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InsurTech Ohio Spotlight with Aryn Bates

Aryn Bates is a Personal Risk Advisor at USI Insurance, an insurance brokerage and consulting firm that delivers diversified insurance and financial services. Aryn was interviewed by Michael Fiedel, a Managing Director at InsurTech Ohio and Co-Founder at PolicyFly, Inc.

Aryn, how is the sales culture in insurance changing?

“There's been a shift over the last few years away from your “traditional” direct writing companies towards the independent agencies and brokerages. We were used to having long-term relationships with family ties; you used the same agent that you had for years or you used the same agent your parents used. That has shifted because many of those agents have retired, and now we need to build new relationships.

The insurance industry has had to change how we connect with clients and prospects since now we have to build those relationships up from scratch. Instead of the long-standing approach and mentality of all those great sales videos we’ve watched--‘dialing for dollars,’ ‘always be closing,’ ‘coffee is for closers,’--we have to think about how to create that familiar family feel for clients. Things that we need to think about now are, ‘How can we best serve these clients?’, ‘How can we be a valued resource for them?’, ‘How can I reach those clients that I can best serve?’

It becomes much more beneficial to develop a relationship with others who have the same view and are working with the same demographic of clients we want. In my case, that would be wealth managers, estate attorneys, or family office members. By developing those relationships and helping them to be resources to their clients, instead of just dialing through a phone book, you're able to exponentially grow your connections through their connections and clients instead of just a one-for-one ratio.”

How do you see sales performance goals impacting the adoption of this more long-term approach?

“It's important to have goals to focus on. Most salespeople are competitive; we have that drive. We need to have something to work towards. However, it can be very challenging and hard to focus on developing relationships if you have a constant pressure to sell. Relationship development doesn't just happen overnight. It's not a transactional thing and it takes time to build a valuable relationship.

The key is to focus your mindset on your reasons for why you're doing what you're doing. I had a great sales trainer once who talked about having an ‘abundant’ mindset. Doing so changes the types of conversations you have with people-- instead of always driving toward the sale, ‘booking that revenue’-- you can tell yourself that there is plenty of revenue out there. You're going to get the sale eventually. It'll all work out.

I think having this type of mindset creates a more authentic conversation and relationship. People want to work with people they trust, right? So, the goal becomes building that trust, and in turn, perhaps they will trust you to give you a sale, a referral or a speaking opportunity, or some other positive outcome. It will all come eventually. You have to see the long-term picture and then validate that picture against your sales goals. Track the connections you make, not just the sales that you book.”

What are some of the strategies that insurance brokers and agents can implement to build better relationships?

“The key is to be authentic. You need to try to find people or organizations to work or connect with that you'll at least somewhat enjoy. It feels less like work if you're having a good time and enjoying the people you're around, if you have some common ground. So, join chambers, networking groups, and different industry-specific organizations, or volunteer to serve on boards. People always like when you offer to help out-- to be a speaker for something, or to teach continuing education for different designations. All of these things have been greatly beneficial to my practice and I've met some really cool people along the way. I really enjoy doing these things and I feel like I end up learning something as well. And yes, I’ve also gained clients this way. It’s a positive side effect of creating these relationships and doing things that you already enjoy.”

How should a customer hold their insurance broker or agent accountable in light of the relationships that you think they should be building?

“Just like any good personal relationship, you have to spend time and energy to keep things going well. You have to work at it. Agents need to be on top of the different industry trends and offerings that the carriers they represent are offering. You need to know what is out there to be able to communicate that with your client. Your client shouldn't be responsible for knowing what they do and don't have. That's your job as their agent and their advocate. You need to communicate with your client and as a customer, you should expect to hear from your agent. The agent should also make sure that they are forward-thinking. I always like to say, ‘I worry for my clients’. You need to worry for your clients so they don't have to.”

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