5 Salesforce CRM Essentials For Insurers


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5 Salesforce CRM Essentials For Insurers

Insurers: Can you name the five most essential steps for making your Salesforce implementation succeed?

That was the theme of the “Top Five ‘Musts’ for Insurance Companies Integrating Salesforce” panel that I recently moderated at Dreamforce and that featured advice from Cloud Sherpas customers who are frontline insurance industry CRM practitioners.

Trends Reshaping The Insurance Industry

The push by many insurance firms to embrace Salesforce was demonstrated by the standing-room-only crowd packing our conference room — for what was possibly the most important session at Dreamforce — as well as the wide range of audience questions fielded by panel members.

But the industry’s move to adopt modern, cloud-based CRM software shouldn’t be surprising. True, insurers may have a reputation for leaving no aging technology behind, but the insurance sales landscape has been changing dramatically on several fronts:

  • Service: Consumers now demand more personalized and channel-appropriate interactions

  • Competitors: New entrants — and niche players — are grabbing market share from incumbents

  • Demographics: New market opportunities are emerging

  • Consumerization: Consumers have embraced social media and mobile computing and expect businesses to follow

As a result of these changes, many insurers are now looking to CRM to turn potential market challenges into business opportunities.

Top 5 CRM Essentials For Insurance Companies

Based on Cloud Sherpas’ extensive CRM implementation experience, which spans hundreds of projects across every industry, as well as our expertise in helping insurance companies get the most out of their CRM software, we’ve identified the following top five essentials:

1. Think Customer-Centric, Not Policy-Centric

Historically, insurers have employed a policy-centric model, meaning they focused more on tracking contracts than customers. What’s wrong with that approach? For starters, it makes it much more difficult to provide quick and efficient customer service or to successfully sell additional products or services to existing customers.

Switching to a customer-centric model, however, prioritizes creating a single view of each customer. Such an approach offers numerous business upsides, including easier cross-selling and up-selling for sales teams, more targeted marketing and more efficient and effective customer service.

As one Cloud Sherpas customer said during the Dreamforce panel, Salesforce has leveled the playing field for his employees. Now, the best salesperson isn’t the one who can successfully juggle all of the back-end systems required to build an accurate view of a customer. Instead, every salesperson gets equal — and rapid — access to the same essential information and can focus on building relationships and selling products.

2. Test New Selling Strategies

As with any technology endeavor, the most successful projects are those that start with business-focused outcomes and the defining of business goals. In fact, Cloud Sherpas often begins working with insurers on CRM projects after they’ve set their sights on embracing new business strategies and are looking for the best customer-facing technology for the job.

For insurers, the top new business strategies I’ve been seeing include adding more supplementary products, entering a new type of business and selling directly to consumers. One Cloud Sherpas insurance customer, for example, has armed all of its salespeople with iPads that run customized policy-picking apps and come preloaded with customer data. As a result, salespeople don’t have to waste time gathering basic information at the start of a meeting. Instead, they can engage in a more consultative sales process and literally sit next to their clients as they immediately jump in and discuss which products would be the best fit.

3. Add New Lines Of Business

Tapping Salesforce allows businesses to quickly target new types of business. In part, that’s because it helps ensure that you deliver the right product information via the right channel to the right client at the right moment.

But Salesforce also gives insurers valuable “configure once, roll out anywhere” capabilities. That’s because they can test, refine and deploy a Salesforce instance that’s optimized for their specific needs, and then reuse this for any other division or geographic region for which they have similar business goals.

4. Eliminate Legacy Applications

The move to Salesforce gives insurers a CRM foundation that enables them to invest more in “systems of engagement” with customers, rather than adding even more back-end systems. One Cloud Sherpas customer, for example, is pursuing a single global customer service system that will hook into legacy applications — data integration is key — to create a single view of each customer, so that contact center agents can more quickly and effectively field service calls. At the same time, that project will enable the insurer to ditch a half-dozen outdated systems.

But eliminating legacy applications doesn’t just happen magically; it takes a bit of planning. Great places to start are consolidating existing sales processes to eliminate the need for multiple systems and integrating Salesforce with any application or data store that contains essential information. In fact, many insurers choose to take their CRM projects live only after preloading an extensive amount of historical data into Salesforce so that from day one it becomes salespeople’s one-stop shop for all customer-related information.

5. Keep Innovating

What’s the role played by CRM when it comes to insurers’ need to create more effective processes, products or ways of doing business — in a word, continuing to innovate? Today, that means embracing consumerization trends in technology as well as ensuring that your company’s website, portal and mobile apps all sport a contemporary and consistent look and feel, whether someone’s seeking a policy quote or interacting with customer service.

Many insurers are also taking to social networks to connect with customers wherever they expect to receive service — especially via Facebook and Twitter. They’re also building modern portals for agents that resell their products, both to retain those agents and to make it easier for them to sign new customers.

Arguably, insurers must work twice as hard on their customer-facing sales strategies than many other types of businesses, for the simple reason that it’s tougher to make financial products “sexy” than your average e-commerce wares or the latest smartphones and tablets. As a result, successful insurers must continue to experiment and refine their approach to creating more “frictionless” ways of marketing, selling and servicing. For that, using a modern CRM application remains essential.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Thomas Rousing.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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