Yee Hah! The worst recession since the Great Depression was declared officially over in June of 2009. We should be feeling great, since all things considered, the insurance industry fared pretty well when it came to how it emerged from that dark tunnel. But except for one notable role voice, insurers, unlike their banking peers, are still holding back from growing the business. How do we know? We took a look at nearly 5,000 inquiries that Forrester answered for insurers, bankers, and securities firms in the wake of failure of Lehman Brothers to just after this May’s Flash Crash.
What was on the minds of insurers during these six quarters? For starters, insurers:
Asked more questions than their financial services peers. Of the three segments we looked at, insurers asked half of the inquiries we fielded—2,500 versus nearly 1,600 and 600 for banks and securities firms, respectively.
Framed more than half of those questions around risk. Insurers didn’t veer away from what got them through the recession intact (indeed, from the very nature of their business)—managing risk. Even questions about application development strategies were framed as a risk question, with most insurers seeking validation that they were following in the well-worn grooves of others in insurance (and other industries) before them.
Posed too few questions about growing the business. Unlike their banking and securities siblings who asked questions about growing the business through new product launches, up-selling and cross-selling, or luring new customers away from competitors, insurers, with one big role-based exception, did notreflect that Q2 2009 economic inflection point.
I recently sorted through just shy of 2,000 inquiries that Forrester analysts completed from insurance industry clients, from a grim Q1 2009 through the cautious optimism at the end of Q1 2010. Along with the insurance inquiries, I also looked at what was on the minds of bankers and the Global 500 segment during the same period.
What jumped out was how different the character of questions from insurers was from the other two segments and how differently each segment (and role!) of the financial services market navigated the economy over these five quarters. So what’s the Reader’s Digest version?
A lot of emerging companies think they've "arrived" when they've launched their first analyst briefing "tour." Oftentimes, these start-ups have very small to no marketing function internally, instead turning to outside agencies for public relations, marketing communications, and of course, the debut to the analyst influencers. These small firms feel confident that once they've placed themselves in the hands of the seemingly capable agencies, they'll get all the ink and influence needed to execute the hockey-stick growth curve they've presented to their board and investors. The agency then scurries off, schedules a bunch of analyst briefings, and gives themselves a big pat on the back: mission accomplished! The appointed briefing time comes, the firm's show dog delivers the pitch, and then. . . the promise of a successful briefing fizzles.
Earlier this week, I had a briefing with just such a start-up. The agency dutifully sent me the slides in advance and, as analysts are inclined to do, I took a look. . . and was left wondering just what value this agency was providing to this client. Why? The slide deck, while short, did nothing to sell this company to me, the analyst. Here's the start-up's value proposition:
To this end, Company X seeks to design a system leveraging the latest technologies and utilizing a common processing engine and user interface to provide an integrated, easy-to-use, cost effective solution for financial institution.
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. . .
There's one sure way to amp up the tension between bag-carrying sales folks and the sales enablement teams that support them, and that's when a sales exec misses the opportunity to get a meeting with a buyer.
Last summer, we talked to about 40 sales execs or managers and no surprise, when it came to supporting the sales effort this was the area where sales execs told us their respective companies performed weakest. How is supporting that buyer access manifest? Providing the sales org qualified leads, of course. . .
Yesterday, Brad Holmes blogged about 2010 being the year where sales enablement moves from concept to reality. Yep, it's tempting to think that tech firms and their marketers have all been madly working to enable the sales organizations with fabulous sales-enabling digital media like video customer testimonials, blogs, tweets, Facebook pages, and, of course, the company Web site. But once in a while, you get reminded that some companies have a long way to go just to cover the basics, never mind get to what Brad called a "breakthrough."
Every once in a while, I come across one of those situations where the answer seems so obvious that I have to wonder if they already know the answer, but just want to know what you’re going to say.You know, like Perry Mason asking the question, but he already knows the answer?
Insurance IT buyers have distinct preferences when it comes to how they learn about new technology.Tech vendors think IT buyers learn about the hottest technology because of the bright, shiny stuff that their marketing organizations spend all kinds of time and money producing. Wrong.