I recently read an interesting insurance agency marketing blog entitled, insurance agency I Want Leads Like I Want My Morning Coffee, by John Scranton, a former insurance agency sales executive, or in their jargon, an “agency producer”. The gist of the article was that John was craves quality leads, just like he craved a quality cup of coffee. John isn’t alone in this craving, essentially all salespeople crave good quality leads, to help improve time efficacy and close ratios. The process is often referred to as a sales funnel or sales pipeline. The theory is simple enough; pouring high quality leads into the top of the selling funnel will result in more closes flowing out the bottom of the funnel.
One question, seemingly on the minds of most sales people, revolves around the top of the funnel. Let’s review a basic sales funnel for a moment. The sales funnel often consists of suspects, prospects, presentations (or meetings), proposals, and ultimately closes (new clients). It’s called a sales funnel because the graphic used to describe this is a funnel, wide at the top (suspects), narrowing at the bottom (closes). The top of the funnel is normally filled with suspects, hopefully in profile suspects. Let’s say that there are 1,000 suspects at the top of your B2B (Business To Business) sales funnel. These suspects might have titles like CEO, CFO, CTO, CSO and CMO, perhaps in a certain vertical market, the companies might be within a designated target revenue range of say $20 Million to $100 Million dollars, and may be in a geographic region, let’s say the Northeastern US. There are of course many other variables, but let’s stop here for the moment. Artificial Turf
Whose job is it to fill the top of the funnel? Some insurance agency marketing plans call for that to be done by the producers. This happens at many other types of firms’ too, particularly smaller organizations reticent to add marketing dollars to their current sales spending allocation. Many insurance agencies want their producers to cold call, network, attend business functions, community events and charity events to build their own pipeline, and fill the top of the funnel. In these cases, insurance agency marketing, or a better description might be insurance agency lead generation, is really being done by an insurance agency producer. This is a probable path to failure, as these new producers are often completely unprepared to tackle the changing world of lead generation as it migrates away from face to face networking toward eMarketing, Web Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Blogging, SEO and Web Seminar Marketing, to mention just a few of the new tools being utilized today. Learn to Surf
According to John, and other producers, filling the top of their funnel can be an arduous process. That’s why so many new insurance agency salespeople fail; they are not savvy marketers and fail to fill up the top of their funnel. Insufficient qualified prospects at the top, invariably means inadequate results at the bottom. Why don’t insurance agencies or other B2B companies invest more in marketing? I think there are a few reasons.
- Sales spend: If an agency is paying a producer a base salary of say $50,000 and contributing to health benefits, overhead and certain expenses, they are already nearing an investment of $100,000 per year. Adding say $15,000 in marketing to this investment seems like it is simply more overhead.
- Some “C Level” executives in smaller firms simply don’t believe in marketing. In the insurance agency space, many still look at cold calling and personal networking as a pipeline panacea.
- Many insurance agency marketing plans and dollars simply focus on local events, how to lose weight traditional seminars and perhaps improving the look and feel of their web site. Web marketing is something they may not understand or simply don’t want to invest in yet.
- Many agencies lack a formal marketing department and are not comfortable outsourcing their marketing. This dearth of expertise creates a marketing void. Mobile detailing service Billings