Why intermediaries need to explain the bigger picture
Being a magazine editor, I’m not the most natural of salesmen. But at this year’s Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries (AMII) exhibition and conference (see more on page 6), I gained an insight into that most mysterious of worlds – sales.
Persuading individuals to buy private medical insurance (PMI) isn’t, as I had thought, about selling a product. It is, of course, about painting a picture and understanding customers’ needs – and then finding a product to match.
This might be obvious to most upstanding intermediaries, but it is worth emphasising again, especially so given some of the gloomy predictions about the future of PMI recently reported in this magazine.
It’s not to say, of course, that product isn’t important. Developing innovative products is key to any market and some of the new offerings on display at the AMII conference showed real innovation.
Standard Life Healthcare’s new consumer offering (check out technical editor Andy Couchman’s review of it on page 37) for example, is a flexible, consumer friendly product that ticks a lot of the right boxes. HealthChoice, also on display at the AMII conference this year, is another example of product innovation in action. National Friendly also deserves a mention for promoting a product that has the consumer right at its heart.
And in fact it was chatting to National Friendly’s head of intermediary relationships, Ian Talbot, that opened my eyes to the art of selling PMI. Talbot told me that he hopes intermediaries will not simply pick up a PMI product and try to sell it to their clients. That doesn’t help anyone, he believes.
Rather, Talbot wants intermediaries to understand what the client wants and needs and then find the product that’s right for them. Paint a picture of the healthcare landscape in the UK, understand the client’s response and then recommend a product that’s right for them.
Now, that product may or may not be a National Friendly product, Talbot said. But as long as the client’s eyes are opened to the reality of healthcare provision in the UK and what PMI can do for them, it will mean that another consumer joins the market. And by growing the market, everybody wins.
That is just one of the many reassuring messages that I took away with me from this year’s AMII conference. And I believe it’s precisely that type of attitude that is going to ensure the health insurance industry not only survives but in fact thrives in the years to come.