We watch insurance agencies make the craziest decisions about spending money. We see heavy spending and snap decisions regularly being made on a variety of software platforms, hiring internal marketing people, and buying client services (think value-added services).
What we also see are agencies frustrated with the lack of results from that come from this spending. It feels a bit like a money pit. And the way this spending takes place, it should!
The number one culprit we see that creates this frustration is lack of time and work invested in properly setting expectations and setting up the systems to do the work they’re intended to do.
To be fair here, we have seen situations where systems have not performed as sold. I’m not saying that all failure-to-launch issues stem from the agency. But a significant portion of problems come directly from lack of effort. I encourage you to look at you own approach to the spending vs. performing and see if you carry any culpability in the dysfunction.
Feel uncomfortably familiar?
Read through these scenarios and see if any of them strike a little close to home.
Agency Management System
Agency decides to invest in a new agency management system. Team is “too busy” to enter data, so system sits idle. Agency is frustrated about the financial investment not being used regularly and having to straddle two systems. Leadership then mandates that everyone begin using the new system, but doesn’t enforce anything. People begin haphazardly entering data with no processes or specifications. The database becomes filled with messy data. Agency pulls reports and data is “useless." Leadership is frustrated with team and software. Leaders begin looking for new agency management software.
Agency decides they need a CRM to manage the pipeline. They invest in a high-end system, paying per seat for each producer. They tell producers to use it. Producers don’t use it. Agency keeps paying for system. Leadership becomes frustrated because they can’t pull pipeline reports and get revenue projection data from system. Leadership mandates that producers use the system. Producers enter some data. The database becomes filled with messy data. Reports are still inaccurate, incomplete, and deemed useless. Agency (eventually) cancels contract with CRM provider.
Agency hears repeatedly they need to be “marketing." They get a wild hair and decide to hire a marketing manager. Leaders don’t know what skills they need for this position, so they hire someone they like or that did a good job of selling themselves and likely has no industry experience. Agency has no marketing plan or any idea of what this person will do besides “build a new website." But because they now have the title of Marketing Manager, somehow this new hire is expected to magically figure it out and then tell leadership what the marketing plan should be. In reality, marketing manager has no clue what to do for the agency and doesn’t make any notable progress toward a comprehensive marketing effort. Leadership is frustrated and fires the new hire.
Agency hears about “automated marketing software” and thinks this is the key to the unknown marketing problem. It’s “automated,” right? Agency invests in marketing platform. No one in the agency knows how to use it or what to do with it. Team is too busy to learn it. Some data is entered. A couple of blogs are written – painfully. A couple of emails are written – painfully. Months go by while system sits idle and no one writes any new content. Sales don’t improve. Leadership is frustrated with lack of results and cancels the contract.
What do all these scenarios have in common?
Throwing money at a problem without a plan of how it’s going to be integrated with the agency vision and value proposition sets up the “investment” for failure at worst, or simply lack of effective use in a best-case scenario.
Throwing money at a problem thinking that the “investment” is going to solve the problem without any effort on the part of the agency is crazy-flawed thinking. Software platforms are simply shells for holding and manipulating data – be it client and policy information, prospecting and sales details, or blog articles and emails. Even the social platforms you use for free demonstrate this same scenario – no activity; no results.
Without data, the shell simply sits there and does exactly what you’re telling it to do: NOTHING.
And that marketing manager – without direction, without marketing experience, and/or without knowledge of the industry, is left to fumble around and try to figure out how to make themselves not seem useless.
With these ill-conceived, off-the-cuff decisions, you’re setting yourself up to:
- Lose money
- Not turn the spend into an investment in future revenue
- Develop flawed beliefs that these hires and platforms cannot be contributors to agency growth
- Lose out on the opportunity to get the results you really wanted from the investment in the first place
Goodness, even if you buy a self-driving car, you still need to tell it where to go!
- It doesn’t read your mind
- It doesn’t know you need to make a bathroom stop
- It certainly doesn’t load and unload your luggage
- And it doesn’t put you in and take you out of the car when you get to your destination
As crazy as it may sound – you have to take responsibility and be a participant in your own activities.
A gym membership doesn’t go to work outs for you. That’s all on you. And the gym is happy to keep taking your money, whether you go or not.
Potential does not drive revenue
All of these solutions have tremendous potential to be consistent contributors to growth and success for your insurance agency. But potential itself is not enough. You have to make a plan to make them contribute to your success.
New systems are uncomfortable. They’re unknown and unfamiliar. Our brains like familiarity and default to what’s most comfortable.
To do something different, we often need to get uncomfortable. As a leader, you need to do the research and make the decision that this new addition to the process or team is going to fulfill a specific need, and it’s going to be a critical part of the new path.
And then you need to let the team see that vision too.
Help them understand how this is going to help and why it’s in everyone’s best interest to move this direction. Make it comfortable for them to express their thoughts and talk about their concerns. Get everyone to buy into the need and then work together to create a process for making it a success. Let the team participate in that, and give them ownership of pieces of the process.
And hold everyone accountable – including yourselves. Leaders, first and foremost, need to be participants in learning and practicing and making these new investments work for you rather than simply becoming another wasted expense and another wasted opportunity to make measurable changes to your operations and growth.
Leaders who make decisions and follow through on their implementation are much more successful than those who burn through team trust with the next new idea of the day.
photo by Nomadsoul1