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Unum Builds Sales Support

Web-based apps supplement home-office sales organization.

Seeking to provide better support for producers of individual sales, UnumProvident ($42.4 billion in assets, Chattanooga, TN) has created a centralized sales organization supported by electronic communications and compensation functionality.

Traditionally the carrier's sales organization had been responsible for servicing brokers of both on-site group supplemental and life insurance sales, as well as the more labor-intensive individual sales, according to Tom Thompson, senior vice president, customer loyalty services. "It was pulling sales representatives in two directions," he says. "So instead of having sales reps in each field office, we built a centralized sales-distribution organization with about 50 home-office-based licensed sales reps, who will handle sales support for the producers."

Personalized Communication

UnumProvident research showed that its brokers wanted more frequent updates on product features to help them sell, according to Thompson. In response, the carrier has updated its producer Web site to provide access to policy information and commission statements, and is providing personalized e-mail to producers. "We have just implemented a monthly communication from their home-office sales rep that provides a variety of information," Thompson adds. "We are also electronically depositing their commissions directly into their checking accounts."

Brokers "also wanted access to someone that they could discuss sales and product information with, as well as possibly assist them in the individual sale," Thompson notes. Field sales representatives were typically on-site and thus unavailable to provide telephone assistance to brokers on demand. "By having a centralized, home-office sales organization that doesn't travel, we have dedicated reps for the individual producer who are always there," Thompson adds.

The launch of the new individual sales distribution model began April 1 with about half of the sales force, mostly less-experienced representatives. "We quickly found the new model makes sense, so we're going ahead to full implementation August 1," Thompson relates.

A further step will be to put in place a customer management system, which is in the planning stages, says Thompson. "That's something we're lacking, but we're in the late stages of interviewing vendors to acquire the software."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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