It has been about 30 years since John Del Pozzo started out as a young insurance agent who "didn't know anything," but knew he had to make 15 appointments a week. Every week.
If not, he had to work the phones on Saturday. And if he still didn't get to 15, he made calls Sunday night.
"When you came in on Monday, that was the expectation," said Del Pozzo, senior vice president of PGA Distribution for Ohio National Financial Services. "You were expected to have two to three sales a week. A hundred cases a year. That was the expectation."
It seems as though that is no longer the expectation in a business where the pool of potential customers continues to increase as life insurance sales keep falling.
Del Pozzo co-moderated a session Thursday to discuss the reasons for this during LIMRA's 2016 Distribution Conference for Financial Services. Luke Cosme, senior vice president, chief sales and marketing officer, Mutual Trust Life, was his co-moderator.
Providing life insurance is more than just making a sale, Del Pozzo said.
"I believe we have an obligation to the consumer who is underinsured," he said. "Every time I see a Gofundme account because someone passed away and didn't have insurance, I feel that is an insult to me and my profession."
The statistics show an industry struggling to reach customers. The average number of policies per agent is between 30 and 35 total, 20 to 25 of which are life insurance policies. This number has remained steady over last 10 years. However, the past decade coincides with mass development of social media communications, Cosme noted, so it feels like a decline.
Fifty-one percent of children under age 18 owned life insurance in 1960; only 19 percent do today.
"Are we missing a key market?" Del Pozzo said. "These should be some of our best prospects. I think it's a matter of making it a priority for our advisors to ask their clients."
While universal life and whole life sales were stable over past 15 years, the industry lost more than 1.5 million term life policies, Cosme said. Term life is cheaper and easier to purchase, yet sales are disappearing.
"In the independent space, nobody is putting expectations on these folks anymore," Cosme said, adding that better training is also needed. "Let’s make sure that the message we're sending is hitting someone who can actually do something with it."
One agent said his company puts on rock shows in which agents dress up as members of the band, KISS. It's something different that shows potential customers that insurance isn't always boring, he said.
Ultimately, the agent world needs to decide whether expectations are important, Del Pozzo said. He presented three questions to the group: Do you have case count requirements for conferences? Do you recognize case count leaders every month? Do you have a 100 lives club?
"If you don't have a case count requirement, you're making a case to your field agents that case counts don't matter," Del Pozzo said.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at email@example.com.
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