The Salesperson Isn’t Dead (but needs to rise to the occasion)

By Joe Navarro 

Have you heard that the salesperson is dead in 2019? Don’t buy it. Here are some stats that prove this statement dead wrong and offers insights that speak to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead this year. According to a 2018 PwC survey:

  • Consumers would pay up to 16 percent more for better customer experience.
  • 75 percent of consumers around the word desire more human interaction.

In addition, when it surveyed 4,000 U.S. internet users 13 and older, PwC found that more than 8 in 10 respondents said that as technology improves, they will want to interact with a real person.Yes, you read that right: a real person.

To take it further, U.S. internet users were less inclined than other countries to think that once technology becomes even more advanced, we won’t need humans for great customer experiences, according to the survey.

Is “great customer experiences” your primary goal for growing your business? If not, 2019 is the perfect year to make it your goal. That’s because consumers – yep, I’m talking millennials — not only want to interact with real people like you, but they also desire a better customer experience.

When asked about their “secret sauce” (why people buy from you), it’s quite common for most brokers to respond with, “We deliver good customer service.” Which may be true. But the differentiator today is when you can say, “My agency is known for great customer experiences online and in person.” That is how you can win BIG in the New Year — particularly with the newest generation of buyers.

How can you provide great customer service? There are many things you can do, but here are the ringers:

Great salespeople communicate well from emails to in-person conversations. They are clear, concise and speak with the customer “voice.”

  • Great salespeople listen to people and welcome feedback. They listen to learn  what they can do to create a better experience.
  • Great salespeople are humble.  They realize it is not about them and they are willing to sacrifice their time, energy and resources to make sure their clients succeed.

Another key thing you can do: Aim to better define the customer journey when you’re working with prospective or existing clients. Put yourself and your team in their shoes.  If the experience doesn’t truly differentiate you from others, if the experience is not exceptional, go back to the drawing board to talk about how you can get there.

Three Kinds of Consumers

When looking at today’s consumer, Accenture’s study, “The Voice of the Customer: Identifying Disruptive Opportunities in Insurance Distribution,” found three distinct consumer personas. Each is differentiated by its members’ attitudes toward competitive pricing and low cost, and their level of interest in high-quality, responsive service. According to Accenture, they are:

  • Nomads — A highly digitally active group, ready for a new model of delivery
  • Hunters — Searching for the best deal on price
  • Quality Seekers — Loyal to insurers that deliver on brand integrity and service excellence

You have the ability to influence how all these different personalities think about and purchase insurance. And that should be done in a way in which you have a positive impact on a client’s experience.

Insurtech For The Disrupters

Though consumers are looking for interactions with real people, it would behoove us to keep in mind that technology will play a key role in how consumers interact online with you and insurance companies.

Let’s go back to 2018 for a bit. We all heard a lot about technology. Key words making the rounds included blockchain, artificial intelligence, data mining — and, in our industry, insurtech. McKinsey & Company called insurtech “the threat that inspires.” What is insurtech?

McKinsey says, “Insurtechs are technology-led companies that enter the insurance sector, taking advantage of new technologies to provide coverage to a more digitally savvy customer base.” Another definition from Investopedia says, “Insurtech refers to the use of technology innovations designed to squeeze out savings and efficiency from the current insurance model.”

When insurtech was first coined a couple of years ago, some people called it a disrupter and thought it could eliminate the need for agents and brokers. But focusing on the New Year, I believe “technology disruption” will create an insurance industry that is even more robust and attractive to a new buyer, revitalizing processes and responding to the needs of a more tech-savvy consumer.

So for clients who may prefer less interaction with people and more with technology, optimize your business in such a way that you can cater to their needs as well. If you haven’t already, implement technology in your business processes in order to provide a better consumer experience.

Five Business Drivers for This Year

Here’s the takeaway. You should set out to do these five things this year:

  1. Urgently evaluate all aspects of your agency. Who are you, what do you do and how do you do it?   Clearly define your secret sauce for all to know, from employees and clients to product partners
  2. Define, differentiate and deploy your great customer experience.
  3. Prioritize the delivery of fast, seamless and personalized service.
  4. Be authentic. Genuine relationships trump technology.
  5. Personalize the tech “disruption” of your agency.

The New Buyer is the Millennial

The new buyer is changing. They will be different and they will impact how you sell insurance in a dramatic fashion.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, “they” are millennials and they are now the largest generation in the workforce.  They come with new buying attitudes, perceptions and demands on the buying process. Almost half of them currently work in business and professional services, while one-third are in financial services, according to a new Paychex survey on small business.

Being the largest generation they will also soon be the decision maker on what broker they will use when it comes to the purchase of health insurance for the company they work with.

Which, in closing, I encourage you to think about: Are you millennial ready?


Joe Navarro has a long-standing history of serving the needs of agents in the health insurance industry. In his role at Warner Pacific he is the director of broker development, working with brokers/agencies on growing their business in a new market.  Past president of LAAHU and recipient of the Paladin Award, LAAHU’s most prestigious honor, Joe currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Ventura County Association of Health Underwriters.