OBJECTIVE: “An army of a thousand is easy to find, but how difficult it is to find a general”. This quote sums up our reason for undertaking this assignment. As good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience, we, as management students, seeking to be the leaders of tomorrow, have interviewed the top professionals of various insurance companies with the objective of imbibing the qualities possessed by them in us. METHODOLOGY:
To decipher how an Insurance Agent can metamorphosize into a Leader in his field, and to also get a clear insight into the qualities and skill sets needed to become one, our group believed in getting the details by adopting the following means: •Primary data collection by interviewing Insurance agents, Sales managers of Insurance companies and Financial service providers. •Telephonic interviews •Secondary data collection from the following websites: www. insureme. comwww. hrworld. com www. goalstoaction. comwww. ampminsurance. org
Our group has interviewed the following executives: S No. NAMEORGANISATIONDESIGNATIONLOCATIONTYPE OF INTERVIEW 1Anuja GillSBI Standard LifeHead Of North Process Quality ControlChandigarhEmail 2Ashish BajpaiHDFC Standard LifeBranch ManagerLucknowTelephonic 3Anuj GulatiICICI LombardDirector: Operations, IT, Claim, UnderwritersDelhiEmail 4Alok AgarwalICICI LombardDirector: CSG, GSGDelhiEmail 5Neelesh GargICICI LombardDirector: Retail, Banker and Travel InsuranceDelhiTelephonic 6Roopa NaiduSBI Standard LifeProcess Quality ControlBangaloreTelephonic 7Mr.
PrasadBajaj AllianceRegional ManagerBangaloreTelephonic 8Major PallaviICICI LombardHRBangaloreTelephonic 9Sandeep BakshiICICI LombardManaging DirectorNew DelhiEmail 10Vishakha MulyeICICI LombardExecutive DirectorNew DelhiTelephonic 11R. SabithaWay2Wealth Securities Pvt. LtdBranch ManagerHyderabadPersonal Visit FINDINGS: As multi-talented individuals with a bent towards sales and marketing, successful insurance agents wear many different hats. Besides being consummate salespersons, they diligently seek out and serve customers with loving attention and an eye for detail. Setting the Stage
With more than 2 million workers in the insurance industry, the successful agent in this competitive market must work hard and remain diligent and committed. The best insurance agents are achievement-oriented, independent, focused and self-motivated. In fact, one in four successful agents chooses self-employment because of the freedom to come and go, work self-sufficiently, and creatively market and sell policies and products. Plying the Trade It is the job of insurance providers to help individuals, families and businesses select insurance policies that provide the best protection for their lives, health and property.
On a typical day an agent might: •Spend time networking and seeking new customers •Meet with or call potential clients to advise them on coverage •Offer clients comprehensive financial planning services such as retirement or estate planning •Prepare reports and maintain sales records •Help policyholders settle insurance claims Because most agents work on commission, networking and pursuing new customers takes up the majority of their time. However, the typical agent’s day also involves many, much more detailed tasks.
As experts in one of three major areas: life, health, or property and casualty insurance, most agents attend to the fine points daily by: •Selling various types of insurance policies •Interviewing prospective clients about their financial needs and resources; the physical condition of the person or property to be insured, and any existing coverage •Explaining features, advantages and disadvantages of various policies •Customizing policies to suit customers •Delivering policies and answering questions; suggesting additions or changes, or changing beneficiaries •Calculating premiums and establishing payment methods Making sure policy requirements are fulfilled, including necessary forms completed and medical exams taken •Contacting underwriters and submitting forms for binder coverage •Conferring with clients to obtain information in the event of a claim En”VISION”ing Success The roles of a successful insurance agent are numerous. In order to build a reliable client base and gain financial success and independence, agents must focus on the details, listen to client concerns, and serve customer needs effectively.
Using adeptness in sales, marketing, customer service and time-management, skillful salespeople can successfully wear the many hats of a dedicated insurance agent. All it takes is a little flexibility, enthusiasm, confidence, discipline—and hard work! Building Clientele Acquiring new clients is one of the greatest challenges faced by new agents, which is why it’s important to explore all possible methods to find clients. The following methods are used to attract clients: •Posters •Newspaper advertisements •Door-to-door solicitation Cold-calling While solicitation may not appeal to some, those that shy away from these methods do not often succeed. Developing a system will help to set goals and stay motivated, resulting in persistence that pays off—with new clients. The Importance of Referrals When it comes to making a sale, it’s important that you see each client as the gateway to 10 or 15 additional clients. Amidst insurance professionals, it’s not uncommon to hear that the successful agent will sell to one family and then continue to sell to the rest of the block.
No matter where referrals come from, it’s important for new agents to cross-sell into other areas in order to meet the needs of potential clients. If you primarily sell property and casualty policies, this means you will want to become well-versed in life and health insurance. Depending on your state’s guidelines, you may need to obtain a second license to sell life and health policies, or vice versa. The more extensive the services, the better equipped the agent will be to take advantage of any referrals!
When it comes to customer service, remember: a satisfied clientele will lead to referrals, expanding your business in ways you never imagined. According to our group, the qualities and skills required to be a good leader in the filed of Insurance are: QualitiesSkills PassionHigh Energy LevelProduct/Industry Awareness Proactive NaturePerseveranceCommunication ExtroversionManipulativeNetworking Alacrity towards LearningOpportunisticDifferentiated Selling Techniques Result orientedDiscerning DisciplineConviction PASSION: For a professional to excel in the insurance sector, passion towards his work is the foremost requirement. For a person working in this sector, it is imperative that he/she has a strong inclination towards working in an entrepreneurial environment and has a passion to grow. It is only this deep passion that will help him to tide over all the difficulties and obstacles that the insurance industry has to offer. ” says Major Pallavi, HR of ICICI Lombard. PROACTIVE NATURE: There is a common saying in the insurance business, “A successful insurance person needs to be proactive and not reactive. ” An insurance leader needs to be a great anticipator of changes that are taking place in the industry and espond to them accordingly. With liberalization of the insurance sector and foreign participation, the competition has increased manifold in this sector. Only a firm with Proactive leaders at the top can thrive and flourish in this kind of a competitive and volatile environment. Innovation is the new mantra for survival in this industry and the first mover advantage can be capitalized upon only if the company’s leaders are proactive and well receptive to the changes in the customer’s requirements or changes in the regulatory side of the business.
As Mr. Ashish Bajpai, Branch Manager of HDFC Standard Life puts it-“Lead the way through constant prosperity or perish away in perpetual poverty”. The only option left with the firms is either to innovate or to regress. EXTROVERSION: This is the unsaid or an implicit quality that is essential for an insurance leader. It goes without saying that an insurance person should be an ace at striking a conversation with others, especially the ones who are not known to him. He/ She should be an expert at ensuring that others open-up as soon as possible.
It is this quality of an insurance person that helps him to sell the insurance products by ascertaining what the clients want as it helps to understand the client’s needs and requirements. Moreover, one of the biggest advantages that this quality offers is that it plays an instrumental role in “networking”. “The need for networking has now assumed paramount importance without which no insurance firm will be able to excel in this field”, says Sandeep Bakshi of ICICI Lombard. ALACRITY TOWARDS LEARNING:
As said by Mahatma Gandhi-“Live as if you were to die tomorrow and Learn as if you were to Live Forever”. This adage is all pervasive and holds true for the insurance sector . According to Mr. Prasad ,Regional Manager of Bajaj Alliance “A leader needs to have a sound command of the industry and awareness of the wide variety of products introduced. It is in-depth product knowledge which places me in the position that I am in today”. RESULT ORIENTED: According to Ms. Roopa Naidu, Process Quality Control Head says, “Winning is not everything, it is the only thing for an insurance leader.
Leadership is defined by results and not by attributes alone”. Every person associated with the insurance business should have his eyes glued to his targets mentioned in the MIS (Management Insurance System). The leaders working in the insurance organization should ensure that all the targets are met thereby ensuring that the firm continues to earn profits. DISCIPLINE: “Time and Tide wait for none”. A Leader should always be in control of Time rather than being controlled by the vicissitudes of Time. Discipline is what makes him attain his set goals. I have a day scheduler with me, and I plan my day by the hour”, says Ms. Vishakha Mulye, Executive Director, ICICI Lombard. She further elaborates by giving an analogy;”Just like how a man must never make his lady love wait, an Insurance executive must always see to it that he/she reports to his client on time. If there’s no adherence to time, there is a very high probability of the client being miffed and the deal failing to be closed, which becomes detrimental to meeting our organizational objectives. ” HIGH ENERGY LEVEL:
The most important trait one needs to become a good and successful insurance agent is the high energy level, which is much more important and influential than all other factors like hard work and communication skills. “Not even for a second in a day should the agent’s energy level drop during his duty. If one has a meeting with the client on a hot sunny day, he should look as fresh as ever and attend the client at his best”, says Ms. Anuja Gill of SBI Standard Life. PERSEVERANCE: The maxim “Try Try and Try again” is most befitting to agents in the Insurance Industry.
Generally, people have the notion that investing in an insurance policy is more like a dead investment. A successful insurance agent has to first clear this misconception and this is the toughest hurdle for him to cross. Mr. Ashish Bajpai, Branch Manager of HDFC says, “Understanding the financial needs of the customer is of paramount importance. If I am unable to convince the prospective client to buy into Policy A, I would then go back to him after a few days with Policy B and convince him how it would go to meet his financial objectives. He further adds that he will remain in business only if he provides good after sales services such as providing the client with premium payment notices on time, Statement of Investments etc. Only then he can live another day to expect business from the same client for another policy. ” MANIPULATIVE: To bag an Insurance policy an Insurance agent needs to be Street smart and shrewdness should be adopted if it must be a “Win Win” situation for both the agent and the client. When I meet a prospective client, I generally fabricate stories of people who were initially reluctant to buy into an insurance policy, but who later had to thank me for making them agree to buy one as they had to encounter some exigency. I thereby create a What-IF situation in their mind. It works when a fear psychosis sets in the client’s mind”,says Mr. Prasad of Bajaj Allianz. On probing into the morality of such a practice, he replied that “Selling Insurance is no crime. In fact it is an Insurance agent who truly values the life of his client. Not even the client’s relatives. OPPORTUNISTIC: To be a leader one needs to adopt certain practices that differentiate one from the rest. On asking what makes his service different from other agents, a leading Insurance agent in Coimbatore had to say that “I’ve learnt to change with the times. 8 years back I only used to sell Life Insurance products of LIC. But over the years I’ve branched into General Insurance products such as Health Insurance, Auto Insurance, Travel Insurance and Home Insurance. Now with so many private players in the market, I can give my clientele a much wider array of innovative products to choose from.
Now if I sell a Life Insurance product to a client, if he owns a house and a car, I can sell Home Insurance and Motor Insurance policies also”. “We generally cross sell insurance to our Equity and Mutual Fund Clients who have earned good profits from the stock markets”, says Mrs. R. Sabitha of Way2Wealth Securities Pvt. Ltd. “The commission we get for a Metlife Unit Linked Insurance policy (ULIP) of Rs. 5 lakhs is Rs. 90,000. If I were to expect a client to purchase shares of Reliance Industries for the same amount of Rs. 5 lakhs on delivery, I’d end up with brokerage of Rs. 000 only”. DISCERNING: A successful agent is discerning by nature. He needs to understand the needs of his clients and know what product suits them. “When it comes to Commission sharing with clients, I need to know where to draw the line. For sure, client is the King in the market. But when the client turns greedy, he needs to be told where to get off. We at Way2Wealth follow the policy of profit sharing on a discretionary basis. For a big ticket client, we don’t mind sharing our commission, as this gives us scope for doing business for the future.
We generally don’t wish to share commission with all and sundry in short. ”, says Mrs. R. Sabitha of Way2Wealth Securities Pvt. Ltd. HIGH CONVICTION: Successful marketing entails having the belief in what one has to sell and transferring this belief to the buyer. “At the end of the day, it all boils down to whether you believe in your abilities to successfully sell a product assigned to you, by delivering quality services to your clients,”says Mr. Neelesh Garg of ICICI Lombard. “If you have the conviction that you have a winning product with you, selling becomes a lot easier”’ he adds.
INSIGHT: Qualities Our PerceptionReality Perseverance was the foremost quality neededPassion to excel and Task/Result oriented approach stand out as the topmost qualities sought Manipulative nature was essential to increase salesThe industry rates this trait as one of the least required one. Leaders need to have High Energy LevelIt is only the agents who need to have this quality. The Leader only acts as a catalyst and must therefore be enthusiastic Need for high conviction and OpportunismNeed for high conviction and Opportunism
Skill sets We perceived that a successful leader in selling Insurance had to be well NetworkedIn sync with our perception To be ahead of the competition, we felt that agents/ companies had to adopt Differentiated Selling TechniquesLeaders of Successful Insurance companies did adopt such strategies Processes Adopted Cold Calling was one of the most potent means adopted for aggressive client acquisition. The intention behind adopting Cold Calling is to create brand awareness about the company, as well as the product it has to offer.
Referrals were not taken into account by us as means of client acquisition in our questionnaire. Referrals is the most effective method of getting clients to buy your policy. Exposure events such as sponsoring meals in hospitals, sponsoring special events such as sports were essential in building brand equity. Our perception matches industrial reality as the professionals we interviewed endorsed the similar views. LEARNING: “Leaders are the ones who keep faith with the past, keep step with the Present and keep the promise to posterity”