How to increase insurance sales in the digital age: 12 modern strategies the experts are using boost sales
Insurance, as with every industry, has been constantly evolving over the years. New technology and innovations have filled a once mundane, generic industry with new life.
That said, the insurance industry as a whole is continuing to grow. In fact, according to studies by Policy Advice, in 2015 insurance carriers contributed more to the US GDP than banks for the first time in history, and the trend has continued up to now.
There’s insurance for pretty much everything you can imagine now: Besides the most common insurances of years past, you can insure everything from a dancer’s legs to a pianist’s fingers, or even get insurance to cover damages caused by alien abduction!
Over time, though, what customers expect of an insurance firm has also changed. For example, a study by Bain & Company found that 79% of consumers will use a digital channel for insurance interactions. They also found that customers have much higher expectations for their interactions with insurance firms, requiring more seamless interaction that’s convenient for the consumer.
How can insurance firms, both old and new, continue to please their customers and increase sales while adapting to the modern world of insurance?
12 strategies to boost your insurance sales process in the modern age of insurance
While some of these strategies have stood the test of time, others are new methods that you should be including in your insurance sales process.
Learn these strategies to become a master of the modern age of insurance.
1. Be an educator and advisor, not just an agent
For the average consumer, insurance is confusing and frustrating.
Whether you’re selling life insurance to individuals or business-related insurance to companies, it’s unlikely your customer is really familiar with the types of insurance available to them.
What they do know is this: Choosing the right insurance policy with the right company is a big decision.
That’s why, before you even think about selling, you need to establish credibility and trust with your prospect.
We asked insurance expert Don Bailey how the sales process for insurance differs from a typical sales process. He responded:
Since the insurance sale involves an intangible product (a promise), the credibility of the seller is critical. Given that, the sales cycle is often longer than a tangible product sale.
Here’s where being an educator and advisor comes in.
By helping the prospect understand how the insurance works and taking an interest in their particular needs, you’ll do two things:
- First, you’ll show them you’re an expert in the kind of insurance you sell
- Second, you’ll establish trust by taking an interest in them and their needs
To do this, find ways to explain the insurance options and coverage in simple terms. Don’t spend hours monologuing on insurance coverages and options: instead, give them a simple explanation and use questions to dig into what they really need.
“You have to bring it down to the customer’s language,” explained Avi Ben-Hutta of Coverager in one interview. “Work with the premise that if you guide them, they will buy. It’s a matter of building confidence, especially in personal lines.”
While it may take some extra time, positioning yourself as an advisor and educator from the start of your relationship will help you gain (and keep) the trust of your prospects.
2. Give fewer options
This psychological hack may seem like the opposite of what you should do.
While giving more options may feel like the best way to win new customers, evidence shows that the more choices people are given, the less likely they are to purchase something.
This idea was called ‘the paradox of choice’ in psychologist Barry Schwartz’s famous TED Talk.
He shows that having too many choices can actually paralyze us.
For your insurance sales, that means giving more choices can actually paralyze your prospects and cause them to put off making a decision.
To reduce the options available, however, you need to know exactly what your prospects actually need.
What’s the best way to find that out?
“Listening,” insurance expert Don Bailey told us. “Listening drives more sales than talking ever will. It’s essential to learn about your client and understand them. When you do, they’ll trust you, and you’ll make the sale.”
Don’t give your prospects a thousand options to choose from themselves. Listen to them, and you’ll be able to give them what they actually need.
Thus, by giving fewer options, you can actually boost your insurance sales.
3. Personalize the insurance experience
In today’s world, customers demand a personalized experience. In fact, based on research from Accenture, 77% are willing to share their usage and behavior data in exchange for lower premiums and personalized coverage recommendations.
That said, only 22% of consumers say that the companies they do business with tailor their experience based on personalized data.
If you take a step forward in personalization for your customers, you’ll stand out from the crowd and increase insurance sales. How much could this benefit you? Well, the same study found that 58% of consumers say they’d switch half or more of their spending to a provider that excels at personalizing experiences without compromising trust.
“The era of the insurance generalist is over,” Don Bailey, partner at Bristlecone Partners, told us. “The seller must be an expert in the customer’s risk environment.”
So, go beyond the basic data. Try different lead discovery tools. Find out more about your customers. If you sell home insurance, for example, learn about the habits and records of the homeowners. Maybe you can lower the premium for a customer who lives in an area where there are much fewer break-ins than the average for their state, or has received much better maintenance than average.
By diving into the data and personalizing the experience for your customers, you’ll develop a more loyal bond and will stand out from the crowd.
4. Hone your storytelling skills
Most insurance agents have a few great horror stories that they keep up their sleeves to hard-sell a prospect when the time is right.
Don’t be that insurance agent.
Instead, hone your storytelling skills to create an emotional connection without falling back on fear.
In the end, fear is not the most powerful purchase motivator.
Sure, buying insurance is all about preparing for tragedies and the risks associated with life. But there are good stories you can use that don’t lead with fear.
For example, someone who sells life insurance has probably had the experience of giving a check to a family in need that allowed them to stabilize their lives.
- An agent that sells health insurance may have helped a parent with low income get an expensive treatment that saved their life.
- A life insurance agent could have helped set up and deliver on a policy that gave grieving family members what they needed to get through difficult times.
- A home insurance agent may have seen how having the right policy helped a family whose home suffered damage during a storm.
Stories like these, when used properly, can help motivate a prospect to purchase without using lowball tactics like fear-based selling.
5. Create Smart Views to organize leads by their policy expiration date
The best way to boost your insurance sales is to make sure that your leads don’t fall through the cracks.
For example, let’s say you reach out to a prospect that’s interested in switching insurance companies, but their current policy doesn’t expire for another 6 months. This prospect is likely to purchase insurance from you, but it’s your job to make sure they don’t get lost in the cracks until the timing is right.
That’s where using a tool like Close CRM can help.
In Close, you can create custom Smart Views, allowing you to group leads together by your own criteria.
In this case, you can create lists that tell you when to follow up on certain prospects. Using the example above, you could create a custom status for your prospects that tells you when their policy expires. Then, build Smart Lists that groups those prospects together based on when you need to follow up.
You can also use Close to set reminders to follow up with certain prospects at a certain time. That way, no lead will slip through the cracks.
6. Build relationships virtually by using the communication methods your prospects prefer
There is no ‘best’ communication channel for all of your prospects. You need to be ready to take on all forms of communication with your prospects and build a completely seamless conversation over different channels.
When we asked insurance expert Don Bailey which is the biggest change in the insurance sales process he’s seen in the last year, he responded: “The move towards virtual selling. It’s a relationship business, and now relationships must be forged and fostered on a virtual basis.”
Remember: The goal is to get your prospects to purchase, so you need to create a simple line from awareness to a closed deal.
To accomplish this, you need to do two things:
- First, get a deeper understanding of the journey your customers take
- Second, make sure your communication from different channels is centralized in one spot
First, to get a deeper understanding of your customer journey, you’ll need to dig into the data and research. You can start by looking at current customer data, pinpointing where they entered from, how they became aware of your company, and what communication channels they used to get to a purchase decision.
Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution for communication, you’ll need to understand all of the different methods your customers use and love. To get a deeper look, talk to your customers. Use surveys to find out more about your customers’ communication preferences. What do they like or dislike about communicating with your firm or agents?
Once you have this information, it’s time to make those communication channels seamless.
So, if a customer comes in through a form on your website, can you easily pick up the conversation via phone or email?
Using the right CRM system, you can smooth out communication and build a process that attracts your customers instead of frustrating them.
For example, let’s say a prospect that’s interested in car insurance inputs information about the kind of car they drive, where they live, and how long they’ve had their license into the form on your website. That information must be automatically stored in your CRM, otherwise, you’ll end up asking the same questions over again when you get them on the phone (which, let’s face it, is frustrating for them and for you).
With a CRM like Close, you can manage phone calls, virtual meetings, emails, and SMS messages through the CRM itself. But it gets better: You can also integrate Close with all of your favorite marketing and communication tools, like Drift, Facebook, Intercom, 99Inbound, and more!
That means your interactions with prospects across all channels will be saved in your CRM. You’ll not only boost productivity, you’ll create a seamless experience for your prospects and customers.
7. Sell based on value, not on price
Since prospects are automatically attracted to a lower price-tag, does that mean you should try to offer the lowest price?
In a word, no. Even though this method may win you a sale today, you’re much more likely to be replaced by a cheaper competitor in the future if the customer doesn’t understand the value of having their insurance policy with your company.
To sell insurance effectively, you need to base your argument on value, not on price. When you can prove to a prospect the value of what you’re offering, that will not only sell them today: it will help them stay loyal to your company in the future.
Value-based selling only works when you understand what’s valuable to this particular customer. For example, you can show the value of your updated communication systems but only do so once you understand how they like to communicate.
John F. Carroll of InsuranceSplash shares his thoughts:
Don’t brag about your iPhone app if the prospect doesn’t have a smartphone and don’t oversell the convenience of an agency website with online customer service if your client prefers to speak to a human on the phone. In either case, they’ll perceive that they’re paying extra for benefits they don’t value.
Also, remember that there is a value that doesn’t have a price tag: For example, the insurance policies you sell can give peace of mind or well-being to a family who needs it. Those feelings are a priceless value that you’re bringing to your customers.
8. Establish a cross-selling system
One surefire way to increase your insurance sales is to cross-sell and upsell to your current customers.
If you sell multiple types of insurance, there’s likely another policy this customer might need.
The key is to know when to cross-sell insurance to a customer. In insurance, it’s best to focus on the immediate needs first, then follow up later on to offer them another policy they may need.
To make sure you follow up at the right time, be sure to get the X-dates on policies they have with another company. Save the follow-up date in your CRM 4-6 weeks before their current policy’s X-date, and you’ll be coming in at the right time when they’re thinking about that particular policy.
In Close, setting specific follow-ups is easy. Just go into the prospect, add a task, and set the follow-up date. Then, a reminder will pop up in your inbox right when you need it.
9. Measure your results and adjust accordingly
We know you’re a hustler, and you’re doing your best to get new insurance sales using different channels.
But, which of those channels is really working for you?
To better direct your efforts, you need to measure results and see what brings the biggest ROI.
For a quick overview of the situation, start by analyzing your current customers based on how you found them. (In Close, you can filter your leads or customers by their source.)
Do you see a pattern in your top customers and the way they found you? Are there certain methods that you’re using now without much success?
To take a deeper dive into what’s working and what’s not, you’ll need to set up sales analytics and a proper sales pipeline. While this will take more time, it will allow you to analyze your sales process and understand where you can improve.
You’ll be able to answer questions such as:
- How many leads did I get this month from Facebook ads?
- How many insurance sales did I make this year from leads that came from referrals?
- Which lead generation method generated the most profit during the last 6 months?
With the right analysis tools in place (like your CRM), you’ll have a clear view of what’s working. Then, you can refocus your efforts on the methods that bring you the greatest success.
10. Maximize your referral sales
If you’ve ever gotten a referral from a customer, you know how valuable those leads can be.
A referral is more likely to become a successful customer for two reasons:
- If they trust the person who recommended you, they’ll trust you more from the start
- The customer who recommended them knows both you and the person, so they’re more likely to fit what you’re offering
So how can you maximize these valuable referrals?
Although most people are willing to give a referral, too many insurance agents forget to ask. So, make asking for a referral part of your process. As soon as the deal is closed, ask your new customer if they know anyone who could be interested in a better insurance policy.
Once you have a few referral sales, measure the results. If you see that those referrals are valuable enough for your business, you can even step up your game by offering a reward to customers who bring referrals. Something simple, such as a gift card, a free meal at a local restaurant, or a small discount on their policy, could be enough to motivate your customers to refer more of their friends.
11. Set aside time to work on customer retention
While increasing your insurance sales with new leads is important, remember that giving your current customers some love will also help you build your revenue.
So, spend some time building your relationship with current customers. Be available when they need you. For example, how responsive are you when a customer calls to make a claim? Are you as available to them then as you were when you were first signing them?
Another way to retain your customers is to offer regular revisions of their policy. When you spend a little bit of time looking over their current situation during the year, you can make sure they have the best policy, or that they’re getting all the discounts they’re entitled to.
That will help your customers feel confident about the services you’re providing and will help prevent them from churning to get a discount with another company.
12. Know your competition
Keep your friends close but your enemies closer: this is especially important in business.
So, what is your competition doing to get more insurance customers?
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your competitors. Know who they are, how they’re gaining customers, and what specifically they’re offering.
There are several ways this benefits you:
- Find out what methods are working for them: For example, maybe they’re offering a gift card for every quote they give. Is this attracting new customers to them? Can you offer something similar?
- Learn what their policies include (or don’t include): How do their policies compare with yours? Can you improve your offering to compete better?
- Respond better to objections: If your prospects are comparing policies with different companies, your understanding of your competitors helps you respond better to their objections.
Keep tabs on what your competitors do online, how their website is set up, and what promotions they’re running to build new clientele. You can also call your competitors as a prospect to get a better understanding of their process.
All this will give the insights you need to build your own sales process and beat your competition.
Adapt to the modern age of insurance sales
The insurance industry will keep on changing. But by using this mixture of old and new sales techniques, you’ll be able to keep closing deals and giving your customers what they actually need.
Remember: Insurance is a relationship business. You need to build trust in your prospects before they’ll even think of buying from you, which is why listening to them and guiding them with real advice is so essential to winning deals.
More than that, you’ll need to build your virtual selling skills to adapt to the digital age of insurance sales.
With these strategies, you’ll be able to provide for the changing needs of your customers.
But to organize and analyze your results, you’ll need an agile system for tracking and reporting your insurance sales.
What's your best piece of insurance sales advice? Got a favorite go-to resource? A question we've not covered in this article? Let me know on LinkedIn!
Are you ready to try an easy-to-use CRM that adapts to your business and needs? Take Close out for a spin for 14 days, and see how this agile CRM can help you increase your insurance sales.