Best Practices for Onboarding Your External Producer Sales Force

For many insurers, investing in a digital distribution platform is a strategic and exciting step. It’s often a long road towards selecting the ideal external vendor and after that comes the implementation process, and almost more importantly, the onboarding process for carriers working with producers. You likely gained the buy-in of senior management, IT, and underwriters through the vendor selection and contracting process, but now it’s time to get the buy-in from your external stakeholders. Over 90% of life insurance policies are sold with the help of an advisor. If those advisors fail to adopt your new digital distribution platform, it could become an expensive mistake. You risk the whole project failing if promotion and onboarding aren’t done properly.

Introducing a new platform to your advisors can be tough. You’ll benefit from making a conscious effort to implement best practices for platform dissemination as part of your overall strategy. But since this is a completely new venture for your business, how do you know what best practices to follow? 

The easiest way to learn how to launch something completely new is to look to those who’ve gone before you. Over the last couple of years, Breathe Life has helped several carriers go through large-scale advisor onboarding projects. These carriers needed to ensure not just widespread adoption but also the continued use and therefore long-term success of the platform. 

And our carriers have seen some strong success rates to date. One of the carriers who launched just over one year ago has seen on average, 50% of advisors process their applications through the Breathe Life platform. During the height of the Covid pandemic, this spiked to over 70%. As more and more products are being made available through the e-App, we expect to see this number climb. 

So, what did they do well? And what do we coach our other carrier clients to do? You can find some best practices to implement with your own onboardings

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Best Practice #1 - Start with a pilot group 

Rather than rolling the platform out to the entire advisor network at once, we encourage you to start with a pilot group. One of our carriers clients chose to onboard a pilot group of 20 advisors, out of a total of 2,000. These advisors committed to using the platform diligently for four months and to provide feedback. 

Starting with a pilot group meant that the carrier could observe how advisors interacted with the platform and suggest tweaks. Breathe Life took this feedback and applied some of it to make incremental improvements before the full-scale launch. If they’d rolled it out to all of their advisors without this feedback, the project might never have got off the ground.  Creating a pilot group of advisors also means they can act as internal influencers, helping onboard other advisors at the end of the pilot project. They can answer questions and train other team members. Having unofficial cheerleaders can ease the platform’s adoption by the larger group.

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Best Practice #2 - Market the platform to get advisors on board

Sending advisors a link in an email to your new platform and expecting them to dive right in could be setting the project up for failure. Backing up your digital investment with an investment in marketing the new platform to advisors will pay dividends. 

We’ve seen carriers use multiple marketing channels to educate advisors about the new platform. They’ve launched marketing campaigns on their intranets which included promotional videos, blog posts, simple demos, etc. Some carriers have created internal FAQs which they’ve made readily available so that advisors didn’t have to hunt for answers to their most pressing questions.

Launching email marketing campaigns can also help create awareness from the top down, informing advisors about the platform and encouraging them to sign-on. In pre-Covid times we’ve even seen carriers host information sessions in major hubs where advisors could meet the carrier’s sales team, get a live demo, and ask questions.  

These marketing efforts didn’t just encourage adoption, they also communicated the platform’s benefits to the advisor’s business.

Best Practice #3 - Sell advisors on what’s in it for them

Why should an advisor invest the time to learn and implement your new platform if the old way of doing things has worked for them? We support carriers in putting together marketing materials, that highlight the direct benefits of using the platform. 

Information that’s disseminated to advisors is crucial to them understanding how the platform can help them do their job better and faster. Training and marketing materials can highlight the time an e-app saves, versus completing a paper application. Less time spent completing applications frees up advisors to sell and write more policies. As well, the faster approval turnaround and more accurate quotes for premiums allows advisors to capture more business. These days, few consumers are willing to wait months for an underwriting decision on a life insurance policy. Meeting a client’s needs faster and more accurately directly impacts an advisor’s bottom line.

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Best Practice #4 - Incentivize Advisors 

It can be hard for someone to see the benefit of a tool before they use it, we’ve had some carriers promote sales incentives to encourage use. One specifically wanted advisors to leverage the e-App, so first-time users and early adopters received cash incentives for processing sales through the platform, while another offered sales bonuses for applications done through the e-App.

These extra incentives helped overcome any initial reluctance to try something new and created excitement about the platform. 

While Breathe Life supports carriers in the creation of the marketing and onboarding materials, it is on the carrier to produce them and disseminate them. Putting in the effort for a successful onboarding guarantees you a successful investment. 

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