Insurance Agents and Brokers Need More Focus On Internet Marketing

November 21, 2009

Operating an Insurance Agency

Most Insurance Agency clients we consult with have experimented with Internet Leads at one time or another, but most don’t have the success they expect.  We recently learned at the Alliance Convention that 85% of consumers go to the internet before purchasing an Insurance Policy. That means 15% of consumers start in the yellow pages, newspaper ads and other forms of print media, yet many agents insist that Internet Leads are garbage and aren’t worth the time or money required.

Let’s take a look at these percentages. If 100 people are shopping for Auto or Home Insurance, 85 of them are going to the internet and 15 of them are referencing other forms of media. These numbers are astounding and cannot be ignored by any agency that’s serious about growing in the next 1,5,10 or 20 years. You obviously need other forms of marketing, but not necessarily in the form of print or TV advertising. We see clients pay thousands of dollars in local newspapers, flyers, mailers and yellow pages but advertising isn’t the key to success-you need to Market your agency. Marketing is defined as: the process or technique of promoting, selling and distributing a product or service. We’ve worked with 3 agencies in the past year that have hired Marketing Reps and it has a big impact on their business. These Reps are out and about 3-5 hours daily talking to businesses, individuals and promoting the services of the agency. They hand out brochures, take X-Dates from Business Owners, copy declaration pages and return to the office for Producers to call, quote and close the sale. In addition to Marketing Reps, we’re big advocates of internet leads. Insurance Internet leads are often a function of; first one that reaches the client; wins the client. Internet leads should be called the second they’re received otherwise you’re at a huge disadvantage in ever contacting the prospect. Some people see this as an inconvenience but any Sales Person working in a sales culture will see this as an opportunity. In today’s climate, when new sales are difficult to come by, you’re missing out on the chance to get as many leads as you can handle every day. Lead providers have filters so you can choose the type of lead, (preferred, standard, non-standard, Commercial, Health, Life) the time of day you receive them and the number of leads you receive. The worst thing you can do is buy internet leads for a week or two then quit because there’s no immediate result. If your sales people are complaining about them, it’s probably because they don’t like making outgoing calls and frankly are lazy. Put a system in place for tracking the leads, entering them in FSC or other comparative rater, assigning them to agents or CSR’s and have templates for sending applications by email or fax. You need rigorous follow up on leads you haven’t been able to contact as well as ones you have. We’ve monitored call reports on phone systems and have seen agents that only call one phone number on the lead (when 2 or 3 are provided), never email the prospect then complain that the leads are ineffective. The closing ratio of internet leads received may not be the 50%-60% you closed from yellow pages 10 years ago, but the leads you actually quote will be. The trick is getting the prospect on the phone, having a script for sales people to follow and treating each internet lead like any other valid incoming lead when you speak with the prospect. We mentioned tracking leads above, but this is one of the most important components of succeeding. It’s best to have all leads go to one person who’s in the office every day (preferably a manager or owner) and once assigned to a Producer, follow up to ensure it’s been called and emailed immediately. You also have to remember that most objections you receive from internet leads are merely tactics to get you off the phone. You need to overcome these objections and get to the point to where they let you quote them.  We were training a producer last week on internet leads and when the prospect told him they already bought coverage, he said “ok, thanks” and hung up! The Producer seemed relieved that he didn’t have to “deal” with the prospect. This lead was 3 minutes old, there’s no way the client already bought coverage. Maybe they were quoted by someone and liked the rate or maybe they just wanted to get the agent off the phone.  But there was zero effort from the Producer to deliver a quote to that prospect. The main reason you’re in business is to sell Insurance Policies. If you don’t take advantage of every opportunity to find new business, you’re cheating yourself. If you think you can’t sell internet leads, you’re probably right. Change your attitude towards internet leads, get excited about them and you’ll be amazed at the results. If you put your focus on selling internet leads, what can stop you? If you’d like to discuss a strategy for selling internet leads, please contact us, we’re always available for Insurance Agency Owners.