Using a CRM Application to Manage the Sales Cycle

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Using a CRM Application to Manage the Sales Cycle

To date, we’ve covered a number of important areas of your practice that can be improved through the implementation of CRM technology. We’ve discussed how CRM technology can help you:

  • stay more organized
  • build deeper and longer lasting relationships with your clients
  • measure and improve the ROI of your marketing campaign
  • conduct drip marketing campaigns that you can use to grow your client base an improve client loyalty

Managing the Sales Cycle

In this article, we’ll build upon previous discussions by examining how you can use a CRM system to manage the sales cycle. When we talk about the sales cycle, we’re referring to the process whereby you source new prospects, position your products with those prospects, sell products to your prospects and finally, provide ongoing service and support to your clients.

Stage 1 - Prospect Sourcing

As I mentioned previously, in an earlier article we looked at the concept of drip marketing and discussed how it’s an excellent way to turn leads into prospects and prospects into clients. In that article we saw how drip marketing is an exercise in feeding your sales funnel and nurturing your prospects until the point they’re ready to buy.  However, it’s worth noting that a carefully planned and executed drip marketing program is an excellent way, not only to build your client base, but also to communicate with new leads in a way that generates increased interest in your services such that your leads can now be more appropriately described as prospects. CRM applications can help you do this in two key ways:

  1. You can use the contact management features of CRM systems to store a wealth of information about your lead that goes way beyond simple contact data. For example, you can record the way in which you first uncovered the lead (i.e. seminar, email campaign, print advertisement, etc.), you can store notes regarding conversations you may have had with an individual and you can keep a record of the product or products in which they might initially have expressed an interest that you can use in subsequent drip marketing programs.
  2. You can use the communication features of your CRM system to execute a drip marketing campaign targeted specifically to groups of similar leads. For example, if you conducted a seminar for seniors that focused on equity indexed annuities as a way to protect their retirement, you could follow up with a series of emails that highlight products that may be a fit for them as well as other useful information suitable for retirees.

The important thing to note is that while you’re conducting your drip marketing campaign, you’re not just increasing awareness of the products you sell, you’re also building trust with these individuals and increasing their awareness of your practice such that they develop a comfort level to the point they’re ready to buy.

Stage 2 - Product Positioning

Drip marketing campaigns create opportunities for you to establish yourself as an expert in your field. If you’re using a CRM system to store your lead’s contact data and are executing and tracking the drip marketing campaigns using the same system, you have an excellent way to position products with these leads that are an appropriate fit for them. For example, retirees are likely interested in ways to protect their retirement funds and create a stream of income from these funds and so are good targets for information related to annuities. Conversely, younger individuals with children are likely more interested in ways they can provide for their families in the event something untoward happens to them and so would be a more appropriate candidate for information on different types of life insurance policies. The important thing to note is that using a CRM application to store comprehensive information about your leads and prospects will provide you with opportunities to build credibility by providing them with expert information on products that are a fit for their particular life stage of individual situation.

Stage 3 – Selling

Once you’ve engaged in the process of providing your leads and prospects with specifically relevant information, you can begin to more proactively sell your products and services to them. Using your CRM application, you not only have comprehensive lead and prospect contact information stored, you also have the ability to use the calendar and task functionality to schedule meetings and appointments so that you optimize the time you have available during the work week. If yours is a small practice, or indeed is only a practice of one, CRM applications can help you free up time during the work week by providing you with functionality you can use to manage your practice. As we mentioned in the last article, CRM applications such as InsurPro from Lodestar Technology Labs, (www.startercrm.com/insurance-pro.aspx) provide you with a wealth of functionality that enable you to spend less time managing your practice and more time growing your practice. Because it’s an application that was specifically created for insurance and financial professionals, it contains features and functionality that allow you manage multiple areas of your practice from a single application. As an example, using InsurPro you can store a wealth of information about the products and services you carry and generate practice management reports utilizing this data thus saving you valuable time and creating more opportunities for you to meet with your prospects. The information you can store and create reports about includes:

·         Policy Data (Such as Carrier Information, product details, policy numbers, submission date and policy status).

·         Premiums Data (Including the amount of the premium, the date paid, the date recorded and the name of the person entering the data).

·         Commissions Data (That includes the commission amount, the date it was received, the client’s name, the product and details of any split commissions).

Stage 4 – Servicing Your Clients

When it comes to servicing your clients, applications such as InsurPro really come into their own. We discussed in the last article that InsurPro includes a large number of time and calendar and management features that allow you to track and manage all of the activities relating to your client interactions. For example, you can:

·         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.

Using this functionality, you can ensure that you never miss an important appointment or forget to complete a task relating to the sale of a product or the servicing of an account. However, beyond this, InsurPro also includes additional features that allow you to improve your client service. Specifically, you can:

·         View policy review dates

·         Be reminded of your client’s birthdays and anniversaries

While it may not seem tremendously important to remember your client’s birthday or anniversary, sending them a message on their important day helps to create a stronger bond between you and your clients which can ultimately lead to additional business or referrals for your practice. Also, being able to track and be reminded of policy review dates helps you to ensure that your client’s coverage is appropriate to their situation. Over time, things can change in people’s lives and it’s important that the products and services they’re obtaining from your practice are the most appropriate for them. Scheduling regular policy review dates can help to ensure that your clients are always provided with the right coverage which also can help create stronger bonds and more lasting professional relationships.

Conclusion

CRM applications can do much more for you than simply store contact information for your prospects and clients. By taking complete advantage of all the features and functionality with the application, your practice can more effectively manage all aspects of the sales cycle. Drip marketing helps to uncover new leads and allows you to position the right products with your prospects. Using the time management and reporting features within the application helps to free up your time so you can focus more on selling to your prospects. Finally, using a client-centric application that’s been specifically designed for insurance and financial professionals means you can improve the level of service you provide and create stronger and longer-lasting professional relationships with your clients.