The Life Insurance Cross-Sell: An Essential Element of P&C Agency Growth

life-insurance-cross-sellIn property & casualty insurance, both personal and commercial lines continue to face the headwinds of a changing industry. According to MarketScout.com, commercial lines premiums have been steadily decreasing since September 2015, and personal lines premiums have been on the decline since October. A soft market is predicted for the foreseeable future, making agency revenue growth even more challenging.

Further complicating matters, the once product-centric insurance industry is now transitioning to consumer-centricity – no longer immune to retail consumer demands and expectations created by companies such as Amazon.com and Uber.

Today’s insurance consumer demands price transparency, instant service, and technology that circumvents the notorious delays associated with insurance. They want e-signatures, mobile access and online quotes. As many carriers and agencies have discovered, these changes are not simple and often require significant technology investment.

Auto insurance, once the bread and butter of the P&C agency, has devolved to the line of business with the thinnest margin. To sum it up, P&C agencies face downward pressure on premium and revenue growth while at the same time juggling increased costs for agency management systems, technology improvements, and Website updates. Agency principals need strategies to increase revenue and profitability without adding equivalent expenses.

Only one strategy accomplishes all three objectives and improves customer satisfaction at the same time: cross-selling.

Overcoming cross-selling reluctance

Talking to clients about the risks they face and the insurance products that can reduce those risks seems like an obvious, rationale business move. Yet, it’s a move that many agents and agency principals resist. For agency staff, an emphasis on cross-selling often represents change. Leading a team through change takes more than a proclamation. It takes building a sales culture by planning, follow-up, and team-building.

The hidden gem in building a cross-selling culture is that sales tend to improve in all areas. A cross-selling culture is one that recognizes the value of advising clients in all aspects of insuring financial security, including life insurance, disability insurance, and long-term care insurance. It’s a culture that sees cross-selling as a means to help the client will be able to sustain most cross-selling initiatives.

At Brokers Central, we have been successful bringing life, disability and long-term care insurance to P&C agencies because we emphasize the importance of establishing a cross-selling culture. Our implementation model addresses the most common reasons agents avoid cross-selling efforts.

1.  Reluctant to develop new area of expertise: P&C lines of business demand expertise in several areas, familiarity with carrier nuances, quoting systems, contract language differences and so on. Some agents believe they don’t have the capacity to develop the same level of expertise for new products. Brokers Central doesn’t expect P&C producers to become experts in life, DI and LTCi. We serve as your expert. We will provide as much support as needed, from case design, to quotes, to finding the right carrier for special risks.

2.  Mistrust: Agents work hard to secure the trust and business of a client often developed over many years. Understandably, an agent may be fearful that an introduction of a third party may jeopardize the relationship with the client. Brokers Central ALWAYS acknowledges who owns the client relationship. We will prepare an agent to have the necessary level of conversation with the client and accompany the agent to a client meeting if that is desired. We realize the loss of one client may mean the end of our business relationship. As the agent, you are always the highest priority.

3.  Complicated processes. The adoption of ACORD standards by P&C carriers simplified many of the new business procedures for personal and commercial lines. Life, DI, and LTCi applications and other data gathering vary widely. An agent may find the differences to be a barrier to cross-selling. The Brokers Central model frees the agent from these complications. We aim to keep the agent in front of customers rather than in front of a computer screen.

Perpetuating a culture of cross-selling

Perhaps most importantly, the Brokers Central implementation plan includes setting realistic cross-selling goals at the organizational and individual producer levels. We involve your team in identifying opportunities and comfortably introducing the client to additional needs. Brokers Central offers a turnkey marketing toolkit, a sales and marketing system to create awareness with the client, paving the way for the next life, disability or long-term care conversation. We help you keep a spotlight on your agency’s cross-selling goals.

The dollars and cents of a cross-selling culture

Compensation for life, disability, and long-term care insurance products is very attractive. Commissions are typically 50 percent or more of first year premium. To earn $50,000 of commission from property and casualty business may require more than $700,000 in premium.

Depending on the product and amount of insurance, just a few life, DI, or LTCi policies may yield $50,000 in commission. One of our clients, Elite Insurance Agency, attributes as much as 50 percent of agency income to life, disability and long-term care sales. Read the case study about how Brokers Central helped the Elite Insurance Agency institutionalize cross-selling.

An agency culture grounded in serving the client through cross-selling will see increased revenue from sources other than life, DI, and LTCi commissions. According to Database Marketing Institute, each additional product incrementally increases client retention rates. The deck is stacked in your favor. Invespcro.com reports that existing clients are 50 percent more likely than a new client to try a new product and to spend 31 percent more. Add to that the personal satisfaction of knowing you’ve done the best for your client.

To learn more about the Brokers Central approach to improving the P & C agency’s bottom line through cross-selling, download Cross-selling Game Plan. Ready to get started with your personalized implementation plan? Call us at 800.495.5000.

Paul is the Vice President of Sales at Brokers Central, with more than 20 years of financial services experience under his belt, most recently as a Regional Marketing Specialist for Prudential Insurance.View Paul’s bio.  Contact Paul.