If you’re like most agents, you’ve established a sales process that fits your specific line of business. You make strategic tweaks here and there, but you’re of the opinion, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is completely understandable. If something works, then why change it?
Then, along comes a new idea to expand your reach and increase market share. So you look to set up a higher volume campaign to increase your contact and close rates.
High-volume campaigns are a great way to jumpstart your business or get fresh new contacts into your pipeline. However, without the right systems and processes in place, these efforts can quickly drain your marketing budget. To increase quoting and conversion ratios, you should know what high-volume buyers think, ask, and do differently that could help you capitalize on your new effort.
Insurance agents that manage several producers are skilled at altering their systems to be unique and individualized. However, there are several practices that they all have in common.
Customer Service Resources
Machines cannot replace humans when it comes to closing a sale, which is why automation tools play such an important role. It's important to use these tools to supplement manpower. That way, every lead is worked and followed up with in a manner that fits the business model and capacity. Agencies with less manpower are nimble, but with technology and automation, the lack of resources can be made up quite easily. Tools range from simple, free, and easy, to extremely complex and very expensive. For example, QuoteWizard’s WizardMail tool is an automated assistant that establishes a two-way email conversation between agents and their insurance leads. WizardMail can interpret a consumer’s response and take the next appropriate step, whether it’s having the agent schedule a follow-up call, attaching documents to an email reply, or adding a contact number to the National Do Not Call list.
Artificial intelligence marketing solutions were previously out of reach for the average insurance agent. However, as many of these platforms migrate to SaaS (Software As A Service) options, agents can now capitalize and reach much larger markets more easily through some very powerful yet reasonably priced options.
Whatever the scale of your agency, CRMs (customer relationship managers) of some kind should always keep track of the life cycles of leads. Automation is a great time-saver but a slippery slope too. Impersonal communication can cause a lead to shy away. Using too much automation can cause this, so be careful to balance automation with personalized contact methods.
Salesforce is the gold standard. Though it might be a good place to start, there are many other options that offer similar functions and will fit any budget. These options range from open-source and free (SuiteCRM) to freemium and highly scale-able like Hubspot, which offers a free CRM alongside paid services like Sidekick's marketing automation service.
Insurance Lead Volume
Typically, smaller agencies apply several lead filters and focus on specific areas to find the ideal customer. This is a tried and true method for many agents. In contrast, high-volume lead buyers expand their reach by buying many different lead types and using less filters. This strategy can provide the best return due to a lower cost-per-lead and is effective so long as there are enough resources to work the larger quantity of leads.
Another option is buying exclusive leads. It seems counterproductive, but in practice, it works quite differently. Buying exclusive leads prevents competitors from quoting and closing the consumer. While exclusive leads won’t keep the phones ringing, they may benefit smaller organizations who have less resources to work leads but have a higher chance of closing more sales as a result.
Expanding Lead Territories
Successful high-volume lead buyers embrace the “virtual” mindset. What we mean by this is that the local market expands greatly when geographic borders are a bit more liberal. The great thing about insurance licensing is that once you’re licensed for a product, you can sell it across the state. If you’re really a go-getter, you can probably sell it across state lines as well.
If you’re buying insurance leads in your local territory, then so is another agent just across town. High-volume producers recognize this competition and expand their zone boundaries to catch more lead volume, so long as they can still serve them. There is a sweet spot of course, and going too far may not net customers you want or help if they are connected to a local agent. It comes down to several factors, the most important being customer service.
How far are you willing to drive to write a policy? Can you close a sale with customers in a neighboring city without leaving your office? Are you set up to provide service to these customers in a virtual sense?
These are all good questions to help you decide whether to expand your territory.
Also consider cross-selling insurance policies. Though not a lead volume play, high-volume lead purchasers usually have a very defined process in place to cross-sell other lines and bundle more products together, increasing the ROI for each lead.
Multiple Lines of Communication
The ultimate goal is getting customers on the phone, but high-volume offices are also flexible with the consumer on building a relationship. It isn’t enough anymore to just say “connect with us on social”—you must actually be there. Larger agencies incorporate emails, texting, online chatting, or video response systems that create feedback loops and service more customers. With accurate information, this process is even faster. Automation is another big part, but actively using these channels is what makes them useful sales tools.
Social media is another good resource for getting in touch with younger, tech-driven consumers. Multiple communication lines will allow you to maximize contact with many different customers and see where they spend their time. Leveraging social media isn’t always about selling, though, so be mindful of the social approach. Instead, treat it like larger agencies and use it to compliment your efforts without straining resources.
High volume offices wait for their investments to mature. Half of all insurance leads convert to a sale within the first 7 days of contact. The other half of new leads convert within about 60 days. The latter group will need more work and patience, but they should not be disregarded. Rather, they should be seen as a simply a longer sales process. Using lead-management tools and CRMs can help you work these long-term leads and cash in on sales you may not have expected to receive. Long-term ROI tracking is crucial to the success of sophisticated lead buyers.
Consider this long-term strategy from a high-volume State Farm agent in Tennessee:
“What a lot of agents don’t understand is that ‘an average of 1 to 5’ converting is an AVERAGE. You can buy 200 but sell only 4 off the first call and be really frustrated. Yet over time, you'll have 40 or more policies coming your way. If you made a rash decision and turned that off because you were scared after buying 100, you could be missing out on a great source."
Large volume buyers identify ways to win over their unique markets. To bring the “neighborhood-corner office” trend into the modern century, one buyer started a web-cam service in his office. Other buyers invest in online chat systems, weekend and evening callers, or even virtual employees from across the state. No matter the market conditions, large volume agencies always find a way to create and adjust systems to work well in their context. The key is to embrace technology and test what works best for your business. At the very least, you must try! Not everything will work and not every new technology, offered as “the next best thing”, will live up to such expectations. Yet being on the leading edge of insurance consumers is why larger producers and agencies are able to bend with markets and succeed in many different landscapes.
It’s all about the data. Track your ROI! I’m not kidding, this is crucial. Keep tabs on your leads. Even if your contact rates or close rates seem lower than expected, your returns might be bigger than you think. These numbers will allow you to optimize your lead types, filters, and territories better than any anecdotal evidence. This can be done in a Google Doc or Excel spreadsheet, lead management system, custom database like MS Access, or CRM. It can be as simple or as complicated as you like or need, but regardless, it will help you in the long run.
Take note of how successful lead buyers think and operate. These tactics and strategies will allow you to focus in on your bottom line and become successful with buying insurance leads.