The internet is the go-to resource for many insurance comparison shoppers who are searching for good deals and looking to compare quotes. It’s a quick, easy and convenient way to learn about coverage and find an optimal policy.
In fact, 74 percent of shoppers go through insurer websites or aggregators to perform research and get quotes, according to global market research company J.D. Power in a 2016 study. And this can present a problem for independent agents who still primarily sell coverage offline.
What do you do when you’re trying to sell coverage, and a customer says, “Well, I found the same policy on Geico.com for $5 less.”? How do you as an agent focused on building long-lasting relationships anticipate and overcome that objection and turn that browser into a customer?
Here are 10 tips for appealing to online comparison shoppers.
Emphasize Your Availability
The fact that nearly three out of four insurance customers shop online may be a little disheartening to independent agents. But J.D. Powers notes that only one-quarter actually buy their insurance online, and 50 percent still close through an agent. Although the majority of customers now go online for comparison research, many still want to talk to someone before buying a policy to ensure they’re getting the right coverage and have their questions answered.
That’s one of an agent’s main selling points and something you should emphasize. Letting leads know you’re always available to help them and answer pressing questions is critical, explains Lauren Hayden at Ritter Insurance Marketing.
Develop a Unique Selling Point
There’s more price competition and smaller savings with insurance shopping these days. Offering lower prices than mega brands just isn’t something most independent agents can afford to do. It’s almost impossible to undercut major insurance companies and website aggregators.
But what you can do is differentiate yourself from competitors and give shoppers a reason to choose you over them. You do this by developing a unique selling point. “It could be a perception people have about the company and product,” explains the team at Insurance Relief. “It can also be the way the company does business.”
Examples include being passionate about helping your community and donating a percentage of sales to a local charity. Or providing stellar customer service and responding to customers within just a few hours. A unique selling point can be anything says Business News Daily staff writer, Matt D’Angelo, as long as it portrays your company in a unique way and appeals to your target market.
Act as an Advisor
“Your policyholders are expecting more,” explains Jamie Bisker, director of insurance industry solutions at Salesforce. “They’re looking to their insurance agent to be a trusted advisor — someone they can collaborate with to reach their financial goals year after year.”
In fact, this is one of the main selling points of an independent agent and what continues to give you an advantage. It’s about being a trusted advisor rather than just a salesperson, agrees the Insurance Office of America team. Adopting this mentality and always being willing to lend your knowledge and expertise should provide the incentive many online comparison shoppers need to buy their coverage from you.
Offer Personalized Service
The J.D. Power study points out that three-quarters of policyholders are willing to switch insurers for more personalized service. There’s a growing demand for fine-tuning insurance service in a way that’s geared toward the individual rather than the masses.
Indeed, by 2020, more than half of consumers will expect companies to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions, concurs Devon McGinnis, senior manager of corporate marketing at Salesforce concurs.
A simple way to keep all customer interactions personalized is to avoid using generic “boilerplate” responses to inquiries, writes insurance market access provider, Insureon Solutions. Instead, make an effort to personalize your response, addressing the unique needs of each person.
It’s also helpful to offer personalized claims service, adds the team at Terranova Insurance. Helping customers fill out claims forms, keeping them updated on the progress of their claims and diligently working alongside an insurance company to promptly resolve the issue is crucial.
Help Assess Risk
Everyone has a different risk level, which informs as to which policy is the right one for them. An online aggregator will ask basic questions to get a rough idea of what type of policy someone needs, but it doesn’t always tell the whole story.
This is an area where independent agents can shine, says insurance consultant Marianne Bonner. They are highly skilled at risk assessment, and know how to take a close look at a person’s situation and lifestyle in order to identify major risks. They can also help customers decide what’s truly worth insuring and then prioritize coverage in terms of what’s most important.
Create a Simple Shopping Experience
Insurance can be complicated. Shoppers have to familiarize themselves with complex terms and jargon, figure out premiums and deductibles, and learn how to file claims. It can be a little overwhelming for many people, especially if it’s their first time.
Creating a simple shopping experience is another way you can put your company ahead and appeal to online comparison shoppers. Being straightforward with your policies and not confusing them with complex promotions is critical. The agents who win are the ones who make insurance “easy,” writes Louise Portelli, partner at financial audit, tax and advisor company, KPMG.
And as Charlotte Rogers, senior writer at Marketing Week points out, 62 percent of shoppers are willing to pay more for a simple experience.
Today’s insurance shoppers are less interested in advanced tech and more interested in a smooth, seamless shopping process, writes Zack Wagner at mobile platform Lumavate. The better you are at providing that, the easier it will be to win over this demographic.
So how can you do this? Simplifying forms is a great starting point, says customer experience consultant Blake Morgan. No one likes filling out lengthy, redundant forms; you’ll address a common pain point by saving potential customers’ time. It’s also smart to break down policies and identify those that are most relevant to each customer. In other words, don’t overwhelm them with a huge list of policies, some of which are not applicable to their needs.
Be a One-Stop Shop
This brings us to our next point. Give shoppers the chance to conveniently buy multiple types of insurance from you. Besides the lower premiums, this provides customers with a level of convenience many are actively seeking. It limits the amount of paperwork and streamlines policy management, explains automotive and insurance writer, Mark Vallet.
It also prevents them from having to deal with multiple companies or agents, meaning there’s less hassle making payments and only one renewal date to remember. Letting online comparison shoppers know you can handle most if not all of their insurance needs can be a huge selling point.
Demonstrate Your Long-Term Value
It’s true that online comparison shoppers can sometimes save a few bucks by getting a policy from a big name company. But that doesn’t always mean they’re getting more value in the long run. One area where these companies can’t compete with independent agents is the level of personal attention they provide over time, which develop into relationships.
As the Charis Insurance Groups points out, it’s through these conversations that an agent really learns a customer’s needs and enables them to offer a policy tailored to that customer’s specific needs.
Customers rarely have one-time transactions when dealing with an agent, Affordable American Insurance adds. Often, the independent agent becomes a lifetime consultant, who is part of a customer’s life, helping guide them through different stages like getting married, having children and buying a home. So you’ll want to drive home the fact that you’re there for the long run and someone your customers can turn to whenever they need.
Independent agents are also “right around the corner,” says the team at Mutual Benefit Group. There’s a community aspect of going through an agent that many people still appreciate, which is yet another selling point.
Since you’re based locally and live in the same community as your customers, it tends to be easier for you to understand their needs and help them overcome their challenges. So this is something else you’ll want to emphasize when speaking with prospects.
Be a Consummate Professional
Finally, there’s the matter of professional service. If a prospective buyer is on the fence about buying insurance from you, being a consummate professional can get them on board.
Being a great listener, passionate, resilient and self-motivated are all qualities successful insurance professionals share, educational services provider Kaplan writes. Insurance is a personal experience: it deals with the safety and security of a customer’s family and home. A customer needs to feel comfortable trusting their independent agent to represent them honestly and in a professional manner.
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