The Internet: A blessing or a curse?
By Jason Johnson
When was the last time you spoke to your travel agent? Have you bought a postage stamp lately? Paid a late fee at Blockbuster? Things many of us did on a regular basis in the recent past have been replaced with even more convenience. The Internet has saved so many of us the hassle of the middleman. So, my question is, “How will the Internet change the way you sell insurance?”
I recently read an article by Allan Rosca entitled “Is the Internet About to Put Insurance Agents out of Business? (with the Help of the Insurance Companies).” It sparked quite a lively debate featuring many opinions about how our industry will evolve or die.
Technology saves me countless hours every day that used to be spent waiting for the mail to arrive, sorting it, distributing it and then reading it. It has increased the productivity in our office and in our business. But what about the agent who hasn't adapted to this change?
For example, many baby boomers and reluctant members of Generation X have had technology forced on to them. They look on with bewilderment as people insist that if they don’t have the latest iPhone or gadget, they will lose money.
A recent study concluded that 79 percent of smartphone owners between the ages of 18 and 44 have their smartphones with them 22 hours a day. The study goes on to say that, “49 percent of the entire U.S. population uses a smartphone. By 2017, the percent of smartphone users is expected to reach 68 percent.”
Internet access is free at many of the highest volume retailers and restaurants in the country. Trying to find a place without Internet access is now the problem.
So as insurance agents, how do you compete with a clicks-versus-brick industry? What is your competitive advantage or value proposition in today’s economy?
One way to stay competitive is to connect differently than a decade ago. Gone are the Rolodex and stack of business cards in the drawer. Today, you have networking tools such as social media, company websites and email.
Facebook is a great place to see photos and update family and friends on your relationship status. It is the leading social site. LinkedIn has revolutionized the business networking community and has connected millions of users within their respective community interests, but it lacks the ability for direct ecommerce. It is also becoming “too big” or difficult to navigate due to the high number of users cluttering the groups and posting distracting content.
Don’t get discouraged by the Internet. Embrace the technology and find ways to incorporate it into your business plan. The insurance industry is changing. You either grow with it or you go.
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