Growing a Brokerage Sales Organization

Culture and process first; then technology

Technology is helping independent insurance brokers and agents gain efficiencies. Vendors and carriers are implementing real-time communications to increase efficiency.

With so many processes automated and keystrokes eliminated it is a great time to reflect on the true value of an independent agent. This value revolves around sales. Without a sale, nothing happens.

While efficiency is important, it can’t be the only goal. To make technology and workflow improvements, the sales must happen first.

A brokerage that can’t build a strong sales team will not be able to create enough growth for its insurance carriers. If it doesn’t generate enough growth, its great producers will move on to better pastures.

For growth and profitability, successful owners of sales-driven businesses use a four-step approach to success.

1. Infuse brokerage with a culture that promotes sales and marketing. Implement workflows to promote, sell and process business.
3. These workflows can be managed with the right technology
4. To make the most of technology, you need to hire exceptional talent

Independent agents and brokerages have always struggled to maintain a strong sales management process for the long-term. These traditional problems can be overcome with this four-step process.

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Let’s start with the fact that most agencies don’t have a sales environment.
Ask an agent the age-old question, “If you had to describe what you provide your customers best, what would it be?” The answer is “We provide really great service.”

The majority of consumers believe that agencies and agents provide service and sales, but most agents view sales as a side-product or given within their agency.

Owners often lose sight of the bigger picture, which is the importance of proactive contact with clients and prospects. This leads to more sales.

Sales can also be affected by brokering mergers that create unexpected cultural differences. This is not something to take lightly. We can learn from history how this has often played out in real life.

The 1950s saw the rise of the independent agent. He was seen on the street corner in Small Town America. He was a trusted advisor to the community. He enjoyed being involved and contributing. He was smart and knew how to make insurance work for him.

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The brokerage expands. It began as a small brokerage with just one or two people. Soon it grows to be a 10 horse thing, then a 20-horse and many decades later, it is a much larger entity.

Sales leadership is not a problem only in larger, merged companies. Every brokerage requires a sales and marketing leader. This requires the ability to retool human skills and create the right environment. Not just using new technology tools. It is not easy to be a great insurance agent or a good sales manager.

Broker principals should keep their role as an excellent agent and hire a good manager to help with the sales process. This will create a sales-oriented culture within the company. These firms are well-equipped to utilize technology to improve their sales processes.

The typical brokerage sales process used to be that Monday morning came and the producers rode out on their horses to sell. It worked. However, times have changed. Agents must now have a pipeline to bring in prospects/customers for a long time.

It is crucial that top management fosters a strong sales culture. It is not enough to have great salespeople. An independent brokerage might be able to find training about how to hire the right personality, and how to make them an effective salesperson.

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However, if there isn’t a system to support these salespeople in this age of niche marketing then just having good salespeople going door-to-door and returning with a bunch of leads isn’t enough.

The brokerage must be able to create a program on how leads and accounts can be brought into it. It knows what types of business it is able to place.

This cultural shift will cause changes in the responsibilities of staff members. Independent agents who take advantage of the latest technology regularly face a problem. Smart technology can help you free up some resources, but is it the right people to manage the sales process? Sometimes, difficult decisions may be necessary.

How to Establish and Maintain an Effective Sales Process

Traditional brokerage entrepreneurs can achieve a new level of success if they manage the transition of their brokerage into a sales company. The process must be managed by them or the person they bring in. They must create sales teams.

Agents require technology to make sure that the sales manager is aware of the contacts made by their salespeople. A sales manager – someone who can oversee the process – would be ideal. Sometimes, the worst coach is the producer.

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Salespeople must help create the process by giving input on what steps and strategies are needed. You can tweak a system and sales strategy as you go along depending on the demographics.

However, once the H.S.A. is created, the salesperson cannot be removed from its implementation. The brokerage might want to target H.S.A. Small business market. They will write to every small business owner in the territory. After identifying viable small business prospects, he and his team develop a system for reaching them (e.g., direct mail, seminar marketing or association marketing). An agent from the brokerage will then be responsible for implementing the system. They mail direct mail, and then after the first week they make phone calls. After seven appointments and 10 calls, they get excited and are now busy following up on those appointments. They dropped the part about sending the letters and following up by phone calls, which is what creates the appointments. It’s a constant up-and-down cycle.

Distribution Sales Support

Agents need Distribution Sales Support to help them market and sell, and ensure that they continue to get viable prospects. This coordination has the following responsibilities:

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* Supervise the brokerage’s sales and marketing processes
* Monitor producers to ensure they make the right contacts and see to it that the information is passed on to the brokerage management system or sales and marketing system.
* Coordinate mailings (newsletters and cards, promotional items, etc.)
* Process returns – Keeps mailing information current in brokerage management system
* Send updated letters to the address below

The Distribution Sales Support simplifies the entire process starting at the beginning. How can you identify potential prospects and suspects who might be interested in your products? How can you match them up with the carriers you already have? How do you build a network of contacts to get your foot in the door? This is the marketing process.

The sales process ensures that the proposal has been made and that quotes have been presented by the carriers. This department ensures that proactive services are delivered to customers on time. The brokerage then prepares for the renewal. This involves ongoing sales activity in order to keep the business afloat and to increase the protection where necessary.

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The process for new sales: breaking it down

Both a prospect and an agent are looking for prospects to write their insurance policies. The prospect is searching for cost and coverage, while the agent is trying to determine if the prospect qualifies through placement and field underwriting. Information is everything.

This flow of information should begin in the marketing area of a brokerage. Agents need to identify “suspects”, and then distinguish between these suspects and prospects. Prospects are people or businesses that an agent knows may require his/her services.

Technology tools to strengthen the sales process

There are five main categories of technology that support sales and marketing:

1. Campaign Manager: Software that automates sales and marketing to prospects or customers.
2. Software to track where the insurance companies, prospects and customers are at the moment in their quoting/underwriting process.
3. Software to develop current customers and account-develop existing clients.
Once a brokerage has written a portion of the customer’s company, it can start a marketing campaign to write the remainder of the account.
4. Call center technology to support a sales campaign: Software, hardware and telephony
These headsets allow agencies to reach prospects, update account information and set up appointments for follow-up with producers.
5. 24/7 service pieces: Software to allow customer self-services and customer processing of their insurance information. There are many other services that can be provided to prospects and customers, depending on how extensive a brokerage plans to develop them.

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Once the agency’s culture has changed so that producers no longer freelancing on the basis of past experiences, owners can start to look at technology to help support the new sales culture. A sales-oriented agency must be able to sustain its process over time to ensure consistency and maximize the market opportunity.

The skills required to maintain a culture of sales and a sustainable sales process for long-term brokerage owners are essential. Agents require a customer relationship management system (CRM) that allows them to contact prospects and customers on a proactive basis. This is based on the additional services they are interested in or are suitable for.

While some agencies feel their brokerage management systems are suitable for managing their sales and marketing activities they find a third-party system more efficient and cost-effective.

Before deciding whether to use a third-party system, a brokerage should first understand the capabilities of its brokerage management software. It is crucial to understand how the third-party system integrates with your brokerage management system before you consider a third-party system. Agents have had success using brokerage management systems to track sales and generate management reports.

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The majority of marketing efforts are carried out using a brokerage management system. The system tracks all prospects. It keeps track of last contact, contact form, industry, and so on. You can run many reports from the system, all of which will help you determine the next steps. You must do this actively and follow up with agents to verify that they have given the correct information. The system would not have the right information if they didn’t provide it.


Independent Agency System is certainly competitive. A direct-writing firm can’t compete with an independent agent or broker that can offer a wide range of products. Independent agents and brokers are often able to offer the right tools for both commercial and personal lines.

To reach a steady flow of new customers, they must first have a sales system. Direct writers are able to do this because of the extensive advertising and disciplined sales process and the training they require from their producers.

The Independent Agency System will undoubtedly become more efficient. This will lead to greater productivity through a better manufacturing and sales process. There is no way for productivity to rise without a closed sale. An agency’s sales culture must involve the principals. Sales will suffer if they are not involved. Bus drivers are the owner and bus carriers can provide the fuel.

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A solid and effective sales strategy is essential for agencies. Technology will be an integral part of any such strategy. All those who have a stake in Independent Agency System are encouraged to promote the development of a sales culture and the implementation of sustainable selling processes that can be managed and improved with technology.