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The Future for BGAs is Sales Enablement

The era of the platform economy is here.

Matt Essick
NAILBA Perspectives Q2 2022
May 5, 2022
 
The era of the platform economy is here.

Today’s economy is rapidly shifting to a “platform economy”. An economy where the business model of today’s enterprises and small businesses is based around a technology platform. Think Amazon, Tesla, Apple, and Stripe.

Indeed, most of the most valuable companies globally are now based on a platform technology strategy: “the creation of digital communities and marketplaces that allow different groups to interact and transact”.

This is ultimately a shift to a “hybrid” business model; a fusion of people and platform-based servicing, where technology streamlines sales and interactions, while unleashing people to focus more time on high-value transactions, and the client.

This is the future of financial services, including Life and Annuity distribution. The coming evolution of the BGA looks no different.

What does the new hybrid platform enabled BGA look like then?

Earlier this year in NAILBA Perspectives, I outlined several key dimensions –
  1. Digitally codifying “how to sell” for agents
  2. Servicing producers via new FinTech platforms of choice
  3. Providing B2B sales enablement solutions for producers
  4. Ramping up self-service online resources
What’s the common thread across the five areas – “sales enablement technology”.

Let’s take a more in-depth view at the sales enablement space.

Digitally codifying “how to sell”
Sales has traditionally been an utterly human endeavor: understanding a client’s needs, building a relationship of trust with a client, interpreting questions and objections, and guiding the client through the stages of the sale.

Great “salesmanship” has always been an art. An art learned only from top salespeople through seminars, books, advice and years of practice.

Today, great salesmanship – or at the very least aspects of the sale – can be learned and ingrained much more rapidly. Why?

The “art of selling” is now shifting onto platforms. The old “sales playbook” is being transcribed into an embedded digital sales platform, where the agent or advisor is following a guided digital experience.

This is the future of agent-based selling in the Life, Annuity and Health sector. Today, Google and Apple maps tell us where to go, what adjustments to make based upon insight into traffic conditions. The platform helps guide the “the human act of driving”.

As such, new “sales enablement” platforms are now increasingly help guide the client engagement and sales discussion.

The Future – Sales Enablement Technology for Agents & Advisors
“Sales enablement” is now an exploding area of business technology.

“Sales enablement” platforms enable sales professionals (wholesalers; financial professionals) with access to digital sales services and point of sale content that is relevant to discussions, target consumers and appropriate for the stage of the sales funnel. They ensure that content (for example, a supplemental retirement IUL “Sales Story”) related to training, education and the sales engagement is accessible to salespeople so they can learn, improve and become more effective on their own. Simply put, sales enablement solutions enable higher sales.

Seismic™ and BigTinCan™ are only a few of the “generalist platforms” that have emerged to help enable sales teams and professionals. At Ensight™, we are taking a more vertical approach, focusing on enabling life, LTC and annuity sales professionals with better sales technology.

Sales enablement is all about empowering sales professionals with the digital sales tools, content resources, and “experiences” they need to engage the right buyers and close the sale.

Traditionally, sales enablement has been delivered by the carrier wholesaler or BGA marketer, helping explain products, recommending different designs, prepping advisors and agents for the sales discussion, and even taking a supporting role in the “Point of Sale” engagement.

But the question today is – can traditional wholesaling activity be more scalable? Can the expertise of the wholesaler be transcribed into a sales enablement experience, accessible to thousands of agents and advisors, whenever they need it?

Remember, we are also moving to a “self-service” financial services model, where almost every financial transaction is being redesigned for an on-demand “customer-centric experience”.

Increasingly, tomorrow’s GenX and Millennial agents and advisors will look for the traditional guidance of a wholesaler in a sales platform experience.

So what are the future sales enablement capabilities for BGAs?

Here are four key capabilities worth focusing on:
  • Simplified illustration experiences, or “workflows” – shifting the traditional “quoting” experience to a more “conversational UI” experience will allow FPs to feel more comfortable running illustrations for clients
  • Digital sales playbooks for the financial professional – codifying a sales playbook in a digital platform experience optimizes every FP for the client discussion
  • Guided “story-selling” digital experiences – an elegant digital point-of-sale experience which guides the FP-client discussion, thus increasing sales
  • Hybrid consumer & advisor eApp experiences – a hybrid eApp experience enabling FPs to deliver a more “customer-centric” approach to eApp submission

Shifting your BGA to sales enablement – what to look for
Any sales enablement solution should be fit for purpose.

Does it align with your current CRM and other platforms? Can it seamlessly bring together sales content and new digital sales experiences in one place? Is it integrated with critical L&A insurance carrier products? Are there automated sales event notifications and data insight which can help drive sales follow-up actions? Can it deliver new digital sales experiences to train new agents? Does it provide sales analytics to give you a better understanding of producer activity?

The emergence of sales enablement technology has the power to be transformative for the BGA model over the next decade.

Start considering this new technology now.
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