When to Invest In Technology And When to Invest in Your People

It’s that time of year again; Cyber Monday and Black Friday just passed us. We are seeing deals galore! Also, all of our favorite insurance vendors are peppering us with end-of-year specials to help end the year strong. So when our accountant says, “Hey, you may want to spend some cash to help balance out your tax liability,” you jump at the opportunity! The problem is: What do you spend your money on?

We all know the tech sales pros who make promises about how easy their products are, all the problems they’ll solve and by golly the world’s best discounts! You get case studies, metrics and videos that all say your agency can’t live without all this awesomeness. What are you waiting for, buy now!

 

Coming from a technology background I wholeheartedly believe STRONGLY in the need for useful technology that enhances our agency’s customer experience and boosts efficiency. The challenge is what happens if it works? What happens if we generate more leads than we can handle? What happens if it never gets adopted, you just invested in a big old paper weight and now you have a bit of egg on your face? So what is an agency owner to do?

 

Technology is meant to enhance your results, but it’s not meant to be the result. What do I mean by this? Technology can help you stay in touch with your customer, but it won’t replace a phone call. It can help fill the gaps in between your intentional and proactive touch points. Technology can help boost your closing ratio, but it’s not your sales process. How agents speak, respond and provide speedy solutions is how the policy is sold; the nurturing through technology is just stacking the deck in your favor!

 

The bottom line is adding technology to non-existent process and/or indifferent staff won’t move the needle. You will face resistance and spend a lot of money, but not get the ROI you are looking for. When I first got involved in insurance technology 9 years ago we quickly learned we could generate call in opportunity, but when the agency had leads going to voicemail, or a quote was received 5 days late, all the leads didn’t matter because the people and the process were off track. The agencies needed to focus on tightening the bolts on the opportunities coming into the agency that day before they added in the layer of technology.

 

The appeal of technology is it does what it’s told, while coaching, monitoring, and holding your people accountable is difficult. However, where do you get the most ROI? Your people. Your agency’s biggest investment is in your people, and yet we still do very little to train, motivate and provide them the structure they need to do a great job. We ask them to sell but provide almost no sales training.

 

Now we get to what comes first, the chicken or the egg, right? Do you tighten up all your processes, train your team and become a lean mean customer experience machine or buy technology and hope for the best? As a business owner myself I love efficiency, savings and having faith that things are being done as designed. We became obsessed with our client experience here this year and it’s paid off greatly with more efficiency, better processes, less confusion and better client outcomes.  But it’s a lot of work and we hired consultants to help us build our systems.

 

When you have the choice between the shiny object this end of year and the idea of building the best team possible, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have we maximized every opportunity that has come into the agency?
  • Do we have a solid proactive client retention strategy?
  • Do we know what our client onboarding should look like?
  • Do we have a clear expectation and vision of what we want from a piece of technology OR are we just hearing what the sales person says?
  • Are we doing everything we can with our current resources to account round, cross sell and increase coverages?
  • Do we want a monthly payment or training that installs a system that provides continued results?

 

Not many people are great trainers. It’s a talent you have to keep working at. Many agencies shy away from training because they don’t know how, building the materials is time-consuming, and let’s face it: sometimes the team just doesn’t listen to you! But they will with an outsider. This end of year think about adding training to your 2019 business plan!

About Kelly Donahue-Piro

As a dynamic public speaker and consultant I have spent the last decade focusing on how small business owners can capitalize on opportunities within their reach. With over 5 years experience in the local insurance agent sector I can bring training, marketing and technology to your agency that helps you effective and efficiently grow your agency. My specialties include consulting and coaching on upselling, account rounding, agency culture change, sales scripting, executive level coaching and benchmarking as well as agency retention skills. Contact me today to learn more about how I can help your agency grow!

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