Investing in a Partner
When you invest in a new technology to manage your life and health book of business, you’re investing in a partner. We can’t stress enough how important this is. With this partnership, you want to ensure you’re making a sound decision that will benefit the future of your agency.
To help you do just that, we pulled together some of the questions we hear most plus ones we urge our prospects to ask. Make sure to ask these questions during your sales demo and write down the answers! This will be a helpful reminder for you when you get to the decision-making part of your buying journey.
Keep these questions close at hand while you demo software in your new technology search. Download our free PDF of these questions plus note pages to help you keep track of what you learn during your demos.
1. What’s their history?
When forming a partnership, you want to ensure both parties are aligned. Ask about the history, how the company was formed, when, and why. This will give you insight into who they are and if they’re the right choice for your agency. Do some research ahead of time to get a better idea of who you might be partnering with. We created a free downloadable PDF just for that! Check out our Vendor Research tool to help you know where to look and what to look for in your research.
This is a crucial moment to discuss the company’s ownership structure. Are there stakeholders and who are they? If the company is owned by other firms, then their goals might be different than those of the CEOs/Founders who work there. For example, a company owned by stakeholders may look for rapid initial growth followed closely by a swift exit plan of selling the company which could leave you high and dry with a company you don’t particularly like.
2. Do they have ties to a GA/IMO/FMO?
Once you have discussed the formation of the company, it’s important to know if they would have a potential conflict of interest. You don’t want to share all of your information with a potential competitor. Your data is your livelihood and the foundation of your business; you want to ensure your and your clients’ information is safe so you can continue to build your business.
3. What type of software is it?
This question helps to answer two crucially important questions:
- Is the software generic or focused?
- Is the software hosted or on-premise?
Tackling the first, a generic software (CRM) is one that is built to adapt to a multitude of industries. These generally have a ton of features, but to make it work for you usually requires a significant amount of time, effort, and money on your part. A focused one, like an agency management system (AMS), is built for one specific industry or industry niche. Learn more about the difference in our short eBook: AMS vs. CRM: What You Need to Know.
The difference between hosted and on-premise software can be more confusing. Often, it boils down to two main components: accessibility and security. On-premise solutions are ones that are only accessible in office via your computer and can have significant security risks. Hosted (or cloud-based) is software which houses your information on remote servers all over the country. This allows you to access it anytime from any device, plus the security is in the hands of the vendor. However, there’s a lot more to it than we have space for today, so check out our deep-dive blog on the topic: On-Premise Software vs. Hosted Software: What You Need to Know.
4. How many revisions/updates do they release a year?
When you partner with a software, you want to ensure that they’re staying current and aren’t operating like it’s 2005. Technology changes, and it changes fast, so make sure the vendor is committed to consistently updating and enhancing the product to provide you with the most bang for your buck.
This is a good time to ask about the vendor’s product team and how many developers they have. If they only have one developer writing code (how the revisions, updates, and enhancements happen), those updates could take significantly longer than if they have a whole team dedicated to improvement and upkeep.
5. What is their uptime?
Uptime refers to the amount of time the software is up and functioning for use. If you’re using it to manage your book of business, then you’ll likely be in it all day long. It’s important to know if they have a high uptime or not since their downtime will negatively impact both your process and productivity.
While you’re discussing uptimes, make sure to discuss security and backup, too. Here are some additional questions to get you started on that conversation.
6. What does their help/support look like?
You want to ensure you have enough support to help you be as successful as possible in using the new software. During your demo, ask your sales rep what training looks like and if they have a help section. Don’t forget to ask about pricing for training, too!
Ask about the process of calling support, too. Is it a ticket system? Will you speak with a live person? These are important questions because you want to know if you have a question that you can reach someone quickly and get on the road to resolving it.
7. Do they support integrations with 3rd parties or APIs?
For clarification, an API is a way for two different software platforms to send and receive information (or data). It’s similar to an integration but they aren’t exactly the same.
Often, when a software says they’re “integrated” with another software, the relationship is deeper and more information is able to be passed from one to the other. This is because the path between the two softwares is already built by a developer. Using an API does require technical know-how and requires you to build the path between the two softwares.
This is something you definitely want to ask about and understand how deep that relationship goes. You’ll want to know to what extent it sends information over. If it is limited, is there a plan in place to expand it?
The benefit of integrations and APIs is to save you time on manual entry. If the third party can send the information directly to your agency management system (AMS), then you don’t have to enter the information twice and you don’t run the risk of typos.
8. Are they willing to provide comparison content?
User-generated content is a great way to get a feeling for the software from the eye of the actual client. Two types of content to ask for first are:
This can help you get a feeling for how real clients use the software to fit their various needs on a daily basis. Plus, with the case studies, you can see what the transition looked like for those clients who moved over from your current solution.
9. What does an exit plan look like?
This is always, always, always an important question to ask. You want to know BEFORE YOU BUY how easy (or not easy) it will be to get your data out of the system. If they’re going to charge you or make the process a nightmare, do you really want to partner with them?
Some systems believe that if they house your data they then own your data and will charge you a fee for taking it back out of their software. Make sure you ask before you buy if your data will still be 100% yours. If they don’t answer yes, then that could indicate possible problems in the future if you ever decide to go to a different system.
Remember, every software is different, so make sure you’re having this conversation with each software you consider. Just because one does things one way does not indicate another will, too. Take notes during your meeting to help jumpstart your memory when it comes to decision-making so you remember clearly who you’re partnering with and why.
Take a Look at AgencyBloc
AgencyBloc is the #1 Agency Recommended Management System for the life and health insurance industry. Take a look and schedule your personalized 1-on-1 demo with one of our experts. Don't forget to ask them the questions above to help you decide if AgencyBloc is the right choice for your agency!