Consultative Selling – Knowing Customers’ Needs is Paramount
Communicating their needs effectively and building a secure relationship is paramount for every customer. Especially, if one is looking for a life insurance product which eventually leads to long term association with the carrier. Most of the insurance sales personnel jump to pitching products with all speed, even before getting to know the pulse of the customer. To add to the misery, conventional insurance products lack agility to meet the needs of a transfiguring customer base. Consultative selling, unlike product focused selling is kindled in conversations between a client and an agent. And this is possible only when the agent’s pitch is backed by insights into the customers’ necessities and obligations
Classifying prospects into segments based on myriad of factors such as demographics, psychographics, and transaction patterns, etc., gives an edge to insurers. Analytics enable carriers in building consumer research capabilities for improved segmenting and targeting. Social media and web analytics provide valuable insights on customer behavior, preferences and most important of all, their life events. Life events play a crucial role in influencing customers’ purchase decisions of life insurance. Nevertheless, social listening must be done with utmost care so as to not violate the privacy of prospects.
Research suggests that positive life events such as marriage, having children, buying home, etc., motivated the customers to consider life insurance. It is important for carriers to generate enough data, analyze, predict and segment customers based on these triggering moments. Furnishing intermediaries with such information helps them in reaching out to prospects at the right time, further leveraging consultative selling.
Agents’ Role in Consultative Selling
Agents are required to assist customers in effective financial planning and mapping long term benefits of life insurance with their personal financial goals. A good agent by default is expected to have knowledge on a wide array of products available in the market. He/she must possess credentials in financial planning and also understand the dynamics of the industry. Several financial aspects need to be taken into consideration and analyzed before proposing a product to the prospect. For instance, long term monetary needs are assessed based on current occupational conditions and earning capabilities of the prospect, while factoring the interest and effect on savings. Likewise, family needs, retirement needs, unanticipated medical and contingency needs, are to be estimated as a part of the planning. Carriers must not only train agents to efficiently advise customers on the potential benefits of life insurance, but also empower them digitally to get a hold of consultative selling.
To be able to efficiently capture and analyze such data and settle on a plan of action, agents must be facilitated with a sophisticated digital platform with the following salient features.
- World class UX design with omni channel experience and time saving workflows of capturing important documents / information, digitally.
- Business rules on server side to minimize number of channel-specific upgrades.
- Flexible server-side product configuration to adapt to customer needs. This is the key to consultative selling. This also helps in introducing new products into the market with a quick turnaround time.
- Ability to capture customer’s behavior, interactions and preferences which enables the advisor to cater to customer needs in a better way.
- An integrated knowledge management platform for upskilling the advisors about new products.
- Facility to capture feedback from advisors to improvise the platform and to use the data in usability study. This can also in the long-term evolution of the platform.
Eventually, consultative selling will lay a firm foundation in building long-term relationships with customers and this coupled with a customer-centric product strategy can work wonders for insurers.
Do you agree that consultative selling backed by a digital product strategy platform will influence the life insurance industry, positively?