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How General Agencies Differ (and Yes! It Matters!)

About 20 years ago or so, it was a lot easier to identify what constituted a great life insurance General Agency. Today, not so much.

Have you asked yourself these questions:

Does it really matter which General Agency I work with?

Can’t I just choose one and be confident I’ll get all the help I need?

Let’s get down to brass tacks, once and for all, and help invested insurance producers like you figure out why your choice of General Agencies matters a great deal for your success.

In the past

Scale, or size, meant everything and the more people that a General Agency employed, the better the service they generally could provide to larger numbers of insurance agents.

These more simplistic times were well before technology changed how business would get done. The internet, in its earliest stages, was limited in terms of what it offered people in business, including most insurance agents and General Agencies.

Computers only played a rudimentary role and most processes were still done by hand. Pen and paper were the primary tools at the fingertips of staff; and regular mail was the primary method of delivery (until the fax machine was invented!). People actually picked up the phone to communicate as a first line of defense.

It was also back in the day when the life insurance "case" was actually a "file" – an actual paper file – that included everything about a prospect's life insurance application, which eventually became the “in force” file once the case was approved and paid for.

No two people could have physical possession of that file at the same time, which meant that only one person could work on it at a time. Also, policy service was a very manual process, and again, the more people to work on service requests, the better the service was likely to be. 

Advancements lead to key differences

But those are the "olden days" as it goes, and today, technology plays a major part in how a life insurance general agency operates.

For example, more than one person can work on and see a file at the same time, and that file is no longer physical in nature. Imaging has taken the place of the physical file and it is now viewed on a computer screen. Gone, to a great degree, is snail mail and most communication occurs with email and by telephone.

Not only has technology disrupted old-school ways of doing business, it has also blurred the lines between what constitutes a great General Agency and a good General Agency.

General Agency characteristics

Admittedly, there is a vast difference between great service and terrible service. No one would argue that.

But the difference between great service and good service may be imperceptible nowadays.

Why? Because the playing field has leveled when it comes to basic services provided by most life insurance General Agencies.

Most life insurance General Agencies offer and represent the same carriers. And most of the products are widely available regardless of where an agent places their life insurance business.

Also, most General Agencies have websites and offer policy services that are completed, in large part, through insurance carrier portals.

What does that mean?

It means that, to a degree, small and midsize agencies can now compete with larger agencies from a service perspective.

And a life insurance general agency can no longer hang their hats exclusively on service as a strength (although service is always important), because service is easier to provide due to technology, regardless of an agency's size.

So if most life insurance General Agencies represent the same carriers, and have access to the same product portfolios, and provide good service, then service is no longer the defining differentiator insurance producers can you use when choosing a GA.

THE defining factor

So what is the difference between life insurance general agencies?

The answer to that can vary, but it likely falls down to three things that should make a difference to anyone selling life insurance: training, hands-on sales support, and case processing.

1. Training

Today's insurance agent is far more independent than in years past. Technology has made it possible to conduct business without being in a traditional office and to work from a home-based office. There are also fewer career-oriented insurance carriers offering "ground-up" levels of training.

Today's independent insurance producer may find herself largely on her own, and no one is forcing her to go to meetings to learn about concepts and sales ideas.

On the other hand, it's not often that an insurance producer sees an opportunity and doesn't want to take advantage of it  –   even if it's not his area of expertise.

That's where a great life insurance General Agency can come in and provide support to help that producer understand new and effective concepts that act as conversation starters.

Most insurance producers would benefit from being informed about topics that would be relevant to their personal and business clients to ensure that their financial affairs are protected. A General Agency that provides that level of support may make the difference in an agent’s success.

2. Hands-on Sales Support

A General Agency may provide training and good sales ideas, but that may not be good enough to the insurance producer who doesn’t have the comfort level to present them to his prospects. For many insurance producers, life insurance may not be their specialty – yet they’d still be interested in capturing the opportunity to help a client.

A great life insurance General Agency has both the resources and expertise to provide hands-on sales support, to include conference calls with prospects and clients, as well as in-person support at client meetings.

3. Case Processing

And finally, any insurance agent or broker knows that, regardless of how many ideas and concepts they learn or sales they make, if they don’t get a case processed in a timely manner and ultimately get a competitive offer from the insurance carrier – nothing else will matter.

A great General Agency has the staff, experience and support to marshal a case through and increase the likelihood of an agent or broker getting paid. After all, it IS about the money!

Choose your General Agency wisely, as it will affect the training you receive, the hands-on support you require and the case processing upon which you depend.

Does your General Agency do all of these things for you?

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