Insurance, Game of Perception and Pride of Insurance Advisers
(Insurance is losing the battle of perception vis-a-vis other financial products and it also affects its vast sales force.)
In the past few years there has been some pessimistic reporting on insurance such as – products have very high commission; they are not good for investment and so on and so forth. The situation has worsened so much that financial planners don’t suggest life insurance products for the fear of being seen as commission seekers even though it may be suitable product for investment.
The long lost pride of an Insurance Adviser
The ones who are most affected by the increasing negativity are the – Agents / Advisers. Right from seeking appointment to facing ignorance, insult and delays – an agent’s work is harsh.
However the greatest impact of all this is not the difficulty in selling the insurance. It is the lost sense of the pride in the job. The most successful insurance agents are the ones who believe in the product and are knowledgeable. They truly have faith in what they were selling and take pride in their job.
However the newer agents have not been able to instill the same regard for the job and primarily because of the negativity around the offering. The newer agents have not been able to convince themselves about the soundness of the product they are selling, they themselves have doubts and hence even the slightest resistance from customers cannot be handled properly.
Unless this belief and pride is restored the industry would not attract talent.
The Game of Perception
In the past few years there were problems in some of the insurance products as well as distributors. However the good news for the industry is that the regulator acted proactively and put in strict mechanisms / regulations to stop the wrong practices. As a result the insurance offering has improved substantially.
But the bad news is that the news has still not reached consumers. It has been more than 3-5 years for regulatory intervention however the image about the insurance is still the same. And the whole industry is to blame for that. Insurance players have not taken any pro-active steps to communicate the new improved offering to consumers. Although the insurance product is improved nevertheless the agent’s difficulty is still the same since the customer mindset is still negative.
Advisers cannot be expected to increase sales unless they are provided with enough armor to take on the challenges such as consumer mindset, competition, etc. Agents lack support on various fronts such as -lack of proper training period, proper selling tools to almost no image management for the industry.
The Tough Competition
Secondly, for the Insurance industry the competition is not only amongst the field players but also from other tools of investment such as mutual fund, PPF, real estate, etc.
And in terms of mind-space, insurance is not occupying any positive space. Unless insurance changes this perception and provides enough shields to its agents to fight the battle vis-a-vis other financial instruments, life insurance industry is not going to get back on its older path of high growth. In such times, other insurance players are not your competitors, they are allies.
The Road ahead
There are lots of experienced marketing professionals within the insurance industry and they will know the importance of the game of perception. In the retail business it is important to take up significant marketing and communication activities to change the view.
If the life insurance industry wants to rise again then it must take immediate steps through ‘Life Insurance Council’ to change the insight. Industry could disseminate information though news articles, blogs, TVC etc.
Secondly, the industry has to build / use tools which prove the importance, superiority and appropriateness of insurance products for financial savings and/or risk management.
(Some bit of marketing here won’t harm). This is where our company can be of help. We are building such tools, after thorough research of what an advisor needs to properly pitch his case to a customer. Our tools HelpInsure and PolicyBank are built keeping the insurance advisors in mind.
This improvement in image of life insurance will benefit your last arm – the advisor tremendously. Today, agents face a tough market and even a small improvement in the scenario can boost his / her morale.