If you run an agency in the life insurance industry and have a downline group of agents, you likely have high contracts with several carriers through an IMO/BGA/FMO.
Contracts are great, but is that all you’re getting from your IMO? If so, it might be time to look around at what your peers and competitors are getting from theirs.
Contrary to what many agents seem to believe, IMOs don’t exist solely to provide contracts to independent agents and agencies. You should expect your IMO to invest heavily in additional tools to support you and your downline agents. If you’re only getting a contract and not much else from your IMO (even if it’s a high contract), you are missing out on major value –more importantly, the opportunity to provide additional value to your downline.
Relationship. As an agency owner, you should have a personal relationship with your IMO! This doesn’t necessarily mean you spend the holidays at each other’s houses, but you should have direct access to the decision makers at your IMO and feel comfortable discussing your business’s needs, goals, and challenges with them. If you don’t feel that spark or feel like you’re just a number on a whiteboard to them, it might be time to shop your valuable business elsewhere.
Culture. Good IMOs know the value of building a culture that promotes positivity and inspiration. A company’s culture is directly tied to their leadership and reflects the values of those leaders accordingly. If Kool-Aid cups and rah-rah meetings aren’t your thing, you’re not going to feel connected to an IMO that embodies and cultivates that culture. If recruiting videos featuring private jets and Lamborghinis make your eyes roll, you’re not going to feel a connection with a group that puts that type of messaging out there. Make sure the culture of your IMO matches with your own personal and professional values, and you’ll be more likely to feel connected to and thrive within that group.
Marketing tools. IMO stands for Independent Marketing Organization, after all! They should be providing you marketing tools! Whether its out-of-the-box website solutions, email drip campaigns, sharable social media videos and content, or physical flyers and giveaways for events, your IMO should be constantly barraging you and your agents with new marketing content and ideas for marketing your business. If they provide these tools translated in multiple languages to maximize use across different demographics, all the better. If they’re not investing in a top-notch marketing team to provide you and your agents these tools, that’s money they’re putting right back in their own pockets. You should demand better.
Training. Along the same lines as marketing, a good IMO should provide consistent training opportunities and a wide variety of topics that can be utilized by your new and experienced agents alike. Webinars, conference calls, and Zoom trainings should be held at least weekly, but you and your agents should have regular access to in-person training events and networking opportunities as well. Like marketing, a rich training program should represent a major investment on the IMO’s behalf in return for the business you and your downline generate – make sure you’re getting that benefit.
Incentive trips. Part of your ability to provide value to your downline is to motivate them to produce with reward trips to exciting, exotic locations with their family. Any quality IMO should be footing the bill for these trips for you and your top producers, providing them with an opportunity to reward their most valued agency partners and you with an opportunity to create motivation for and stickiness to your top producers. If your IMO isn’t providing annual trip opportunities (or if those trips aren’t up to snuff), you could be missing out on more value elsewhere.
Technology. There are countless ways technology can help independent producers identify prospects, streamline their business, stay organized, or duplicate their efforts. Quality technology generally requires not only the legwork to research the best solutions and ongoing upkeep – it also can come at a significant cost. Whether it’s a CRM, agent portal, phone app, auto-dialer, or any other piece of technology, your IMO should be finding and offering you and your agents the tools you need to stay on the cutting edge and relevant to consumers in today’s modern world.
If you find yourself looking at the above list and finding your current IMO lacking in one or more of these areas, don’t despair – you’re not alone! There are dozens of quality IMOs out there to be explored. But as an agency leader, the responsibility for choosing the right IMO lies with you. Take the time to research your options, weigh their benefits carefully, and create a lasting partnership with an IMO that provides the resources you need to take your agency to that next level.
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