Getting Organized - Using a CRM Application to Keep Your Practice on Track

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In the last article, we discussed how a CRM application can be used to implement targeted “drip” marketing programs that will help you convert your leads into prospects and your prospects into clients. If you’ve put a drip marketing program in place for your practice and your efforts are yielding results, you’re likely finding that the demands on your time are increasing – more meetings, more appointments, more presentations and more time spent developing content for your campaigns.  You’re being pulled in multiple directions and need to ensure that you’re staying on track and meeting all of your client obligations. The Outlook calendar that you’ve been relying on to keep you organized just isn’t cutting it anymore and you need a better solution.

CRM to the Rescue

The good news is that the tool you’ve been using to generate and track your drip marketing programs more than likely also has functionality built-in that can be used to keep your practice organized. Some exploration of the CRM application you’ve chosen to use will probably unearth a number of great time and calendar management tools that you can use to stay organized. If you’re in the process of evaluating your CRM options, I would still encourage you to read on as in this article I’ll not only take a look at the type of time management functionality you should expect to find in a CRM application, I’ll also make recommendations as to the types of functionality I believe to be essential for you to successfully manage your practice.

Mobile Access to Your Data

As the former owner of a small business, I understand all too well the challenges of managing your schedule – especially if your job requires you to be on the road a great deal. I used to have to do a fair amount of traveling in my car and at the start of each day, would print out my schedule from Outlook and put it on the seat next to me. This was fine to begin with. However, after a couple of weeks of doing this, my car would be awash with paper and my current day’s schedule would be lost among the other schedules I’d printed days before.

Sound familiar?

I understood that this wasn’t a good solution and it made me realize that what I needed was an electronic means of keeping my schedule – one that was accessible while I was on the road.

If you’re familiar with the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) or “cloud-based” solutions, you know that a CRM application built on this type of platform is the way to go. With these types of solutions, your data is stored remotely and is accessible through a web-based interface. This means that all you need to access your data is a computer and internet connection. This is a good solution if you live in a larger metropolitan area that has good accessibility to wireless “hot-spots” - simply find your nearest Starbucks, power up your laptop and you’re good to go. But what if you don’t live in a large city with good wireless availability, what do you do then?

The answer is to focus your research on applications that allow you to access your data through a mobile device such as a web-enabled phone or PDA. InsurPro CRM is one such application. I’ve referred to InsurPro in earlier articles and like the application not only for its functionality, but also because it was developed specifically for insurance and financial industry professionals. (You can find more information on InsurPro by clicking here. InsurPro offers access to your data through your mobile device which means that wherever you are, you can check your schedule, create new appointments, access your contact records and add new information – all essential requirements for busy, mobile professionals.

Time and Calendar Management Features

As well as being able to access information while you’re out of the office, you also need to ensure that your CRM application gives you all the tools you need to organize your time and your schedule. InsurPro offers a wealth of a calendar and schedule management features that allow you to:

  • Schedule client meetings
  • Schedule appointments
  • Create reminders for important appointments
  • Create client and prospect related tasks and assign them to other members of your practice
  • Maintain a history of your interactions with your clients and prospects.
  • View policy review dates
  • Be reminded of your clients’ birthdays and anniversaries

While these types of features may not seem particularly remarkable, always remember to consider them in the context of CRM - i.e. when you schedule an appointment or meeting, that information becomes part of a larger and more comprehensive data-set that stores all of the information about that contact, not just the fact that you scheduled a meeting with them. This is the true power of CRM that goes way beyond the functionality offered by standalone calendar management applications that simply record the date and time of a meeting or event.

 

Other Important Practice Management Features

In addition to managing your calendar, the CRM application that you choose should be able to manage additional key areas of your practice. Looking again at InsurPro as an example, you’ll find that it provides you with features & functionality that aren’t available with other CRM systems. Among its many features, you’ll find tools to store, manage and track policy & premium information for all your clients – along with functionality that records the commissions you’ve earned. Here’s a summary of the types of data you can store with InsurPro which will give you an idea of what you should look for in the CRM application you choose for your practice:

Policy Data Management

·         Product type

  • Carrier Information
  • Product Details
  • Policy Number
  • Submission Date
  • Policy Status
  • Issue Age
  • Death Benefit

Premiums Data

  •  Amount
  • Date Paid
  • Date Recorded
  • Name of Person Entering the Data

Commissions Data

  • Commission Amount
  • Date Received
  • Client Name
  •  Product
  • Split Commissions Detail

Conclusion

Being able to store this wealth of information about your leads, prospects and clients is essential to the smooth operation of your practice. Add to that the time and calendar management functionality that you can use to keep your schedule organized and I think you can begin to understand how critical the choice of CRM application is for your practice. That being said, before you make your final choice, I would encourage you to make sure that the application you choose gives you the ability to access your data through a mobile device. As a busy professional, being able to view, add and edit data while you’re on the road is essential to keeping you and your practice organized.