I do a lot of teaching each year and I often do some unofficial poling in my classes. I have asked recently “How many of you utilize a CRM?” More often than not there are very few hands raised. So my question to you is this; are you using a Client Relationship Manager (CRM) or are you acknowledging that you cannot really manage your sales (crm)?
Do you have a CRM or a crm!?
No matter how good you are at sales, you need a CRM to help you manage your sales process and client relationships.
What is a CRM? And why do Insurance Agents need one?
A CRM is a software tool that at its core is used to manage the relationship with prospects and existing customers. It is found in most large businesses but more and more become a critical tool for small and medium sized organizations.
More and more consumers are expecting to have attention paid to them that is individualized to their needs, wants and challenges. Your competitor is not the shop across town anymore. It is the expectation that buyers now have from doing business with companies like Amazon.
There is also a lot that falls in the cracks between marketing and sales. Missed opportunities, lost quality clients, clients with a long, complex buying process, etc… are all examples of circumstances that are often left untouched because there is not a system in place to follow back up.
Here is a sample view of a CRM. As you can see it’s more than just “Bill from down the road was sold a policy with X premium.” It allows you to view and break down where all of your prospects and clients are at in the buying (or up-selling) process.
Managing your relationship is more complicated and demanding but a good utilization of a tool like a CRM will help keep you in sync with your clients and prospects. And quite frankly, your management system does not have the ability to adequately meet your needs when it comes to managing these relationships.
The Upside of the CRM
There are some really important benefits insurance agents can gain from using CRMs. Ones that can help you be more productive and efficient. Some of the big upsides of utilizing a CRM would be:
- Better Lead intelligence from both a Marketing and Sales perspective. You can track the activity of your prospects and clients to make informed decisions on lead qualification and those that are engaged and ready for an interaction with you.
- Better alignment in your organization. Both Marketing and Sales can see the results of each other’s work. It is an open book so to speak. Nothing frustrates the Marketing like not following process on qualified leads and on the other hand nothing sets off the Sales staff like seeing leads that are not in the sweet spot of your organization. And even if your firm is too small to have organized Marketing and Sales departments the function of both need to exist and align.
- Help you prioritize the pipeline. Again, efficiency of Marketing and Sales is optimized when you can identify where efforts are most productive.
- Better usage of the Marketing and Sales loop. If a sale is made than it is noted in the system and it can be removed from the nurture funnel or be moved into a new funnel. It also helps you stay in touch with those that fit your organizations ideal persona but for some reason it was not a sale. It takes human frailty out of the equation if you have an integrated and automated marketing and sales cycle.
This is what technology is for. To help us make better usage of our time, efforts, and intelligence.
And of Course if there is an Upside to CRM there is a Downside as well
I have used CRM’s within insurance agencies for a number of years and have been involved from as a Marketer, Sales Person and Sales Manager. Most of the downsides of the CRM are cultural! Some of the largest issues I see are:
- The CRM is used as a Sales Management tool exclusively. If the number one reason your firm has this tool is to measure metrics, you have not developed the tool correctly. It is a Client Relationship tool not a babysitter.
- The staff is not bought in. They don’t follow process and they don’t support the mission. This is either from not inputting the data or following the data to where they should.
- Tricking the system to artificially supply data towards false results. Sort of like the issue in education of “teaching to the test” instead of making the program support the goals of the company and deliver meaningful attention to the prospect and or client.
Buying the shiniest new tool does your agency no good if it is not used properly.
What should Insurance Agents look for in their CRM?
There are a lot of different choices out there and they all have their own strengths and or weaknesses. There is also many price points and features to consider. I have a few must haves and they would be:
- Contact Management – Duh! If it doesn’t have this it is not a CRM
- Pipeline Stages – The tool should tell you what you have from the time a suspect becomes a prospect all the way to closed won or closed lost.
- Dashboard – If you are active in Marketing and or Sales you should have a dashboard of meaningful data that is current to the day and comparative to the past.
- Task Management – Who should do what and when should be open for all to see. A good CRM should allow the firm to do the next step if you cannot.
- Content Storage – I am guilty of never being able to find something when I need it. A good CRM should have an easy to search area of content and data.
- Automated Data Capture – If you reach out to a prospect it should update all the applicable areas of the CRM. Likewise if the prospect looks at, open or converts to any touches it should also inform and update. Nice if it integrates with your email programs.
- Reporting – Again I said the CRM as a reporting feature to management is not a good usage of a CRM but everything important in life you track, birthdays, anniversaries, calories and of course sales.
- Mobile – One way to build the correct culture is to make the tool accessible. If you can update your activity in real time and not just on the last day of a reporting period the data and results are stringer as are the results.
- Integration – Double and Triple entry can kill a CRM. If it can talk to your other marketing and sales programs it is going to add to your success.
Think about your current sales and marketing process. Where are there holes? Where are there gaps? What would make processes smoother and more effective? This is what should be included in your agency’s CRM system.
What should you do from here?
If your insurance agency does not have a CRM now, I strongly suggest that you look at adding one to your marketing and sales efforts. There are many choices and a wide array of pricing for these tools.
Of course the beast of the Marketplace is Salesforce. It is an extremely complex and powerful tool. It is costly and requires a lot of modification to do what you want it to do. Another newer tool that I have seen is a program called ForceManager It integrates a lot of AI into its usage and helps you not only managing pipeline but actually building pipeline. There are even some really good low cost (and in some cases, free) CRM options. Many of these have limited functionality, but are good starters. Many of these are easier to adopt into usage and easier to get buy in.
What are your CRM challenges? We are here to help and actually would love to answer questions and help facilitate your journey to the best CRM solution for you. The one solution you need to move away from is the crm (can’t really manage) and pick your ideal CRM.
(Get more details on CRMS with our complete guide)
Don’t leave this blog with just a thought and no direction. Leave a comment or email me to get on to your next step!