Competition has never been fiercer in the insurance industry.
As the insurance workforce promises to turn over in the years ahead, forward-thinking agencies are recognizing the need to instill greater process and automation into their sales operations to bring new producers up to speed.
Undoubtedly, it’s important for agencies to serve their existing customers well. But these broader economic and social shifts are driving agencies to evaluate and evolve their organizations to ensure they can pursue new business with the same level of attention, process and visibility.
Where We Came From
To date, agents have used countless methods of tracking prospects and new business opportunities outside an agency management system, which vastly limits the ability of principals and managers to understand how well—or not—sales are progressing. Separate data sources reduce management’s insight into the sales process and create redundant work for producers and service staff who must manually re-enter the same information into two different systems.
Leveraging software to drive sales automation is the key to consistent and improved performance among new and seasoned salespeople. The ultimate objective is to grow the book of business, and doing so requires attention to both new sales and renewals. Renewals often generate up to 80% of commission in a given year, with top-performing agents spending half their time servicing and maintaining that renewal book.
Renewals are obviously critical, but it’s new sales that now draw more attention. To achieve maximum efficiency, staff need a single system to manage both these aspects of the book.
Consistent Processes and Performance
Defining and implementing an overall sales process are two important milestones in this endeavor. Integrated sales automation capabilities enable an agency to determine the process that works best for them, which can introduce consistency and discipline in sales across the organization.
Instead of giving salespeople—who traditionally don’t use the AMS—a completely separate system to manage sales, sales automation enables producers to do their work directly in the AMS.
This also helps the CSR because they don’t have to re-enter client information. Working on renewal and new business in the same system using the same user interface eliminates time spent bouncing between systems, reduces potential errors and improves data quality when reviewing business trends. Bonus: Collecting all workflows in one system means you don’t have to maintain or train staff on separate systems.
As selling insurance continues to evolve into a team-based effort, marketing specialists, service representatives, account executives and other agency staff all need access to the data in one system. This helps assist producers in marketing policies to the right carriers and obtain quotes for a solid proposal package. This data turns into valuable information for analysis long after the prospect becomes a customer.
Most important, the value of using integrated sales tools enables agency teams to recognize internal areas of strength and opportunities for improvement, on both an individual and agency-wide basis.
For instance, say an agency has five salespeople, and trends suggest that one individual converts prospects to customers very quickly, while another is stronger at bringing in new opportunities but fails to close the business. The agency can leverage the talent of each to drive new sales together. This information—and additional items such as type of business, size of business and more—are critical to successfully competing in today’s ever-changing marketplace.
But if sales processes and data reside outside a core management system, you cannot quickly analyze the information in order to provide the complete scope of the business, both new and renewal. By integrating sales automation, all the critical steps of the renewal process—Who did I keep? Who did I lose? Who am I at risk of losing?—become a single source of truth within the management system.
The success of integrated sales automation into core business operations is well-established in many industries. Digital agencies need to adopt strategies and processes to integrate sales automation into their AMS to unify operations and build a stronger, more sales-focused organization for enhanced competitive value.
Michael Howe is senior vice president of product management at Applied Systems.