I got a note from a friend who I worked with in the late 1990s. He and I had a great time selling sales force automation into the insurance organizations with a large value-added reseller. We spent many, many weeks with their agents, brokers, and sales and marketing leaders. It was a fascinating opportunity to increase sales and profitability within our client organizations.
We worked closely with a lot of financial services companies at the time. There are a lot of great insurance and banking organizations in Ohio, both then and now. And we worked with many of them! We had annual revenue exceeding $950 million dollars and many national accounts with long term agreements in place to double our revenue again over the next several years. I had a good enough year to be featured in the Columbus regional CEO magazine with my leadership team. It was 1999.
What was it like to sell insurance in 1999 for you and your firm? Here’s a baker’s dozen that worked for insurance sales professionals. It looked like the good times would never ever end. See if these spark any memories for you.
- Clients still answered the phone. They even had administrative assistants to track them down if they weren’t at their desks.
- You sold to one or two senior executives who were happy to make a buying decision.
- There was no Facebook or LinkedIn.
- Clients were educated by their agents or brokers.
- Professional associations welcomed sales people to their events. They met in real time.
- You had an almost unlimited expense budget to entertain clients.
- There was less competition in the market for your products and services.
- Sales and marketing teams seldom worked together.
- The senior members of your leadership team decided where to invest their resources based on intuition.
- Clients were loyal to their agents and brokers.
- The agent or broker knew more about their products and services than the customer.
- The agent or broker decided what and when to share with the customer.
- There was an unlimited supply of excellent sales professionals to choose from.
These were the good old days for professional selling. We were the kings and queens of our organizations. It was never going to end. Then the tech bubble burst. All hell broke loose. People started to look for different answers.
Go through the list above. Do these things still apply to your clients and customers? How many? What’s changed? Are you and your agents and brokers still selling like its 1999? Cue Prince and the Revolution!
Next week I’ll share several hard trends that are changing the way you sell forever. See you next week!