In 1989 at the tender age of 18, I walked by an insurance office and saw a bell on the wall that didn’t stop ringing the entire time I stood there. I asked one of the agents what the bell was and he replied “leads”. He went on to explain how the company advertised on TV, radio, and yellow pages then provided leads to the agents.
Needless to say, 2 days later I applied for a job as an insurance agent because my existing job consisted of that nasty word in sales, “prospecting”. I figured that if leads came to me, I could focus on selling and not have to worry about where my next warm prospect came from, let alone my next sale.
Fast forward 25 years, I’m still in this great industry but it’s obviously evolved since then. The 90’s were radio, TV and yellow pages, the early 2000’s when companies started advertising online, local agents hoped the Internet was a fad like corduroys but it wasn’t. In fact, it got so big that agent’s phones went from ringing off the hook to complete silence pretty quickly.
Many local agents have embraced lead buying and are growing exponentially by building high velocity sales teams to convert online leads into policyholders. Others toe-dipped into lead buying, invested a few thousand dollars and decided that purchased Internet leads stink and that they prefer to remain a “referral based business”.
There is no single strategy that insurance agents should focus on but instead develop a blended strategy that consists of lead-buying, social, blogging, email marketing and any other method of lead generation that works for you. Once a client is acquired, sell as many products as possible and do everything you can to keep that client for life.
From a new client acquisition standpoint, I personally believe that lead buying is the quickest, most measurable form of lead generation for local agents. However without the right people, culture, process and technology, the leads will undoubtedly “stink”.
Here are a few tips to help you convert more leads purchased online:
Hiring-Culture: Someone who’s been in an insurance agency for 25 years and waits for the phone ring is probably not the right person to handle purchased Internet leads. There are undoubtedly exceptions and I’ve seen many, but chances are some new blood will make a huge difference. Also, don’t focus on insurance experience, hire sales people and teach them about insurance. Training in our industry is usually about product, coverage and underwriting. Talk sales in your weekly meetings and build a culture that’s focused on growth, motivation, attitude, charisma, personal development and metrics. You’re a sales organization that happens to sell insurance. Hire culture, train skill.
Process: A bulletproof contact strategy and sales process is imperative. Focus on speed to contact because that’s the number one driver of conversion when buying online leads. You’re not going to win much business if you don’t have a strategy to contact the consumer immediately. If you’re not first, you’re last.
- Internet Presence: When was the last time you bought something without searching the provider online? You probably have a great office, nice furniture and beautiful desks, but your prospects will never see your office. If you buy a lead and email the prospect with a Gmail address, you’ll decrease your conversion rate. If you have a Facebook page with 15 followers and no activity in the past 6 months, you decrease your chances of a returned call. If your website looks like it was built in 1995, heck 2005; chances are the lead buyer won’t do business with you. Upgrade your virtual presence; it’ll go a long way.
Technology: Manual processes are outdated and you’re going up against competition with tools that help them contact, email and manage leads effectively. Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight; automate!
These are just a few tips to help local agents convert purchased online leads.
Leverage the resources available to you and never stop learning about how to serve the online consumer. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.