Keys to a successful sales performance management transformation in insurance

By Anupam Mohapatra

May 1, 2020

Anaplan’s Head of Financial Services Solutions Henri Wajsblat interviewed Anaplan partner and Accenture Managing Director Anupam Mohapatra about the transformation of the distribution landscape in the insurance industry, related sales performance issues, and the benefits of the Anaplan platform to enable sales effectiveness in insurance.

HW: In a context of high digital disruption for the distribution of insurance products, how would you describe the major impacts in the industry?

AM: Customer expectations are being influenced by digital service providers in other industries, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. Changing customer demands and expectations are driving carriers to rethink how they sell to and serve their customer base, focusing significantly more on digital, self-service, and 24/7 availability. Insurers are then partnering with non-insurance companies to offer customers a broad range of relevant products and services. Innovations in self-service and multi-channel, predictive analytics, social listening, Internet of Things, and robotics all stand to significantly impact Insurance distribution of the future. Adding to this, increased regulation puts added pressure on carriers to improve their risk, compliance, and control functions, and to expand their governance capabilities.

HW: How do you see agents’ roles changing in the future and what are the key issues faced by U.S. insurance carriers to manage their sales performance?

AM: As most insurers shift to a digitally enabled multichannel distribution model, they are rethinking the roles they expect their physical channels to play. Insurers expect agents to perform more valuable advisory roles leveraging digital solutions to deliver meaningful customer experience.

There are number of challenges around insurance distribution, particularly when it comes to managing the distribution spend and enabling the salesforce:

  • Significant time is spent to onboard the salesforce and agents and bring them to proficiency.
  • Agents are spending less time in sales activities.
  • Most carriers are unsure or see minimal impact of sales plans on selling behavior, and are unclear of the ROI from sales and incentive spend.
  • Many carriers lack a nimble and flexible coverage management and incentive management approach to drive growth.

HW: What are the keys to an effective sales performance management and how, in your view, can a cloud platform such as Anaplan enable sales effectiveness in insurance?

AM: An effective Sales Performance Management solution must enable companies to effectively collaborate across sales, marketing, HR, and finance functions, provide meaningful insight for developing sales strategy around coverage planning and incentive compensation design, nimbly and quickly implement incentive plans to drive sales behavior based on market demands, and effectively integrate with CRM solutions to reduce time spent by distribution partners on non-sales activities while reducing operational expense, compliance risk, and compensation inaccuracies.

The Anaplan platform is extremely effective in enabling all stakeholders across functional areas and hierarchies to collaborate in all key sales planning activities, such as quota setting, territory/coverage planning, sales forecasting, and incentive compensation modeling in an agile fashion throughout the year. Along with these core planning functionalities, the solution enables configuring incentive compensation plans that leverage the common set of data and quickly onboard new distribution partners. The Anaplan platform provides robust workflow capabilities around compensation plan communication, quota approval, and inquiry/dispute management, and integrates seamlessly with CRM tools, such as Salesforce, to drive sales effectiveness. On top of that, the robust analytics capabilities enable companies to gather continuous meaningful insights. Being a cloud-native platform, it enables customers to access significant additional features at no additional cost in a seamless fashion. It’s a great way to drive sales effectiveness!

HW: In light of the recent COVID 19 influenced environment, how are insurers shifting sales performance management priorities?

AM: The present highly uncertain environment makes a classic case for why companies must focus on sales performance management transformation so they can be agile and nimble to adapt to the complex external factors. The current environment demands carriers focus on home office driven and virtual sales. That means redefining territories, quotas and redesigning incentive plans. The carriers than can quickly adapt to these changes and realign their product offerings will end up having a distinct advantage over others in the long run after the current turmoil has passed!