Successful sales reps no longer resort to the back-slapping, shark skills of the past. Rather, they use technology and systematic lead management to convert leads into customers. All leads are created equal, but all sales processes are not. Cashing in premiums and building a business book from internet lead programs needs more guide than gusto.

Today, an insurance agency's design is to be an efficient call center. These centers need to be staffed with sales reps who can handle high volumes of leads. 

Like the Henry Ford assembly line, there are many steps on the way to creating the final product. Agencies applying systematic lead management practices to their sales processes will increase their output. Once the prospect signs, the buyer's journey is complete. Still, systematic lead management requires numerous steps throughout this process. 

Making Initial Contact

The number one focus when the lead hits your inbox is being quick to contact, and being the first in contact. Leads are 22 times more likely to convert when contact is made within five minutes. A whopping 78 percent of leads convert with the company that contacts them first. Speed wins. 

Using auto-dialer technology ensures your office is first in line to reach a lead. According to a study by Velocify and ITC, auto-dialer technology enables producers to sell up to 43 percent more policies. Using an auto dialer enables your producers to get in contact quickly and at the right time.

Only five percent of leads convert upon initial contact, the majority converts after a follow up period. Many agents fail at this point because they mistake internet lead programs as easy. When they only close a few leads easily, they quit, their expectations unmet.

Consistent Attempts

For those leads that you have to chase down to get that initial, "Hello," keep hammering the phone until you do. Leads often take six to eight call attempts to make contact. If calling is infeasible or ineffective, use email to make initial contact.

Most people work nine to five, most leads generate between nine to five, and most agents also work nine to five. For those requesting insurance quotes in the nine to five hours, they don't have the time to step away for a phone call. They do, however, have time to respond to an email, making it the most convenient contact method. 

Automated emails are a surefire way to gain first contact and set a follow up call. Email automation services like WizardMail deliver introductory emails as soon as the lead generates. This creates a warm intro and advances the sales process into a scheduled phone call.

An automated email looks like this: Hello, I just received your request for a quote on auto insurance. I'll be assisting you with the quote. Is (555) 555-5555 the best number to reach you at? Can I give you a call at 3 p.m. today?

The email aims to establish an initial connection and advance to a scheduled phone call. With auto-dialer scheduling, you can set it to call your lead at a predetermined time. This eliminates the need for your producer to manually follow up.

Qualifying and Scheduling the Follow up

After securing the initial contact, the next step is to qualify and prioritize. As mentioned earlier, only about five percent of leads will convert on the first call.

This means that follow ups are essential to closing the majority of leads. Once the quote delivers and they are not purchasing, discover their timeline to purchase.

Are they just shopping around? Is their renewal up next month? Are they ready but still need a few days to compare quotes? A follow up timeline allows the producer to better manage their time and make a strategic touch point.

Lead management software combined with email automation and auto-dialer provides a smart follow-up system. Here's how it works: an automated email goes out the morning of the follow-up date and asks for a good time to call.  The auto-dialer technology then queues up the time to execute the call. These automation steps are essential for managing the time of producers. Scheduled automation keeps your producers on track so they spend more time selling rather than on aimless follow-up calls and unorganized prospecting.

"Agents can relax with the knowledge that their staff is consistently following up. With the scheduled automation, they don't need to micromanage or spend extra time training."  – Brittney Gallatin, Blitz Lead Manager

Digital Application

Lead management aims to efficiently manage time. Getting a lead to come in the office and sign the application in person isn't the most efficient use of time. It takes away your ability to automate the process, which puts a producer's time in jeopardy. 

It could also mean losing business because another company is making buying simpler. GEICO certainly is.

QuoteWizard has the digital ease leads use to shop for insurance. E-signature services like HelloSign or Docusign cater to this desire for simple technology. They sign your applications using a web-based service that automates a physical signature. E-signatures guarantee higher closing rates of leads because they speed the time to purchase.

Optimization

The organized approach to automating a sales process is not one size fits all. Every agency is different in their size, product lines, and personality. Utilizing analytics of lead management gives insights into the ROI of a lead program.

Optimize the "assembly line" for contact rates, call metrics, email response, and conversions. The analytics feedback allows your agency to make data-driven decisions on managing the system.

Call metrics provide data on how many calls close and the best times to call to get a response. Email metrics provide open and response rates. Leveraging the process data allows you to test out and optimize your call and email strategy.

For example, calling data may show that contact most often occurs midday and late afternoon. In that case, it might make sense to optimize your sales team to increase call volume at those times. You may also want to extend office hours into the evening to increase contact rates.

You can use email metrics to test copy and subject lines. This way you can see what copy creates higher open and response rates.

"The best way to understand return on investment in leads is to oversee its lifecycle from creation to active policy." -Chris Backe, Velocify

ROL (Return on Leads)

The ultimate goal of testing the process is to increase conversion rates that lead to greater ROI. The difficult part of a lead program for most agents is the expectation of instant ROI. As mentioned above, there is a never-ending cycle of optimization to increase conversion rates. Instant success in the first month is not going to happen, regardless of lead source or quality.

Leads also carry a residual effect that reflects months and years down the line. For example, let's say you buy 100 leads ($10/lead) and close 10 percent (10 auto policies). Each policy is worth $100 revenue/year. It would take a year to earn back your initial $1,000 investment.

Going into year two, you retain eight of the 10 auto policies, and turn the $1,000 lead investment into $1,800 ($800 profit) of revenue after two years. Continuing to buy 100 leads every month will lead to greater residual returns in the coming years.

Now, imagine if you were to enhance your lead management process to raise conversions to 20 percent or more. Profits would continue to increase, along with the number of clients in your book of business. Those increasing numbers will open doors for cross-selling opportunities and a flood of referrals.

The point here is that a lead program is an investment that can yield major returns. With it, agents who understand investment outlook can build a large book of business. Without it, they should expect to see minimal results and minimal ROI.