By Lloyd Lofton
I recently got back from my daughter’s home in Iowa, where she had her first child (my fourth grandchild) last March. We went there to spend the holidays with her, her family and one of my sons who lives in Iowa. And yes it was cold, -4 on some days.
It was a great visit. I’m always amazed to watch my kids and grandkids build their own lives. It is also interesting to see how their lifestyles are different from the one in which we raised them. The older I get, the more I realize that what happened in “the good old days” just might not work anymore.
The second day we were in Iowa it snowed, maybe eight inches, and it was -2 degrees. I asked my son-in-law if they had rock salt for the driveway. My daughter told me they had some, but they had ordered groceries and the store would include rock salt when they delivered it. When they delivered it, can you imagine that! We didn’t have to go to the store, the store came to us! What will they think of next?
My daughter has a finished basement with a full bedroom and a second bathroom, which is where we stay when we go out there. I usually set up my IP phone, laptop and other working things when I settle in. I grabbed the TV control and couldn’t get a channel. Stephy came down and said they canceled cable; they have Hulu, Netflix and a couple of other services where they get all the same shows as cable and save some $100 a month.
We went out one day and took her car. She has a fob, a wireless keychain that communicates with the car. She already started the car to warm it up before we went outside. When we went outside to leave, she walked up to the car and the door unlocked. She put my grandson in his car seat then went to the back of the car, moved her foot under the bumper and the tailgate opened. When we got in the car, her iPhone automatically connected to the car and played music from her phone. New cars don’t even come with CD players anymore. Her navigation system told her the temperature, traffic delays and … well, you know how a navigation system works.
I wasn’t overly surprised with the features of her car; before we left Atlanta, we bought my wife a new car that had similar features. My wife’s car has radar all over it. You go over the line in the road and the car beeps while pulling you back in your lane. When a car passes on either side, there is a lighted symbol on the side view mirror that beeps, telling you a car is there. When I put the cruise control on and got on the freeway over 40 miles an hour, if I got within two car lengths of a car in front of me or a car pulled in front of me, the car automatically slowed down and when the distance increased, the car sped up.
Just to experiment, I took my hands off the steering wheel for over a mile, and when I approached two miles a beep and message that said “Driver Attention Needed” appeared on the dashboard. Up until that point, the car basically drove itself!
The Christmas gifts we bought the family were delivered by Amazon or some other service, so we were spared the hassle of bringing all the gifts with us.
The Industry Must Adapt To A Connected World
Why am I telling you all this? You probably have one of these cars, order gifts online or have your groceries delivered. I said it’s amazing to watch our children build their lives and to see how different their lifestyle is from the one in which we raised them.
The world is changing – and, I think, for the better. And if these technological changes are making life more functional, then we as an industry should also consider how we make our products and services available for consumers to purchase
Visa just published its survey of 2,500 consumers for their “Innovations for A Cashless World” report. Avin Arumugam, Visa senior vice president, pointed out several innovations coming to consumers. He said there has been an explosion of devices and connectedness in the last couple of years, from our watch, refrigerator and coffeemaker to our car having some kind of internet-connected capability.
Gartner projects there will be 21 billion devices linked to the internet by 2020, opening up as many opportunities.
The Visa and PYMTS.com study reported that 70 percent of consumers believe their devices improve their quality of life. More than 60 percent of consumers say they would like to pay for products more efficiently, with 44 percent preferring to pay automatically without having to manually check out online or physically stop by a counter. Avin pointed out that “Invisible payment experiences, like those of today’s ride shares are starting to become a consumer expectation rather than a nice-to-have convenience.”
All these changes signal a move from software to hardware or “wearables.” Visa found that payment volume via wearables is expected to grow to $501.1 billion - some 20 percent of all proximity payments -by 2020. Study respondents indicated they now own an on average more than four connected devices. Wearable activity trackers top the list of connected devices consumers own, with 41 percent of connected consumers owning at least one connected device.
Insurance carriers, broker/dealers and vendors will need to move in the direction consumers are already living in. The days of not taking a credit card or only taking the initial payment are coming to an end, at least for those who want to survive. E-apps and e-signatures are becoming the norm and they should be. I know one carrier whose electronic signature is to type just the insured’s maiden or parents’ name. That’s it - no email exchange, no ftp, encrypted email. The carrier does a voice verification of the information and - bam! - it’s done.
Leads And Training
Lead companies should be providing leads both electronically and through a log-in access. Leads need to be pushed out as an option instead of only accessed. Leads should be connected to a virtual map. The map should show where the prospects live, color coded around previous lead orders the advisor made and a link to the demographic of the prospect’s area. The map also should include a function to enable the advisor to enter data such as current product owned, new product purchased, face amount, volume, premium, as well as reoccurring events like birthdays, anniversary and renewal date. All that information should be connected to a customer relationship management system that automatically reaches out to the prospect.
Training should be provided in real learning environments, role-playing opportunities and not just product training. Because of this explosion of technology, one skill salespeople are losing is the ability to communicate. The ability to sell the problem and not the product, listen to understand not to respond and get introductions instead of referrals is becoming a lost art. It seems most “sales” training is actually product training.
Is your company providing a meaningful opportunity for consumers to learn about you and experience your value? And do you make it easy for consumers to engage with your products and buy?
Lloyd Lofton, LUTCF, is the past president of the Senior Insurance Marketing Association, and is the managing partner of 7 Figure Sales Tools, a sales and leadership training company. Lloyd may be contacted at [email protected].
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