Insurance Agency Operations: The Essential Guide to Mastering Your Internal Processes
April 12, 2023
Head of Marketing
Ray is the Head of Marketing at Canopy Connect and has helped dozens of startups and growth companies over his 20 year career to develop strategies and implement tactics that yield high impact results.
Ready to improve your insurance agency operations and grow your business? Start with this guide to master your sales process and create a winning team.
Growing your insurance business starts internally. By fine-tuning your internal insurance agency operations, you’ll create more productive employees and, ultimately, more satisfied customers.
But even if you know your processes could use some tweaking, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. In this guide to long-term business growth, we give you tips on streamlining your sales process and improving training for new and existing staff. You’ll also find insights into the benefits of digitization, automation, and accessible information.
Streamline the Sales Process
Business growth is all about conversions—turning prospects into paying customers. But it takes nuanced skill to guide leads down the sales funnel. While your sales team is the beating heart of any insurance company, the sales process is all about the customers.
Streamline your sales process and improve your insurance agency operations with these five tips:
Understand Your Client's Needs
Focus on the buyer’s journey and create clear buyer personas so you can understand each prospect’s needs. What are the possible prompts that got them to reach out? Have a clear vision of how your product meets the unique needs of different types of prospects. And once you have them on the line, be ready to fine-tune your message.
Communication Matches the Sales Funnel
Every point of communication with a potential prospect should be tailored to where they are in the buyer’s journey. For instance, if they’re still at the top of the funnel, it’s more important to build trust by providing educational information on insurance policies. Someone who’s considering their options could be swayed by learning about the competitive advantages of your company. If they’re about to make a purchase, close the deal with a last-minute incentive or discount.
Sales Process Options
Not everyone looking for insurance coverage has the same backstory. In fact, it’s one of the broadest markets out there. No matter their background, people from all demographics are buying insurance for their vehicles, homes, or businesses. Your sales process should accommodate your diverse target audience.
A single sales process might not cut it, but that doesn’t mean you have to improvise. Create a sales process for each of your lead-generating channels.
Additionally, think critically about how your strategy stands out from your competitors. What aspects of your insurance agency operations can give you an edge? Make sure you know what sets you apart so you can highlight it in marketing campaigns and sales calls.
Uniform Processes and Documentation
Every one of your insurance agency operations should be unified, and each salesperson should have access to supporting documents and materials that will guide them through different scenarios. With the supporting materials and proper training, you set your team up for success. The new sales process will be convenient to adhere to and replicable across your team. It will also provide meaningful data on the process’ strengths and weaknesses.
Once your team has a clear direction and a uniform strategy, plan periodic evaluations to see how the process is affecting your bottom line. Use your data and reports to streamline your internal processes. To continually improve, take a critical lens to your sales process by analyzing your productivity data.
Transform With Technology
As a sales team member for an insurance agency, your job isn’t to constantly organize and shuffle documents—it’s to sell insurance policies. It’s time to confront the tedium of all that paperwork. Mindfully digitizing your processes can streamline your sales, and it starts with the consumer.
From the moment a prospect first encounters your business, they’re forming impressions. A digitized, omnichannel approach to customer engagement is a more efficient way to meet their needs. Digitizing your sales process allows for electronic forms, cloud-based technology, and highly automated systems. It also makes for a hassle-free interaction that more quickly gives you a clear picture of their needs.
Canopy Connect compiles and verifies all your client’s insurance data in a single platform. By simply sending a link, your clients can easily send their insurance policy data to you, letting you focus on sales and service instead of being held up by them searching for their paperwork.
Your training processes are important for effective onboarding and claims management, but they won’t be helpful if agents don’t use them correctly. Proper training is essential for successful deployment. Here are some tips for setting up your training process and what to learn from your top performers.
How to Set up Your Training Process
To build a top-notch sales team within your insurance agency, you need strong foundations. Turn a critical eye toward your process foundations to ensure they are sustainable and efficient.
Insurance agency staff come from all types of backgrounds. Because of this, agents are entering the field with different skill sets. Therefore, your initial onboarding training is critical to prepare each salesperson for success and building consistency among your sales processes. A good training protocol can also keep your staff compliant with regulatory bodies.
This baseline training is your first chance to unify processes, so you must have standardized training across agency staff. While the messaging should be consistent, you can leave room for different branches to customize the training for their specific locations.
Training can use a combination of conventional and eLearning methods. Using online learning modules is a straightforward way to standardize the foundations of your training protocol. Once your agents have completed the introductory course, in-person training can provide more specificity and practice. Combining different learning platforms appeals to different learning styles. Soon, your staff will be masters of cold calling, writing policies, and closing sales.
While the details of your training will depend on your specific offers, there are some general training tips to guide your insurance agency operations that will help you build a winning team.
Agents Are Part of the Sale
When you’re selling a policy, customers attach the agent to the experience. When deciding between competing policies, a prospect will consider their person-to-person interactions with the agents. They’re more likely to sign a policy with an agent they see as professional and trustworthy.
Can You Explain it to a 5-Year-Old?
Communication should provide clarity to consumers. Prospects are more likely to convert when they can easily understand the policy and see how it solves a problem. Your staff should know your policy options and different rates like the back of their hand. If they have a clear understanding of your products’ nuances, they will more effectively explain them to a lead.
This doesn’t mean just reciting stats.
In fact, in the groundbreaking book Made to Stick, researchers and brothers Chip Heath and Dan Heath found 63% of people are more impacted by stories than statistics.
Train your sales team to be excellent communicators by turning their pitches into narratives. Pitches that are simple, accessible, and engaging will lead to more conversions. If your staff can pitch to a 5-year-old, then you’ll know they’ve mastered the material.
Practice, Record, and Analyze
Athletes spend 90% of their time practicing their craft, developing their skills, learning to work together, and only 10% of the time actually playing in the games that matter. But in the professional work environment we do the opposite; we spend 90% of the time playing the game, and just 10% practicing, preparing, and analyzing. That’s out of balance.
Soft skills are an integral part of insurance sales. Provide trainees with plenty of opportunities to practice so they can master their customer service skills. During these sessions, provide feedback so your agents and staff can build upon their strengths and work on their weaknesses.
You can also record sales calls to go over what the agents are doing well and where they could grow. There are even technologies that can analyze recordings for specific prompts and sales techniques to make analysis feel less intrusive.
Foster Mentorship Among Your Team
Pair new producers with top performers. Their success isn’t a fluke, and your team could learn from them. Analyze what boosts them to the top, then break down the processes so they can be replicated. By shadowing your sales leaders, new team members can see what successful cold calls, sales pitches, emails, and closings look like.
What to Learn From Your High Performers
Your company's top performers are an incredible asset. With some intentional analysis, you can translate their skills into a training model. First, figure out where your top performers are succeeding. What are they doing differently from the rest of your staff? Next, break down their skills into three categories:
People Skills: These are considered soft skills and can make or break a sales pitch. Successful people skills include expert customer engagement, emotional intelligence, and understanding of the customer’s needs. With modeling and practice, trainees can hone their people skills.
Personality: This category leans on someone’s natural talents and is a bit harder to train. More successful agents usually have personality traits like high energy, persistence, and honesty. However, you can emphasize the importance of these during training.
Expertise: Finally, with proper training, practice, and mentorship, anyone can develop the expertise to become a successful sales agent. Beyond the foundational knowledge of your offerings, make sure staff are trained in all the technical aspects of the sales process and can use your technology fluently.
Retain and Nurture Talent
With proper training, you can replicate the skills of your high performers among your staff. However, you also want to make sure you retain that top talent. The insurance industry has high attrition rates, so how can you keep these staff members engaged and content?
Keep your top agents happy by providing the right tools to make their job less tedious. Getting bogged down by inefficient processes is the main complaint of insurance salespeople. Integrate user-friendly technology to streamline your sales process and make everyone’s job easier.
Additionally, conduct consistent performance reviews for all staff. For your top-performing employees, this will be a chance to make them feel seen and appreciated. Give them new challenges and routine raises to keep them motivated. These check-ins are also a chance to provide feedback on growth areas. Even the top performers may get away with bad habits, so use performance reviews and continual training to fine-tune each agent’s strategy.
Digitizing your insurance agency operations can streamline your sales and lead to growth. It also improves your bottom line from several different angles. The top performers use a digital strategy across departments. From marketing to sales and service, digitization puts the focus back on the customers. But what do these tools look like in practice?
Cut Down on Processing Time
Time is money, and a proper digitization program cuts back on wasted time.
In fact, streamlined online processes can reduce turnaround time on insurance processing by 90%. Additionally, with a digital user experience, you can improve your customer interface and build brand loyalty.
The emergence of mobile apps makes processes more efficient for both agencies and customers. With technology that can integrate and compile consumer information, you can generate quotes with minimal information. The same platform can also make it simple to digitize claims, completely removing the need for a third-party appraiser. Finally, an online and mobile presence provides consumers with 24/7 access to information and agencies with real-time data on their customers’ needs.
With an omnichannel approach, the consumer experience is consistent across platforms, and the back-end processes are streamlined. Tasks that took two days will now only take two minutes.
Reduce Costs and Improve Conversion Rates
According to Harvard Business Review, digitization can cut costs by 65% and improve conversion rates by more than 20%.
Why? Consumers are online. They use the Internet to learn, research options, and ultimately choose a product or service.
Especially as Millennials and Gen Z take up a larger part of the market, insurance agencies can’t miss out on the opportunity to draw in this digital audience. Inform your marketing and sales strategy with data mined from social media. This will give you real-life information on your consumers’ lifestyles and help you better predict their insurance needs.
Additionally, digitizing your paperwork will simplify data storage. You won’t have to pay for the cost of materials and storage space when everything is backed up in the cloud.
Once your systems are digitized, you can take advantage of automation to streamline your sales process. Insurance agents are often juggling many things at once. The sheer volume of calls alone demands a rigorous schedule.
By automating your workflow, you can simplify your staff’s to-do list and make sure nothing slips through the cracks. They’ll receive notifications on when to make certain follow-ups and have the who, what, and where of each prompt. The notification will also link background information on the client and a guide for the call or email.
Additionally, if prospects are added to the system, your staff can monitor their ongoing activity and get notified when someone has made several high-interest inquiries. These triggers will speed up lead generation and let agents strike while the iron is hot.
Streamline Insurance Agency Operations
Managing a productive staff is key to improving your sales processes, and automation will help get you there. With increased efficiency, your agents will always know what’s next on their task list. Along with scheduling prompts, the system will support data exchange and management, so all your client information is accessible throughout the agency.
An automated workflow makes everything easier for insurance agency operations. Based on the client’s inputs, an automated system can start highlighting potential policies that meet their needs and even send them information about upcoming deals or referral bonuses. What’s more, a well-automated workflow triggers a series of events from a single action. It improves the customer experience and simplifies processes for staff.
With our Agency MVP Integration, Canopy Connect gives you a fully automated experience. Get all the information you need from prospects with a single click. The data is then seamlessly populated throughout Agency MVP. The result? You’ll get notifications for lead priorities, support with text and email sequences, and clearly organized information to help you provide tailored quotes to each potential client.
Knowledge is power. The more data an agent has on a client, the better equipped they will be to provide them with the best insurance information and value-based quotes. To streamline your sales process and foster business growth, develop tools and strategies to expand your information access.
Why is this so imperative? Information access is a critical piece of the customer engagement process. To attract new clients, you want to show that you can get them a better deal on their insurance. But an insurance quote needs to be as accurate as possible.
As you know, giving the best quote to a client requires a slew of information that can be difficult to collect. With prospects who aren’t familiar with the process, gathering all the right information (VINs, drivers, previous policies) can require a lot of hand-holding. When it takes longer to compile a prospect’s data, each sales cycle becomes drawn out and less efficient. Longer sales cycles result in less business.
But the opposite is also true. Increasing access to information speeds up the sales cycle. As a result, more efficient processes boost customer satisfaction and agent productivity.
Canopy Connect makes insurance information easily accessible for both the client and the agent. We connect you with your clients’ current plans, premiums, and deductibles, so you can efficiently and accurately give them a competitive quote. Then you can easily assign prospects by sharing the client data with specific members of your team. This promotes more efficient processes across departments. Lead outreach and prospect engagement has never been easier.
Streamline Your Insurance Customer Journey With Canopy Connect
With the right training and a streamlined sales process, your staff will develop a more productive and unified approach. Combined with thoughtful digitization and automation tools to get your insurance information quickly, your team’s efficiency will skyrocket.
Systemizing your insurance agency operations will also improve your business’s sustainability. With this guide, you’ll be the master of growth and take your agency to the next level. Can’t decide where to start? Canopy Connect makes it simple to collect insurance information.