Every agency should be seeking ways to manage the marketing and sales activities within their organization. Following are some of my thoughts about what makes up a full prospect and client experience management system. These are some of the components that I see as necessary to adequately manage marketing activities for both new business and existing clients.
Prospect Database: This is the basic level of contact and activity information on prospects. It is the first place to start and most agency management systems do an adequate job of allowing you to maintain this information.
Campaign Management: Campaigns allow you to create an automatic process that will put the producer’s name in front of a prospect consistently over time. Most prospects are not ready to buy on their first contact with your agency. This is not a new concept. As I was developing a new book of business in the early 90s, I used a campaign management process to mail a letter (it was the 90s!) every month or so to my prospects so I could stay in touch. I wrote a lot of business because I was slowly building trust and a relationship.
Marketing Automation: This is a broad term that identifies the ability for an agency to create a process that will gain a prospect’s attention, capture their information, and automatically follow up with the information they requested. Whenever you fill out a form on a website with your contact information so that you can receive information, you are participating in a marketing automation process. This type of marketing system will help fix the biggest marketing problem I see in agencies—follow-up failure. Follow-up failure is the reason most agency owners think Internet-generated leads don’t work.
Opportunity Management: Every agency sales manager should be able to tell, at any point during the year, if a producer is on track to make their production goals. Also known as pipeline management, information is gathered (by a producer or someone else) on the status of existing prospects, how likely they are to become a client, and the amount of revenue generated. This information allows everyone to know if a producer has enough prospects in the pipeline to achieve their production goals.
There are many different marketing platforms that agencies are using to try and help manage their prospecting and client account rounding process.
There is no agency management system that I am aware of that manages these steps well. This has been a frustration of mine for years. And, it’s unrealistic to expect your agency will have the marketing functionality you need in those systems unless the vendors provide an open and well-documented API (Application Programming Interface).
Vendors hold your data hostage. You should be able to “plug in” any third-party platform you think will work best. Salesforce.com is good example of what will happen when a company opens up their platform to any third-party developer at no cost.
Finding ways to effectively manage all aspects of the marketing and sales process—for both prospects and current clients—is a key to the long-term health of every agency.
How do you handle your marketing/sales process?