I suspect that anyone over the age of 35 has heard Elwood Edwards’ voice. If you can’t place the name, here’s a hint: his voice was preceded by a dial tone followed by a noise that sounded like a screech owl in a windstorm. Still not ringing your modem? OK, one last clue. Edwards’ wife Karen worked for Quantum Computer Services, which is why you heard his voice in particular.
Quantum Computer Services eventually changed their name to America Online and Edwards’ was the voice actor who, after your noisy dial-up modem connected, alerted you that “You’ve Got Mail!”
Why are we talking about the distant past? Because, according to AOL founder Steve Case, the “Internet of Everything” is coming, and in order to make that happen, we need to go back to the past.
I just finished reading Case’s new book “The Third Wave (An Entrepreneur’s Vision Of The Future)”. Case makes the argument that during the first wave of the Internet, companies that wanted to innovate needed to form strategic partnerships to craft their products and attract the financing necessary to bring those innovations to market.
The second wave, where entrepreneurs built “apps” and such on top of the infrastructure created by the first wave, was quite different and much more of a lone-wolf environment. Case believes that the coming third wave will require many of the skills and techniques that brought about the first wave.
It was completely coincidental that I began the book right after a ShiftShapers Podcast interview featuring a guest talking about getting lots of sales mileage out of using an old-fashioned, down and dirty tool — the factfinder. Most of us learned to use a factfinder when we came into the business. Most of us stopped using it as soon as we became even moderately successful.
For those of us on the life insurance side, it might have been “7 Basic Needs,” elegant in its simplicity. All you needed was a pad, a pen and some rudimentary math skills. For others it might have been the Tom Wolfe’s “Financial Needs Analysis”. There were fewer factfinders on the employee benefits side, but they were equally effective. In each case, the information about the prospect/client revealed their needs; needs that we, over time, could fill with the many solutions our industry provides.
In much the same way that Steve Case suggests that the third wave of inventiveness around Internet-provided solutions will be fueled by the methodology of the first wave, so too will the business of providing insured solutions for employers, employees and individuals. We are out of the every-advisor-for-themselves business as surely as we are out of the spreadsheet-and-sell products business. And none too soon, I might add.