Impressions from Insurance CIOs: Successful Traits of an Insurance Asset Management Salesperson

Broad Street Consulting Group is a specialist women-owned executive search firm. Founding Partners Milena M Humplik and Margot DeMore have a 16+ year history dedicated to supporting the insurance and insurance asset management community across Investment and Distribution recruiting.

2019 proved to be a very busy year across the insurance asset management industry. This will continue into 2020 with ongoing M&A activity and continued insurance outsourcing to third-party asset managers.

The current climate presents increased opportunity for insurance asset management firms to grow AUM, however there is also significantly more competition for insurance client assets than ever before.

The management of insurance assets is complicated. Insurers have unique regulatory and accounting constraints along with specific ALM and capital management needs. It is a different sale than other institutional channels.

We wanted to share a perspective from our Insurance CIO network on traits of the most effective insurance salesperson, given the continued opportunity across the insurance asset management industry and the complexity of sale.

The initial contact. The first impression. It all starts with the Insurance Salesperson.

We asked the question:

What is the common thread amongst the successful salespeople they meet?

Whether through a cold call or a handshake at an industry conference, what is the secret sauce that makes a salesperson memorable, creates a favorable impression, and sparks a desire to develop a relationship with that person?

1. Sales is a relationship business
Insurance sales is a consultative sale, not a product sale. The insurance sales cycle is long. Insurance firms are naturally collaborative and want to work as partners with their external managers. Therefore, the insurance salesperson’s initial approach needs to be well-prepared and engaging, and it must provide unique insight and perspective. Most importantly, they need to listen.

“If a salesperson is just trying to
sell me products from their firm –
those folks are a dime a dozen.
I appreciate it when we are having
an actual conversation, when they
are listening to what we need and
the conversation naturally is
steered to potential solution.
To me, the listening piece leaves the
most overwhelming positive impression.”

“What resonates with me the most
about a salesperson is someone that
is NOT trying to sell me something.”

2. The insurance salesperson needs to know insurance
They need to know what’s under the hood.

We heard many times how salespeople still approach CIOs having done little due diligence on the insurer’s investment portfolio, potential constraints and risk parameters; instead taking the approach of pushing product.

Unanimously this is a huge turn-off. CIOs have a multitude of managers to choose from today. A “salesy” approach pushing their firm’s strategies left a less favorable impression.

First impressions are critical. First impressions are memorable. The initial contact, connection and approach needs to therefore have laser-focused preparation. Salespeople need to be credible, with a relational approach. They need to be likeable.

“What resonates well with me are
salespeople that provide value-add
and know how insurance investing works.
What is important to an Insurer
and how we think about our portfolio
needs to be known before they make the call,
and quite frankly, they need
to be pretty technical.”

“For me the salesperson needs
to approach the initial conversation
having done their homework and
know the business we are in,
since insurance investing is unique.
Showing empathy for the investment
decision process is key.”

3. The insurance salesperson needs to have a long-term view and approach
Be collaborative, and YES, the soft-skills count.

The insurance sales cycle is a long one. Forging long-term relationships is a marathon and not a sprint. Many CIOs shared that they appreciate the salesperson knowing their market, sharing perspectives and insights, as well as their views on the complicated and evolving insurance landscape. Being in the market, truly being an expert and knowing this niche audience, along with being credible goes a long way.

“I appreciate the approach
when a salesperson wants to start
a relationship with us even if their strategies
at this time don’t fit within our portfolio.
Showing they have a holistic view of
our portfolio and want to start a relationship.
The moment I feel that I am put in
the transaction bucket I change my view.
When the need arises down the road,
the ones who have made it more
rational will be top of mind.”

The “Common Thread”
There is a uniform view that the salesperson needs to have strong insurance understanding, be technical, be able to dive deep across the portfolio allocation and insurance firm capital, provide value-add and share ideas on areas where other insurance firms are gaining traction.

CIOs consistently rated soft EQ skills of engagement and relationship skills to be very high on their list of importance. Listening skills along with honestly, transparency and willingness to collaborate and provide solutions also ranked very highly as well.

One CIO shared with us that a salesperson wanted to connect on a personal level, diving into talking about sports and their experiences as a college athlete. However, the CIO’s interests were in international travel and spending time with family, not college football. This salesperson needed to tone down their approach and connect in a different way.

In summary, in this uber-competitive environment, the insurance salesperson needs to know insurance, but additionally they need to have an exceptional relationship driven sales-approach that combines sharing ideas, adding value, being collaborative and possessing listening skills.

In the end, it’s all about the first impression.

Connect with us if you have any questions or would like to further speak on this topic and our views on the industry. We look forward to hearing from you.

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By Broad Street Consulting Group
Milena M. Humplik, Managing Partner,
Margot DeMore, Managing Partner,