Which of These Competitors Should You Worry About?

By | September 21, 2015

Just like everything else in the world, insurance sales competitors change with the times. Some are well-financed operations with a strong retail presence or online superpowers. Others are more traditional in nature but hungry and aggressive. Then there’s the flip side where former rivals disappear from the scene via retirement, merger and sale.

Yesterday’s rivals were typically the independent agent down the street, the captive in the mall, and the odd carrier that sold direct. Today’s competitors are virtually everywhere, online and off. Plus, new players seek to disrupt the agency business as we know it, making it more important than ever for you to continuously eyeball key contenders.

To better understand and compete against your most formidable rivals, identify them by type. Here are seven categories to get you started.

Location. Nearby competitors are the easiest of all to identify. The location issue matters most when you do a significant amount of business in your own neighborhood. If you derive most of your volume elsewhere, and expect to continue doing so, then these rivals are less important than in years past.

Social Media. This vast, endlessly evolving, medium is ripe with competitors. They range from jumbo national marketers to brand new licensees with a pocketful of social accounts. Keep an eye on who is posting what within your marketing territory, and their impact (likes, favorites, retweets, etc.) with Perch. It’s a free app that provides weekly reports on the social marketing activities of rivals.

Specialty. Which programs, agencies and insurers do you encounter most often when prospecting and selling a targeted policy type or within a specialized niche? Is it wiser to continue butting heads with them or to move on to fresh targets that are easier to write?

Same Carrier. When you and a rival both represent the same carrier, buyers may have difficulty distinguishing one agency from the other since the policies you both may sell are identical. Professional knowledge and ethics, marketing and sales skills, and your relationship with the company’s people are your core distinctions.

Agency Networks. These networks offer producers the ability to expand their carrier representation, to gain marketing support, and more. Rival offices that aggressively activate these advantages are definitely worth watching.

Sponsored Rivals. Private label solicitations abound in the P/C industry. All it takes is an organization’s list, and a willing insurance provider, to solicit sponsored policies. Wholesale clubs, auto manufacturers, online vendors, retailers, employers, and others are active in this arena. And today’s tech-based media makes it easier than ever.

Experimental Rivals. Since endless dollars are continuously spent on P/C insurance, it’s to be expected that new plans and players will enter the marketplace. Today’s media, technology and imagination converge to encourage this activity. Ideas such as “free insurance” with the purchase of a new car, social “peer-to-peer” insurance, and Google’s recent entry are in play; others have yet to be devised. Keep an eye on these potential industry disrupters, but never let them distract you from the marketing and sales actions you need to perform today.

You may truly believe that you care more for your insureds, are more professional, and provide better service than your rivals, but as core policies become commoditized, consumers care less about these distinctions. To survive, you must willingly embrace the new media and technologies as power tools and enhance your sales skills – all while continuously looking over your shoulder.

About Alan L. Shulman

Alan Shulman, CPCU, is the publisher of Agency Ideas® sales and marketing newsletter (free basic subscription at www.agencyideas.com/join). He is also the author of “500 Sales Ideas for Commercial Lines Producers” among many other P&C sales resources. Email: alan@agencyideas.com. Website: www.agencyideas.com. More from Alan L. Shulman

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Insurance Journal West September 21, 2015
September 21, 2015
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