There is a common theme among insurance agency owners, brokers, executives, agents and producers. They all want to grow their book of business, which invariably translates into an effective insurance lead generation plan. In some cases, particularly with larger and more established agencies, this discussion is part of a broader insurance agency marketing strategy, while in smaller agencies, marketing plans are often lead generation centric. Regardless, in almost all cases, every agency seeks better and more qualified leads. This creates an interesting chicken or the egg paradox: is it the successful agent who will produce good leads, or good leads which will result in a successful agent?
Effective insurance agency lead generation, or as some agents refer to it, pipeline building or the sales funnel, must incorporate several key elements:
- Target Profile/Prospect Attributes
- Suspect/Prospect List Generation
- Data Repository (Contact Management/SFA/CRM)
- Lead Generation Strategy/Campaigns
- Lead Handling Process
- Closed Business
- Closed Loop Marketing/Lead Generation Plan Measurement
Conceptually this is a simple process. Adding sufficient quantities of leads to the top of the pipeline will result in more opportunities in the middle of the sales funnel and increased new business dripping out at the bottom of the funnel. Though this is theoretically simple from a strategic standpoint, it is pragmatically challenging from a tactical perspective. As an example, let’s review an insurance agency telemarketing lead generation initiative.
Let’s begin with 2,000 commercial insurance suspects at the very top of the sales funnel. This can be a vertical target market (specialty markets like restaurant insurance, trucking insurance or contractor insurance), or a horizontal market (any business between $5 Million and $50 Million in a designated geography). Your targeted suspects might include C-Suite Executives such as CEO, CFO, COO, CAO (Chief Administrative Officer), and CHRO/SVP HR, etc. The smaller the profile, the more likely you will be targeting owners. With larger organizations, you might add VP and Management level prospects, such as Risk Managers or Benefits Directors. Determining your target prospect attributes, and creating a high quality suspect list, preferably with associated emails, is an important part of any sound insurance lead generation plan.
Ideally, agents and producers should be spending time with qualified prospects who are likely to buy. But where will those leads come from? A decade or two ago, when a new producer joined an agency, they would be given a desk, phone and phone book, instructed to “pound the phones” and join local organizations to find leads. This still happens today, though we’ll assume the phone book is replaced with some type of digital alternative, perhaps a simple spreadsheet or database, or a more sophisticated SFA or CRM system. It often becomes evident when using this approach, that agencies discover many of their new producers lack the proper skill set to drive sufficient leads into their respective pipelines. In addition to the mundane task of outbound calls, organization of data is another key step in the process. How will your insurance agency build and organize your prospect lists, and where will the data be maintained and updated? This is an important part of the insurance agency lead generation foundation, as a weak suspect list will result in substandard lead gen campaigns, regardless of who is doing the outbound calling and eMarketing.
What are the fastest and most efficient methods to generate insurance agency leads? Today, targeted eMarketing and professionally rendered appointment setting calls (using experienced and knowledgeable insurance telemarketers) are two of the best ways to build the insurance agency pipeline. Augment these lead generation initiatives with fulfillment such as insurance agency webinars, industry white papers, case studies or newsletters, and efficacy will improve. However, any agent can begin at the beginning, and start with a well defined insurance telemarketing campaign and effective lead handling process. This can be done in-house if sufficiently staffed, or outsourced to a competent insurance marketing agency.
Insurance agency lead generation will incrementally increase the investment in a new producer (or existing producer for that matter), but this incremental increase can dramatically improve pipeline quality and close ratio results, which in turn will positively impact ROI. Though there are always inherent risks when hiring new agents (or even investing in experienced producers), an effective insurance lead generation program can help increase everyone’s book of business.