By Katherine M. Bova
SALES AUTOMATION EQUALS GREATER CLIENT ATTENTION AND CARE
Centralizing data and interactions into one hub seems like a daunting and time-consuming task, but it pays off
Who isn’t tired of using a mixture of emails, Excel spreadsheets, an agency management system and sticky notes to keep track of everything? In the ever-expanding digital age, where instant gratification, automatic response and heightened personal touches are now becoming standard in all business interactions, the need for sales automation for insurance agents and brokers is greater than ever.
Centralizing your data and interactions into one hub seems like a daunting and time-consuming task. But the ease of importing data, setting goals, tracking stages, increasing interactions and decreasing dropped opportunities all add up to stronger, sustainable and scalable business models that are ready for growth.
Tracking opportunities and stages for growth
Sales automation and management system tools can display data on dashboards that track business opportunities, employee productivity, renewal date timelines, follow-up activities and more. As an agency or brokerage owner you can set organizational and producer goals, track prospects through the various sales stages, automate follow-up tasks and have a clear picture for improving processes.
Certain circumstances require a hands-on approach that can’t be provided through technology, but sales automation can refocus agents’ attention onto their clients, not their paperwork.
Then, you can leverage these tools to focus more of your energy on becoming a trusted advisor for your clients and growing your book of business. As vice president of education at Agent Support Network of America (ASNOA), it is my job to train agents and staff on innovative solutions and the benefits of new efficiencies that lead to direct growth.
The key is identifying how efficiencies save time, which equates to saved money. My team trains agents and brokers on sales automation tools and how to customize workflows to fit their culture. We also work to ensure that staff are on the same page to provide proven results.
Management system tools help with this process by creating a centralized hub for all agency/brokerage data to help producers service clients daily. Such tools also allow agency/brokerage owners to track each stage, and every opportunity, that a customer service representative is working on for them.
Furthermore, tools like Applied Epic can provide insight into not only the stages of those leads but also comments made on each one of those opportunities. Producers can track their monthly sales, and this enables them to know where they stand in terms of their annual goals.
These systems can generate reports to help producers track hit ratios, while simultaneously automating manual tasks so that producers have more time to set follow-up meetings with clients and prospects. Agents and brokers can also requote on the date of the agent/broker and client’s choosing.
My biggest piece of advice for agents assessing a move to sales automation is that they need to “dream it to achieve it.” It starts with setting goals and knowing where your agency or brokerage wants to be at the end of the year.
Centralization creates efficiencies within an agency to utilize agents’ time more wisely to prospect and cultivate relationships and sell more insurance.
I’ve found that there are six key components that help drive success within agencies:
- Consistent data entry and use
- Clear understanding/training of systems for all users
- A team dedicated to and invested in the process
- Discipline to commit to change
- Clear and well-understood goal for the agency and producers
- Transparent plan for how to reach that goal and each producers’ role in accomplishing the goal
Among the agencies and brokerages that are implementing sales automation tools, retention rates and close ratios have increased.
In addition, implementations have helped fill in sales process gaps. For example, agents have followed up on prospects who may have previously gone cold or silent. They’ve done this by developing procedures to re-engage with those prospects and receive critical feedback.
The human touch
While tracking your opportunities from each stage to close through automation is important, it is never meant to replace the vital personal interaction provided by an independent agent or broker. Agency/brokerage owners can use a centralized data hub to help with the human touches as well.
Keeping track of even the small things—names of grandchildren, children’s sports teams, last time and place you ran into the client—creates the vital differentiation and personalization needed in acquiring and retaining.
Rather than handwritten notes scribbled on a business card you saved, or sticky notes next to your phone, for example, you can keep this information digitally via your client profile. That way, when you pull up a file as your phone rings, all of the personal touches you need are right there in front of you to access, which allows you to offer a better, more interactive experience.
Above all, agents and brokers need to be the trusted advisors their clients rely on when they have questions about a product, billing, claims and more. Certain circumstances require a hands-on approach that can’t be provided through technology, but sales automation can refocus agents’ attention onto their clients, not their paperwork.
Katherine M. Bova is vice president of education at Agent Support Network of America (ASNOA). ASNOA (www.asnoa.com) is an aggregator that helps agents grow their business through direct carrier access, industry-specific training, marketing support and business automation, cutting-edge technology and devoted customer service. The organization is an affiliate of Applied Client Network (www.appliedclientnetwork.org), the international users group for Applied Systems technology. Applied Client Network produces the Rough Notes TechKnowFile column each quarter.