Whether you have a new agency or if you’ve been in the business for decades, you strive for more each week, each month and each year. For most good insurance salespeople there is a common trajectory in career progression, which may or may not seem familiar to you: As you gain more knowledge about the insurance industry, the better you get at selling various products. The more people you sell to, the more referrals you get. Everything is on an incline until you max out in your familiar zone of family, friends and their friends. What can you do to run your agency better? If you’ve grown and hired other agents, have you let some aspects of the business lag? How about the digital realm: Does your agency have a wide presence online? What’s happening with your brand? What do consumers make of you if they stumble upon your agency on the web? We answer these and other relevant questions to help you run your insurance agency better.
Improve Your Reputation
People talk about branding, which is a glorified way of talking about reputation. People have more access to your personal data than ever before. They are also able to glean your personal accomplishments very easily. When people call up your agency in an Internet search what do they see right away? Does a search call up your agency’s sponsorship of a local charity? Did you have any food drives for a non-profit? Is there any emotional appeal there at all, showing a gentler side of your business? Not only is giving back good for your image, it’s also a great reason to write a press release and distribute it to all local news sources for coverage using a newswire service like PRweb. That walk for MS may end up in a write up about you and if you write about it on your website, people will take notice and form a positive impression of you. Generally speaking, insurance shoppers like to know that they are doing business with good people who contribute to society.
Create a Marketing Department
If you have the budget to hire a couple of people you may consider hiring people with a background in paid search, internet advertising, social media and content marketing. More so than magazines and newspapers, people are reading content online and they won’t even want to know you if you do not have a presence there as well. More than anything, consumers are comparing insurance quotes online. They want to know what they are buying and they want it as cheaply as possible. Your marketing strategy should be simple and descriptions of insurance products should provide clarity not further confusion. Consumers are more likely to buy one brand over another because they understand the concepts behind their coverage when it’s explained simply. You are likely selling insurance products that fall in the same price range as your competitors. Maybe your streamlined marketing strategy will give you a leg up on other agencies.
Invest in Your Agents
Sharpen their skills by sending them to relevant workshops and conventions about sales and customer service. Create your own system of improving customer service skills so the agency retains a greater number of clients. Customers want to be heard and they also want to pay less. Explain that giving discounts matters more than a higher commission when it comes to long-term goals of keeping loyal clients. Pass along your findings so agents don’t have to learn the hard way that raising prices is not always a good idea. Most agencies are offering prices in the same ballpark. They will stay with you only if they are treated as valuable clients. Take the time to pass on some wisdom to maintain staying power. The more customers you keep the less work you’ll have to do to write new business and vice versa.
Set Targeted Goals
Teach your staff how to divide their time when it comes to several factors: retention rates, cross sells, referrals, closing rations and leads generated. These are all areas that need maintaining and there are only so many hours in a day. Create a two-tier system of accountability. First, set meetings with each agent weekly to go over numbers as they compare with the original goals set. You can also set up a monthly contest based on sales. The competition will only push individual agents to meet if not surpass their individual goals. Also, each agent will feel accountable for their successes and failures. Don’t forget about measures for your marketing team either. You’ll want to look at how many emails sent per month and open rates. That team needs to always be testing to see which factors and what tone is most favorable.
Use Business Intelligence (BI)
In order to meet goals, you’ll need to measure them first and figure out which areas need improvement. In order to do this right you’ll need to employ BI. Bi is any type of software technology that allows you to look at data in order to make business decisions. This is a wise area to invest in because it will ultimately help you raise your ROI by helping you fine-tune your strategies and goals. Without the right BI (and people employing them), you won’t be able to identify how much you’re spending on generating leads, retaining customers and more. Going by gut feeling just isn’t good enough. You need a granular way to analyze performance to promote more efficiency in your operations.
You may even start tracking monthly numbers for factors you’re not sure if you need to measure. You may begin to see correlations between one part of the operation and another that you thought were not at all linked. Document and track. Save everything you write, even all your blog articles. Often a Google sheet will suffice as the tool of choice because you don’t need to back it up.
Buy Insurance Leads
Not only should you buy leads for you best agents from a reputable lead generation company like SmartFinancial, you should document your wins and losses, making sure to test to see which works best for you, live-transfer calls or general insurance leads. Most successful agencies are buying insurance leads in bulk and going through lists diligently. You’ll see what your success rate is with bought leads and decide what number churns out the best ROI for your agency.
Make a Shift in Customer Experience
Most agents don’t pride themselves on providing great customer service but in most small agencies this area of work falls in the laps of sales agents, who nurture their clients from lead generation all the way to client-retention. Only in larger agencies is there a division between the sales and customer service departments. You may even have to consider replacing some great sales people who are constantly dropping the ball with irate customers. The fact is that retention is and should be the number one goal, which makes customer service reign supreme. Yes, even over sales.