Over the course of my career, I have been lucky enough to sit through a great many presentations from product providers, networks and distributors. Most are very good but some do not quite hit the intended mark and this is often because they are not tailored sufficiently well to those present.
More and more audiences are split broadly into two camps. Camp one is comprised of our long standing and highly qualified IFA community. Many were trained in protection sales early in their careers – often in the days when tied salesforces held the monopoly on arranging life cover. They tend to be skilled in the art of selling and what they generally want from a presentation is new product innovations, technical information and to keep in touch with market changes.
Camp two is made up of newer entrants to the protection industry and their needs are distinctly different. Often, this is because of the way in which young advisers join financial services – unlike their forebears the majority started off as (and still remain) mortgage brokers. Part of a network or employed by a large firm, this new breed are well schooled in following a technology-led, compliant sales process and are competent at delivering a clientcentric solution with strong customer service.
Typically, camp two’s employers or network will keep them up to speed with new product developments and technical data and so what they are looking for from training sessions is more likely to be some back-to-basics help on sales skills – skills which camp one probably picked up early on and take as read.
Most insurers will have a presentation for camp one read to go, off-the-shelf, but might have to dust off an old set of slides dealing with feature, advantage benefit, SPIN selling and soft fact gathering to satisfy camp two, for whom these sales tools may be virgin territory.
Protection newcomers are facing a tough market as the growth of online, discounted premium purchases of term insurance continues. This makes basic sales skills invaluable as one seeks to show a client the benefits of taking even basic cover via an adviser while striving to recommend a full, holistic package of benefits.
We expect to find a mixture of the two camps at our protection workshops and our aim is to deliver training which fulfils the needs and expectations of all. We will, unashamedly, be going over some of the tried and trusted techniques which allow advisers to make protection come alive for customers.
I am in favour of creating of a specific protection qualification as I believe this instills huge confidence in the seller. It is crucial this is supported by the provision of core sales skills which turn the technical knowledge into expert advice.
Phil Jeynes is head of new business at Direct Life and Pensions Lifequote