By Joe Wu
The life of an independent insurance agent is not for everyone. For many, especially those who are early in their careers, it’s all about cold calling – all day long, every single day just to get those first, and then second, third, fourth and so on clients. This turns many off from ever becoming independent agents in the first place and certainly poses ongoing challenges for existing agents. But does it have to?
The insurance agent lead generation ballgame can at times seem like a locomotive inching ever so slowly along a track. Sure, many agents procure calling lists and dial for dollars for hours on end just to reach a live person to pitch their wares to.
Did you also know a recent CallHippo study showed that it usually takes six attempts to finally make live contact with a lead? And making contact doesn’t typically equate to selling a policy either. It just doesn’t work that way. Other agents opt for leaving their flyers on the doorsteps of unsuspecting (and typically uninterested) individuals. Yes, cold calling is indeed 80 percent cheaper than knocking on doors, but it only has a 1 percent to 3 percent success rate just for setting an initial appointment.
According to agencybloc, 49 percent of insurance agencies (from 1-2 person shops up to 20 or more employees), cite lead generation as their No. 1 challenge in 2018.
Among established agents, cold calling is a forgotten art that many no longer practice. Most of these high performers rely heavily (if not solely) on referrals for new business. By not making calls, they are undoubtedly leaving potential new opportunities on the table for other agents to grab – especially those opportunities that fall outside of their own referral network.
A Better Way
Cloud software gives small firms access to enterprise-class tools without the upfront capital expenditure typically associated with the procurement and installation of premised based systems. Just about any kind of software you can think of today is available via the cloud, including agency management systems which primarily run your agency's back end – underwriting, policy management, claims recording and tracking, billing, payments, customer self-service and producer self-service. Some of these tools do offer customer relationship management capabilities to manage customer and sales contacts, but they do not provide much in the way of lead generation capabilities.
There are, however, affordable cloud communication platforms which can easily integrate with your agency management system to provide the necessary lead generation capabilities agents require to generate and sustain a healthy flow of leads. These easy/anywhere access online tools are typically available at monthly subscription rates and require no installation. A simple web browser is all that is needed to securely access one’s contacts and call details.
With such tools, agents are empowered with a host of time-saving, targeted and automated lead generation capabilities that can significantly enhance their residual income – both in terms of unearthing new potential policyholders as well as mining existing clients for additional business.
These capabilities enable agents to double or triple their outbound calling productivity, leaving them with more leads in a shorter amount of time, as well as more time to focus on client servicing, client retention and cultivating more business out of existing policyholders.
In short, with comprehensive cloud communications software, agents will be able to:
- Reach more prospects faster. Simple-to-use automated dialing and texting features enable agents to automate most of the cold calling process, allowing them to reach far more would-be customers than they would by manually dialing on their own.
- Remind prospects of scheduled appointments. Agents can radically improve their closure rate by automatically sending appointment reminders to prospects prior to their previously scheduled call. No more no-shows. These same automated reminders can also remind existing policyholders when it’s time to renew – thereby creating another upsell/cross-sell touchpoint.
Existing or purchased phone and email lists can be quickly loaded into the system, and pre-recorded audio messages will be sent to the contacts. The software can also leave answering machine messages in the agent’s own voice, all on its own and without any intervention by the agent.
- Sound more informed when talking. Agents can answer an incoming call and immediately see (on their computer screen) everything they know about the caller. If it’s a prospect calling back, it might be their contact information and the number of call attempts the agent has made trying to reach them. If it’s an existing client, the screen pop would include current and past policies, payment details, demographics and more. Think about how much more impressive it would be to answer an incoming call from customer John Smith, for example, by saying, “Hello, Mr. Smith. Are you calling today about your new life policy?”
Cloud communications software puts this power in to the hands of agents, all without the need for any technical setup, ongoing technical maintenance or much of a learning curve at all. Agents access the tools via a web browser, and they can start their very first automated calling campaign within an hour.
Keeping Policyholders Loyal
As small business owners, agents need to know which of their clients are happy and which ones are not. An agent’s income is directly affected by this critical information.
Cloud communications software can also help agents identify unhappy clients before they defect to the competition. Automated surveys can be sent to policyholders to uncover who is unsatisfied. These individuals can then be called by the agent in an attempt to turn them around. According to the Insurance Information Institute, two of the top five reasons consumers choose an insurance company relate directly to the agent, around their ongoing service, support and availability.
The age of automation is upon us and many industries have already taken full advantage of its capabilities. In order to compete and thrive, insurance agents must begin adopting these technologies or they’ll risk losing business and remaining stagnant in terms of growth.
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