Our specialized knowledge and planning capabilities are more relevant than ever as clients struggle to deal with stock market volatility, uncertainty over Social Security and the difficulty of saving for retirement.
Our challenge as advisors is to align the way we do business with the way our clients and prospects shop. We need to know how and where they obtain information and what products meet their needs. Then we need to deliver that information directly. Technology allows us to do all these things.
I believe the best way financial advisors can harness technology is to standardize their procedures, then systematize and automate as many of those procedures as possible. The following principles help us provide our clients and prospects with a seamless customer experience.
Step 1: Automate Sales
Technology has made it possible for us to automate and delegate much of the paperwork associated with insurance sales. Talking about paperwork isn’t as revolutionary as talking about wearable tech, for example, but it is a good place to start, considering how far our industry lags behind mainstream e-commerce.
Today, the closest we come to sales automation is with drop-ticket processing using eApplication, eSignature and ePolicy delivery. Over the past decade, brokerage general agencies (BGAs) have worked to integrate these digital platforms with the carriers. If you’re not using these platforms, you’re giving up valuable time that could be spent meeting with clients, prospecting or marketing.
Using a BGA’s back-office support for drop-ticket processing gives you two clear advantages. First, it gives you a tech-savvy partner to walk your client through the application process, including tech-related troubleshooting. Second, it gives you the benefit of a case manager and support staff, allowing you to grow your business and focus on selling.
Step 2: Automate Marketing
If you’re already on board with the eApplication model, there’s another tech frontier that insurance agents need to cross sooner rather than later. It involves automating marketing procedures using a client relationship management (CRM) system, which usually refers to cloud-based software programs.
At the most basic level, a CRM system is a digital filing cabinet that stores your client data, including contact information, notes and policy details. Your data is stored in the cloud so you can access it anywhere. For example, if you’re prospecting with millennials, you can use a smartphone or tablet to access client data or quote prospects on the fly — handy for meetings that happen away from your office.
CRM systems can do more than manage contact information. A good system also will help you run digital marketing campaigns aimed at targeted audiences within your book of business. For example, you can use your system’s tagging capabilities to indicate which clients are seniors, millennials, diabetic, high-networth, etc. You then can run a customized report creating a list of clients with a particular tag — and there’s your built-in niche marketing list.
Step 3: Expand Your Horizons
Big data is changing the way we market insurance. One side effect of technology is information overload. This is particularly true of social media and the data it collects about our interests and habits. How do we cut through the chatter and find new clients and prospects?
You start with what you already have — the targeted marketing niches within your book of business, identified with the help of your CRM software. Let’s say you send an email to your clients every September to promote Life Insurance Awareness Month. Using your CRM’s tagging and reporting, you can tailor one email to a senior audience and another to a millennial audience. Or you could segment content on your website, targeting by audience type (producer, agency or carrier). Using free tools such as Google Analytics, you can track clicks and tailor future content toward your largest audience.
Now let’s take this idea one step further.
You could also use your CRM’s tagging and reporting to build a marketing list for millennial prospects who obtained a quote from your website, but didn’t purchase a policy. Now you can export that data and use it to create what’s called a “custom audience” for social media advertising. You could serve up ads to them on their favorite social media networks, offering free eBooks, guides or even a consultation to bring those prospects back into your marketing funnel.
The Future Is Now
It’s time to think about the way we source, manage and act on the data that technology continues to provide. If you think there’s a lot to deal with now, imagine being flooded with consumer data from digitized medical records and wearable tech devices. In the near future, life insurance could be sold by online retailers with customers uploading their own health data for instant approval. There’s still a place for an individual agent in that formula. It’s important to add the mantra “standardize, systematize and automate” to your business today.