The Agency's Guide to Identifying Cross-Sell Opportunities, Gaining Referrals, and Maintaining Happy Clients

In this article, you'll learn how you can identify cross-sell and referral opportunities in your book of business and how to act on them.

Section 1: How Insurance Agencies Grow

Two Ways Insurance Agencies Grow

There are two ways insurance agencies typically gain clients: through prospecting and by utilizing their current client base. Both ways are effective, but not all insurance agencies do both. Some agencies rely solely on referrals from their current clients, and others have expansive marketing plans that bring in new clients. Let’s dive into each.

Prospecting

Prospecting is actively searching out new clients, and insurance agencies use multiple strategies to do this. Those include:

  • Email marketing
  • Maintaining a website
  • Using social media
  • Direct mail

Insurance agencies use marketing tactics like these to attract new customers. Businessdictionary.com defines marketing as:

“The management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer. It includes the coordination of four elements called the 4 P's of marketing:

(1) identification, selection and development of a product,

(2) determination of its price,

(3) selection of a distribution channel to reach the customer's place, and

(4) development and implementation of a promotional strategy.”

It takes continual effort in marketing to attract new clients to your agency, so many insurance agencies have dedicated marketing departments. Though most insurance agencies likely use a combination of new prospect marketing and referrals, we’re going to be focusing on capitalizing on your existing client base to gain referrals in this article.

Getting More From Your Current Client Base

Referrals are gold to insurance agents. They are always actively searching for ways to obtain more of them. Why? Rocket Referrals explains:

“A referral is the bridge that connects a company to a new client by means of an existing customer. Because of this direct link between the company, customer, and prospect, trust transfers. Therefore the barriers that exist with a typical prospect and the company are broken down by way of the active promoter. As the trust transfers, the resistance is diminished, and sales are much easier to obtain.”

Insurance agencies like referrals because they’re almost always easier to sell due to the trust Rocket Referrals highlights. In fact, research shows that your probability of selling to an existing client is at least 40% higher than closing a deal with a new lead.

The other way you can use your existing client base to grow your agency is by identifying cross-selling opportunities and by analyzing historically profitable lead sources. Using this information, you’re able to act on opportunities that are likely a faster sale than brand new leads brought in from marketing.

After you’ve identified potential referring clients, cross-selling opportunities, and profitable lead sources, how can you reach out to these people?

In this article, we’re going to cover:

Section 2: Identify Opportunities

Identify Potential Referring Clients

You can find which of your clients are likely to refer your agency by using a tool called the NPS (Net Promoter Score). The Net Promoter Community defines the NPS:

“The Net Promoter Score, or NPS®, is based on the fundamental perspective that every company's customers can be divided into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Image Source: What Is Net Promoter?

“By asking one simple question, ‘How likely is it that you would recommend [your company] to a friend or colleague?’,  you can track these groups and get a clear measure of your company's performance through your customers' eyes. Customers respond on a 0-to-10 point rating scale and are categorized as follows:

Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.

Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.

Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.”

NPS Score Explanation

Image Source: AgencyBloc

I like to visualize the NPS categories as the above images.

Your Promoter is so elated with you, and readily shows it. You can see she has a genuine smile on and would likely not consider another option because she feels connected and is comfortable where she is.

Your Passive is there in the middle. She's not overtly happy or upset; she’s middle of the road. She would consider a different option if it arose because she doesn’t feel connected with you.

And then there's your Detractor. She's visually upset and not afraid to show it. However, the most important thing you should realize about Detractors is that they're still doing business with you. You need to make it a priority to chat with them and find out why they are unhappy with you before they start to spread the word about their unhappiness.

So now that you understand the NPS and the groups that are formed from it, how can you split your clients up into those groups? Well, you just ask them. In an email to your clients, ask this question:


“How likely is it that you would recommend [your agency name] to a friend or colleague?”


List numbers from 0-10 with 0 being “not at all likely” and 10 being “extremely likely”. Then, have your clients directly respond to the email with their number or link the numbers if you have an alternate way to gather that data.

Once you’ve gathered the feedback, what do you do with it? You’re going to communicate to each of the groups (promoters, passives, and detractors) differently.

Promoters (9-10)

These are the people you want to ask for referrals. This can be within an automated email, or you can call them. Or maybe you’d like to only call specific clients and email the rest. Decide what will work best for you and your agency. The email can come from your agency as a whole or from the client’s agent of record. You may find that you get a higher response if it comes directly from their agent.

In your email, you could say:

Hi [first name],

Thank you for your feedback. We’re so glad to hear that you’re happy with our agency!

We’d love to help out any friends, family, or colleagues you have who might be searching for [health insurance, life insurance, etc.]. You can reply directly to this email if anyone comes to mind.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or concerns you have.

Thanks,

[Agent first name/Agency name]

If you don’t get a response, you can still save this list of Promoters to send a mass email to at a later date to ask for a testimonial for your agency. Provide a link within that email that leads them directly to the page you’d like them to submit the testimonial on or, again, have them reply directly to the email to give the testimonial. It’s a good rule of thumb to wait at least 6 months before requesting a testimonial so your client doesn’t feel that you’re overextending your relationship with them.

That email could say:

Hi [first name],

Thanks for the feedback you gave [a few months ago] indicating you’d be likely to refer our agency. We’re so glad to hear that you’re happy with our agency!

Our agency is currently gathering client testimonials for our [website, Facebook page, etc]. If you’re interested, you can click [here] to provide a testimonial or reply directly to this email. We appreciate it!

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or concerns you have.

Thanks,

[Agent first name/Agency name]

Your Promoters are your list of clients who are happy with your service and who would likely say good things about your agency. We’ll talk later about how to keep this list happy so that you always have people to reach out to for referrals or testimonials.

Passives (7-8)

Passives are trickier than Promoters or Detractors. They're the people in the middle who aren't upset with your service, but they aren't particularly excited about it either. It would be a good idea to follow up with these people, either in an email or on the phone, to find out how you can improve.

Your email could say:

Hi [first name],

Thank you for your feedback. We’re reaching out to gain a little more insight into the score you gave us.

Could you let me know how our agency could improve our service to you? You can reply directly to this email with that feedback.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or concerns you have.

Thanks,

[Agent first name/Agency name]

The feedback from this email will help you identify areas of improvement or clients you should have a meeting with to discuss their comments or concerns. This is a way to avoid letting that client slip through the cracks and potentially turn into a detractor.

Detractors (0-6)

Detractors need immediate attention. They're upset about something and they won't hesitate to tell others when the opportunity arises.

Your goal of the conversation with them is to find out what it is about your service that is bothering them, but also find out what has kept them at your agency to this point. They may like something about your service, or maybe they just don't have a choice. Either way, this conversation is vitally important to make things right with this client before you lose them completely.

You may want to reach out to some of these over the phone initially, but you can definitely set up an email for these as well.

The email could say:

Hi [first name],

Thank you for your feedback. We’re sorry to hear that it appears you aren’t happy with our service.

Could you let me know how our agency could improve our service to you? You can reply directly to this email, or I’d love to chat on the phone with you about this. Let me know of a time that works for you.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or concerns you have.

Thanks,

[Agent first name/Agency name]

WARNING: This might seem obvious, but do not follow up with Detractors asking for a referral or a testimonial!

I mention this because it can be an easy mistake to make when you’re setting up automated emails . Be positively sure that you're not automatically sending a follow-up email with the referral/testimonial request to everyone that fills out the survey. Set up each follow-up email for each group (promoters, passives, and detractors) separately.

Now that you know the three groups of clients you have, let’s take a look at identifying opportunities with them.

Identify Cross-Selling Opportunities

A straightforward way to think of cross-selling is to think of: “do you want fries with that?” You’ve sold a cheeseburger, but you noticed they didn’t order fries. So, you kindly offer a complement to their burger.

Insurance agents can identify clients within their database that have this type of coverage, but not that type. Here are a few examples:

  • They have life insurance but don’t have health insurance
  • They’re a group health insurance client but don’t have add-ons like dental and vision
  • They have life insurance but do not have any annuities
  • They have life insurance but don’t have short-term disability coverage

Another opportunity that may exist is to ask your current clients when their policy with another agency is up for renewal. They might have health insurance with you, but they have their dental coverage with someone else. They might be interested in moving everything over to you, so it’s worth the ask.

You have probably been thinking of plenty more cross-selling opportunities that would apply to your agency. Let’s talk about how you can quickly pull those up so you can act on them immediately.

To quickly pull up this information, you’ll need to have your contacts organized within an Agency Management System (AMS). Otherwise, you’ll be spending a lot of time going through Excel spreadsheets or papers and highlighting each opportunity manually.

Within Excel, you’d need to use the “Find” function and search for a specific coverage type. From there, you would have to go through each highlighted result individually and look at which coverage types they don’t have and make note of those or manually create a list. With paper files, it will be even more time-consuming to put a list of opportunities together.

Within your AMS, your individuals and groups are linked to policies, so the system knows who has this coverage, but not that coverage. With AgencyBloc’s Policy Cross-Sell Report, you can search on all of the coverage types in your database and single out cross-selling opportunities instantly.

AgencyBloc Policy Cross-Selling Report

Image source: AgencyBloc

Now you have a list of cross-selling opportunities you’d like to reach out to. What’s next?

Acting On Cross-Selling Opportunities

Depending on how you typically communicate with your clients, you’ll either be emailing or calling them. If this is a large cross-sell list (and hopefully it is!), a mass email is the best way to approach it.

Within AgencyBloc, you can do this by simply creating the email content, selecting/creating criteria for your recipients, and sending!

AgencyBloc Cross-Selling Email Campaign

Image source: AgencyBloc

You’ll notice that you wouldn’t even have to run a Cross-Sell Report within AgencyBloc to send this email, but the report itself can be a good reference to get a feel for what kind of opportunities you have before setting up an email.

You might have clients that prefer phone calls, and that’s fine. Give them a call and say:

“Hey, Tom. I was looking over your [health] coverage, and I noticed you aren’t enrolled in [dental] coverage with us. We have some really great options, and I’d love to chat with you about them.”

Consistently identifying cross-selling opportunities and acting upon them can keep your agency growing. Not only that, but it shows your clients that you are paying attention to their coverage and that you care enough to let them know of coverage they might be interested in.

Identify Quality Lead Sources

There’s that saying that goes, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” Though this isn’t always true, it points to the importance of tracking data and using it to make smarter business decisions in the future. Or, simply using it to assure yourself you’re on the right track.

Tracking your lead source for all of your individual and group business is imperative to learn from your wins and losses. Within an AMS, like AgencyBloc, you can see analytics on this data (or you can always run reports, as well).

Groups & Policies - by Lead Source

Image source: AgencyBloc

Once you’ve been tracking your lead sources within an AMS for several months, you’ll start to get a feel for what’s working and what isn’t. You can see from this graph that client referrals are this agency’s best lead source. So, they’ll continue to put resources towards streamlining their referral process.

In this example, this agency might also be considering some upgrade options for their website. For instance, if they ask each lead that calls in how they found their agency and the leads reply “your website,” the agency might consider implementing a lead form onto their website. This way, the leads will automatically funnel into their AMS to be assigned for follow-up. Or, AgencyBloc can automatically assign an agent and create a task for follow-up to be sure it’s never missed.

The idea is to gather data on your lead sources and use that insight to continue putting resources towards efforts that will lead to your growth.

Section 3: Maintaining Happy Clients

Successfully Onboard Clients & Keep Them Happy

Now that we’ve identified ways to gather new clients and sell more business to your existing ones, what steps can you take to keep them at your agency? We know the answer to this is to create the best customer experience possible and to provide the best service, but how?

Rocket Referrals found in a study they conducted that 81% of your clients cite "lack of regular and meaningful communication" with you as the reason they leave your agency. Providing a great experience and servicing your clients well requires excellent communication. It requires successfully onboarding your clients and reaching out to them, even when you don’t have a new product to sell them. It requires delighting them.

Successfully Onboarding New Clients

Successfully onboarding new clients depends upon the organization of your data. Today’s modern insurance consumer likes to be updated on the status of things like their policy application. If you don’t have a way to track that, you won’t be able to provide those updates. Or, if they call to ask about the status, how quickly can you pull up their information to answer their questions?

An AMS can help by having this information quickly searchable and updated. To take it a step further, you could use AgencyBloc to set up an automated email campaign that sends a notification to your new client when their policy reaches the next stage in the application process. This shows your new client that you have your ducks in a row.

Onboarding is more than just the application process, though. A “welcome” email is a great way to start. Again, you could set this up in AgencyBloc and have it send automatically when their status changes to “client”. You could even send a “welcome” gift, like a branded mug or a simple, handwritten card.

After you’ve successfully onboarded a new client, it’s crucial to maintain communication with them.

Maintaining Positive Communication with Your Clients

One study found that “only 44 percent of consumers had contact with their agent in the past 18 months.” Like we said, the #1 reason clients leave an insurance agency is because of lack of communication. Let’s talk about a few examples of ways you can reach out to your clients.

After that “welcome” email, there are several more touchpoints you could make:

  • Send them additional resources on products you sell that you didn’t speak with them about yet
  • Send a survey (like the NPS one we talked about earlier)
  • Send coverage updates (like when carriers make changes that may affect your client)
  • Send reminders for open enrollment with any pertinent information
  • Send a “happy birthday” email each year

An Agency Management System Can Help!

From identifying referrals and cross-selling opportunities to onboarding and maintaining positive relationships with your clients, an agency management system can help. To effectively do everything in this eBook, you’ll need your prospect and client data well organized. And the best way to manage your agency all the way from prospecting to paying out commission on a policy is within an all-encompassing AMS, like AgencyBloc.

AgencyBloc is an AMS that helps life and health insurance agencies grow their business by organizing and automating their operations using a combination of an industry-specific CRM, commissions processing, and integrated business and marketing automation.

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