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Most Carriers Offer Agents Training Opportunities for Online Sales: Survey

April 23, 2013

A two-thirds majority of independent insurance agents say their carriers are providing them with training and consulting on how to use their agency websites to increase sales. This is one of the findings in a new survey of more than 1,200 agents under way by Channel Harvest Research.

The annual survey of agents on their attitudes regarding carriers — on a wide range of issues — is sponsored by Insurance Journal.

The 2013 survey illustrates that carrier-provided training on driving sales through the agency website is now as common as direct sales training for staff. About 63 percent of agents report training and consulting support on using the web to drive sales, compared with 65 percent who report receiving sales training for agents and producers and 60 percent who report sales training for their CSRs. These training programs trail only carrier-specific systems and product training among the types of carrier support agents were asked about.

But carriers also are investing in helping agents generate business both online and offline, including co-branded online advertising, direct mail and cold calling, radio advertising, and even co-branded cable television ads.

The most common form of direct marketing spend appears to be direct mail, with 54 percent of agents reporting that at least one of their carriers is providing them with direct mail support that drives business to the agent. About four in 10 agents report some level of co-branded radio and online advertising support. One in three reports financial support for co-branded cable TV advertising.

About 14 percent of agents say carriers are running programs to generate agent leads from first-level cold calling to prospects.

The carrier marketing support “is clearly an effort to stay current with the changing technologies available to advertisers,” says Steve Craig, Channel Harvest’s research director. “It also indicates a commitment to the IA model to have carriers spending money on direct mail and multi-channel co-branded advertising designed to drive business to independent agents.”

About the Survey

The study, “2013 Survey of Agent-Carrier Relationships,” is the sixth in a series examining independent agents’ views on marketplace issues. The survey is sponsored by Insurance Journal and conducted by Channel Harvest Research.

The survey instrument covers more than 90 separate questions. Quantitative survey results are presented in a variety of formats, including importance rankings of specific-carrier attributes, ratings of specific companies on attributes, industry issues, and open-ended agency comments about what breaks out superior carriers from the pack. The report explores differences between agents focused on personal and commercial lines. Carriers can purchase the data set to further explore cross tabs.

Note: Information cited in this article is based on preliminary data; final survey results could differ slightly.

For information on obtaining the survey report, contact John Campbell at john@channelharvest.com or 202-363-2069, or visit www.channelharvest.com.

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