by Michael Orefice.
Insurance lead gen industry has gone through some ups and downs in the past 10 years, facing challenges around quality and fraud issues. As a result, there is a fair amount of stigma coming from insurance companies and insurance lead buyers who are quick to label the entire industry as a failure. Those who have given up on this marketplace are missing out on incredible opportunity to tap into a high converting source of customer acquisition when structured properly.
Insurance lead buyers that have figured out the right processes consider insurance leads and calls to be the most efficient performance based marketing program available to successfully grow their customer base in a cost-effective manner. They believe that internet leads are the main factor contributing to the success of their inbound marketing efforts. At the same time, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you have insurance providers who don’t share the same sentiment about internet insurance leads since they haven’t been able to make them work for their business. They believe, based on their experience, that leads are a waste of money and that it’s the worst possible marketing tactic they can use to generate new business. There is a vast divergence between those that make leads work and those that have given up on this source of marketing. The biggest challenge facing the insurance lead generation industry is how to close that gap, so that more marketers see leads as a successful marketing tool.
In many cases, insurers and their marketers come to these opinions from their personal experience, from information they received, or from feedback they received from others in the insurance industry. Efforts must be undertaken by insurance lead companies to minimize these negative opinions and/or experiences as they hurt the industry as a whole. Managing expectations and improving lead quality and utilization is the best ways to improve the opinions and perceptions of insurers of the insurance industry as a whole. Below are five of the expectations that many insurers lead buyers hold.
1. Order taking versus sales opportunity. Many insurers purchase leads with the expectation that all they have to do is “fill the order or request” for insurance. Due to this, many insurers will often have their lowest skilled salespeople or teams work on these leads, rather than their best. They believe that the low performers need help, so they buy them leads, ignoring their ability to close the sale. When the best agents or insurance closers work leads, insurers get the best results. Sales training and setting up proper expectation of realistic conversion rates have to be taken into consideration.
2. Quick to give up on the opportunities. Very often, lead buyers are too quick to give up on the lead if they can’t close it immediately. Just because an insurer purchases a lead, it doesn’t mean that the consumer hasn’t already talked with another insurer or that at the end of the initial contact, they won’t be talking with another carrier. Just because a lead is purchased doesn’t mean that they have “purchased the business” with 100% certainty. Recent studies suggest that only 5% of leads will convert right away, the other 95% will need time to mature and will require additional follow-up attempts to help with conversions. A lead is an opportunity to make a sale, not ‘the sale’.
3. An insurance lead is going to be reached on the first call, will buy on first contact, and will require no follow-up. Many insurers that buy leads assume that the person looking for a quote will have all the necessary information for the quote at their finger tips and that they won’t be in a rush. Insurers should expect that they may need to call several times to reach a lead and may need to follow-up with the lead to write the policy or close the deal. They may even need to follow-up two or three times before they get the consumer back on the phone and write the policy. Calling leads up to 6 times will increase contact rates by as much as 180%.
4. Insurance leads work like a water faucet: Turn on and off, on demand; there is an unlimited supply of leads. Insurance leads are a finite resource that have associated costs. Insurers need to understand this as they purchase and work these leads. Every call and lead must be worked aggressively and smartly to quote and close the sale. Insurance lead companies must spend marketing dollars to generate the traffic and it takes time to meet the lead demand. Insurers should work with lead companies when their schedule or needs change.
5. Insurance leads will perfectly meet the requested lead/call criteria 100% of the time. Insurance lead companies are unable to perfectly guarantee the criteria of every lead; they can only guarantee that the prospect wants a quote. Sometimes consumers will not provide complete information, they may be less than truthful or they may change their mind about wanting a quote. It is important that buyers of insurance leads understand that high intent is the biggest driver of conversions.
For the continued success of the insurance lead industry, everyone involved should seek opportunities to educate and train insurance marketers and insurers on how the industry works and the best success strategies in using leads. Lead companies must make certain that their industry sales people are not over promising and under delivering. They must understand that insurers who have a “bad” experience are not good for the industry. Setting proper expectations with insurers, providing training, and working with insurers, not initially successful, will lead to long term lasting success for the entire industry.