9 Steps to Perfecting Your Customer Lifecycle

Steve Anderson, LinkedIn Influencer
June 19, 2014

Consumers’ expectations are changing faster than ever. The way your organization markets and sells insurance products has changed more in the last few years than in the previous thirty. Insurance marketing and sales are being transformed right before our eyes.

The sales game has changed a lot. The marketing activities that insurance agencies have relied on for many years to obtain new clients and retain existing clients are not working as well as they have in the past.

Read the full article.

Why Every Producer Needs Their Own Website

I have said many times: consumer-buying habits are changing dramatically — both for individual consumers and business consumers.

Every producer should have a website.

A larger percent than ever of individuals are starting their purchasing research online. And if you’re not findable online you are invisible to a growing segment of the buying public.

This is why I believe that every producer in an insurance agency needs to have their own branded website.

I understand that most producers have relied on the agency to create the agency website and enhance the agency’s Internet presence. And that’s worked fine for the last 10 years. But consumers continue to change and if producers want to continue to be successful they need to begin working on mastering their own Internet presence.

Producers can no longer rely solely on the agency to market the products and services they offer. Producers need to work on their own personal brand in their own personal marketing so they are visible to the prospects and clients they want to do business with.

People buy from people they know, like, and trust.

The best way to help people know who you are, begin to like you, and learn to trust you with their financial resources and future is to demonstrate your expertise online. And one of the primary ways to do that is by creating a personal website.

Your website may be the most intimate way you touch your reader or sales prospect. It is also the platform best suited to educate prospects on why you are the authority on insurance protection and the person they should work with.

In a recent presentation I was talking about the advantages of creating a virtual agency. I gave a couple of examples of successful agencies that have no physical office. During the break, a participant approached me and asked if I would be willing to share contact information for these agents. I did give him the contact information.

I found out later that the participant did try to contact one of the agents. The agent in my example sent me an email asking me about this particular person and where I had seen him. He could not find any information online about this particular agent. It caused him to question whether he should respond to the email or not.

This is one simple example of the negative consequences of not showing up online. I am absolutely convinced that prospects search for information about you online before they ever agree to allow you to take up their time by setting an appointment.

Creating your own personal branded website is easier than you think. Begin now to take those steps to create the website and then add articles and information that show your expertise.

Using Electronic Signatures in Your Agency: Part 1

In today’s world, technology is making everything easier, more efficient, and less expensive. Unfortunately, one area where technology efficiency has not impacted the insurance industry is in the active use of electronic signatures. This is unfortunate, as significant productivity gains and expense reductions can be achieved by the widespread use of electronic signatures for most insurance transactions.

While many agencies have heard of electronic signatures, many questions still remain. Is a digital signature truly legal? Will it hold up in court? Are cloud-based digital signatures secure? What choices do I have for e-signing documents?

Benefits Management System

Effectively managing group benefits is a problem for many agencies. Now there is a new kind of agency management system that is specifically designed for the group insurance vertical and is built entirely on the Salesforce.com platform. The application is listed on the SalesforceAppExchange platform, and is called BenefitsGuide. Highlights include:

agency management systems
  • Streamlines the process of selling and servicing group insurance from the broker perspective.
  • Provides value-added communications to both members and benefit administrators, with no extra effort.
  • Reduces the amount of incoming client service calls to the broker office.
  • Increases a broker’s new business sales by differentiating one broker’s services from the others.
  • Develops relationships for the broker with their clients’ employees, while building upon existing relationships with employer group administrators.

It follows logically that brokers who use BenefitsGuide are able to:

  • Improve their sales close ratio while also winning bigger groups.
  • Improve their client retention rate.
  • Reduce the amount of time required to service their existing clients.

Read more about the unique features of BenefitsGuide and how they will impact a broker’s business. Additional information is also available on their blog.

Is Risky the New Safe?

Sometimes you have to break things. Shake it up. Bust it up. ‘Cause that’s where the breakthroughs live.
–Randy Gage, author, Risky is the New Safe

Risky is the New Safe Randy Gage

Over the past few years it has been intriguing to watch the decline of well-known brands and companies: Blockbuster, Nokia, BlackBerry, Best Buy, Borders, and Kodak. These are just a few names of companies that are filing for bankruptcy or experiencing significant declines in revenue and/or market share.

One lesson that can be drawn from how these companies handled change is that there is a significant danger faced by dominant firms that refuse to cannibalize themselves—to give up existing sales in order to position themselves with the next generation of products and services. Kodak invented the digital camera yet was unable to cannibalize the profits from its film business to invest in new digital technology. Management reluctance ultimately led to Kodak’s demise.

Giving up what’s making you money sounds much easier in theory than it is to execute. To paraphrase author Steven Pearlstein,The key to success in such a fast-changing environment…[is] keeping a mind open to numerous possibilities, having the discipline to experiment with several conflicting strategies and moving quickly to embrace one of them when the direction of the market becomes clear.”

Perhaps the best way to handle this dilemma is to devote a certain percentage of your time to developing what’s new, be it mobile delivery, a new product, or new audience.

Randy Gage, in Risky is the New Safe, provides five marketing lessons for entrepreneurs who may not want to play it safe. They also apply to the insurance industry:

  1. Action beats perfection: A well thought-out plan executed today is better than the perfect plan executed whenever you figure out it’s perfect. (Which is usually never.)
  2. Boring kills: A book, video, sales letter, brochure, opera, story, song, dance, or any creative work can never be too long—it can only be too boring. Insurance is already thought of as boring. Do something to spice it up.
  3. Say what you want: When you want someone to do something, don’t speak in codes. Whether you’re talking with your kids, raising money for a charity, crafting a marketing message, or persuading a business owner to let you work on their insurance program—tell them what you want them to do. They’re big kids and they can decide if they agree with you or not, and if they want to take that action—but only if they know what the message is.
  4. Be bold: The best promoter of you, your agency, service, or cause is you. You know it best, and no one is going to make a more passionate case than you. If you believe you provide the best value, stand up for it.
  5. Take risks: The insurance industry is by its very nature risk adverse. But to move forward you may have to take risks and experiment. You won’t always succeed, but you will learn and you will move forward. A Facebook ad may not work. That new marketing piece is going to be bold, different, and unconventional—and that’s why it will work.

Gage titles one chapter in his book, “Move Fast and Break Things.” That was the mantra of Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook family, he says. The insurance industry tends to not want to break anything! This is a new skill many of us might have to learn.

A more realistic mantra might be to “Move Fast and Try Not to Break Everything.” And: “Keep an Open Mind.”

The reason these businesses don’t change fast enough is because what they do is still working.
–Alan Wurtzel, former CEO of Circuit City, and author of Good to Great to Gone.