Canadian Underwriter

CRM Convert

July 4, 2019   by Adam Malik, Managing Editor

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Why are brokers afraid  of lead generation software? Dave Vass of Trufla Technology makes the case for a client relations management solution

cu | Why are leads so important for brokers?
Brokers live and die off their leads. A lead is someone who is interested in doing business with you; that includes your existing customers, who must decide if they want to renew their business with you. Every business in the world needs leads, but for brokerages, that’s pretty much their entire focus.

Dave Vass, vice president, innovation, Trufla Technology

cu | How do traditional brokerages manage their leads?
They’re used to handling things through their email, memory, a notepad. One traditional brokerage that wanted to go digital said they use spreadsheets and email. I thought that was a joke. I couldn’t fathom it; these guys were spending tens of thousands of dollars a month on leads and telling me they’re handling all of this through emails and spreadsheets.

cu | How do digital brokerages generate their leads?
In the digital world, everyone is focused on using their website to generate leads. Brokerages are really focusing on how to set up online campaigns, pay per ads, search engine optimization (SEO) — they’re trying to find ways to get more leads coming in so they can grow their business.

cu | Is there a difference in how traditional brokerages generate leads, compared to digital brokerages?
Traditional brokerages may say they’re not digital, so they don’t do lead generation. That’s not true. Every brokerage does it. If they don’t, they’re dying. Traditional brokerages may be doing it more from an outbound perspective, meaning that they are cold-calling, or producers are out in the field drumming up more business. But there has to be a more centralized way of doing it. It’s still like pulling teeth with some of these producers: once they’re stuck in their old ways, they don’t want to change.

cu | How can brokerages better manage their leads?
If brokerages are putting a lot of investment into generating their own leads, buying their own leads, and trying to grow their brokerage, it would be common sense to have a very good platform for organizing and managing all those leads that they’re generating.

cu | Are they not doing this?
They’re spending thousands of dollars a month and their leads are not even going into a lead management tool such as a customer relationship manager (CRM). To me, that’s mind-boggling. I don’t even know how that’s possible. Without a platform to manage it all, you’re really just throwing money down the toilet. Two brokers I know both buy leads from the same aggregator; one broker uses lead management tools, the other doesn’t. The broker with a lead management tool reports a 12% conversion rate. A conversion rate of 2% is fairly common for brokers who do not use lead management tools. The leads are from the same aggregator, so what’s the difference? It’s just how they manage them. With a good lead management system, you will definitely get two to five times the conversion rate.

cu | How many brokers are not using CRM?
My guess would be 90%. Whenever I’m at a conference, I ask people: “Show of hands, how many are using any kind of tool like this?” Almost always, 90% of the audience isn’t using something.

cu | Why are so many choosing to not have a lead management system in their brokerage?
A lot of brokers associate lead generation with giving them cheap and junky leads; some have had bad experiences. Many brokers are spending money on SEO and digital ads; the problem is, they don’t realize that a lead from the internet is likely someone who prefers efficiency and convenience. They expect you to respond right away. If you don’t respond to the query of an online lead in 12 hours, that’s like someone coming into your office looking for a quote and then you leave your office and don’t come back for 12 hours. Of course they’re going to get mad. Then you call them a cheap and junky lead. But it’s because of the way you’re handling them. For a broker, you need to be in the right mindset of what it means to use a lead management platform.

cu | How do you get them in the right mindset to use a CRM?
It’s important for a broker to understand that it’s not just about managing leads. For instance, why would you not use technology to automate and personalize your communications? I’ll use the example of a broker in Saskatchewan who does farm insurance. Why would the broker not build a new educational campaign around farm insurance? After the broker puts the work into it once, the campaign is there to use forever. Now, as you’re interacting with farmers – and they all have email addresses – you can leverage technology to build your brand, communicate, educate, and eventually close more business. To me, that’s what everyone in the world is doing except insurance.

cu | Why is insurance not moving in the same direction?
It feels like insurance is archaic. It feels like brokers are being told that going digital means they must have an online quoter on their websites. They’re not being educated on what it actually means to go digital.

cu | What does it mean for a brokerage to ‘go digital’?
It means leveraging technology to make your processes more efficient. I don’t think brokers are getting enough education to understand that. It’s an eye-opener for a lot of them to understand what a lead management tool can do. Many brokers believe their broker management system (BMS) is supposed to do it. But when they see the capabilities of a modern CRM, they all of a sudden realize that their BMS doesn’t do any of this.

cu | Do brokers rely too heavily on a BMS? Could they switch out with a CRM or lead management system?
A lot of times brokers think CRM should replace their BMS, to which I always say no. Brokers shouldn’t make decisions about handling leads based on the capabilities of their BMS. If they do, they’re never going to grow their brokerage, because a BMS is for the most part closed. It isn’t easy to integrate a CMS with a BMS.

cu | Have you seen pushback from brokers who say a CRM doesn’t work?
There are those brokers who have tried the digital way of generating leads, and then they don’t have a system or process set up to manage them properly. When they don’t get the conversion rates they expect, compared to the more traditional way of generating leads (through outbound sales and networking), then they say this new way doesn’t work. Well, no, it’s just because you haven’t been managing the leads properly.

cu | By not managing their leads effectively, what are brokers missing out on?
The Number 1 thing brokers are doing
is leaving money on the table. They’re not able to convert a possible customer into an actual customer. It’s guaranteed that if they implement a good tool that helps them with that, they’re going to increase their conversions. Even if it’s by a point or two, if you take that over the lifetime value of a customer, it’s huge for them. But a lot of them don’t see it that way.

cu | Does CRM help with existing customers?
Existing customers are leads. A lot of brokers miss that. Customers renew annually; each year they become a new lead. If you’re going well, 90% retention would be great, sure. As insurance changes, it’s not going to be as much
of a guarantee. It’s getting more competitive out there and that number is going to get lower. You have to remarket to them every single year. And if you don’t have a very easy way to do that, then you’re going to miss out.

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