Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Assocations - How to sell Financial/Insurance Products to them.

I actually have a meeting tomorrow to discuss selling Financial/Insurance products via direct/online channels to Associations/Affinity markets. For those of you that know me and read my blog regularly, you'll know that if I have a strong interest in something I'll blog about it. That said, I have dealt with Associations in the past and have done some partnerships with various selling wireless services to their members. While wireless services are certainly different from insurance/financial products, I do think the principals of selling to Associations are the same. We're just talking about a different commodity here.
Hope you enjoy this post and please feel free to use this information and send me any questions should you have any.

Selling to Association Members.

How to create and manage association-endorsed programs. When you serve associations, take into account that you are dealing with a diverse group of clients, which could include sporting goods merchants, musical instrument dealers, doctors, lawyers, entertainers etc.
For the purpose of this article let’s assume we are selling association members various forms of insurance such as Long-Term Disability Insurance, Office Overhead Expense Insurance, Term Life, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, Extended Health Care, Dental Insurance, Critical Illness and Extended Health Care Insurance for Retirees. Because many associations are members of national associations, the marketing territory would cover all Provinces and Territories.

When successful, association-endorsed programs are a win-win situation for both an insurance organizations and an association. Insurance companies attract and retain additional clients and revenue, while associations use association/affinity programs to attract and retain new members. In this article I'll explain how to select an association for the purpose of marketing insurance programs to its members.

Finding Prospects

To find prospects, a good place to start is to regularly attend Canadian Society of Association Executives regional meetings and trade shows. Referrals are also a strong avenue through which to find new associations. When you work with a particular group, it's not uncommon for that group to introduce your insurance company to another association that's having insurance problems. (There are a number of Insurance companies competing for association business, so the associations tend to talk to each other about them.)

Exhibit at Trade Shows

Working the show-exhibiting at trade shows is one way that insurance companies obtain leads for its association endorsed insurance programs. Look for strong associations that provide other member benefits, has the trust of its members and has their best interests in mind. The association should be well-established. The stronger the association, the more successful the insurance program will be. Furthermore, the association should have clear objectives for the insurance programs.
Another factor determining whether to approach an association is the type of industry or trade it represents. Is this an Association you are willing to provide insurance to its members?

Before finally selecting, and seeking an appointment with, an association, find out whether the organization is large enough. Also find out who the decision-maker is, what position he or she holds in the organization and what the association's decision-making process is. You can often meet an association's decision-makers at trade shows or through referrals.
Once you obtain an Associations endorsement for the insurance programs, begin to gather information from the association concerning their members' exposures, hopefully your Insurance organization has a standard questionnaire. The benefits of a questionnaire should be twofold: It tells you what the members' insurance needs are, and it acts as the basis for customizing a plan for that specific association. Associations that currently have programs often conduct their own member surveys (sometimes even before your first meeting with them), for example what coverage members have and how much they're paying for them, and what coverage needs aren't being met. These surveys are great and also give you a good indication of what kind of pricing will attract the members.
From an Insurance companies perspective ensure that your claims service is capable of handling the volume that association programs can generate. Perhaps most important is whether you can offer such member benefits as a special coverage the group needs or a dividend plan-something beyond you’re your company normally would provide if the business came through your regular agency plan.

When insuring associations, it is essential that a Sales agent obtain special rates for the program. Agents should also keep in mind that it is impossible to design a program for which all members will be eligible; the association should understand this as well.
The insurer usually assigns the association its own underwriter or a group of underwriters. The underwriters get to know the needs of the group.
Some coverage is useful in selling to associations. For example, many associations promote the availability of customized business owner’s policies to increase their membership. It is important to note that Associations seek out Financial/Insurance brokers because specific Association/Affinity programs help associations/affinity groups with retention.

More on Trade Shows

Attending an association's trade shows and conventions is one of the most effective ways to market the program to members. A good plan is to set up a booth at these tradeshows and send letters to members before a show, asking them to visit your booth. At the show introduce yourself to the members and encourage them to get more information on the insurance programs. An association also might lend its support by promoting the program in its periodical or by supplying you with a membership roster. Member testimonials are another effective way to promote the program, especially if they appear in an association's publication. When members regularly hear from their association about the insurance program, the message has a greater impact than when it comes directly from the insurance company. Nevertheless, you should also advertise in association publications and attend seminars that concern the association's industry in an effort to promote the programs. Please note, that after a trade show, it's not unusual to have hundred of leads!!!

Develop Trust

Selling to association members can be difficult at first because they are skeptical about a new insurance agency and are reluctant even get your company to quote. A typical objection is, "I've been with my agent for so many years." Indeed, it might take two or three years of contacting before you gain some members' confidence. Therefore, keep a record of all activity on each prospect. So if you contact them via a direct mail, email or phone call, you will know what happened in the past and how to approach the prospect next time. Tell the members what they want to hear emphasize that association/affinity programs can offer better price, coverage and service.

Your Company Website

Since some associations insist that you devote a section of your company’s website to their groups, it is a smart idea to accommodate this on your company website. Furthermore if you can negotiate with the Association Group partners have your Associations/Affinity Group link on the Associations' Web sites.

Develop a Relationship. Keep in Contact

Once you have acquired an Association the work does not stop here, Try to meet with each association at least annually-sometimes more often for a formal review of the program. Look at partnership opportunities to promote your services regularly to their members.
Be prepared to spend significant amounts of time and money to acquire an association and get the insurance program up and running. From the first meeting with an association to a formal proposal I believe it takes at least three to six months. An association's endorsement opens the door to new prospects, but it does not guarantee immediate sales. I have read several articles online that claim that it takes two to three years before an Insurance company makes a profit from an Association. Key is to provide Association members with superior price, coverage and service, and then your insurance organization can reap the steady rewards of association/affinity programs.


  1. I work in the Financial Sector. Very impressive article. Would like to talk to you further, I'll send you an email to your personal email address.

  2. On what criteria should I base an association on? Are there those that I should stay away from and why?

  3. Well, you would want to deal with thos Associations that are large enough and well established...Those associations that have the trust of its members. Email me and I'll give you more details.

  4. Excellent Post Tony!