Why you should choose (and use) a CRM

You’ve spent lots of time and effort creating relationships with your clients, and they trust you enough to spend their money with you. It’d be a shame to only get in touch with them once a year for a renewal - that’s akin to being the friend who only calls when they need something. But why else should you contact them, and how often? And what did we talk about last time?

Pull their folder from the file cabinet and… throw it away?

Paper is comfortable - you can touch it, write on it, and sit it on your desk. But it’s not efficient. Say you have a file cabinet full of client files, and you want to know which clients have Med Supp policies with CSI. How long would that take you? Or which clients are in the 600-608 zip code range? This is precisely what computers are made for - storing and retrieving data efficiently.

Health Insurance Agency CRM

While throwing the files away may seem drastic, the fact is that they aren’t needed in many cases, and you can work much more efficiently using a customer relationship management system, or CRM.

I used to own stacks of music CDs, which filled several shelves of space, and it was always hard to find the album I wanted to hear. Then along came the iPod and changed everything—and today we can fit all of that music on our phones. Your files are like those CD cases - you no longer need a bank of cabinets to store your customer data. It can all go into your CRM system.

What exactly does a CRM do?

There are lots of different CRMs out there, and they vary in price and capabilities, but most of them share some common features. These include:

  • Store client information
  • Track interactions
  • Tasks and reminders
  • Document management
  • Reporting

There are simple CRMs that are more generic, and can be used by anyone, and then there are customized systems that are tailored to every industry. The insurance industry has dozens of options, and these are even split into niches, such as P&C and health insurance. Choosing an industry specific CRM usually adds more features, such as:

  • Carrier information
  • Policy information
  • Commission processing
  • Office collaboration
  • Workflow automation
  • Mobile app

Here’s a common scenario - you get a call from a prospect. You answer their questions and offer suggestions. Either during or immediately after the call, you look up the person in your CRM. This usually only requires typing a few letters of their name to find them. If the person is already in your system, you’d simply update their info and add a note about your conversation. Then you add a followup reminder for a few days from now. Once that date arrives, your CRM alerts you that you need to followup.

When you stop trying to remember everything, and let your CRM do that for you, fewer opportunities fall through the cracks!

How do I choose?

First off - there is no “perfect system.” Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, so I recommend setting up demos of any systems you’re interested in. Most likely you’ll find something that is close to what you want.

Some things to consider when choosing:

  • Support - do you need help, and if so, via phone or email?
  • Price - systems range from free to hundreds per month
  • Purchase and install, or web-based subscription
  • Training - 1-on-1 sessions, web videos, or just help pages?
  • Ease of use - is it intuitive?
  • Ability to connect to other systems - no system will handle every aspect of your business

So which ones should you check out? Here are just a few companies worth looking into:

  • Highrise - generic system with free and paid plans
  • Salesforce.com - generic system with insurance customizations available
  • Zoho CRM - generic system with insurance customizations available
  • AgencyBloc - specifically for health insurance agencies
  • AgencyIQ - insurance specific 
  • AMS360 - insurance specific
  • Radius - insurance specific

Summary

As I mentioned, you won’t find the “One True System” and whichever one you choose isn’t that important as long as you do in fact choose one. If you’ll start using a CRM system, and commit to using it consistently, you’ll likely discover all sorts of benefits, such as increased sales, better organization, and most importantly, better communication with your clients and prospects.

Are you already using a CRM? Let me know which one in the comments below, and what do you like or dislike about it?


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