A common topic benefits agencies ask about is software platforms, with questions surrounding what information they should be tracking and what system they need to have in place to track it.
Two types of platforms tend to cause a lot of angst. One is an AMS, or Agency Management System, for managing current clients, policies and commissions. The other is a CRM, or Customer Relationship Management system for sales and marketing and tracking prospects through the pipeline before they become new clients.
If you’re a small shop or don’t do a lot of prospecting, then using your AMS might be an excellent solution. Within a single AMS, you can likely track companies or individuals through the buying process, add properties and pull some basic reports. One platform for all your data,, reducing the number of logins and data transfers.
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If you have significant pipeline goals or several producers on your team, you probably need to have a separate CRM. A dedicated platform should allow complete insight into the pipeline and integrate your marketing activities into the tracking and reporting.
If you have a sales manager on your team, giving them access to all producer activity for reporting and coaching purposes is a must. If you have — or plan to have — active marketing efforts, then combining prospect-tracking with marketing interaction will take your reporting, profile building and ROI capabilities to a new level.
Effectively filling pipelines requires both prospecting (one-to-one interactions) and marketing (one-to-many interactions).
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With an integrated prospecting and marketing platform, you can promote and track all activity in a single location. These single-source solutions give your producers a huge advantage to see the notes they’re inputting from conversations they’ve had. They also are able to see the interaction those buyers are having with your marketing activities.
You can see which emails prospective clients have received and opened, which web pages they’ve visited, which forms they’ve filled in and any requests they may have submitted through your website email or chat functionality. The ability to develop a prospect profile greatly enhances the salesperson’s opportunity to walk into a warm call, knowing areas of interest and concern the buyers have.
Choice of CRM platform
Do you need to track prospecting only? Or do you need a platform that will combine sales and marketing, consolidating and tracking all your efforts into a single location?
These are the questions to ask yourself, but the bottom line is, if you are ready to up your game and get serious about your prospecting and marketing efforts, then you are probably ready to consider a separate system to help manage those activities.
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Many platforms can meet your needs. Do your research, choose one and make a financial commitment to it. And then, most importantly, commit to following through, and create new processes for growth and development within the organization.
Connecting the systems
A question that nearly always comes on the heels of the AMS/CRM discussion is: how do the two systems connect?
There are not many connections pre-built between AMS and CRM systems in the benefits ecosystem right now. However, a question you need to consider is, does it really matte?
If producers only track basic contact information through the CRM, is it a heavy lift to reenter that information into the AMS? Probably not.
It might be valuable to have the two systems talk to each other if you’re gathering a lot of trackable information that you want to carry over from prospect conversations to client conversations, or if you’re going to use your new CRM system for client communications as well as prospect communications.
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Right now, there are limited options for systems offering data synchronization, but I continue to hold out hope that the industry will recognize this need and open up compatibility. And there is always the option to pay for a connection to be built out. It’s typically a decision of how badly you want or need it.
Regardless of how you choose to structure your tracking, the best system for your insurance agency is the one you will use. The most important part of the system is the dedication to using it and holding your team accountable for using it. If you can and do access the data, you’ll be way ahead of much of your competition.