The Agents Council for Technology (ACT) has published a multi-part report on the ACT Web site to help independent agents and brokers build a sales-driven agency culture and implement disciplined sales processes using available technology tools.
ACT, which is affiliated with the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA), formed a Sales & Marketing Work Group to examine how technology can be used to further the independent agency’s primary function as sales organizations.
“We recognized that establishing a sales-oriented culture was the critical first step for agents to take, followed by deciding on the supporting business processes,” said Asa Pike, chairman of the work group and CEO of Agency Revenue Tools in Fryeburg, Maine. “Implementing these steps increases the likelihood that the agency will have the discipline to implement sales-related technology tools and then continue to use them on a sustained basis.”
The phase one report, “The Transition to an Agency Sales Organization—Culture and Process First; Then Technology,” focuses on building the sales culture and the related business processes.
“Marketing and sales should not be handled as point-in-time projects but instead need to become ongoing and a core part of the agency culture,” added Pike. “Keeping the business development pipeline full needs the constant attention of the agency’s sales management team. The process of ‘suspect’ development, prospect management and effective client acquisition needs to become second nature to agency management.”
Phase two of the report is “Bolstering Agency Sales & Marketing With Technology.” It discusses how agents and brokers are using technology today to enhance their marketing, sales, and sales management efforts. The focus is on the functions being enhanced with technology, not on specific products or vendors. It provides a checklist to assist agencies in using technology more effectively in these critical areas.
“As we did the interviews—33 in all—for the phase two report, we were impressed by the many different ways in which various agents use technology,” said ACT Executive Director Jeffrey Yates. “So, phase two is a compilation of success stories of agencies using particular technologies to enhance their sales—whether they be contained in the agency management system, a third-party system, or provided by insurance carriers to their agents.”
Phase two shows how agencies are using their Web sites to attract prospects moving into the area, to get referrals, and to showcase their specialties. They are using industry and government Web sites to develop prospects and to learn more about a prospect’s business before making a sales call. Agents are also subscribing to vendor Web sites, as well as Web services, to ascertain risk management and technical information needed to write particular risks, as well as to manage sales campaigns and work-site marketing programs.
“The interviews revealed that the agency management system vendors have a great opportunity to provide producers, sales managers, and agency principals with ready to view tools that will make it easier for them to manage their parts of the sales process,” said Yates. “Managers would like a dynamic view of their overall sales pipeline—numbers of risks at each stage of the process, marketing analysis reports, cross sell reports, performance reports by producer. As a work-around today, agencies are requiring their producers to fill out Excel spreadsheets to provide ready access to this type of information.”
The report also indicates that producers are increasingly using PDAs and smart phones to give themselves access to their contacts, calendars, e-mails, and “to-do” lists while out in the field. Many are also taking digital photos for underwriters and using their laptops to make presentations and to gather application information.
“We’re really excited about these two reports,” said Pike. “Nothing happens until there is a sale, and not enough emphasis has gone into how agents and brokers can use technology to move their sales, marketing, and sales management functions to a higher level of effectiveness.”
For more information, and to access the reports, go to www.independentagent.com/act, and click on “Technology Reports.”
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