Every insurance company and its agents face the same hurdle each day: Convincing audiences that they should buy something they believe they don’t need.
Selling insurance isn’t like selling something people want. Consumers want iPhones and a nice-looking car. They will gladly pony up for them. They don’t want to think about what insurance is protecting them from: Death, illness, fire, liability, etc.
But there is even a larger hurdle insurance providers face. People believe that insurance companies are frauds, only out to get their money and automatically fight any claims.
What are the hurdles?
My company has conducted research for various insurance companies and, without giving away findings that are owned by our clients, there were a few themes that stand out:
People, including white-collar professionals, believe insurance companies are unfeeling entities, which means claims of caring do not resonate.
Fear-based messaging (“What happens when you die?”) is ignored because audiences believe it is the beginning of a scam.
Policies are confusing, and that confusion feeds into the belief that insurance companies being deceitful.
The interesting part of this is that agents, those chosen to sell insurance products, often feel the same way. They also believe that messages about caring are not believable. They also are tired of selling the same story that attempts to get audiences to be afraid of what will happen if they are not covered. And they find working with insurance companies to be cumbersome.
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This should not be a surprise to anyone in the industry. What is surprising is that too few in the industry do anything about it. Yet overcoming those hurdles is exactly what would increase market share.
Among the insurance sales challenges: Policies are too confusing, which consumers may view as a ruse. (Photo: iStock)
Overcoming insurance sales hurdles
Let’s take each hurdle and demonstrate how it can be addressed so audiences are more open to insurance products they believe they don’t need.
Insurance companies are unfeeling entities: This is the most difficult hurdle because few believe any company cares more about its customers than its bottom line. Even if you are a mutual company, most have no idea what caring means. This belief is especially acute with insurance companies because insurance is a low involvement category for most until they have to use it. Then it is high involvement and highly personal.
An effective brand message is the best step (more on that later). But any message must be aligned with that belief (insurance companies are unfeeling) and positioned against the competition.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What is it that audiences seek in their lives?
- What are they truly seeking when considering insurance?
- What are they rebelling against if they are forced by an employer to seek insurance, such as a health savings account?
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Here’s an example of a possible sales message to counter this hurdle:
“We know other companies (and agents) have tried to get the most money out of you they can, while not fulfilling their promises. Instead, let’s do what’s right. What’s right for you. For your company. For your family.”
Approaching a negative belief head-on eliminates it as an issue. Continuing to ignore a belief just makes it even stronger.
More importantly, the message should be about the customer, not you. The moment you begin talking about you (either in person or in a TV advertisement), you’ve lost that audience.
This type of messaging becomes even harder when the pitchman has come to believe that all products are the same and the only effective tool is the personal relationship with the individual customer. Customers need insurance, not someone pretending to be their newest best friend.
Building a sales strategy around the question, “What will your family do when you’re gone?” may have worked decades ago but today, it’s a consumer turnoff. (Photo: iStock)
Fear-based messaging is ignored: So stop doing it. Life insurance advertisers are especially guilty of this with the question, “What will your family do when you’re gone?” This might have worked decades ago when life insurance was a relatively new idea, but no more.
Today, audiences have become immune to scare tactics. Think about it: Everyone is subjected to thousands of message per day. Even the logo on a pen is a message.