The following is a guest post from the makers of a brand new insurance prospecting and lead management platform 20Miles. It always pays to read up on good sales practices and we think these thoughts are well worth sharing. 

How Strong is Your Insurance Sales funnel?

Dedication to every step of the sales funnel is what separates high performing producers from
the rest. Your funnel is more than just a series of emails and calls, it’s how you create a
relationship with a prospective client. With all sorts of guides, articles, and insurance quotes
available on the internet now, prospective insurance buyers are more educated than ever and
almost always shop around. This has made prospecting many times more difficult now that
customers have so many more options. Today’s producers don’t only have to be consistent
when engaging your contacts, they have to be proactive to stay ahead of the competition.

The less you manage prospect and client relationships, the more you leave your opportunities
open to be taken by agents and brokers who are. Both personal and commercial lines buyers
are no longer just looking for someone to sell them insurance, they’re informed customers
looking for someone to advise them on how best to cover their risks.

Your Process Needs to Facilitate the Buyer

Knowing your customers is vital to nailing your sales messaging and providing value to your
leads. As much as you know about selling insurance, how much do you know about buying it?
Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer for a second. If you do some quick google searches on
how to buy insurance, you’re advised to figure out 3 things: What your risks are, what your
options for coverage are, and how much coverage you need.

If you as an insurance producer are not answering those questions for your prospects as soon
as possible, you’re missing out on opportunities to showcase your expertise on their needs and
establish yourself as a trusted advisor. Try creating a series of sales collateral to accomplish just
this for your target audience! Breaking things down in a way that’s easy to digest can make your
job a lot easier when you’re trying to explain which policy is the best for a customer. This can go
a long way to improve your interactions with leads and also help to solidify your personal brand.

The Producer’s Prospecting Dilemma

Salespeople in every industry struggle with prospecting because it often poses two difficult
questions to answer:
1) Where do I find quality prospects? (Read our guide to buying insurance leads )
2) How do I make sure these prospects are worth my time/money?
When you have the wrong balance between these two objectives your leads either don’t convert
or you just don’t get enough of them to meet quota. Either way, you’ll be missing out on
potential sales.

Diversify Your Lead Sources

Agents are struggling to find consistent and reliable sources of leads as competition only
becomes more fierce. The reality is this: no one or two sources will be able to sustain you for
long. As such, you need to be prepared to receive leads in as many different ways as possible
to keep your leads pouring in if a source doesn’t provide enough one week. For most agents,
this means investing in marketing, buying lead lists, prospecting and pursuing referrals. Many
agents, though, overlook LinkedIn as an important part of their lead generation strategies.
LinkedIn has seen unprecedented popularity recently despite (or maybe partly because of)
Facebook’s fall from grace. Many young producers utilize a go-to combo of LinkedIn’s sales
navigator and a prospecting tool like LeadIQ to generate leads. You can warm up your LinkedIn
leads with profile views and connection requests while getting insights into their company and
personal interests. Once you’ve begun reaching out to leads, you’ll be able to see which ones
are really interested by checking who’s visiting your profile. For commercial lines specialists, this
is something you can’t afford to overlook in 2020.

LinkedIn Has Become Increasingly Important to Sales

Your LinkedIn profile is your first impression for anyone who’s seriously considering your
services. When you go to shows and conventions, pass out your business card, or are referred
by a client, more likely than not you’re going to be looked up. A strong profile can differentiate
you from commoditized agents and help to position you as an expert in the areas you specialize
in, while a weak profile can make prospects question your experience or lead to losing
opportunities to otherwise comparable competitors. Walt Goshert gives some solid advice on
this topic: LinkedIn can hurt or help you, so if you don’t have the time to invest in it you’re better
off removing your account. Better to not be seen at all than to seem incompetent.
Policy administration system

If You’re Not Using Insurance Software, You should
be.

The insurtech revolution is in full swing now, bringing with it myriad tools and software solutions
to make the life of the insurance agent easier. With software and services available to improve
every aspect of the sales funnel, the question has gone from “should I take advantage of
technology?” to “Which technologies should I be utilizing?”. Here’s a quick rundown of what you
need to know:

Insurance Solutions for Every Stage of the Funnel

Marketing platforms like Agency Revolution and Keap bring sophisticated marketing automation
based upon actions taken online to improve the quality of top-of-funnel interactions. Once you’re
bringing leads in, a CRM like Less Annoying CRM or Hubspot can help you keep track of active
opportunities to bring them over the finish line. Sales engagement platforms such as 20 Miles
and VanillaSoft keep your sales process on track and productivity high by organizing and
scheduling your prospecting tasks. After closing the sale, agency management systems make
insurance tasks like managing claims and sending renewal reminders easy, oftentimes with
CRM integrations to aid relationship management. Insly and Hawksoft come highly
recommended for this category. There’s even software like Rocket Referrals dedicated to
bolstering your referral-seeking efforts and increasing your positive reviews.
If you’re an independent agent or if this is your first time using a software solution then you
should be wary of large enterprise software like AppliedSystems, Vertafore, Salesforce,
Outreach.io, etc. These platforms cost more, tend to be much more complex due to a large
number of features, and oftentimes require a software specialist to help you get set up. As a
rule, the simpler the platform the easier it is to adopt and the faster you can start closing
opportunities with it.

Optimizing Your Funnel Requires Organization

There’s a lot that goes on as your sales cycle turns. Prospects are constantly being qualified
and disqualified, leads at different points in the funnel need to be nurtured, opportunities need to
be followed up and closed, and more prospects need to be found to replace the ones being
disqualified. Once you’ve formulated a process that works for you, measuring your results at
each stage is a must if you want to improve upon it. Split test well and do it often, your
performance will steadily increase as you learn what works and what doesn’t for each of your
segments.
At the end of the day, good split testing comes down to how well you’re actually “splitting” your
tests. You should try to make your campaigns as identical as possible in every way you can
think of. This way, you can be sure that your results are coming from your tests rather than one
campaign being sent at a better time or to a better audience.

Making the Sale is Never a One-Man Job

In the words of Brent Kelly , “ Your job is not only to write new business, but also to be the first
line in underwriting.” Many agents find themselves at odds with their underwriters because they
feel they can present obstacles to the sale, sometimes stopping them in their tracks. However,
no matter how hard it is to find a good underwriter, the sale simply cannot happen without one.
As an agent, this means you have to start thinking of yourself and your underwriter as a team.
You get paid for making the sale, and they get paid for insuring profitable risks. If you want an
underwriter who’s willing to go out on a limb for you when you need it, you need to be able to
identify which accounts are going to be good business for both you and your underwriting
partner.
If you’re not knowledgeable enough about the ins and outs of insurer’s risk to make your
underwriters more money, you can at least make yourself easy to work with. Here are a few tips
for making an underwriter’s life easier:
1. Consider the level of output they can handle. When you’re dealing with prospective
clients there’s always a sense of urgency to be as responsive as possible, but unrealistic
expectations only put stress on underwriters.
2. Make sure they have as much information as possible upfront. Ask your
underwriters what they need to know before they can move forward so you know which
questions to ask your prospects.
3. Pick up the phone sometimes. An email gets the job done more conveniently, but
hopping on a call eliminates the inefficiency of going back and forth to clear up details.
A closed deal is the culmination of a well-executed process, and proper organization facilitates
proper execution. Producers need to be mindful of everything that goes into closing their
opportunities to wrest control over their sales process. As the old saying goes, customers are
buying you , not your product; It’s your responsibility to present yourself in the best light possible.
Alone, a strong brand can only take you so far. Competitive pricing can only take you so far.
Even a great sales process has its limitations. Investing time into being solid on all fronts, even
at the cost of productivity, is the only way to become a million-dollar producer. If you can bring
the quality of service and professionalism to the table, a tool can help you achieve scale, the
most important thing is staying consistent and persistent . Your trickle of opportunities grows into
a river of renewals when you stay intentional and pay attention to detail.

For more ideas how to make your prospecting and lead nurturing more efficeint,  make sure to check out the 20 Miles website