In the early 90s, I began my professional career as an insurance agent at MAPFRE. If at that time Marty McFly and Dr. Emmet L. Brown had lent me DeLorean to take a quick peek into what the future held for the insurance sales process…I would have thought I was either in dream land, it was magic, or I was indeed in a Sci-Fi movie! Digital transformation in insurance was just something you didn’t think about.
Every detail of the sales process back then was carried out by hand or jotted down on paper. Whether that be a list of prospects, your call and visit log, daily agenda, copies of the insurance policies you were selling and the daily report sheet shared with the manager.
This is not to mention the countless number of filing cabinets stacked with notes, desk phones, brightly colored post-its, mountains of client folders and binders littered across the table with a few hastily stapled business cards attached.
A very “artisan” method of working shall we say, with plenty of room for improvement.
However, to be honest with you while I can’t help feeling a slight sense of nostalgia winding back down memory lane, it does make you wonder – how on earth did we survive with such inefficient sales processes? How to do a sales forecast report with such limited data available? Especially when entering a digital era so abundant in sales technology.
Insurance Digital Transformation
By a quirk of fate, decades after redirecting my career path towards other horizons, I had the opportunity to experience firsthand this technological “dream land”.
About a couple of years ago, I was part of a team of consultants brought in to oversee the successful implementation and digital transformation of an insurance sales team. In this particular case we developed a training plan for a leading insurer in Spain with a goal of supporting the insurance digital transformation processes and the daily management of all its sales staff.
We were pleasantly surprised to see how a traditional, well- established enterprise went all-in to update itself making a very powerful mobile CRM readily available to its entire sales network.
Insurance sales process update
As it was with many industries, the traditional insurance sales process from this particular provider was vendor-driven.
Insurance agents grabbed the attention of prospects by interrupting whatever they were doing at that time, probably through an unsolicited phone call or email and proceeded to try and sell whichever policy was hot at the time. The insurance agent had little information on who they called and for the most part (to them) neither bothered or cared to find out – they had a target to hit and that was it.
But let me ask you this – when was the last time you bought into a policy after a cold call from an insurance agent? Never would be my guess.
That’s because sales, especially in the insurance sector is no longer just a numbers game – it’s a people game.
The customer-seller relationship shifted dramatically over the past 15-20 years. Prospects now come to the table armed with a wealth of knowledge of various policies and prices from your company as well as your competitors. This means the customer now owns the conversation – they are the ones who decide who they want to contact, when and on their own terms.
What’s more, this entire information gathering process is conducted digitally as they source over 95% online.
So if insurance agents and brokers wanted to remain relevant, they needed to adapt their role in the conversation.
Customer-centric insurance sales process
With this shift to a customer-centric sales process digital transformation in insurance is now a business priority.
Customers expect consistency when interacting with their insurance provider and will want the same from the agents they speak to. They assume that providers coordinate their data, pricing information, policy terms and conditions, coverage etc. and as such, sales teams need to work in tandem to deliver that connected customer experience.
The only way providers can deliver this experience to customers is through the effective implementation of digital sales management software such as CRM.
CRM implementation, when done correctly, will have your insurance agents tapping into this customer information database with ease. They will know exactly who their prospects are, what interactions they’ve had with your company, with who and what their current position in the sales cycle is. Armed with a history of the customer’s journey the agent is now in a position to offer this service a customer expect.
However, the capabilities of the sales management software insurance sales managers choose should be studied in-depth.
If an insurance agent or broker is to become a trusted advisor as is expected of them, then the sales technology needs to take away the bulk of their administrative work. By focusing on automating as many of the mundane tasks as possible (data entry, sales reporting, policy order processing etc.) agents can focus on sales-driving activities and providing relevant, valuable and timely advice to customers.
CRM and SFA technology with easy-to-use interfaces and high user adoption scores should be a manager’s top priority. The less time an agent or broker spends navigating and updating the system the more time they can spend with clients and prospects.
This might seem like an overly simplistic approach, especially with all the advanced AI analytics many modern CRM providers offer, but if the systems are not being used then there’s very little data left there to be analyzed. At least this is what I’ve found implementing digital transformation in insurance sales teams.
Benefits of digital transformation in insurance
Going back to my original case in point, the insurance sales team in question fully adapted to their new situation, with the mobile sales management technology allowing them to track all broker activity, provide field sales agents with an adaptable tool while out on the road and store all sales data (updated policies, client/lead information, territory area etc.) in one central hub.
You have to bear in mind that just weeks before they used a system that was built by pen and supported by paper…I can’t even begin to tell you the changes they’ve seen as a result. I’ll try and list a few here below:
- When agents and brokers found themselves face to face with a client they noted how impressed they’d be when presented with their account overview on a tablet or smartphone. Current policy(ies), holders and potential savings from new plans were all neatly laid out via this new sales management application. Not only that, but you come across as much more modern/professional by operating from a tablet which, rightly or wrongly, generates a lot more consumer confidence in your brand image.
- Being able to accurately predict revenue over a set period of time is a critical role of field sales managers. The arrival of a mobile sales system allowed the team to follow the appropriate steps in sales forecasting as they now had real-time, live data from which to make their predictions.
- Brokering different policies from various sources can be difficult to manage at the best of times, so by having real-time access to the constant cycle of change allowed agents to effectively match clients with tailor made plans. Cross-selling is so often one of the most underutilized selling skills training objectives used by insurance companies and mobile CRM goes a long way in securing this extra revenue stream.
- With a largely field-based team, time management was a big concern for this particular client. We realized that field sales agents and brokers were coming back into the office to update their area/territory manager and file the relevant paperwork. Welly by simply having a mobile CRM you eliminate this problem. Data can be entered when out the road while simultaneously giving management a real-time window into what’s going on.
- The great thing about all this technology is that (in most cases) it’s completely integrated. That’s to say you can exit your mobile CRM or sales management tool and still make calls, send emails or access the ERP without having to later go back in and update this activity – it’s done automatically. Many of the field agents noted this as a huge upside and time saver with them no longer having to head back to the office to make sure this stuff was all accurate.
The good news is that you no longer need the power of a DeLorean to travel to the future to witness this digital transformation as it has been a working reality for a few years now, and one that’s imposing itself with great consistency in the insurance sector.
Has your field sales team recently gone through a similar digital transformation? Does the mobile CRM technology used by your agents and brokers address some of the pain points mentioned above? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.