You're a licensed life insurance agent or a certified financial adviser who takes pride in what you do. You provide your clients with expert advice and go to great lengths to research and recommend products that will help see them through retirement and safeguard their financial future. You're doing a great job for your clients and word has started to spread that you're a professional that people can trust. Even so, you know that you can't rest on your laurels. Even though your practice is growing, you still need to identify a steady stream of prospects and so you continue to do many of the prospect identification things that professionals like you do – you hold prospect lunches, conduct informational seminars, host retiree dinners, send out direct mail, post newspaper ads and so on and so on. You find yourself pulled in multiple directions trying to balance the need to grow your practice with the demands of servicing your existing clients.
Keeping track of who you've spoken to, who you're scheduled to speak with and where you need to be at any given hour in the day is proving to be increasingly difficult. Add to that the mountain of paperwork that has to be completed and submitted and client policies that are still pending or need to be reviewed and what you have is an organizational nightmare. You think to yourself that there has to be a better way to stay on top of things. This is the 21st century. Surely someone's developed technology designed for a busy financial professional like me?
Recently,and purely by chance, I received a phone call from a friend and fellow business owner, Scott Pollov, who'd been asked to take a look at a new CRM product developed by the Tarkenton Companies. (As an aside, Scott is an entrepreneur who founded the hugely success business plan consultancy BizPlanIt. If you're in need of business planning help, I encourage you to check them out at www.bizplanit.com). Scott had been asked to take a test drive of the new product named StarterCRM, assess its capabilities and write about his experiences using the product. While he was taking the trial, Tarkenton Companies also launched an insurance-specific version of StarterCRM (called InsurPro) and happened to ask Scott if he knew of anyone who would be willing to try the product and write a review. Scott was aware that I had a background in the insurance industry (I was formerly VP of Marketing for a large Field Marketing Organization) and also knew that I'd done a lot of research on CRM systems to use in my own business. He thought that I'd be a good candidate and the rest, as they say, is history.
(As an aside, having read the last paragraph, you might be wondering if there's any connection between Tarkenton Companies and NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Fran Tarkenton, and the answer would be 'Yes.' Tarkenton Companies was founded and is led by the former UGA Bulldog and Minnesota Viking quarterback legend, Fran Tarkenton. Knowing that, you might be curious as to what prompted Fran Tarkenton to launch products designed to help small businesses (StarterCRM) and Insurance Professionals (InsurPro) manage their businesses more effectively. Well, what many people don't know about Fran is that after retiring from football, he embarked on a second career as an entrepreneur. In fact, since his retirement, he's started more than 20 companies (the largest attained revenues of $142 million) and is the current principal of the very successful FMO, Tarkenton Financial. In short, Fran knows insurance and Fran knows small business. Over the last several years ,he's become a very passionate and vocal advocate for business and is a frequent commentator on shows on the Fox News and CNN networks.)
So with that out of the way, let me share my thoughts about the InsurPro Client Relationship Management solution.
Overall, I would say that experience using InsurPro was positive. It proved to be easy to use and it contains plenty of functionality that was designed specifically to meet the needs of insurance and financial industry professionals. That in itself makes it stand out from other CRM products and means that you don't have to take an "off-the-shelf" product designed for general business use and try to make it fit your specific needs. Tarkenton Companies has used its experience working with insurance and financial professionals to create a product that has features & functionality designed to help you manage your practice and be more productive and organized.
I started my trial by using the data import "wizard" to upload some contact data I'd created in an Excel file. The "wizard" helps you import data stored in other applications (such as Outlook) and guides you step-by-step through the process. Importing the data went smoothly and took less than 10 minutes to complete. Adding contact data gave me a great baseline from which to start testing InsurPro and in so doing, helped me identify what I believe to be several of the product's most compelling features.
Client & Policy Management
There are a lot of "off-the-shelf" CRM systems on the market and most will do a perfectly good job of storing your contact information. In fact, if all you want to do is store simple contact data such as names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, you need go no further than creating a spreadsheet in Excel. However, if that's as far as you go, you'll miss out on the real power of a CRM system which lets you not only store data, but also actually use the data productively. What do I mean by "productively?" It's simple. Let's say you want to send an email to all of your prospects inviting them to a retirement seminar. If you're using Excel, this can be a tedious process that requires you to either cut and paste email addresses one by one into your email program (and risk getting tagged as a"spammer" by your ISP) or uploading the email addresses and sending your email through a 3rd party application such as Constant Contact or MailChimp (which require you to pay a monthly subscription fee). In contrast, CRM applications simplify this process by allowing you to filter your contacts in various ways and then create and send an email to all of the contacts in that filtered list.
I found that InsurPro handled the process of creating and filtering contact lists extremely well. Making choices from drop-down lists allowed me to separate my contacts into various categories and InsurPro gave me a range of filters from which to choose. These included contact type, company, first name, last name & source. This last filter in particular can be very useful - especially if you conduct a range of different lead generation activities. Recording how your clients and prospects first heard about you can help you calculate the ROI of your lead generation activities and determine which activity yields the best results in terms of sourcing new prospects and adding new clients.
As well as creating and filtering contact lists, CRM systems also allow you to store a wealth of additional data about your customers and prospects that can go far beyond their name, address and phone number. Want to keep track of your customer's favorite sports team? What about their spouse's name? How about the company they work for, their admin assistant's name, their boss's name, their birthday or the nickname they prefer to be called by? CRM systems can do all that for you and again, in this regard, InsurPro is no different. You can store a wealth of additional information that you can use to build relationships with your prospects and strengthen connections with your clients.
OK, so far, so good. What else can InsurPro do for you?
Well, as a financial or insurance professional, you're likely licensed with several carriers and you recommend a range of different products to your clients each and every day. If you don't use any kind of CRM system, keeping track of your client's policies can be extremely difficult. As an example, let's say you have 100 clients and you need to answer some questions about the policies purchased by just one of them (we'll call him John Doe). How long would it take you to research and answer the following?
· What types of life policies has John purchased from you in the last 5 years?
· How much is the monthly premium for each of those policies?
· How much commission did you earn on each of the sales?
· How much of that commission did you split with another agent?
· On what date each year are you scheduled to meet with John to review his policies?
· Who are the beneficiaries under each of the policies?
Utilize a CRM system to help you manage your practice and you'll find that answering questions like these becomes significantly easier. However, it's worth mentioning that the majority of the CRM products currently on the market weren't designed for insurance and financial professionals. CRM systems are typically designed to store "widget" data - not insurance policy information - and that's where I found InsurPro really came into its own. I was able to add, save and then quickly retrieve a wide range of policy data. Better yet, I was able to link this information to the contact records I had created earlier. The kinds of data I was able to store included:
- Product type
- Carrier Information
- Product Details
- Policy Number
- Submission Date
- Scheduled Policy Review Data
- Policy Status
· Death Benefit
· Premium Payment History
· Commissions Earned &Paid
· Beneficiary Information
As a financial professional, this means that you can have one, convenient online location to manage a huge amount of information about your clients. You don't have to maintain multiple spreadsheets to store contact information, and all of the policy data for your clients is linked to their contact data, which is extremely useful if you're a financial professional with a busy practice. But it doesn't stop there. Dig deeper into InsurPro and you'll find other useful features that I think will help you to simplify the job of managing your practice and clients. Let's take a moment to review some of those.
You know all too well that your client's circumstances can change and safeguarding their future and their family's security is your top priority. What better way to make sure they have appropriate coverages in place than by implementing a regularly scheduled policy review program? InsurPro makes it easy to put this kind of program in place by allowing you to input policy review dates when you add new clients, or sell them new products. One you've done this, every time you log in to InsurPro, your dashboard will display a list of policies that are due to be reviewed. With just a couple of clicks, you can review policies that have a review date anytime from the current day to 30 days hence. This really is an incredibly effective way to ensure your clients have the right coverages in place and I found that InsurPro made it really simple.
Client Birthday & Anniversary Reminders
Something else I found to be just as simple, but every bit as effective, is the client birthday and anniversaries reminder feature. The relationships you forge with your clients are the lifeblood of your practice and there's no better way to create those enduring relationships than by remembering the important events in your client's lives. InsurPro helps ensure you don't forget to acknowledge these events by placing a reminder of upcoming client birthdays and anniversaries on your dashboard. Not only that, open your client's contact record & click the email icon next to the birthday or anniversary date and InsurPro sends them a congratulatory email. How great is that?
Calendar & Schedule Management
InsurPro contains the type of calendar and time management features you'd expect to see in a CRM application - you can schedule meetings & appointments, create reminders for important events and manage projects & tasks. That being said, I liked how the calendar and schedule management functionality was still very insurance- & client-centric. Seeing policy review dates alongside your client's birthdays and anniversaries on your calendar are extremely useful and valuable features you won't find in the majority of "off-the-shelf" CRM applications.
Additional Applications Available with InsurPro
In addition to all the functionality described above, InsurPro also comes with 2 bonus applications designed to help financial & insurance professionals communicate with their clients and manage client service issues:
Marketing Communications Application
· Provides access to hundreds of sales document and email templates
· Allows you to implement ongoing prospecting and email marketing campaigns
Issue Tracking Application
· Gives you a tool to manage client questions, issues and requests
· Enables you to track issues by client and product
· Allows you to flag and prioritize emergency issues for your most important clients
· Lets you assign issues to other members of your practice for prompt response
Is InsurPro the Right Solution for You?
There are very few Insurance or Financial Advisor CRM solutions available and from my research, those that are out there either have way more horsepower than the average agent will need or are simply too expensive to be viable. With that said, while InsurPro isn't perfect and probably won't meet the needs of all insurance professionals, it more than likely will meet the needs of most insurance agents and financial advisors. I can't tell you if it's the right solution for you but I can tell you that InsurPro offers a free 30 day trial so you can take it for a test drive. Try it out and share your thoughts here.