Insurance Agency
 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Insurance Sales Cycle

Published on
March 2, 2023
Ray Huang
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.

The customer journey outlines a roadmap to success. Increase your conversions and learn how to master the insurance sales cycle.

The insurance sales cycle is a combination of steps in the sales cycle. The first is the initial contact with a prospect, while your final step is closing the sale. In between, there are numerous purchase-relevant phases that will determine the steps required to guide prospective customers through the cycle.

Many agents make the mistake of pitching too early in the sales cycle, which can be off-putting. Give prospects enough time to get a better understanding of what they need, what you do, and the value you provide.

Your leads might be reaching out, but to achieve the desired buying decision you must establish a genuine connection and build trust. Understanding how to nurture leads effectively has massive payoffs.

The customer journey outlines a roadmap for you as an agent as it relates to the insurance sales cycle. In this guide, you’ll learn how to master the insurance sales funnel.

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Pre-Sales Stage: Build Awareness and Be Top of Mind

The ideal scenario for any insurance agent is to have more potential leads than time in the day to contact them all. To start attracting quality leads, you must establish your brand as well as leverage your network and social media presence.

Pre-Sales Customer Journey

At this stage, potential customers have not yet fallen into the sales funnel. You won’t be able to compete with the big brands and their billion-dollar advertising budgets. However, you can still position yourself and your agency to be top of mind when they are ready to act. Focus on reaching the right audience and being a helpful community resource.

Establishing Your Brand as an Insurance Agent

Targeting a broad demographic will result in poor conversions at a high cost. To attract quality prospects, you need to establish a strong brand identity at the beginning of the insurance sales cycle. Know exactly who you want to target—your ideal customer profile—and how you can meet their specific needs. This will draw in more genuine interest from potential clients once they enter the sales funnel.

Next, you must determine the unique selling proposition (USP) that will set you apart from other insurance agents. For example, if you specialize in recreation vehicle insurance bundles, you might focus largely on more affluent household properties with a  3-car garage, and promote near areas with access or services for boats, off-road vehicles, and RVs.

Once you have established a strong USP, you’ll need to develop consistent brand messaging. It’s confusing for clients if your brand messages vary from platform to platform—keep the tone, branding, and focus points consistent. While there’s room for diverse campaigns and multiple add-ons, you should aim to maintain a clearly recognizable branding strategy.

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Top of Funnel: Acquiring the Right Insurance Prospects

Top of Funnel Customer Journey

At this stage, potential customers have a potential need but may not have it fully defined. They are exploring their options independently, and they will soon be looking for real help. It’s at this stage you need to be ready to welcome them with open arms, helpful advice, and a compelling reason to choose you.

Draw them in with unique features that set you apart from the competition, lead with value, and make it easy to work with you.

Attract Potential Leads by Leveraging Social Media

Effectively leveraging social media for lead generation takes time and commitment.

But with patience and consistency, it can be a very effective tool. Start by identifying the social media platforms your target audience is most likely to use. Then, invest your time in building your brand presence on the chosen channels.

Optimize your social profiles with clear, professional branding and marketing messages. Make it as easy as possible for prospects to get in touch with you.

Check out our webinar where we cover three practical strategies insurance agencies can take today to drive more qualified leads and revenue from their social media: 3 Keys to Closing More Business with Social Media

Keep in mind that although the underlying message and branding need to be consistent, the content types for each platform will be different. Many social platforms also allow you to target specific user personas with paid advertising. This increases the reach to your identified target audience.

Your content needs to be relevant and posted at consistent intervals. With so much information overload, make sure that what you offer viewers is of use to them. Irrelevant content and inconsistent posting are two ways to successfully destruct your social media efforts.

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Insurance Networking in a Post-Pandemic World

Years ago, networking referred only to professionals gathering in person for local events or trade shows. Now, professionals can expand their networking efforts not just in person, but virtually as well.

For instance, get involved in neighborhood-level social media groups. These network groups may be small, but they are effective ways to build trust as the local expert and generate word-of-mouth referrals. Since the groups are area-specific, there will be less competition and minimal marketing costs.

You can further boost your local presence by attending in-person networking meetings. Consider groups other industry professionals might be a part of—they could be in need of your service. For example, real estate agents who work with property owners can refer clients for home insurance. Lawyers who work with business owners can refer clients for their business insurance needs.

Whether online or in-person, start by building relationships before launching into a sales speech. Make sure you have details and information ready to share when needed. Pass on some leads of your own to establish trust within your networking community.

Mid-Sales Funnel: Position Yourself as a Trusted Insurance Advisor

After creating awareness and drawing interest, it’s time to educate your prospect and build confidence. This stage of the insurance sales cycle should focus on your customer and their specific needs. This involves communicating in ways that suit them, addressing their concerns with empathy, and building value.

While many people are feeling the effects of inflation, things like safety, business, financial, family, housing, and medical concerns are what typically drive consumers toward the security of a good insurance policy. As the insurance expert, you need to establish the perfect balance between affordable premiums and solutions that meet their needs.

Mid-Funnel Customer Journey

At this stage, your customer has been educated on your services and products. Remember, they did some extensive research on your business, and they likely did the same with your competitors.

Establishing trust with superior customer service is critical during this phase.

Communicating With Insurance Leads

Before contacting a lead, you must adequately prepare yourself. If your prospect has a problem or if they are inquiring about a specific policy, having all details readily available ahead of time will not only set you up for success, but it will show your potential client that they’re high on your priority list.

Use a Script

It is important that your agency refine its communication across multiple channels.

Creating a script or template will ensure that any specific, but important details are not left out. Once implemented, these should undergo regular review and updating to streamline the workflow and improve client communication.

Keep in mind, scripts and templates are not meant for a one-size-fits-all approach. They should serve as a basis for customization and provide you with the foundation for your outreach.

Be the First to Call

You should contact your incoming leads as quickly as possible.

Agents that contact a lead within the first hour are more likely to close the deal. If you can’t get in touch with the prospect, try again within the hour. If the second attempt is still unsuccessful, send an email or text so they know your reason for contacting them.

There is a caveat to this if you’re dealing with non-exclusive purchased leads. Deon Williams recommends that you acknowledge that you won’t be the first to call. You'll likely be dealing with an irrate prospect that has already received several calls. So acknowledge it, and lean into it with this script.

Be Helpful, Not Pushy

In the early stages of the insurance sales cycle, many consumers are merely price shopping.

Remember, many clients will not purchase until a few months after the first point of contact.

Provide the information requested but don’t push them for a sale. It’s important to maintain communication and ensure clients receive everything they need in a timely matter. Prospects will perceive your efficiency during this stage as a reflection of what your service will be like if they sign up with you.

A sure way to stand out is by using a solution such as Canopy Connect to fast-track manual processes. This tool lets you instantly access your prospect’s current insurance coverage details. While your competitors are waiting for declaration pages and policy information, you can gain immediate access and formulate a quote straight away.

In addition, having all this information allows you to prepare thoroughly before contacting your client again. You can make sure you have all the relevant data and insights in front of you, making your service more professional, knowledgeable, and efficient.

Addressing Potential Objections From Insurance Leads

No sales process is complete without some objections along the way. Responding to customer objections requires tactful communication to alleviate their concerns.

While some agents view objections as a trigger to aggressively push the sale, this strategy is likely to chase your prospect straight into a competitor’s arms. It gives off the impression that you aren’t willing to listen and that you value the sale more than the client’s needs. Additionally, the trust you’ve spent a lot of time and resources nurturing has now been broken. Instead of telling clients that they’re wrong, give them the space and information to help them come to a different conclusion.

Before contacting your prospect, prepare for objections. Consider how you will respond to various scenarios. Sometimes objections are genuine or unsolvable, in which case you will be saving yourself time by focusing on other leads that might be a better fit for your product. Objections can also be stalls, misconceptions, or biases.

Regardless of what the objection is, listen to your prospect and acknowledge their concern. Try to discern the reason behind their behavior.

  • Are they strictly looking at price and want the cheapest option?
  • Are they concerned about being insured by a less familiar carrier?
  • Are they struggling to make sense of the coverage?
  • Are they concerned about change?
  • Are they just shrugging you off because a competitor has already sent them a quote?

If you can understand your customer and dig a little deeper, you can respond accordingly. This could involve explaining your unique value proposition, sharing a story from a previous client, offering an incentive, or helping them understand the costs of a claim and what they stand to lose.

Be honest and thank your customer for their time. Always offer to send them information to go through on their own time and follow up again.

Focusing on Value Over Price

Clients often compare quotes without comparing the policy value, deductibles, and exclusions. When submitting a quote to a client it’s essential to educate them on the value of the policy.

It can be a difficult process for insurance agents to locate a prospect's current policy information to compare policy details. Manual retrieval of declaration pages or insurance data often results in partial submissions of the required information. This puts the prospect at risk of receiving an inadequate quote. On the other hand, offering them a more premium package at a higher cost gives them little incentive to change insurers.

With Canopy Connect, you can verify your prospect’s current insurance coverage, premiums, deductibles, and declaration pages in an instant. This makes it possible to provide your prospect with a competitive and comprehensive quote that meets their needs and eliminates. Sign up »

With all of their information on-demand, you can spot coverage gaps and personalize the process. Pointing out that you took these small details into account shows your client that you truly understand and care about their concerns. Be sure to denote any reasons for price differences, highlighting the value of your proposition, and potential shortfalls of their current package.

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Bottom Sales Funnel: Converting Prospects to Loyal Clients

At this point in the sales cycle, you have put in a lot of work and resources to keep your prospects in the funnel. Every step of the journey has led to this point. While every prospect’s journey through the insurance sales cycle is different, the flow of the nurturing process is very similar.

As with every other step, you need to prepare in advance to close the deal. Make sure you answer any remaining questions with confidence. Get all the documentation and logistics in order and make it as easy as possible for your client to complete the sales process.

Bottom-Funnel Customer Journey

Toward the end of the insurance sales cycle, your prospect has received all the necessary information to make an educated decision. Taking that final step with you means they have trust in your product and your ability to keep them, their family, or their business protected.

However, there’s still work to be done—you must reassure the customer that they’ve made the right decision.

Closing the Insurance Deal With Confidence

It’s important to settle any last-minute concerns your client has. Ask probing questions to show them the value of their policy options. Understanding the value rather than being told the value can also stir a sense of urgency. It shows them that you’re there to help solve their problem, which builds trust and puts them at ease.

You might say to your client, “Mr. Johnson, you’ve mentioned your daughter is away at college and doesn’t have her own car. Do you think she might be occasionally driving when she’s back home or borrowing a friend's car?

When clients answer these questions, they are closing the sale themselves. Summarize their agreement with the value you’ve already laid out for them and be ready to close. Gathering documentation and information could delay the process. Thus, giving your clients additional time to second-guess their decision.

If your client requests to speak to a partner or superior, let them know that you are more than willing to meet with the other party to discuss any details in person—set an appointment right away. Alternatively, follow up within a day. The goal during this last phase is to close the deal and move on to nurturing the relationship.

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Nurturing Client Relationship

The journey with your client is just getting started, but the most difficult part is over. Now you must delight your client and reaffirm that they have made the right decision. Building a strong customer relationship is a win-win. Your client has a policy that adds value to their life and an agent they can turn to for expert advice. Grow your loyal client base with more renewals, upsells, and referral opportunities.

Consider the effort that has gone into gaining this new client. It’s less costly for you to nurture this client relationship for ongoing renewals than it is to lose the client and start all over again. Of course, lead generation and drawing new prospects are ongoing parts of being an insurance agent. However, losing a loyal member can cost you in more ways than one.

An unhappy client will not hesitate to share their poor experience online with others. This can lead to a damaged reputation and lost income. In the same way that you have paid attention to your customer’s personal needs during the insurance sales cycle, you should continue personalizing your interactions during onboarding and thereafter.

Developing Relationships During Onboarding

To nurture the new client relationship, the onboarding process must be as easy as possible. Your client has to go through account setups, establish protocols for contacting agents, and finalize documentation pathways. If this process is difficult, rushed, disorganized, or overly complicated, it can put a damper on the start of their journey with you.

A tech tool such as Canopy Connect makes it incredibly easy for you to streamline the process by having relevant client details already on hand. This cuts out a significant amount of data gathering and form completion.

Besides streamlining procedures to facilitate a positive onboarding experience, make your client feel valued with a welcome pack, gift card, or other small gesture. Personalize onboarding with information relevant to their policy type, industry, and policy level.

Not all clients will want to schedule a meeting to learn the ins and outs of claims procedures and protocols. But, it’s a great idea to offer them the opportunity to meet with you in order to discuss any recommended risk management practices and claims procedures. For those clients who are researching this information on their own, make sure it’s easily accessible.

During the onboarding process, ask your client about the level of communication they prefer to receive from you. Some prefer to only be contacted when they have a concern or claims issue, while others will want to receive regular updates and communications. Establishing this will ensure you won’t fall short when customers expect more of you, nor will you be a nuisance to those who are happy not to hear from you often.

Ongoing Client Relationships

Once onboarding is complete, there are still ways you can make the client feel appreciated to continue adding value. Remember, once signed, your client will expect you to follow through with the excellent client experience they have received thus far.

By providing customers with newsletters or mailers about industry-specific updates, you not only uphold your position as an industry expert, but you also provide valuable information that will benefit them in their business, health, or property management. Try to segment these updates so they remain relevant to your customer’s relationship with you. Personalize your automated processes to address clients by their names as opposed to a general greeting.

Invite clients to stay engaged on social media and follow your page for tips and beneficial updates. While there are many ways to keep your customers engaged, don’t overdo it. Find out what their preferred channel of communication is and get their consent to add them to mailing lists. Be sure to give them the option to opt-out of your communications at any time.

Ongoing customer care also means being proactive about upcoming changes. When renewals are drawing close, notify your clients that you are available for coverage reviews. Reiterate the benefits of staying with one provider and, most importantly, never increase premiums without notifying clients. It’s also essential to be aware of what your competitors are offering.

A key part of establishing an ongoing relationship with policyholders is to continue updating your products to meet modern needs. Additionally, grow with your clients through life stages so you can help them adapt their policy when their family grows, medical needs change, or they buy their first house. If your customers trust you, they will continue to come to you for advice and refer their friends, peers, and colleagues.

Streamline Insurance Sales Cycle With Canopy Connect

By establishing a structured insurance sales cycle, you streamline both your customer journey and the processes required for effective progress.

This provides insurance agents with a roadmap to success, which allows for easy follow-up with the appropriate communication as opposed to pitching too early or too late.

One overriding factor to boost the customer experience and sales impact is personalization. Being able to address your customer’s personal needs and preferences can set you apart.

To personalize the process, the policy, and the closure—you need the right information. Without it, there is no way to fully assess where your client is coming from. Customers won’t remember all their past claim details, vehicle information, deductibles, and inclusion amounts.

Canopy Connect’s solution enables you to streamline data collection for instant information processing and accurate quoting. As a result, you’ll close more deals.

By helping you obtain all the relevant data with the click of a button, Canopy Connect eliminates all these scenarios. Send your prospect a secure link via email, text, or QR code. As the client clicks the link, they authorize the safe sharing of all their current insurance policy information with you.

Try Canopy Connect today to streamline your insurance sales cycle for maximum conversions.