This is a “real life” example of obtaining consumer insights from insurance agents — the sales channel.

The depth of the insights obtained by the one-on-one interviews is incredible, especially when compared to the depth of the insights from the on-line survey that was fielded to give all of the agents an opportunity to provide feedback on the issues discussed in the one-on-ones.

The client had 880 agents that were successfully selling life and automobile insurance.

However, they also had an agreement with a large health insurer to sell their product as well. Sales of the health insurance product were not as successful. The client asked us to help them determine why the health insurance was not selling and then develop a solution to the problem.

I conducted in-depth, 60 to 90-minute, interviews with 20 sales reps.

The S.V.P. of sales was surprised by the depth of insights generated by the one-on-one interviews. He had been managing this sales force for 20 years and we were bringing him insights he’d never heard before.

To validate the findings from the 20 interviews, we fielded an online survey with the other 860 reps. The online surveys validated all of the findings from the interviews but with few of the insights since respondents to online surveys don’t share as much in open-ended questions as they might when you have a conversation with them, ask “why?” and ask follow-up questions.

The purpose of the interviews and the online survey were to learn:

  • How the agents sell (their sales process from initial lead to sales presentation);
  • What the agents sell; and,
  • What the agents thought of the health insurance product they were supposed to be selling.

The interviews revealed that selling health insurance was a low priority for the agents because they were not told otherwise and because their customers were not aware they sold health insurance.

The agents typically didn’t get around to selling health insurance during a one-hour sales call even though they thought very highly of the product. It typically took the entire hour alloted for a sales call to review the automobile and life insurance needs of the customer.

We learned that the agents thought very highly of the health insurance and several had a strong emotional connection to the brand as “being the best there is.”

We needed to remind the agents to sell health insurance in addition to life and auto insurance and we needed to let consumers know that our client sold health insurance. The solution to the problem was simple, inexpensive and tremendously cost effective.

Our client had at least one office on a major thoroughfare in every county in the state. We produced “sandwich board” signs to sit in front of every insurance office. The signs simply announced that a particular brand of health insurance was available at this insurance office.

Twelve-month health insurance sales goals were achieved shortly after putting out the signs and nine years later this cost efficient point-of-presence advertising is still being used.

While the one-on-one interviews with the agents did not produce the recommended solution, the process of having the agents take me through their sales process did.

Ultimately the client was very happy with the economical resolution of their problem and have extended the application of the solution to other media (i.e., car magnets and sport venue signage).

Do you talk to your sales channel to understand how they’re selling and determine what you can do to accelerate sales?





Tom Smith

Experienced marketing professional who has worked with more than 120 clients in 18 different vertical industries. ♦ Differentiate products and services by improving UX and delivering memorable CX to create an emotional connection to the brand. ♦ Obtain insights from analytics to solve business problems and drive revenue. ♦ Develop and implement marketing campaigns that double traffic and leads in three months. ♦ Certified Marketing Automation Professional ♦ Certified Voice of the Customer (VOC) Professional