Innovators in Financial Services Crush Sales Execution Challenges

 

Posted By Qvidian | Feb 26, 2014

 

In a previous post, I outlined the trends affecting financial services organizations today, and the impact they’ve had on sales, marketing and distribution teams. Since then, I’ve attended the annual LIMRA Distribution Conference for Financial Services and was able to speak with many leaders dealing with these challenges first hand.

Organizations like Prudential, AIG and Sun Life presented on topics like the new age of sales and marketing, making a mindset shift for your organization, and growing capacity through a customer-centric sales force. The latter was particularly interesting given the various stages of CRM adoption throughout the industry - many are implementing Salesforce.com in the next 6-12 months and the feeling quite anxious about rep adoption.

One thing that was persistent throughout all the conversations and sessions: sales execution challenges affect every organization.

SALES EXECUTION CHALLENGES

To compound the challenge of forced change from these market trends, there are sales execution challenges that sales and distribution leaders are continuously facing. According to our recent Sales Execution Trends Survey, executive management have charged sales leaders with some tough objectives:

Sales Execution Challenges

Coupling the existing sales execution challenges, with the trends affecting the financial services industry, results in a uniquely challenging environment that insurance, asset management, banking and wealth management organizations are going to have to adapt.

INNOVATORS ARE SUCCEEDING

Financial services innovators are evolving and leading the transformation by embracing the new world, and rapidly finding solutions to bridge the gap between strategy and sales execution. Leading organizations are seeing improvements in sales performance by focusing on:

Sales Agent Experience

An organization’s success is contingent on agents adopting the new tools and systems in which it’s invested in order to affect change. Reps are notoriously resistant to change, so you need to prove the “what’s in it for me” and excite them about driving more business. Understanding their experiences in the field and day-to-day challenges will mitigate the resistance to change.

Streamlining Suitability

The need for more flexible products is not going away, but the complexity adds time and risk in the sales cycle. Innovative organizations are streamlining this complexity with systems and processes for agents to configure just-in-time information based on consumer requirements. This not only increases agent capacity by removing the time required to configure suitable products, but mitigates the risk by automatically programming product solutions.

Shorten Sales Cycle Time

The need to accelerate the sales cycle is not only one desired by carriers, but consumers as well. Studies show that consumers engage with sales after they are 60% of the way through their own buying process. This means when engaged with an advisor, they expect to move forward quickly.

Differentiate

In this highly competitive market, carriers need to find a way to differentiate with both consumers and agents. Innovative organizations are cutting through the clutter to communicate value to consumers in the sales process, as well as retaining great agents through improved systems and tools enabling them to succeed.

Plan for Growth

Building a scalable selling system sets up innovative organizations for future revenue growth. Carriers need to be cautious of vendor lock-in as well as process and organization drag when trying to adapt to future changes and build out selling systems that are flexible and scalable to ensure future success.

Thanks to the LIMRA team for hosting yet another stellar Distribution Conference. Look forward to seeing you next year! If you’re in financial services or insurance, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the trends you’re seeing and the initiatives you’re taking to ensure success.