Traditionally, insurance agencies have always been sales organizations. But over the years many agencies have slowly slid from sales into customer service organizations.
From a customer service and retention aspect this is great, but we are seeing stunted growth in many insurance agencies as they fail to generate new opportunities.
Buying leads or hiring an advertising firm are ways to combat this, but if insurance agencies want to see realistic and incremental growth, they need to relearn how to be sales organizations.
This blog article is going to teach you how to get back to your roots.
Reteaching salespeople to sell
A top issue for insurance agencies is hiring the right people. The reality for many agencies is that their producers just don’t perform.
Is it a training issue? Is it a matter of finding the right person for the job? Are traditional sales tactics just less effective?
Those can all be true, but I think the major issue is that salespeople just don’t know what to do. It’s time to take a look at their efforts to get an idea if they’re doing what needs to be done and where they are struggling.
Are your salespeople:
- Prospecting and finding new opportunities?
- Following up (with more than a single email)?
- Selling instead of order taking?
- Branding themselves?
- Seeking creative solutions?
To start, the insurance industry needs to relearn what it means to sell. This needs to happen at an organizational level as well as the individual salesperson level.
If you’re at a loss for how to train your salespeople there are a few options at your disposal.
- Hire an internal sales manager. There is a reason that all of the top sales organizations have a sales manager. Your salespeople need someone who can instruct them when they are lost or work with them when facing roadblocks.
- Utilize your carrier training. Many of your carriers have great training programs for new producers. State Auto’s Pacesetter Program and Westfield’s TAPP Program are two amazing programs that get your producers started off strong.
- Outsource training to experts. There are industry specific consultants and trainers who can help your producers improve their abilities and grow their book of business.
Make sure your producers know how to sell. Training needs to be a priority for every insurance agency who wants to grow.
If you want to see your producers perform better then you need to invest in them.
Selling in a Digital Age
It would be naïve to say that sales hasn’t changed as digital technology modernizes our world. Some traditional sales tactics still work, and salespeople still need to sell, but we also must consider how consumer behaviors have changed and impacted how we sell.
In addition to training, many producers are struggling without the backing from the organization. If you want salespeople to perform at their highest level then you need to enable them with the proper support, strategies and tools.
Are you enabling the sales department with digital marketing?
Many producers want to do better but don’t have the backing from their organization. In this digital age, we need to enable them with digital marketing initiatives. There are a number of ways to do this,
- Lead generation – Is marketing doing its part to generate opportunities for the sales team?
- Create content for the sales process – Modern buyers are educated buyers. They want to be educated not sold to. Do you have content in place that salespeople can share with prospects during the sales process?
- Bridge the gap between prospects, marketing and sales – Not every prospect or lead is ready to buy. In these cases, do you have a nurturing process that brings the consumer from researching to sales call in a seamless fashion?
Consumers now are more likely to research online then speak to a salesperson. This is why digital marketing plays such an important role in your sales process. The lines between marketing and sales are being blurred, so if you do not have digital marketing initiatives in place, then you are missing part of your sales process.
Are you automating tasks?
We would all be better at our jobs if we just had more time, right? Salespeople are no different. Too often do they get bogged down with manual tasks that could be shortened or eliminated with the use of automation.
- Follow up emails
- Lead Scoring
- Appointment Scheduling
- Data entry and Reporting
These are all tasks that producers spend way too much time on and that could be automated. As producers connect with more prospects their list of to-dos also grows. Help them spend time on money making activities by eliminating time spent on manual tasks.
Do you have tools for better sales organization and efficiency?
We all want better performance but are we providing the necessary tools for the job? If you want your people to get the most out of their job, then you must provide them with the tools to do so.
- A CRM allows your salespeople to work smarter and with fewer mistakes. It can save time while improving their daily sales activity.
- Video tools help producers build relationships and improve sales calls and proposals. It’s taking all the benefits of meeting in person but without the endless hours of traveling.
- Data is a key piece in your sales process. Without adequate sales data your people are just guessing. They need to know who the best prospects are and what strategies are working the best.
Digital tools allow us to become better organized, efficient, and they help our daily activities become more impactful.
Getting your agency back to sales
I mentioned earlier that many salespeople just aren’t sure what to do. I think that is also the case for some organizations as a whole. Some insurance agencies never really had to sell while others are finding that their ways of selling are not as effective as they once were.
So how do you get back to a way of selling that works for your agency? The first step is with your sales process.
They don’t know how to improve so they do nothing or frantically scramble aimlessly. In order to guide your salespeople, you need a sales process.
Start with the process
Do you have a sales process? By creating a sales process, you are essentially creating a roadmap for your salespeople to follow. This will help in guiding your people but it also gives them the next step when they are stuck.
When creating or modifying your process start with what has worked and go from there. Use success stories and reverse engineer that process. Use that process as your foundation then make changes as necessary.
Just make sure that when you create your process it is in line with your buyers’ journeys and not just what’s convenient for you.
Let the numbers be your guide
Sales is a numbers game. A lot has to do with skill and process but at the end of the day if you don’t have the numbers you won’t have the results.
Look at your sales numbers. Where is your agency lacking?
- Number of leads?
- Number of appointments?
- Conversions to sales?
Use these numbers to find holes and opportunities in your sales process. Wherever there is a hole, it is an opportunity to see improved results in the future.
At the end of the day, sales is about connecting with your prospects and customers in a meaningful way. Take a look at your process, understand your buyers as best you can, and use the tools available to connect the dots.