APPROACH 2: SHIFTING THE MINDSET FROM ‘AGENT’ TO ‘TRUSTED ADVISER’
AXA Mansard’s market research discovered that during the insurance sales process, women have different expectations from men. In response, with guidance from IFC, the company delivered a customized two-day gender-sensitivity program that equips male and female agents with the knowledge and skills needed to become effective advisers that create long-lasting relationships with women customers. This has improved women’s overall trust in insurance and led to cross-selling opportunities and referrals. To date, over 150 agents, senior managers,e and team members from across Nigeria have participated in the gender-sensitivity training.
Through interacting with participants during the gender-sensitivity training, AXA Mansard’s management has gained important insights into the sales process. For example, before the company began to give the trainings, management assumed that female agents would relate better to women customers than would be the case with men, and this would be especially true with regard to women’s daily challenges, anxieties, and risk-protection needs. However, in the course of conducting the training, the company discovered that both men and women have a strong unconscious bias against women customers.
Also, surprisingly, women agents had, on average, 20 percent fewer women customers in their portfolios than was the case with men. Both groups of agents indicated that selling to women was “more time consuming and difficult,” which they cited as the primary reason why they had fewer women in their portfolio. As a result of the gender-sensitivity training, AXA Mansard’s agents have come to appreciate the financial opportunity that Nigerian women represent, and in becoming women’s trusted advisers, their bias against women customers has diminished.Due to these improvements, AXA Mansard now includes gender-sensitivity training as part of its onboarding program for new agents and advisers now reach out to women in innovative ways. This includes engaging with women through their professional networks as well as their sporting associations. By using these new approaches, AXA Mansard’s women’s portfolio has grown significantly.