One of the toughest aspects of digital marketing for sales organizations is the idea of pulling away from sales to do marketing. You are a sales organization and the game plan is and always has been “sell, sell, sell.” Your entire existence is based on the ability to build real relationships with people then ultimately sell to them. But now there is this push to digital marketing and understanding where it fits into the game plan can be a challenge.
In this article, I am going to give you a few ways to adopt digital marketing into your processes that adds to the sales process and not distracts.
Why Digital Marketing in the first place?
You are a sales organization. You need to sell to survive right? While marketing on the other hand is more of an added benefit right? Or at least that’s what most people think.
Here are a few findings Hubspot has discovered in their research:
- 57% of salespeople believe buyers are less dependent on salespeople during the buying process. (HubSpot, 2016)
- Only 29% of people want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product, while 62% will consult a search engine. (HubSpot, 2016)
- 40% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is getting harder. (HubSpot, 2018) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
So sure, you don’t NEED digital marketing in your insurance agency. You can survive with a traditional business model. But what many agencies have already found is that it is getting much harder to thrive with sales alone.
The fact of the matter is that less people want to speak with sales right away. As a sales person you can push hard and increase your sales efforts but you are still missing 70% of the people that don’t want to talk to you. This is where digital marketing comes into play.
First we will discuss how digital marketing can help your sales efforts then we will show you how even as an individual sales person or one man operation you can utilize digital marketing.
Balancing Sales and Digital Marketing as a Team Effort
Some agencies are fortunate enough to have a marketing team yet we still see a lack of balance between the sales team and what marketing is doing. We often see sales doing what they do, and then marketing doing what they do but the two sides seem to frustrate each other (or ignore each other) more than they actually benefit each other.
The real magic happens when marketing and sales comes together. Let’s discuss a few ways to bring the two together for massive success.
New Business Opportunities
One of the most desired ways of bringing marketing and sales together is for new business opportunities.
Marketing generates leads for sales, sales calls the leads, then sales gives the closed opportunities back to marketing to drip market to.
Many agencies begin with this desired process but find that two major issues occur which shut down the process.
1) Marketing does not deliver the leads that sales desires.
2) Sales does not see value in the marketing process and often fails to properly follow up with marketing leads.
The two teams need to sit down and discover a common area of focus. The marketing messaging and sales process must be in alignment so that the right leads come and that the transition from marketing to sales is smooth for the buyer.
Once these two come together to focus their efforts and identify each of their roles and assignments then you will be able to generate high quality business opportunities. Here are a couple ways to do so:
- Organic lead generation – Use SEO, blogging, and social media to attract new business opportunities for sales.
- Paid lead generation – There is nothing wrong with paid ads as long as they are high quality and the ROI is strong. Currently, the most popular choices of paid lead generation is through Facebook’s re-targetting ad systems and Youtube. You can also utilize quality sites such as Trusted Choice to generate the leads of your choice.
- Referral marketing – Once an opportunity becomes a client, it opens up a whole new avenue of lead generation. Use your marketing to generate referrals from your current client base.
Using marketing to generate new business opportunities for new producers or to fill the agency’s pipeline can give your agency a massive to sales. But marketing must have an understanding of what your agency and sales team needs and your sales team needs to provide support to the marketing team as well.
Providing Sales Support and Enablement
This is probably one of the most underutilized team ups for insurance agencies. Given the opportunity, marketing can provide the missing pieces in the sales process leading to increased close ratios and a shortened sales process.
Insurance agents are all about being the “trusted advisor.” But in order to crown yourself with such an honorable title you must actually add value and trust to your sales process. Remember, most people would rather avoid a sales person if possible and doing nothing more than calling, collecting information and quoting does not build your trust.
Allow your marketing team to create resources for your team to utilize through the sales process.
- Create videos and blogs for sales to use – Use content to compare products so when prospects are trying to decide between this and that, you can say “Why don’t you check out these 2 quick videos and share them with your spouse/partner. They will help you decide on what’s best.”
- Providing individualized social posts – Don’t just post to social media. Create specialized imagery that different sales people can post to help promote themselves as thought leaders in a given niche.
- Create chat bots – Remember those statistics earlier about people being more independent and wanting to consult search engines? This doesn’t have to be a bad thing for your business. If people are coming to your website and interacting with a chat bot you can shorten the time sales spends explaining things to prospects while also creating more value. In addition to that, it’s like having a sales person working at all hours of the night communicating with prospects and gathering information while your sales people sleep.
When you allow marketing to become a part of the sales process it is a Win-Win for your sales team and the prospects. Your agency becomes more effective at what they do and stands out by providing more value then any other agency.
Building Relationships and Trust
The insurance industry is built on trust and relationship. Most insurance agents paint the picture for their prospects that they are THE trusted adviser. And in all honesty, I would trust most of the agents I have met with my insurance policy. But in recent years, trying to sell under the “trusted advisor” role has become much less effective.
For starters, the market has become crowded with “trusted advisors.” I live in a very small town, and I have half a dozen agents within a mile from me. If I’m willing to drive more than 15 minutes to meet with my agent then a have dozens of options. And most would claim to be THE trusted advisor for me.
Another huge reason is that we as a society has lost trust for sales people. It’s not the insurance agents fault. It’s just the nature of sales. Ever since I was a kid I remember getting spam calls over and over again trying to sell us something we don’t want or need. When search engines blew up and we could bypass having to deal with sales people we all jumped on board.
I could go on and on about this but the point being, is that insurance agents need to do more than sell in order to earn the trust of consumers. Once again digital marketing comes into play. When consumers are searching, your marketing team has to paint the picture that you are THE trusted advisor they are searching for.
How do you build trust before even speaking with someone? Here are a few ways:
- Branding – Your marketing team should have a consistent branding message of who you are and what your agency is all about. If people see your social media accounts and website will they have confidence to reach out and offer their business to you? And as a bonus your marketing team can even brand each producer in a way that shows how they are the trusted advisor for their particular niche.
- Reviews and testimonials – Your agency should do your best to generate reviews on Google and Facebook. When comparing two options online, the one with more 5 star reviews and testimonials that speak to the needs of the searcher will win.
- Educate with content – Just like a sales person would build trust by answering questions your marketing should do the same. But don’t just write low value blogs because you want people to buy from you. You have to create blogs and videos that actually help prospects learn and make decisions.
But remember, your business is not just about tricking prospects into thinking you are a trusted advisor and then ditching them once they buy. You also have to foster those relationships.
Most of us truly do care about our clients, but let’s be real, it is impossible to build proper relationships with thousands of clients or even a couple hundred by oneself. Again, this is where your marketing team can come into play.
Technology can help us build relationships with prospects and strengthen those relationships as they become clients. Here’s a few ways to do this:
- Building Trust – The first step to building relationships is building trust. So in other words, the three items we mentioned just above is your first step to building a solid relationship. Educate them, provide them with value and don’t force the sale on them when they are not ready.
- Drip Marketing and Social Media – Using these methods are different but they are one in the same so I included them together. Some brands do an awesome job of showing you who they are even when you’ve never met them. There are people I follow online and some emails I get where I feel like I know exactly who they are. This allows me to connect with them without them actually calling and chatting with me.
- On-boarding Emails – Insurance polices do not come with an instruction manual. What happens for most insurance purchasers is that they get their policy along with tons of information. It can be a little overwhelming. A great way to show you care is by providing monthly on-boarding emails. As soon as a client has their policy, you should send them an email giving them tips on what to do next. “Now that you have your policy you will want to do XY and Z. You are also likely thinking about XYX, here are some articles I handpicked that I think will help. And by the way, if you have any questions reach out to _____ she is your account manager and can answer any questions you have.” Then each month or whatever time period you decide, you will send another email with the next step or tip for them to take.
- Occasional check-ins – This can be automated like the on-boarding emails. But the idea is to send off a quick email simply checking in with the client now that they are a customer. You can keep it simple and automate it, or have the marketing team add special conversation pieces based on the notes in the CRM. Such as “We just wanted to check in and see how things were going? By the way I hope your son’s broken leg is feeling better.” If this was a life insurance client, you bet they will feel like you really care about their family and it will keep that relationship strong.
Digital marketing can have such a great impact on your clients and prospects! Just imagine if you could save time by building trust online, convert more opportunities, and increase your retention rate and the length you retain a client.
Sales people can utilize marketing too!
Not every organization is going to have a marketing team. For some, you are a one man shop so you take the role as sales person, owner and marketer. For others, you may be the sales person and the owner does not see the advantages of marketing (or investing into digital marketing.) Regardless, there are ways that you as the sales person can balance what you do as a sales person and still utilize marketing.
Be honest, how often do you try to dodge people who want to sell you something? For most of us, even if we are interested in a specific product, we try to by pass the sales person and figure out what we need on our own. For a number of reasons people will try to bypass the sales person or will want to know who they are talking to before they buy anything. This is where branding comes into play.
Who are you and why should anyone buy from you?
So what are some ways you can brand yourself?
- Social Media – Be active in groups, and on your own personal channels. Utilize different channels to showcase who you are and what makes you unique. You likely will not see a direct ROI, but when people are deciding who to go with, it could be your social media accounts that move the needle in your favor.
- Guest Publications – Guest blog, get on an industry podcast, or even a well known video series. You an really show your expertise and grow an audience by adding value to someone’s marketing efforts. If your niche is education, then try to get on a teaching podcast. Maybe a local auto dealer has a big Youtube following, ask to do a special video with them. Use other publications to leverage yourself.
Branding doesn’t necessarily mean you have to walk around with a camera in your face 24/7. But actions are always going to speak louder than words and a third party source is going to help what you say become more credible. Use branding as a way to let prospects see who you are and come to the conclusion to do business with you on their own.
One of the most beneficial aspects of Digital Marketing is how close it has brought us to each other. Networking and finding new prospects can be a challenge. Even when you find a good prospective business, getting past the gate keeper can be nearly impossible. This is when you can use digital marketing to increase your foot print.
Here are some ways you can find prospects and network:
- Social media groups – Nothing like a group full of personal trainers asking questions if that’s your niche. Social media groups give you access to the specific group of people you want to prospect. Just make sure to be helpful and not spammy.
- Social Media searches – Why worry about the gate keeper when you can go directly to the decision makers? Social media allows you to search out whoever you want and connect with them (or their entire business).
- Introductions – This is another social media use but a great one in fact. If you’re looking to connect with someone but are unable to or don’t want to go in cold, then look for connections of your connections. Ask a close connection if they would be willing to introduce you to someone via whatever social network you’re on.
Don’t just think of using digital marketing as a way of finding more people and pitching them on your services. You can use it to make meaningful connections.
Communication is the cornerstone of your business. But unfortunate you can’t communicate with every individual as much as you should or would like to. However, with digital marketing you can better communicate with prospects and clients for increased retention and sales.
Here are a couple ways to do so:
- Keep relationship strong with clients – Your business is built on relationships but keeping a relationship strong with hundreds of clients and even more prospects can be challenging. With automation you can send automatic email check-ins with clients or re-engagement emails to prospects who have gone cold.
- Asking for referrals – Referrals are likely your best source of new business. Unless you have nothing better to do, or you’re desperate for clients (hey we’ve all been there) you are probably not going to sit around calling all your current clients and asking for referrals. You should be out selling. But by sending a mass email to all of your clients (still personalized of course) asking for a referral you can streamline the process yet still get the benefits.
As an individual you can only do so much. But with digital marketing you can scale your communication efforts to keep strong relationships with clients and generate new opportunities through them.
Finding the Balance
Now for the challenging part.
If you have had an interest in adding digital marketing into your agency’s processes for some time then you are likely familiar with some of the examples given above. But the real issue that is stopping insurance agencies from successfully implementing digital marketing is actually doing the work.
You likely don’t have time.
From the ownership standpoint, it’s tough having someone dedicate time to social media when there are 1000 other things that need done in the office.
Sales is challenging enough, now you have to add a whole new job in the mix.
Most agencies who step into digital marketing job share, so how do you do your full time front desk or CSR work but still adequately handle marketing?
And even if you are strictly in marketing, how do you prioritize tactics and get the rest of the agency on board?
The answer: One step at a time.
If successful digital marketing was easy then we would not have so many blogs discussing the topic. It is a challenging feat. And in all honesty, the only way your agency will see success with it is one step at a time.
You must make digital marketing a priority and add it to your calendar. Get one healthy habit going then once you understand it you can add another digital marketing practice into the mix. You keep building the process one piece at a time until you build your desired marketing machine.
It won’t be easy. It won’t be fast. But in the end it will be worth it. For you, the agency and your buyers.
So don’t wait any longer! Get started!
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Until Next Time… Keep on Learning!