Achieving B2B sales in an ever-changing world
What is it like to work as a Sales Manager at AXA Partners in Norway? Roar Børrestad talks about how to succeed in B2B sales, insurance market trends and customer needs.
Sales Manager at AXA Partners in Norway
In Norway – as in other markets – AXA Partners typically teams up with banks and financial institutions. New segments are emerging, however.
“We’re seeing greater diversity in the marketplace. Indeed, we’re being approached by other insurance companies and telecoms, for instance. But the bulk of our business still comes from banks and financial institutions”, says Børrestad.
“We typically sell various forms of credit- and loan-related insurance that are tailored to our partners’ specific needs. For example, we can help banks offer payment protection insurance for their mortgages to give their customers added financial security. We can also offer payment protection cover for consumer and auto loans as well as for credit cards, of course”, continues Børrestad.
“However, new sectors are more and more looking for ways to add value to their core products, for example telecommunication companies. These companies are buying every platform available when it comes to streaming TV. We have to be there, offering credit and bill protection. We also can insure subscriptions. The health industry, retailers and wholesalers also want our insurance coverage”, continues Børrestad.
Norway’s insurance market has evolved over time. In its infancy, in the mid-1990s, insurance was a very niched product. It began to evolve in tandem with the emergence of new banking services and digitalisation.
“When you look at the financial services segment, banks have different units for mortgages, consumer loans and auto loans. Sometimes these business areas are outsourced or are spun off as standalone units. Some banks can even create a separate, fully digital bank and brand to meet their most digital customer segment’s needs. And when these business areas develop or change, it’s important that the insurance business also follows this development and has the right offering and capabilities for these new segments”, comments Børrestad.
“The core need for our products have not changed over the time. Customers are still demanding unemployment cover and temporary sick leave products, but product specifics and distribution methods evolve to meet market needs. Our partners, banks and financial institutions are looking for insurance solutions that can be tailored to their marketing and distribution strategies – and that support their core products’ sales and key initiatives, which can vary from target to increase product usage and loyalty to attract new users”, adds Børrestad.
“Last, but not least, we need to keep abreast of developments and megatrends, such as digitalisation. As people today live their lives digitally, we need to evolve and tailor our products accordingly. Banks used to have much more direct contact with their customers through bank advisors at different branches. Now that everything is going digital, insurance distribution has to change as well. We need to develop our digital capabilities to be able to provide digital insurance distribution solutions to our partners”, remarks Børrestad.
AXA Partners is a white-label company in the B2B2C business, where our partners distribute our products to their end-customer. When we are meeting new client companies, there are several things to keep in mind.
“The most important thing is to really understand the client’s universe – their business goals, values and end-customer needs. You need to do your homework before meeting a new client and, when you meet them, listen to their needs carefully – not least when it comes to distribution”, says Børrestad.
“Success in a B2B world means being very open minded. You need to be more of a partner than a payer of insurance. You also need to be one step ahead and be a proactive partner to clients. When you enter into a dialogue with a new partner, you have to understand what they want and create the platform together”, continues Børrestad.
“The pandemic has made everything even more challenging. We can’t interact or meet face to face with our partners – or have a cup of coffee with colleagues. This means you will miss market insights and feedback that you would normally get in a spontaneous social interaction with people. A lot of things are also happening behind closed doors”, remarks Børrestad.
“To keep up with the market buzz, you have to be more proactive, following market trends and using, for example, LinkedIn frequently to maintain contact with partners. Internally, we have frequent Teams meetings with our different functions to interact and exchange feedback and insights”, continues Børrestad.
“I’ve been a Sales Manager at AXA Partners for seven years now, and I think that one of our greatest strengths is our proactive approach. We are very eager and truly believe in a partnership approach in which we develop products together with our clients. It’s this process of co-creation that helps us identify the best solutions”, says Børrestad.
“Personally, I thrive when new business opportunities or clients come my way. To hunt down new business and to respond to business inquiries is my speciality. The more pressure and the greater the challenge, the more fun I have”, concludes Børrestad.