This post is part of a series sponsored by AgentSync.
The producer market is getting thin with retirees leaving companies and not enough interest from new generations. Agencies that can deliver both the historic benefits of an agency contract and meet new expectations for speed and efficiency will develop loyal relationships with their independent producer base faster and deeper than counterparts that rest on their laurels.
These five services are ones that producers have come to expect from the various agencies they work with. Demand for these services is likely to increase from historical norms as fewer producers serve an even wider market.
Make no mistake, independent producers are the rock stars of the industry for a reason: The majority of life and non-life insurance are sold by independent agents and agencies. By being easy to work with and accessible to independent producers, business units across all branches of government can strengthen their market share for decades to come despite industry talk of a talent crisis.
Before we launch into five key services that forward-thinking agencies should provide their independent producers, remember that these are guidelines, not business coaching or legal advice. You do you… (have own due diligence).
1. Favorable replacement benefit
If we were to rank producers’ priorities, this would be number 1 on the list. Since agencies sit between carriers and producers, it is of utmost importance to offer producers more favorable contracts with excellent compensation benefits.
The highest commission payout is not the only factor a producer should consider when evaluating their potential FMO, IMO, BGA, NMO or other agency relationships. However, business units that intend to retain a larger portion of a carrier’s commission payout should better prove their worth in other areas. Insurance agencies that work with independent producers must demonstrate a commitment to the success of those producers, or expect to negotiate hard on compensation structures.
For agencies that have in-house agents on a W-2 basis, this benefit may be offset by other employment benefits, such as base pay or health care. But for top-selling independent insurance agents, keeping a high percentage of their earned commissions is often a very high priority.
Again, it shouldn’t be the only factor an independent insurance producer uses to evaluate relationships, but it would be Naivt™ to discount salary structures in agency contracts.
2. Licensing and Compliance Management
Insurance sales can be an unforgiving business, especially for startups. Long hours, thankless paperwork and fickle prospecting bring some discouragement to a profession experiencing a mass exodus without a corresponding influx of new talent.
Licensing and compliance, especially for producers looking to expand their operations, can be a serious challenge. Because let’s be clear, many insurance producers have a clue that if their income is tied to commissions, they’re not making money every minute they’re not selling in front of potential customers.
According to this idea, every minute spent doing licensing or continuing education or other compliance management tasks is a minute a producer is losing money. So agencies that can take as much of the work out of licensing renewals and obtaining new state licenses from a producer’s plate as possible can better prove that they value producers’ time and talents (ie, selling!).
Furthermore, agencies that instead rely on manual paper-based processes run the risk of annoying their producers. Manual data entry and re-entry isn’t something most of us have the patience for, much less when we’re squeezing it into ten minutes between client meetings.
3. Marketing and branding materials
For insurance producers, having marketing materials ready to deliver to potential customers is a game changer. Yet many producers don’t have the time or budget to not only put together sophisticated digital and physical marketing tools, but also hire compliance consultants who can review the material for legal liability.
Agencies that can provide elegant, producer-branded materials that adhere to best practice standards can gain a competitive advantage in the insurance market.
This can also apply to ongoing maintenance; Business units that provide a bank of warehouse communications for producers to use for existing customer books are sure to earn the gratitude of agents and their staff.
4. Administrative support
Paperwork and processes, policy services, secure documentation, staff training… Finding ways to “do the boring stop” is truly invaluable for insurance producers running a one-man shop. Especially when an insurance agent may have contracts with 40 different carriers, any agency that can streamline the sales-to-commission process via administrative support or more robust digital solutions can have a serious impact on their producers’ operations.
Insurance producers may have staff to handle these processes, but especially for independent firms, the staff may be well-meaning family members who lack institutional knowledge. Solutions to this need can take many forms, from a more automated sales structure and formal document management to training administrative teams or personnel in HR policies.
Administrative support often has the downstream effect of helping independent producers end cycles of team churn, which in turn can help reduce customer churn. By strengthening a producer’s business with better retention, the wheel turns again and you can ensure a longer and more gratifying relationship with a producer who is very much in love with your insurance company.
5. Prospecting for new customers
In many ways, independent insurance agents find themselves in the Wild West, hanging out in sunny California as they scour silty waterways for little flaky nuggets of gold. Or, at least, that’s what comes to mind when we talk about insurance prospecting.
Especially for newer agents (and in 10 years they’ll basically all be newer agents!), prospecting for clients probably seems as exhausting as panning for gold. The perfect alignment of licensing, need and timing is a combination that can seem like a rare unicorn.
Insurance agencies that can help independent agents find solid leads for new business will be better positioned than their peers to prove their worth. And we’re not talking mass mailings here, but strategic initiatives that screen out people who are already interested in relevant products.
The Future of Insurance Agent-Producer Relationships
Even as digital insurance purchases increase, insurance producers are an important part of the buyer’s journey. After all, while an app can compare prices, it can’t hold your hand, look you in the eye, and provide the reassurance of a human presence. When it comes to a basic rental policy along with your existing car insurance, it might not be a big deal. But when it comes to insurance that can affect your lifestyle or livelihood, you want a personal touch.
Business units that recognize and respect that dynamic, and apply these five services appropriately, will put themselves at the forefront of recruiting and retaining competent insurance professionals for decades to come.
If you’re interested in how AgentSync can help you remove barriers for your team and provide a frictionless onboarding experience and better manage manufacturers’ licensing needs, check out AgentSync in action.