The Modern-Day Life Insurance Salesperson

By Bob Gaydos, Founder and CEO, Pendella
A row of houses side by side on a street

It’s no surprise that door-to-door life insurance salespeople are a rare breed in 2023. Before the early 1990s, they were practically everywhere – knocking on people’s doors, sitting down at the kitchen table, and talking people through the process of acquiring an individual life insurance policy. But since then, times have changed as advancements in technology and shifts in customer habits have made in-person salespeople all but obsolete.

As someone who has seen the insurance market transform over the past few decades, I can certainly assert that the decline in such roles seems inevitable. Forbes has frequently named door-to-door sales as one of the top “dying career paths.”

That said, the demise of in-person salespeople hasn’t led to the total disappearance of life insurance agents. They’re still around, though most have by now gone digital. According to xAd, 62 percent of online shoppers looking for insurance found that speaking to a rep on the phone was the biggest driver behind their purchase.

This shows there is still a place for human interaction in the insurance market space. However, insurance agents are still faced with the question of how they can more effectively boost their sales in this digital environment.

The answer, as it turns out, has two components:

  1. They need to increase digitization – especially in the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data – to allow for a faster and more efficient process.
  2. They need to look back to how in-person door-to-door salespeople conducted business, which can offer some important lessons on how a touch of personalization can make all the difference in clinching a sale.

Looking to Technology

Just about every industry sector has been affected by what’s being called Industry 4.0. We see this especially in how many businesses today are using big data and advanced AI to provide a level of insight into their customers’ needs and circumstances. This has huge implications for life insurance.

For instance, AI analytics powered by big data has allowed agents to speed up decision-making and create data-driven interactions with customers. AI platforms can match customers to specific policies that suit their needs, while also improving the digital underwriting process by predicting mortality risks. From there, it’s easy to create individual price plans and policies in a matter of minutes.

Personalizing the Customer Experience

One thing that door-to-door salespeople did well was provide an approachable face to the policies they were pitching. Having someone in-person who could listen to concerns, answer questions, and provide customized coverage was what made them so effective.

While the actual door-knocking and kitchen-table conversations might be a thing of the past, there are still ways for agents to deliver more personalized customer experiences, mainly through technology.

For example, gathering more demographic data on your customers can allow you to develop customer profiles that provide insights into a customer’s motivations, knowledge base, and preferred mode of communication. Having this info in hand makes it easier to speak their language and enhance the customer experience. Increased digitization also means agents can let technology do the tedious paperwork – allowing them to focus on nurturing customer relationships.

Final Thoughts

The door-to-door salesperson might be a relic, but today’s digital salespeople can still look to their forebears for inspiration on providing a personalized experience. Better yet, the modern-day life insurance agent has the benefits of technology to complement their sales strategy and deliver a higher quality of service – minus the door-knocking.

Bob Gaydos is the founder and CEO of Pendella, where he leads a team of innovators in the insurance industry, automating the underwriting process through AI and big data.