Chances are you have seen article after article claiming brokers need to buy more technology to help sell and service clients this year. Although partially true, blindly accepting these blanket statements can be costly for brokers. What I want to share with you is my experience working with these technology systems and a simple yet powerful approach you can take to make sure you don’t waste time and money on inefficient technology solutions.

There is some truth to the articles I've been reading. Some agencies should buy more technology. How do you know if your agency is one of them? Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Are you comfortable with your previous technology investments?
  • Does your team buy in to your technology?
  • Is your team comfortable with the additional requirements?
  • Do your clients use the platforms you've invested in?
  • Have your technology investments paid for themselves in the past?

If you answered yes to most or all of these questions, you've got the green light. In fact, you're light years ahead of most agencies. If you see a new challenge and a platform that solves it, move forward with the proper due diligence.
The problem is that most brokers answer these questions with, "Well, somewhat," "Eh, kinda," or even, "Heck no!" If you are in this category, consider a few different paths before you simply buy more.

 Remember “diminishing marginal returns” from college economics? Maybe you know it as “too many cooks in the kitchen." I’ve worked with hundreds of brokers. I’ve sold millions of dollars’ worth of insurance technology. It pains me to say it, but I’m convinced many agencies have too much technology.

Over the past decade, many brokers have tried to acquire a technology solution to every problem. These agencies tend to become technology graveyards where good technology goes to die.

The main reason why this happens is they overlook their capacity to execute. They overlook the time, knowledge, finance and effort requirements of technology. They spend ridiculous money thinking they’re going beyond expectations to compete, but they’ve effectively done very little. Ask yourself this question:

“Would I rather have two resources that my producers know well and position effectively or 10 resources they are only vaguely familiar with?”

Many agencies would benefit from simplifying their offerings and infusing their story with what remains. Prospects will respond to a narrative of your value proposition involving a few solution-based resources before they’ll respond to a laundry list of technology companies you’ve partnered with.

Time for a change

No matter how great the technology, I can show you an agency that’s failed with it. Replacing technology isn’t always about replacing bad with good. Usually it’s about finding the best fit.

Every technology vendor sells a vision, and many of them do it phenomenally well. The problem is technology reps rarely present their vision with consideration of the agency's capabilities. If they did, they wouldn’t hit their quotas. If I could give just one piece of advice to brokers, it’s this:

"Don’t buy the best vision; buy the vision that best fits. In other words, avoid the shiny object."

But let’s say you bought the shiny object and it just isn’t working. Maybe it wasn’t what you expected. Maybe it takes too much effort to execute or maybe your producers or clients just won’t use it. Typically, many brokers either give up or they try to change the agency to match the technology.

Agencies hold countless hours of training, strategy meetings and lunch-and-learns in an effort to make ill-fitting resources work. The end result is even more frustration and wasted time. It’s much better to cut bait and find a technology that fits your needs and capabilities than to venture down this rabbit hole.

Replacing technology is hard. It requires the broker to understand what they have and to evaluate it regularly. It involves investigating alternatives and could even involve a termination letter. Unfortunately, some find it’s much easier to just let the contract ride another year.

McCullough is regional sales director for ThinkHR.

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