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The Sales Revolution is Here: What You Need to Know

Thursday, June 18, 2020
Written By
Don Bailey
Partner - Bristlecone Partners

Note: This blog post is based on Don Bailey’s Chapter 1 in “The Sales Revolution,” a new e-book from Bailey and Jason Liu that aims to demystify digital disruption and provide insurance leaders with the strategic insights they need to better navigate the seismic changes ahead. A full, free copy of the e-book can be found at

For years, the insurance landscape has remained relatively unchanged. That is, until now.  

Digital disruption has brought with it massive change, and it’s altering the face of insurance as we know it. And these changes aren’t just an evolution, they’re a revolution.

The Age of Digital Transformation

The insurance landscape has evolved far beyond what it used to be. One major change relates to the way customers find and purchase coverage. Today’s insurance buyers demand a technology-inspired experience that can be done almost entirely virtually, and it’s reshaping the entire insurance industry.

For personal lines policyholders, nontraditional, technology-based insurance companies offer customers on-demand, pay-as-you-go coverage options that simplify the underwriting process.

On the benefits side, clients and their employees want more transparency and self-service options when it comes to their health and ancillary benefits. Providing self-service portals for plan documents, claims submissions and online enrollment is no longer a way to differentiate yourself from competition—it’s a standard offering that clients expect. And, these expectations are growing by the day.

Whether they work with an agent virtually or entirely through self-service, consumers demand an element of technology throughout their entire buyer’s journey. As digital channels in insurance continue to gain traction, agents must adapt in order to survive. This is especially true when you examine other seismic trends affecting today’s agencies, including a new definition of risk and the arrival of big data and innovative tech.


The Shifting Definition of Risk

As innovation in the industry grows stronger, agencies are witnessing a fundamental shift in the very definition of risk. Major insurance institutes like International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) describe risk as “uncertainty arising from the possible occurrence of given events.”

Using this definition, it’s best to think of risk as the probability of a cause and effect. How likely is it that a fire will break out and destroy a business? If a person gets into a car, what are the odds of an accident? As a person ages, will they be prone to more illnesses and need access to better health insurance?

This is traditional risk calculation boiled down to its most simplistic form, and it hasn’t had to change much over the years. That is until data and technology began to influence the insurance market.

Today, insurers have insight into risk at a micro level, thanks in part to the vast amount of information available at their fingertips. It’s no longer an inexact science, and underwriters can calculate the probability of a workplace fire based on the industry the policyholder operates in and the kinds of equipment they use. They can tell you the odds of an auto accident based on individual’s location and driving record. They can even tell you what types of illnesses an individual is prone to based on demographics alone.

Insights of this kind change how we think of and calculate exposures. But this is just one piece of the pie, as the arrival of tech-based economies has further redefined risk for the modern age.

In 2020, the idea of a self-driving car extends beyond sci-fi films and Jetsons cartoons. Workplace automation and tech-based tools like applicant-tracking software, bot-driven help desk systems, automated communication systems and data analytics are making businesses more agile and futureproof.

With each and every advancement and new business model, the status quo is disrupted. As a result, the way agencies approach insuring property, organizations and employees needs to change. For proof, you need only look at the examples we just listed:

  • Autonomous vehicles may improve driver safety to a degree, but they’re vulnerable to a plethora of cyber attacks—risks that continue to dominate headlines and infiltrate numerous lines of coverage. And it’s not just cars. All Internet of Things devices are susceptible to attacks, and agents must remain flexible as new cyber and data exposures threaten policyholders year over year. According to a global survey by Accenture, security breaches increased by 67% between 2014 and 2019.
  • As workplaces strive to offer more remote work options and integrate more technology into their operations, new cyber exposures will appear across multiple lines of insurance. In the benefits space, employers now need to worry about protecting not only their company’s proprietary data, but also employees’ confidential data. Moreover, providers and carriers must prioritize safeguarding electronic protected health information to avoid a catastrophic data breach.
  • In the commercial insurance markets, carriers created stand-alone cyber polices as a way to set clear distinctions from other types of coverage. However, a large part of the market is now focusing on adding cyber coverage to property, general liability and crime policies in order to address potential gaps. Differences in these types of policies can be confusing to your clients, and they will need your expertise more than ever to help them understand their risks and safeguard their business.

These are just a handful of changes facing carriers, agents and the clients they serve. Simply put, traditional risk calculation models—and the agents who use them—must evolve to keep pace.

Thankfully, in the same way technology has altered the risk landscape, it has afforded agents with more growth opportunities…

To finish chapter 1 and read the rest of the e-book, visit

About Don & Jason

Don Bailey has over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry, working in various roles spanning from underwriter to producer to CEO. He was the former Chairman and CEO of Willis Towers Watson North America, President of Allstate’s business-to-business portfolio of companies and the President of Global Sales at Marsh. Currently, he is a partner at Bristlecone Partners. In early 2019, Bailey joined Zywave as a member of its Advisory Board. 

Jason has over 20 years of experience leading multiple, high-growth software companies across the world. Previously, he served as CEO of UC4 Software, Univa UD and SAVO, a leading provider of sales enablement software. During his tenure at SAVO, he was at the epicenter of working with numerous large and midsized companies making the Sales Revolution transformation outlined in this book. In 2018, he became the CEO for leading insurtech provider Zywave.  

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