Market Focus - Insurance Agents: Shine the Silver Lining
Imagine always being the bearer of bad news. Day in, day out, consistently reminding friendly clients that the worst is yet to come-accidents, floods, fires, even death. Insurance agents have it kind of rough.
Luckily, the nature of the beast means this sector is extremely open to products and services that make winning clients that much easier. Their wares might give new meaning to the term, "hard sell," but that doesn't mean their 9 to 5 has to be difficult, too.
Easy Does It
"Most agencies have at least basic accounting and client-management software, but they buy additional B-to-B software that helps their customers (families and businesses) manage risk," says Peter van Aartrijk, CEO and managing director for Springfield, Va.-based The van Aartrijk Group, a branding firm that specializes in financial services.
Though it might seem rather unbelievable in today's increasingly digital business environment, a major area of opportunity with insurance agents is Web site design and other Internet services. It's essential for client-agent communication. And, van Aartrijk frankly comments, "Agencies need help with their Web sites-design, hosting, content. Most of their sites are terrible right now."
The need for third-party Web consultants is especially strong in smaller agency environments. "Larger companies have IT departments just as in any larger company. And the smaller [independents] learn to be do-it-yourselfers, or they hire someone to build their Web sites and maintain their software," contends Turk Hassan, interactive department manager for Statlistics, a list management and brokerage firm in Danbury, Conn.
Similarly, on-the-go technology also plays an important role in client communication, and laptops and PDAs are vital for off-site agents. "They would respond well to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) pitches, especially if the technology can be tailored to help the service staff handle customers from remote locations (e.g., the home), which is an increasing trend," van Aartrijk says.