling out the application right then. The mostly complete form is then shipped to the customer, who is contacted by a paramedical examiner to set up an appointment. The client keeps track of the entire purchase process from an online dashboard, and in an average of three weeks, he or she is covered — usually without ever coming into contact with Greenberg.
That’s the point, says Greenberg, who stays in touch with existing clients using occasional emails but does little to try to up-sell them on other products. “My goal is to issue life insurance as quickly as possible, without any agent interaction” he says. “It’s not so much about selling.”
In fact, Greenberg spends almost no time on selling activities these days. His wholesaler handles all of his case management, and his one employee answers the chat requests, emails and telephone calls that come through the websites. “I sold 500 policies last year for the same amount of work that a traditional agent would sell 50 … maybe less,” he says.
Greenberg admits that what he sells — mostly simple term and universal life products, nothing that has an investment element — isn’t a good fit for all clients and their needs. But he sees his market continuing to grow all the same. “Everyone’s got an iPad; everyone’s got high-speed Internet,” he says. “They’re going to go online.”
The online trend