This is the next installment in a series aimed to help agencies grow revenue. While a great many factors contribute to that goal, today we are focused on one piece of the puzzle within an effective sales process: what you need in place to enable it to work for you.
To get up to speed on previous blog posts on this topic, check out part one, Do You Have a Sales Process?, and part two, Does Your Sales Process Work? Also see an article on a companion tool to maximize the sales process, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Sytems. These articles are short and sweet but lay an excellent foundation for why having a sales process is so important and why a CRM system can facilitate your efforts.
Think of it this way: whatever thousands of dollars you used to throw into the Yellow Pages and billboards just hoping for the phone to ring, you can now redirect into technology. This technology should allow you to actually track the ROI (Return on Investment) and effectiveness of everything you do in sales and marketing, so you can compete effectively against those who want to take out the local agent.
Tracking what you do within sales and marketing will allow your agency to be more data-driven in your business decisions. What do I even mean by “data-driven” decision-making? Simply put, it’s running your business, including sales and marketing, based on information gleaned from your numbers, i.e., your data. A quality CRM system will be able to collect a lot of information on different parts of your sales process and business health to inform you on the best courses of action. Legendary business and management consultant, Peter Drucker, said, “What gets measured, improves.” He meant that if you don’t have goals and ways to track your results, it would be hard to know if you’re hitting the mark, and impossible to improve since you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. Let’s fix it.
3 Keys to Using Data to Make Better Decisions
It stands to reason, as hinted at above, that you must have the data in the first place to be able to make data-driven decisions. That is clearly step one; get a CRM system that can give you reporting on various metrics. Which ones? Our Client Success Managers tell me the most important things to track for agency success are:
- New leads by marketing source
- Closing ratio of each producer
- Retention or renewal rates
Additionally, you need to track your website visitors and conversions into leads. If you had easy-to-understand reports at your fingertips for this data, you could make informed decisions about where to direct resources and how best to help your staff sell, hold them accountable, and grow your revenue.
2. Automation Technology
Are you notified within moments of a new lead coming in and able to respond in minutes? Your competition does. According to InsideSales.com, up to 50% of sales go to the vendor who responds first! As a first step in that process, you should have auto-responders let your prospects know that you value their inquiry and will respond shortly. Do you have automated email campaigns to nurture your current clients, as well as automated follow-up on all leads that are quoted and in the pipeline? Per Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. Despite best efforts, agencies likely have as least as many leads that don’t close as those that become clients. If you are like most agencies, those non-converted leads just go in the trash. Our best agencies take those “unsolds” and nurture them with monthly email content, including asking them back at renewal time, which is a very effective yet low-cost strategy for acquiring “new” leads.
3. Coaching & Training
Are you committed to ongoing education for you and your staff? The best agencies never say, “I’ve been selling insurance for ‘x’ years, and I’m good.” That’s a recipe for getting smoked by agencies that take the time to provide their people with the tools they need to to succeed, which, of course, leads to overall agency growth. When was the last time you recorded or listened in to your people on a sales call? It can be very illuminating. Do you have monthly or weekly sales meetings/trainings where, at a minimum, you all share with each other what has been working or not in your sales calls? Many of our fastest growing agencies commit to bi-weekly coaching on best practices for insurance email marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and social media, all of which gives them a competitive edge with prospects and clients.
In order to compete effectively, you must have actionable data to inform decision-making, have automated systems for nurturing prospects and clients, continually refine your sales process, and engage the modern consumer and you will be well on your way to thriving in your market.