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Posted by Ellen Carney on February 24, 2010
I’m going to admit something here. . . most of my fellow analysts here chuckle when I profess my love for the insurance industry. Why do I like it so much? Well, one reason is because when I do my "Carney. . . like Art" spiel when someone asks how to spell my last name, insurance people "get it". Yep, they watched "The Honeymooners" and "The Jackie Gleason Show" and know exactly what I’m talking about, unlike most of my co-workers who, with the "Carney. . . like Art" thing, realize that I have more in common with their parents (or grandparents), than them.
Another admission here (and it's probably a good predictor of who'll like the insurance industry) is that, as a kid, I also loved Art Linkletter's show, "House Party." Why? Because he had a segment called "Kids Say The Darndest Things" in which he interviewed little kids and they said amazing and often hilarious stuff.
Every year, Forrester fields on the order of 15,000 or so inquiries, most of which are pretty main stream, asking questions about spending trends, industry adoption of cloud, best practices around some process, which are usually easy to answer, but frankly not all that fascinating. But every once in a while, you get a beauty about something piece of software or process that's a bit more on the fringes, like these recent inquiries:
And my all time favorite:
I'm not implying that these inquiries are humorous like the kids on "House Party," just that clients might expose the real business problem in more oblique ways.
As we see from these banking and insurance examples, industries have business processes that if not tuned, do have big impacts on their business. The bank that was financing RV homes, snowmobile trailers, and boats is worried about fraud and needs to ensure that the asset that they're lending against is in fact the real deal. The lender that's dealing with a stream of existing and coming regulations is trying to pick a solution that won't consume budget that could support a more critical business need, like growing a profitable bank and managing bigger risk issues. The Ag lender has to manage risks in the short (and fungible) "asset" life of cattle destined for the supermarket meat case. And the life insurer needs to understand how they could prevent "leakage" — fraudulent death claims or paying out an annuity payment to a deceased policy holder, and then having to incur the expense to recover or write off the overpayment.
What does all this mean to sales teams and the sales enablement teams that support them? There's often more to what the customer is asking for than meets the eye. The client or prospect might be asking about the functionality of a particular piece of software or an outsourcing offer, but they've got a business problem they need your help to solve.