Growing a successful agency isn’t always easy in today’s world. While you likely created a business plan when you first launched your insurance agency, you might not have looked at it recently. As the insurance industry grows increasingly competitive, your agency needs to remain flexible and adaptable to succeed.
The following five strategies will help boost your agency’s performance in 2017. Choose a strategy to invest in and watch your agency grow.
Take a hard look at how you’re spending your time. Time is all too limited. It’s important to make sure you are investing your attention and energy in activities that support your agency’s growth over the long term. Your highest priority as a business owner is to remain in good financial standing — and that means making a strong profit.
Put this strategy into action by keeping track of how you spend your time for one week. Then determine which administrative tasks you can outsource or delegate to someone else. Finally, streamline your processes. A few processes that can often be systemized include tracking renewals, tracking new business, handling policy cancellations and handling payments or deposits. Write down logical steps for these processes so that anyone can easily take on the task to increase time efficiency.
Invest in Professional Sales Training
Becoming a successful insurance agent requires that you embrace your role as a salesperson. A good salesperson is one that can become a trusted advisor and one that provides information that allows clients to make educated decisions.
Put this strategy into action by taking advantage of sales training opportunities in your community or through industry associations.
Also, learn how to address typical objections. Take the time to think through how you will handle client objections so that you aren’t left fumbling through a sales conversation that was going well.
Common objections may include, “I’m happy with who I work with now,” or “Why is your quote so much higher than others?” or “I am just beginning my research.” Have responses ready to these common objections so that your conversation can continue further.
Set Clear Goals and Assess Progress
When you’re busy managing the day-to-day needs of your agency, it can be easy to lose sight of the process you have, or have not, made toward your income targets. Setting clear, measurable goals gives you an easy way to see if you’re on track or if you need to adjust your strategy.
Put this strategy into action by ditching yearly planning for shorter time spans. By remaining realistic and flexible, you can set your agency up for success. If you’re a long-term planner, setting goals that are one to five years in the future may be inspirational and useful. However, if you struggle to think that far ahead, considering creating quarterly plans that you review every month or every week.
You can create focused plans around your actions as well. Experienced salespeople know that hitting your sales targets and income goals is generally a numbers game. This is particularly true when your agency is relatively new and doesn’t yet have a strong book of business.
While you can’t control whether or not a prospect signs up with you, you can control the number of emails you send out and the amount of community networking events you attend.
Set clear goals for each quarter to make it easier to assess your progress. You should also set up short-, mid- and long-term goals for the current year and beyond. Think of these goals as building blocks: aim high but remain realistic.
Revamp Your Marketing
In the modern world, a field of dreams mentality — the theory “build it and they will come” — is an absolute recipe for disaster. Instead, you need a strong marketing plan that will actively build market awareness, and also position you as a trusted advisor.
Leverage digital marketing opportunities. More than 71 percent of shoppers start their search for insurance online. Having a digital marketing strategy that helps you remain competitive is necessary. That said, considering how crowded the online space is, standing out can be expensive and challenging. Outsourcing your marketing or leveraging marketplaces may help you remain successful.
The top three activities that will help grow your income are prospecting new clients, closing new accounts and servicing existing accounts.
You can also set up an email drip campaign for an automated way to stay in touch with your prospects. By sharing useful information over a period of time, your agency is able to stay in front of the customer and remain top-of-mind for when the need for insurance services arises.
It may also help to identify local events or groups to get involved with. You can build camaraderie and increase your brand recognition within your local community.
Remember to track your marketing metrics to see what is working. Don’t waste money on marketing that doesn’t yield solid results. Whether your goal is to increase brand awareness, or to create some buzz and generate tangible new business, you need to know if a specific tactic is working, needs adjustment or needs to be dropped.
Upgrade Your Operations Technology
To thrive in today’s hyper-competitive space, you need to access technologies that make it easy to stay in touch with your prospects and know when they are ready to move from “just browsing” to “ready to write a check.”
You can use marketing automation software to stay in touch with your prospects. Software such as Get Drip, Contactually and AgileCRM provide two key benefits. They allow you to engage with customers by providing valuable information in a personalized way and they also allow you to keep track of customer engagement with your content. Customers and prospects are assigned specific scores for their activity, enabling you to know when a lead is sales-ready and can be actively pursued by one of your agency’s sales reps.
You may also want to look at a lead management system that helps you maximize conversion rates. Sales automation software is designed to boost your revenue by automating routine tasks and freeing up your sales reps to close more business.
Look for a software platform for insurance agencies that provides a comparative rater with an agency management system. In addition to tracking important client documents such as quotes and policies, some make it easy for you to manage your email marketing needs and keep your accounting up-to-date. EZLynx and Vertafore are examples of agency management solutions designed to streamline your internal agency processes.
Next Steps for Your Agency
Running a successful insurance agency takes more than just putting in the hours. It requires being willing to adapt or pivot your direction when necessary, while remaining realistic. Chances are that implementing all the strategies listed in this article may not be possible for you — not all at once. Focus on fully implementing one strategy to get the most out of your investment and make 2017 a year of growth.