At the recent Society of Actuaries Annual Conference in Boston, we were asked to present our findings on the characteristics of success for companies in the mid-market space. Based on the results of our recent survey of life insurance companies, we identified seven characteristics that set apart the continuously successful companies from the rest of the pack.

We found that successful companies:

  1. Have consistent leadership. Everyone on the management team shares the same clear vision of where the company is headed and can articulate it to others.
  2. Identify and exploit niche marketing opportunities. They develop an entrepreneurial mindset that finds ways to make something work versus a “why it won’t work” attitude.
  3. Have a pulse on the marketplace through superior customer intelligence. Be very careful when people in the company say they know what the marketplace needs without listening directly to customers and agents through surveys and other means.
  4. Make targeted investments in technology. They target their investments in technology based on what is really needed. This starts with understanding and defining the business requirements and investing only in those technologies containing features that will deliver on those business requirements.
  5. Achieve service excellence. “Easy to do business with” is not just a slogan; successful companies are easy to buy from and service is easily accessible for customers.
  6. Are nimble and quick to act. They minimize bureaucracy and have a culture of problem solving. There are many companies that once dominated their niche but became so entrenched in their ways that their competition overtook them.
  7. Have organizational alignment. The structure should be aligned with the strategy, with rewards designed to support the attainment of the goals of the organization.

With the economy improving, now is the time to break the down-cycle thinking and confirm that your people, processes, and technology are ready to deliver on what customers want from your organization.