A Field Marketing Organization (FMO), sometimes known as an IMO (Independent Marketing Organization), or NMO (National Marketing Organization), is a marketing organization that works in between the insurance carrier and the independent insurance agent.
The insurance carriers lean on the FMO to provide recruiting, contracting, training, communication, and most important compliance oversight to guide the independent insurance agent. The FMO is provided information that may impact distribution, including plan expansion or exits, new rates, new plan designs and sales incentives. The information is cascaded down to the agents and agencies.
In exchange for their service, the insurance carriers may reward the FMO with an exclusively available contract or certain types of contracts that provide different levels of compensation to the FMO. Many carriers will only offer their products through an FMO to leverage their training, onboarding and support so as not to be mired down with supporting individual agents.
The FMO is the conduit between the insurance carriers and independent agents and provides support and assistance in accessing and using carrier portals, tracking their business, ordering supplies, creating and customizing carrier flyers and sales presentations, and hosting training on carrier-specific products as well as the art of selling.
The best FMO’s help agents with sales tips and techniques. They help agents learn the most productive ways to prospect, market themselves and how to close on leads. Great FMOs take a vested interest in their agents – each-and-every-one – and makes sure they have access to the support needed to run a successful business.
The most successful FMOs have training available for every level of agent that goes above and beyond carrier products. FMOs with advanced training and personalized support are the most in demand. These FMOs take the time to learn about an agent’s background, their business goals and how to help them navigate the world of Medicare.
These FMOs are actively providing leads and various other types of opportunities to their agents, such as retail opportunities, clinic staffing and miscellaneous events. A vested FMO will provide co-marketing dollars and help agents identify the best return-on-investment.
The highest producing FMOs take a highly customized approach to their agents, treating them as partners and family rather than an outside agent. They invest in the right type of technology to keep their agents on the cutting edge.
Most FMO’s have the agent paid direct by the carrier putting the agent in control of their compensation and not the FMO. Be mindful of agencies that demand they control the compensation, as this is generally not in the best interest of the agent.
The top 10 questions to ask when choosing an FMO:
- How broad is their portfolio?
- Do they have responsive licensed support staff?
- Do they provide 1:1 support?
- Do they know how to sell to clients or just agents?
- Do they provide FREE online enrollment platforms?
- Do they provide retail marketing opportunities?
- Do they provide ongoing agent training?
- Are they offering “free” leads in exchange for a reduced commission? Or do you receive your compensation directly from the carrier?
- Have they been in business a while, or are just getting started?
- Do they have a good reputation with carriers?