Finding the path to sell a commoditized product

Commodity products are particularly difficult to make appealing.

Examples are everywhere – there’s only so much you can do to differentiate a paper towel. And it’s even more difficult to turn a commoditized service or product into an appealing tool in the B2B world.
In this case study, we explore how we used a unique mix of expertise, client consultation, and digging deep with research to find a path to help insurance professionals see beyond price for a commodity Term Life product.


Our Fortune 500 Life Insurance client came to us with a conundrum:
Their Term Life product was especially hard to sell. Our client’s Term Life Insurance product carried a higher price and slightly lower commission than others.
They needed to find a way to make it appealing for Brokerage General Agency (BGA) and Insurance Marketing Organization (IMO) financial professionals. They knew this was a challenging business request, principally because the Term Life insurance marketplace is driven by price.
How do you garner interest from BGAs and IGOs in selling an undifferentiated commodity? What matters beyond price?


Our job:
Understand if and how this Term Life product, despite its higher price and lower commission structure, could have producer appeal.

So, we started with the basics – the landscape of the sales environment for BGAs and IMOs. What are the core decision making criteria for all products they carry? What are specific components of the product-selling experience that had the greatest impact on choice and promotion? We explored underwriting, ease of doing business, advanced sales support, and client confidence in the insurance brand itself.
By taking this approach, we identified the specific BGA and IMO producer profile that would be interested in presenting and promoting this product.


What we learned was an ah-ha for the client:
Term Life Insurance is not completely price dependent if it’s being presented and sold as part of a long-term client relationship.   

When a long-term relationship is at stake, the product is part of a value-added portfolio. In this case, it’s not just a stand-alone product. It’s an important component of a long-term financial plan and strategy. Then we tied it to our client’s specific Term Life product and found the features of this premium product did, indeed, provide for long-term financial planning to take place.
The re-positioning of Term Life insurance from “commodity” to “value-added financial vehicle” allowed respondents to accept the possibility of a higher price.


But that was not all.
We identified the target segment.

The BGA and IMO producers who will be most likely to embrace this premium Term Life insurance product are those who have a long-term life and financial planning relationship with their clients. These are producers who provide investment strategies. They don’t sell products.  They aren’t in it for a sale.
This target segment is in it to build a mutually successful long-term relationship with their clients.


This research helped our clients see how their product did have a place in the market, despite its start as a “no” for BGAs and IMOs.

We counseled them to adjust the thinking and strategy behind this product to focus on presenting it as part of a more holistic financial relationship. Our client undertook follow-up research with the target segment to gain a deeper understanding of how to position this Term Life insurance product. We were asked to lead this follow-up study.
We helped them find the path to success.