For insurance agents, building lasting relationships with clients is the foundation of a successful career. Since the time spent on other tasks often detracts from this core function, the insurance world has increasingly relied on digital solutions to streamline workflows and automate tedious, repetitive processes.
Specifically, customer relationship management (CRM) software has emerged as a valuable tool to accomplish these goals. Modern CRM systems enable agents to unite teams in a shared view of data while automating traditionally manual operations, such as categorizing sales leads and inputting data.
Here’s a look at the potential return-on-investment benefits this cloud-based, easy-to-learn software can provide.
What is CRM software?
CRM software is used across many industries as a digital platform that can connect everyone in the office, organizing their notes, activities and metrics into one cohesive system to which every user has easy and direct access. Capabilities of CRM systems differ between vendors; when choosing one, it’s important to have clear business goals and adopt the functionality that best supports those goals.
CRM software works by pulling information from email, voice calls and other channels and storing it in one database. From there, this software can automate tasks and analyze data. For example, when a phone call is made within a CRM system, the software might automatically track and store information—including the date, caller, recipient and duration—and then determine whether to schedule a follow-up. All the while, this information will be maintained in a centralized and easily accessible location.
One common function of CRM software is managing the sales pipeline. This often includes tracking which deals each salesperson is handling and at what stage they are in the pipeline process. This software can also prioritize and score leads based on criteria, such as job title, industry type and company size. Alternatively, it may assign leads to individual team members based on specifics, such as geography, required expertise and potential deal value.
Another popular CRM function is generating sales reports. This software can produce various reports—illustrated with easy-to-read charts and graphs—that track metrics over time and translate data into actionable insights. In addition to interpreting current data, these reports can compare today’s trends with those of the past and, in some cases, make sales forecasts about the future using predictive models. In terms of subject matter, CRM sales reports might track information such as the quality of lead sources, sales team performance, customer satisfaction or marketing campaign effectiveness.
CRM software is one of the fastest growing sectors in digital technology. In fact, this sector is expected to grow by 14% through 2027.1 One of the main drivers of this software’s popularity is the need for employers to maintain a centralized database that an increasingly remote workforce can easily access. Another driver is the software’s ability to engage and service the needs of younger clients who may prefer to conduct business via mobile technology.1
CRM for insurance agents
The insurance industry is largely data-driven, which means that those within this sector must process and protect an enormous amount of information. Salespeople alone generate mountains of data, which gets stored in handwritten documents, notes, laptops, emails, texts or simply within their own memory. Under such circumstances, information can slip through the cracks, details can be forgotten and opportunities may be lost.
CRM technology—one among many digital tools that agencies may benefit from today—not only keeps track of this information, but also helps to make sense of it. Again, certain CRM systems might be better suited for different goals, but here are just a few broad examples of how CRM software can be leveraged within the insurance industry:
- Lead generation and management — This software allows users to set specific parameters to categorize potential leads and create targeted marketing campaigns for each category. After leads are identified, automated email marketing campaigns leave team members free to focus on other tasks. This technology also notifies users when potential leads should be contacted and whether the communication should occur through a phone call or email. Additionally, a CRM dashboard enables teams to monitor all lead interactions to make sure no leads fall by the wayside.
- Customer segmentation — CRM software is also capable of customer segmentation, which involves dividing a customer base into categories such as demographics, purchasing history or even personal traits, including interests or hobbies. Once segmented, groups can be targeted with buyer-centric promotional materials. Such precision lets marketers reach the right customers with the right message, taking the guesswork out of “one-size-fits-all” campaigns. Over time, segmentation allows users to identify customer lifetime value (CLV), an important metric in the insurance world. High CLV segments can then be targeted specifically in the future.
- Automation of manual tasks — A recent survey found that 65% of insurance agents reported time spent on manual paperwork as their most pressing daily challenge.2 CRM software can alleviate some of this pressure by giving clients and sales prospects the option of submitting documents online. Then, this software can automatically audit that data. Furthermore, CRM technology keeps product and price details at agents’ fingertips, guides salespeople through the sales pipeline and streamlines workflows around processing policies, handling renewals and taking follow-ups.
- Better data security — In a world of rapidly growing cybersecurity threats, keeping customer data safe from unauthorized access is an increasingly important goal. Experts say that modern, cloud-based CRM software comes standard with built-in security measures that make unauthorized access virtually impossible.3 This feature is especially valuable to smaller agencies that might not have the funds or knowledge to invest in in-house cybersecurity measures.
Common questions about CRM
- How does CRM software work? Almost all CRM platforms are cloud-based. They are as easy to access as any other app or website. Although CRM products have evolved around the needs of sales departments, they now perform a wide variety of additional tasks, including helping manage relationships among team members, automating administrative tasks and connecting vendors, clients and collaborators.
- How does CRM technology improve sales? CRM software can simplify and streamline the sales process by automating time-consuming tasks (e.g., sending follow-up emails) and establishing step-by-step employee operating systems. This software can search, sort and qualify leads, follow up on opportunities in a timely manner, and prioritize and rationalize follow-up activities. It can also analyze macro trends in an agency’s existing customer base. The goal of macro analytics is to increase repeatable sales through greater visibility into the upsell, cross-sell and renewal opportunities within a business portfolio.
- Why use CRM software? In a word, profitability. If the whole team commits to CRM strategies, tangible benefits can be achieved. One survey found that nearly half of those who had implemented CRM software said that it significantly improved their customer retention and satisfaction rates. Similarly, 45% reported increased revenue after implementing CRM, while 39% said this software led to significantly more upselling and cross-selling opportunities.4
The future of CRM
Although CRM platforms foster collaboration, experts believe teamwork between marketing and sales professionals will be especially influenced as the technology evolves.5 Upon having conversations with technology vendors, insurance agents should keep these future features in mind, particularly as they relate to key business goals and how they plan to measure the effectiveness of this technology.
CRM technology provides a bird’s-eye view of the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns by measuring two key performance indicators (KPIs)—conversion rate optimization and click-through rates. Conversion rate optimization is the rate at which online viewers become active users. The click-through rate is the number of clicks an ad receives divided by the number of times the ad has been viewed.5
Greater transparency into ad campaign efficiency produced by these KPIs opens the door for sales and marketing teams to begin sharing goals, common messaging and content in ways they never could before. Some predict it could even lead to marketing departments eventually having revenue benchmarks.5
Another potential future CRM technology feature is known as “mass personalization.” This is the capacity for each online customer interaction to be defined by the needs of the customer themselves. An example of mass personalization would be an app that tracks buying habits and automatically generates a shopping list whenever a person enters a supermarket.5 Although the technology doesn’t exist yet, mass personalization could be applied to online insurance shoppers in the foreseeable future.5
As the insurance industry becomes increasingly digitally focused, agencies wishing to expand their technological footprint may find CRM software to be a game changer. It has the potential to boost sales, enhance collaboration, automate busywork and free agents to focus on what they do best—forging trusting relationships by offering insightful and personalized product information.