What is a Life & Health Insurance Sales Process?
Every health and life insurance agency has a sales process. Regardless if yours is documented or clearly defined, you have some sort of map you follow to convert clients and retain them.
This blog will discuss a sales process and how to set one up in your agency. We’ll discuss the sales process, sales cycle, and more to help your agency best prepare to use sales management software and know what your team needs.
A step is a building block in the sales process. The sales process is made up of steps (sometimes called stages), and they document the entire process from start to finish.
A sales process is “a set of repeatable steps that a salesperson takes to take a prospective buyer from the early stage of awareness to a closed sale.”
A sales cycle is “the process that companies undergo when selling a product to a customer. It encompasses all activities associated with closing the sale.”
The sales process and sales cycle go hand-in-hand, but for the purposes of this blog, this is how they’ll differ:
- A sales cycle is the time it takes for someone to go from a lead to a client. It can refer to the time between each step or represent the entire cycle. For example, a Medicare client may have a sales cycle of 25 days, but Qualified to Quoted is only six days.
- A sales process is the steps you take, or the “map” you follow, in the journey to adding a new client. It's what happens within the sales cycle that helps you stay on track to reach your overall sales cycle goal—for example, 25 days for a Medicare client.
Crafting Your Sales Process
"Building a sales process is absolutely necessary to your company’s success, and is perhaps the most important thing you can do as a sales manager to impact your team’s ability to sell.”
It’s important to note that no sales process example you find online will fit your agency perfectly. Take the ideas from this blog to create your agency's unique sales processes. Just remember what makes a sales process successful:
- It’s all-encompassing
- It’s repeatable
- It’s sustainable
A sales process includes every action that happens during the sales experience. It includes follow-ups, reconnects, qualifying, and presentations. If there are holes in your process, your sales team will be less likely to stick to it. Plus, it will make training new agents more difficult.
Take into account the different products you sell and the different groups you sell to. Those different products and groups of people will require different processes. Examples include individual business vs. group business, ACA vs. Medicare, and health insurance vs. life insurance.
“A sales process is a clear, repeatable process that enables your reps to understand exactly what they need to do to succeed.”
If you cannot consistently repeat your sales process or easily teach it to a new employee, your process will not yield the success you seek.
Your sales process should run seamlessly from one step to the next. Yes, there will be outliers; however, it’s essential to have processes representing the vast majority of your sales. Your process must account for the majority to create the map everyone can follow; then, each agent can deal with the outliers as they come.
The steps ensure nothing is missed, everything is checked off your list, and your buyer is fully taken care of throughout the process. They provide expectations for your agents and producers to work from so they can replicate success and know the best processes for each situation.
Keep it simple and keep it relevant.
Your process must be something your team can maintain for the long term. If your process is too laborious, has too many steps, or requires your agents to check off too many things, they will start to gravitate away from it.
Your process should be a living process—something you improve upon and refine as your agency grows, your target audience’s needs change, and the industry changes.
How to Start Building Your Sales Process
Typically, any sales process will have at least five steps; however, your process's complexity and how “into the weeds” each step gets will ultimately determine this number.
When creating your process, start by asking yourself this question from Nutshell: What is the first thing that your sales reps do to connect with a potential buyer, and what is the last thing they do to finish the sale?
Answering this question will help you decide which steps your process needs and the map your agents usually follow for a sale. As Nutshell states: “align [your steps] with the key phases in your customer’s typical decision-making process.” Start with what you have, then refine to create a process that is all-encompassing, repeatable, and sustainable.
The 5 Steps in Most Life & Health Insurance Processes
After researching and consulting many different sales processes, these are the five steps usually present in a health and life insurance sales process:
Lead: An individual or organization that might be interested in the product or service that you are selling
Prospect: A type of lead; usually one that’s already interested in your products/services and wants to/is talking with someone in sales
You cannot start a sales process if you don’t have a lead or prospect to reach out to. Step one is bringing in the lead or prospect, which could come from a variety of sources, like:
- They fill out a lead form
- You purchase the lead from a lead vendor
- A referral
- Other prospecting methods
Regardless of how you acquire the new lead or prospect, you must connect with them immediately. Why? Because:
- 50% of leads go to the first salesperson to reach out
- Your odds of conversion fall by 400% when your response time increases from 5 minutes to just 10 minutes
- 30% of leads are never contacted at all
Therefore, the faster you make contact, the better your chances are of winning and converting that prospect.
Speed-to-contact can be your differentiator. Using an agency management system (AMS) with built-in lead automation helps you be aware of leads sooner, connect with them quicker, and improve your chances of converting them.
New leads and prospects sometimes require lots of courting (80% of leads require 5+ touchpoints). Don’t let your leads fall between the cracks, use automation to help you make immediate contact and maintain consistent communication throughout their journey!
Connect & Qualify
Opportunity (Opp): A potential sale; created when the agent meets with the lead or prospect and qualifies them
Qualified: Sometimes the first stage in the sales process, Qualified means that the opp has been vetted and is ready for the next step in the sales process
The term “opportunity” is pretty standard throughout the industry, but it can also be referred to as a “deal” or “sale.
The qualification step is a crucial one. It’s when you turn a lead or prospect into an opportunity. After the initial meeting and discussion, decide if the person or group will remain a lead or if their interest should qualify them as an opportunity. This means they’re a potential sale, and it moves them along in the sales process.
Needs Analysis Started: Where the agent/producer is researching and discovering the buyer’s needs
Proposal Presented: When an agent/producer has presented a proposal of options to the opportunity and is waiting for feedback
Proposal Accepted: When the buyer has accepted the proposal and the agent/producer is gathering paperwork for submission
These steps are the decision-making ones. You’ve met the buyer, learned their needs, and are now showing them how you can meet their needs. This step could be expanded into multiple steps or summarized into one depending on the pipeline you’re building and how granular you want to be.
The other benefit of having a step here is better documentation and analysis of your processes. You could run a report and see you have 50 opportunities sitting in Qualified. But, digging deeper, you may learn:
- 15 just moved there
- 20 are waiting for the agent/producer to put together a plan
- 10 have the plans in their hands and are making a decision
- 5 have accepted the plan and are waiting on paperwork
That is valuable information because it informs your sales cycle and gives you better visibility of what’s happening within your book of business. Then, you can use that information to enact real change and refine your processes. Remember, every sales pipeline should be a living process that is open to change and refinement.
Paperwork Submitted: When the paperwork has been completed and submitted to a carrier(s) for approval
So far, you've:
- Met with & qualified the opportunity
- Learned what they need
- Presented options to them
- Received confirmation from the buyer that they want to move forward with a specific policy
Now it's time to submit the policy for approval. This step is sometimes called "App Submitted" or "Sold Case Paperwork Submitted."
During this time, a few things can happen:
- Underwriting may occur
- Multiple backs and forths with the carriers may happen
- A census is taken for employee benefits
You may have the application sent back requiring additional analysis or information, so make sure you put that time into your sales cycle to give yourself the space you need to move through this step in the right amount of time.
Closely monitor your entire app submission process by utilizing workflow automation to inform you when an app is submitted, rejected, and approved. Learn more about how Automated Workflow in AgencyBloc can help you better manage your policies.
Closed Lost: When you lose an opportunity or a new policy is not written and enrolled
Closed Won: When you’ve won an opportunity
Closed is the final and most critical step. Closed is when you define who you've won, who you've lost, and the reasons behind those losses.
Using this insight, you can better understand your entire sales process and cycle to make meaningful changes and know how to proceed in the future.
For example, here at AgencyBloc, we may list an opportunity as a Closed Lost — X Integration. This means the opportunity needed X Integration to be completely successful with their efforts. If we lose their business because of this gap, we mark them as Closed Lost — X Integration. Then, in the future, when we launch a partnership with X Integration, we can circle back with those opportunities to convey the exciting news and see if we are now a good fit for their needs.
You can do something similar if it’s a product or carrier you don’t currently offer. Marking them Closed Lost with a reason gives you the insight you need to move forward. Then, in the future, when you’re looking at potential new verticals, carriers, or locations, you can refer back to your Closed Losts and potentially start those conversations again.
AgencyBloc is client-focused. We take input directly from our clients to help us determine where we go and what enhancements we make. We receive some of that feedback from our Closed Lost opportunities, too, to help us remain focused on our audience and their needs.
Regardless of your specific business, you can use Closed Lost to improve your business and aim to fulfill your target audience's needs.
Managing Your Sales Process in AgencyBloc
Using an agency management system (AMS), like AgencyBloc, for sales management gives you the tools to oversee your processes, manage them, and monitor the results.
In AgencyBloc, you can utilize a Kanban-style board to visualize your processes and get a 10,000-foot view of what’s happening in your sales machine.
Create Automated Workflows that work in tandem with your Sales Pipeline to keep you on track and alert of changes and when opportunities have been in one stage for too long. Monitor your Pipeline with real-time graphs that give you a 10,000-foot view of your sales efforts and give upper management snapshot views of what’s happening in the sales department. You can then dive into the data and run sales-specific reports that show the results of your sales efforts, identify growth opportunities, and reveal where you’re succeeding.
Using sales management software allows your agency to make your processes more efficient, organize your records, and be more successful with your sales endeavors. When you take the work out of your sales process and allow it to flow, your agents can refocus their attention and focus on their strengths, including selling.
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by Allison Babberl on Wednesday, May 11, 2022