"Insurers are buckled up to accelerate growth in 2022," Deloitte reported. "But attracting (and retaining) talent in an evolving hybrid work environment will be key."
The latest Jacobson and Ward Insurance Market Labor Market Study found 62% of insurance businesses plan to add staff, but "recruiting difficulty is increasing." For the first time in the study's history, from IT to sales to operations, all roles are rated moderately to extremely difficult to fill.
The average salesperson spends only 35% of their time selling. The primary drags on sales productivity are administrative. According to insurance marketers at Zip Quote, the tasks that get in the way of producer productivity are:
Email and inbox management. A black hole that renews itself every day.
Poor AMS/CRM data hygiene. Inconsistent and incomplete contact information and status.
Lack of a lead management system. Physical leads on business cards and Post-It notes vanish.
Time spent prospecting. Researching and finding qualified leads, building lists and reaching out are time-consuming.
Inconsistent lead follow-up. A lack of a formal process for following up with leads.
Cumbersome manual workflows. Tracking new applications and renewals.
The Vanishing Executive Admin
The Wall Street Journal wrote about "the vanishing executive admin" in 2020. The decline has been gradual but massive. The number of workers with the title administrative assistant has decreased by 65% since 2004. The U.S. has shed more than 2 million executive assistant jobs since 2000. Meanwhile, job board Lensa reported that administrative assistants are the third most challenging job to fill in 2022.
It turns out that all the productivity apps designed to make executives self-sufficient and led to the dismissal of armies of admins had the opposite effect. Research by Service Now found that salespeople spend just 35% of their time selling. The rest of their time is spent on day-to-day tasks like email correspondence, scheduling meetings, entering the CRM/AMS data, prospecting and chasing leads.
Enter Managed Executive Admin Services For Teams
The shortage of executive assistants is particularly challenging for businesses with larger executive teams that need to scale up support quickly. According to LinkedIn, the tight labor market and surging demand mean it takes 33 days to hire an administrative assistant. Stretch that time out for multiple executives, and you have a daunting challenge.
Companies realize that paying executives to do admin work is lousy business, and they instead can outsource the work to experts — managed remote (virtual) assistant services. In a managed virtual assistant service, the service provider hires, trains and supervises assistants — the assistants work for the service provider. Executive teams get a professional administrative layer of support without the time and cost of recruiting, hiring, training and managing more people. Executive teams can:
Hire faster. Service providers maintain a bench of qualified, trained assistants.
Scale more quickly. It is far easier to hire multiple assistants to form a cohort.
Lower overhead. The assistants are service provider employees, with no HR or performance management lift for businesses.
Lower cost. Assistants are engaged on a fractional basis, and you pay for hours used.
What Can Managed Virtual Assistants Do For Insurance Sales Teams?
Virtual assistants can perform many of the tasks that slow down agency productivity. The beauty of a managed service is that this work happens in the background while the sales team focuses on selling and client relations. Managed virtual assistant providers train assistants to do the following functions.
CRM/AMS management. Although 86% of companies said their CRM system is "important or very important" to achieving revenue objectives, 39% said they have no CRM data management process, or said the one they have is ineffective.
Your assistant can:
Input all your contacts into your CRM and fill in missing information about them.
Keep your contact data clean and up to date by changing statuses as needed, removing duplicate data, etc.
Run reports and send them to you so you have access to the latest insights about your pipeline.
Lead management. Anywhere from 30% to 70% of lead data "decays" each year (job changes, promotions, phone numbers and email address changes). A virtual assistant prevents that by:
Continually updating contact information.
Logging all communications such as calls, emails, and meetings, so you have a record of all your touches with leads.
Maintain lead status and ownership in your CRM/AMS.
Track applications, renewals and policy changes.
Prospecting. More than 40% of salespeople say prospecting is their biggest challenge. It is tedious and time-consuming. Virtual assistants can:
Search contact databases such as Sales Navigator and ZoomInfo based on lead qualification criteria.
Build lists for email outreach.
Launch and manage email campaigns.
Lead follow-up. Eighty percent of customers buy from the first business to respond to an inquiry, but most sales teams take five days to respond. Your virtual assistants will:
Reach out to qualified leads who fill out forms on your website or respond to campaigns.
Schedule calls for you to meet with prospects.
Confirm meetings to reduce no-shows.
Build and manage workflows. According to Salesforce, it takes six to eight touches to make a sale, but 70% of salespeople stop at one. Here is how virtual assistants help:
Create automated email drip campaigns for your leads.
Schedule social media outreach.
Set up alerts and outreach for client milestones like renewals, birthdays, and holidays.
More Tasks A Managed Virtual Assistant Service Can Deliver
All kinds of back-office tasks distract producers from their core mission: to win new business and serve existing clients. Among those tasks that managed virtual assistants perform are:
Underwriter communications, so you are not on hold for hours.
Endorsement processing as plans change.
New business and quote preparation.
Invoicing and payment processing.
Tear sheet prep for sales calls.
Finding The Right Solution
There are multiple virtual assistant business models, including hiring a local freelancer, freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, using a contracting agency, and the managed service model described here. Review sites such as Investopedia and The Balance SMB provide helpful guidance for finding the right solution to ensure you do not fall behind the growth curve in 2022.