ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

Contact Management Software

When does it help - When does it hurt

Insurance agencies automated their accounting functions a decade or more ago. The 1990's have seen the insurance agencies with a future automating their servicing through data base management of customer information systems. The last area to face automation (and the most productive) is the sales function.

We are finally seeing a large number of targeted telemarketing programs and sales centers developing prospects for insurance agencies. However, we also meet a large number of agency principals frustrated over the lack of success of their marketing and sales functions due to a lack of follow-up, a lack of information about their prospects and totally manual systems and procedures for their sales departments.

Contact Management Systems are automation tools that can increase your sales department's productivity by 10%-40%. It maintains prospect files, remembers and reminds appropriate staff members of the next steps, generates management reports that track every step of the sales process and adds discipline to the procedures around the penetration and sales of both new prospects and existing clients. Contact Management software can be bought off the shelf with products like MAXIMIZER or can be purchased specifically for property/casualty insurance with products like the Automated Sales Center by AMS (sold with AMS Management Systems and as a stand-alone product).

Contact Management software can provide you many benefits. First, you can look forward to a shorter sales cycle. Details are not missed because the software provides automated reminders. Similarly, deadlines are harder to avoid. Both the producer and management know exactly what has occurred in the sales process and the next scheduled steps. A second major benefit is enhanced communications between your sales staff and your customer base. The software permits much tighter management of the sales process because reports can be produced at will by sales management defining the activities and productivity of each producer. The software also reduces redundancy in documentation. All information about the sales call and the events subsequent to it are documented within the system. It is resident there for the producer or the manager to review at leisure.

Don't bother to purchase any type of Contact Management Program if you have not yet established a solid set of sales procedures. If your agency is inconsistent and weak in its sales procedures it will simply speed the process (and problems). It will not avoid the problems inherent in poor sales and marketing systems. The agencies we have encountered using Contact Management software have either been extremely happy by the results of the software and the agency sales efforts or have discarded it as useless when producers with no systems and procedures ignore the Contact Management software or use it sporadically. Like any automation software, it will help you do the right things faster and consistently. However, it will not teach you to do things right.

We recommend Contact Management software to all agencies that have a good set of operating systems and procedures for their sales and marketing activities. We strongly urge other agencies to create manual systems and procedures to manage and coordinate sales activities prior to the automation of this function.