Destination 2020: Adventure or Disaster?

Your starting point is January 2017. Your destination is January 2020. There will be numerous hazards along the road.

Today, GPS makes getting directions easy. A successful trip, however, is much different and a greater challenge than just good directions. Today, as a passenger on Planet Earth, you are heading to 2020 with more than 7 billion other folks. Our destination is known – what we’ll find when we get there, is not. Your starting point is January 2017. You destination is January 2020. The journey is your road to tomorrow. There will be numerous hazards along the way. These are the difference between your current reality and the change that is tomorrow. The bad news of change is best defined by Machiavelli, “There is no more delicate a matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful to success, than to step up as a leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for his enemies all those well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new.” See also: 8 Exemplars of Insurtech Innovation   The good news is that in the hyper-competitive world that will be tomorrow, well-prepared Davids can compete with the Goliaths of yesterday. This requires innovation – anticipating customer (prospect) needs and providing FAST, HOT AND CHEAP delivery. “Different isn’t always better, but better is always different.” (Dale Dauten) Consider these sign posts you will need to spot on the super highway to tomorrow:
  1. Who will be your customers?
  2. What will be your offerings?
  3. What will customers be buying?
  4. How will you communicate?
  5. How will you compete?
Who will be your customers? Your renewal customers will be older. Your new prospects will be younger, smarter, diverse, tech-savvy and less verbal than they are today. Fewer in your data base will be members of the Greatest Generation and the Boomers. Buyers may be less enamored with your 40 years of experience because they are only 30 (Millennials). The “old boys club” will have closed; decision makers will be more diverse (gender, age, culture/ethnicity, expertise, etc), may speak a language other than English and will make decisions as a team – not as one boss. Having your marketing team more closely “mirror” them in tomorrow may be a good first step. What will be your offerings? Today, we can use a 3D printer to “manufacture” an ear. With the possibilities in technology, your products sitting on shelves and the slow manufacturing process of today may not be enough for tomorrow. Also, with more data capture and artificial intelligence, many customers will understand the price/cost structure of your offering and those of competitors. You may not sell on price, but some will buy that way. Your value proposition must include a “differentiator” that brings value to the buyer. In 2020, health insurance may be part of a single payer system, or you may wish it was. The ACA is not sustainable. At current rate trends, this one product will be sucking out a majority share of every family’s income to cover premiums. Healthcare expenses may include unintended consequences in the pricing of workers' comp and liability policies. What will customers be buying? With a global market and unlimited competition and less regulated competition, it is possible that consumers will find new solutions to traditional problems that don’t include the products you’ve offered in the past. You may find yourself tomorrow selling against what you sold yesterday with something tailored to a single client. How will you communicate? My generation used speedy memos, the phone, Rotary Club and PTA meetings and lunch at the City Club as relationship-building and communication opportunities. Today, text messaging, Facebook and other social media platforms are used to bond and communicate. If you don’t believe me, call a Millennial and see if he calls you back. How will you compete? This is one area of tomorrow that is out of your control. Competition will be defined by the marketplace. Your question is how to respond to the demands and expectations of this new world. See also: Spending on Agents Beats Spending on Ads   My guess is that, for agents, many products and service offerings today will be the commodities of tomorrow. Your success will be in what you do differently from the unwashed masses. Offering to facilitate the strategic planning for your best clients may keep you ahead of your competitors. You’ll have arrived when your clients invite you in on most, if not all, serious issues in their lives. Trust will matter. Success will be in your ability to gain and retain client intimacy by exceeding their expectations and the offerings of competitors. Look who is gone and who is prospering in today’s world. Will you be good or gone in tomorrow’s bazaar? Carpe Mañana!

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