A sales and marketing plan for an insurance agency is necessary for success. Agencies who fail to plan find themselves scrambling and falling short of their goals throughout the year.
Having a plan in place can help connect the dots and serves as a guide for the agency to navigate from where they are to where they want to be.
But who has time to build a marketing and sales plan from scratch!?
No worries, we have your back! We put together this blog post to walk you through the steps of creating a sales and marketing plan plus ideas for what to fill it with.
You can follow our blueprint or use it as an idea to create your very own unique plan. Let’s dive in!
Creating a Sales and Marketing Plan for Your Insurance Agency
Creating a marketing and sales plan can be a challenging process. Your plan will encompass the who, what, when, where, how and why of your marketing and sales activities with the end goal of hitting your agency’s monthly, quarterly or yearly goals.
What information your agency needs to include and how you structure it is entirely up to you. There’s no magic formula. However, this article will cover 10 areas we believe should be included in your plan and why.
The steps of creating an insurance marketing and sales plan are:
- State your agency’s mission and background
- State your marketing and sales team leadership, structure and functions
- Define your target markets
- Identify the tools, resources and software your team will need
- Determine your positioning in the marketplace
- Outline your marketing strategy
- Outline your prospecting strategy
- List your agency, marketing and sales goals
- Define your budget
- Describe how it works together using an action plan
We have provided a video walkthrough of how to create a sales and marketing plan as well as a downloadable template. Or, you can take the information from this blog post and create your unique custom plan.
Now that you’re setup for success, let’s get started!
Mission and Background
Why does your agency exist? What your purpose and what’s the direction your agency is moving? In the very beginning of your marketing and sales plan you want to address these areas. Without addressing them your people will be scattered in their efforts, they will create marketing and sales campaigns out of alignment with your agency.
Everything that happens within your marketing and sales should revolve around who your agency is and what you’re here to do.
In order to create the mission and background section of your plan, you will want to focus on three areas: your mission, vision and story.
Your mission is what drives your day to day. Why does your agency exist? Why was it created in the first place?
Most insurance agencies have a mission statement, but how often is it reflected in their work?
Use this plan as an opportunity to align and inspire your marketing and sales team by including your mission statement in the forefront.
What impact does your agency want to make? What are you striving for? This is essential in crafting your plan and setting your goals.
A vision is needed to inspire action and will be the driving force in implementing this plan.
What’s your story and what makes you unique? There are thousands of insurance agencies out there, what makes your agency worth doing business with?
Your story is part of what makes you, you.
It also helps define what you do, how you will do it, and why you do it.
All of these statements are essential when it comes to crafting your plan.
There’s a reason we call it a marketing and sales teams. While everyone has their own jobs, it’s important that everyone is working together for a common goal.
Putting your mission and vision statements at the forefront help to paint the vision but having a structured team plan allows your staff to see their part in the vision.
So what do you need to highlight in this area?
Who is your marketing and sales leadership? What is their purpose and accountability? Think about anything that may be helpful to include about your leadership team such as contact information and even pictures.
Make it easy for new hires or your team to understand who to report to or who to go to for insights. This is especially necessary if your agency is larger or if you have multiple locations.
How is your marketing and sales team structured? Who is responsible for what? Who reports to who? Displaying the team’s structure is essential for a seamless process and accountability.
If you have an organization chart, this is a great place to include it.
As your marketing and sales initiatives grow you will realize you have holes in your organization chart. You will have things you want to accomplish but no one to do them. Instead of piling the work on yourself or your team, plan for the future hires you will need to make.
Our insurance agency’s ownership was wise when they began looking into digital marketing. They knew they would need social media, and after looking at Hubspot and Salesforce they knew they would need someone to help run the marketing programs. So, they decided to hire a full time marketing person.
Roles and Responsibilities
It doesn’t take things long to implode when insurance agencies step into new marketing and sales initiatives or technology without clear roles and responsibilities.
It’s not uncommon for insurance agencies to come up with new ideas only for them to sink because no one wants to row. “That’s not my job.” Is an unfortunately common sentiment from employees when ownership decides to try something new.
Roles and responsibilities help with this.
But it’s not just for ownership and management to get their way. It also helps staff from getting buried. An insurance agency’s marketing and sales can become very labor intensive and employees can quickly be overwhelmed creating inefficiencies and lack of results.
Clearly establishing roles and responsibilities can catch an uneven workload early on.
Who does your agency want to target? Identifying these target markets will help your agency create an effective marketing and sales strategy. Organization who don’t have established markets fall into a number of issues including:
- Scattered marketing and sales efforts
- Attracting bad leads
- Spending too much time selling and qualifying bad fit leads
- Wasted marketing resources
Your marketing and sales plan should define your target markets clearly so that your efforts are focused and effective.
In your plan, there are three ways to help define your target market.
What markets are your insurance agency best suited to handle? Many insurance agencies identify niches to focus on based on a variety of
- Hot targets based on carrier appetite
- Local industries (your area may have a high level of breweries, contractors, or marijuana distributors)
- Producer passions/ expertise
Planning your niches ahead of time helps the marketing and sales get into alignment.
When identifying your target markets, just knowing the niche is not enough. You need to know the sweet spot within that niche. And that’s where personas come into play.
A persona is a fictionalized characterization of your ideal buyer. This includes the industry, but also identifies the person who will actually be buying. This helps for a number of reasons:
- Creates the right messaging.
- Helps to identify whether it’s a good, bad, or great lead.
- Allows for more focused efforts
For example. Your agency’s niche may be contractors, but you don’t want every contractor. Your focus may be on HVAC companies with 15-50 employees. In these companies you’re generally dealing with an HR manager or controller.
This is very different than a general solo contractor who’s owner and decision maker for insurance.
Clearly defining personas allows for alignment and focused efforts.
In addition to personas you also want to include negative personas. Negative personas are buyers you do not want to engage with. These are bad fits for your company that you don’t want to spend time on.
Using our example from above, general solo contractors may be a negative persona for you.
By clearly stating who you don’t want, marketing can avoid attracting these targets and sales can know when to walk away. Ultimately saving your agency time, money, resources and energy.
Tools Software and Resources
What resources does your marketing and sales team need to succeed? As competition grows and consumer behaviors change, different tools and resources become necessary for marketing and sales.
Take the opportunity in your planning to identify what tools your team will need to effectively do their jobs.
There are a number of tools your marketing and sales team may need:
- Video software
- Content creation tools
- Sales Enablement tools
Carefully think through any potential tools, technology, or resources your team need to perform their duties well.
Think about where you are positioned in your industry. Taking the time to include this in your plan will allow you to take advantage of opportunities but will also help you overcome weaknesses in your agency.
There are various areas to consider when thinking about positioning.
What are the current conditions or what’s the current landscape of the industry? For instance, is the industry in or entering a hard market? How will that affect your marketing and sales strategy?
Also think about the market from the consumer’s standpoint. How favorable is your service in their eyes and what are their expectations?
Just like knowing the weather before stepping outside, it’s important to know the market conditions before stepping out.
Why should someone do business with you? What problem do you solve that others in the insurance industry don’t solve?
Take some time and carefully think about this. It might be worth asking some of your top clients if you’re not sure.
Most insurance agencies claim that service is their value proposition, but if we take an honest look at our industry, your service likely is not different than the other guys down the road.
Understanding the problems, you solve and why someone should do business with you compared to the other 5 star reviewed insurance agency down the road is a must in creating your sales and marketing pitches.
In your marketing and sales plan, take a moment to list out all your competitive advantages. What do you have, or offer that makes your business unique and competitively stronger than your competitors?
Here are some advantages to think about:
- Value added services (24/7 support, online portals, mobile app, etc.)
- Risk management tools for clients
- Evening or weekend hours
- Specialty knowledge
- Partnerships, sponsorships or specialty markets
Even being a local agent in some areas can be a competitive advantage. Anything that separates you from the pack can be considered a competitive advantage.
You want to list out every advantage you have to better identify all the opportunities your agency has in front of you.
I’m not big on focusing on what the other guy is doing. But it’s naïve to completely ignore how they are positioned in the marketplace.
When analyzing your competition, there are three main areas to focus on:
Comparative Strength – What are your company’s assets that this competitor does not have?
Comparative Weakness – In what areas or attributes do your competitors outperform you?
Counterpoints – If a comparative weakness is mentioned in sales negotiations, which counterpoints can be used to address those weaknesses?
Do this for each competitor. Not just your local competition but also your competition in the digital world.
This isn’t so much about knowing your competitors’ secret sauce and what they are doing, but more about helping your team be prepared. When your team is faced with objections or questions from prospects out on the field they can professionally and expertly navigate these conversations.
One of the biggest failures to marketing is when the rest of the agency has no idea what the marketing team is doing. We had an experience where a prospect called after receiving a marketing email from us and our inside salesperson said, “We didn’t send an email.”
In order for your agency to function at its highest level, the marketing strategy needs to be developed and available for staff to know what’s going on.
Here are some ideas on what to include:
- Social media strategy
- Email marketing strategy
- SEO strategy
- Content and video strategy
- Advertising strategy
- Direct mail strategy
- Referral Strategy
You get the idea. If there’s a marketing tactic or strategy in your operations, include it in the plan.
Take time to include every marketing tactic, its purpose and who is leading the charge.
The failure for most producers is lack of activity. For most, there’s a lack of activity because they’re unsure what to do.
Realistically you can’t give your producers the exact prospecting strategy. They need to take ownership of their sales. But you can help by providing the guidelines and helping them establish the right tactics.
Here are some items you may want to include in your prospecting strategy plan.
Establish a criteria and guidelines for outreach
There’s only so much time in a day so make sure your sales team is spending it on contacts worth connecting with.
So, your sales team is not wasting their time, consider establishing prospecting and outreach criteria.
Criteria for prospecting
Who should your salespeople call on and who should be avoided? Think about your target markets and the personas most likely to buy. Here are a few criteria ideas:
- Company size
- Position within the company
If a prospect or contact doesn’t meet the criteria, it may be more beneficial for your sales team to pass rather than spend the time in the sales process with them.
Criteria for calling on marketing leads
A salesperson’s prospecting list is not the only time they need judgement with their actions. When marketing generates leads its tempting to want to jump on the opportunity immediately but sometimes it’s best to let marketing to the lead from a marketing qualified lead into a sales qualified lead before sales makes its outreach.
What criteria should be considered before calling on marketing leads?
- The prospecting criteria from above
- Lead score
- Engagement score
- Stage in the buyer’s journey
It might not be wise to spend time with a lead who’s only engagement with you is from a contest. However, if marketing nurtures that lead first and they end up reading 30 articles on cyber liability, then the opportunity becomes much more fruitful.
What are some ways your sales team should generate new opportunities?
- Cold calls
- Networking events
- Outbound / Cold emails
- Referral partners
- Social Media
Give your sales team the freedom to include their own prospecting ideas into the mix. You can also use this as an opportunity to define expectations.
Many agencies allow their sales team to do what they please but have a requirement to of making a certain number of cold calls, attending events, etc. so that they stay on the path to success.
Inbound sales process
Like we learned in our experience from the example above, you need a process for inbound leads. If marketing is doing their job well your agency’s phone will ring, but what will happen when it does?
The last thing you want is to lose good leads that are knocking on your door. So in order to avoid that, here are a few clarifying points you should address in your inbound call sales process:
- What qualifying questions need to be asked?
- What information needs to be collected from the caller?
- When, how, and to who will these calls be transferred?
- What do you do with calls outside of business hours?
Most agency owners built their businesses with a natural knack for selling. However, many of them fail to transfer this knowledge or skillset to their producers allowing them the same success.
By including the guidelines for a prospecting strategy your salespeople will know when they are on the right track well before the end of term review.
All the planning in the world means nothing without an end goal in mind. So, what do you hope to accomplish?
Take this as the opportunity to paint the picture of where your agency wants to go and how each department will contribute to the agency’s overall goals.
Here are the goals you should establish for your marketing and sales team:
- Revenue or premium targets (however your agency measures success)
- Deal targets
- Policy targets. Included new policies from current book, new business policies, and policy targets based on product.
- Include any additional metrics or targets that can help define marketing and sales success. Ex:
- Number of Marketing qualified leads
- Improvements in conversion rates (i.e. closing ratios)
- Commission targets
Define and outline the expectations in your plan. You may even want to include a reward if agency, department and individual goals are met.
You have your tactics. You have your goals. Now let’s put them together into an action plan. This is the section of your marketing and sales plan that will breakdown the “how.”
In your action plan you will want to discuss how each tactic should contribute to what goals and then create an outline of how it will help achieve those goals.
Last but not least, you need a budget! Unfortunately, we can’t run an entire marketing and sales department for free. And since you don’t want to get left with too much month at the end of the money, it’s best to plan your money wisely.
Here’s what your budget should include:
- Bonuses and incentives
- Training costs
- Travel and expenditure costs
- Software and technology fees
- Ad spends
- Available Co-op
- Additional monies available for marketing and sales ideas and opportunities
Budgets are great for keeping costs in check allowing for a desired ROI, but it also gives freedom for your staff to implement creative ideas.
With a budget, you’re able to better navigate the marketing and sales landscape and come out ahead.
Own your Sales and Marketing Results!
Did we miss anything in our plan? No problem! Take what we’ve done and add what you need. We’ve set the blueprint now you own your plan and your results.
If you need a physical template, we have a free downloadable one available here.
If you want help planning or deciding what your agency should do, then feel free to reach out.
It’s never too soon, or too late to start planning. Put in the work and get your results!