A Better Process Influences Sales Results

There’s more to competitive powerlifting than meets the eye.

Many people may think it’s simply about lifting the heaviest weight.  But winning a competition goes much deeper than that.  Competitors have three types of lifts they must successfully complete in succession, with three tries for each one.  Strategy is a factor, for you must chose to lift a weight that makes you competitive but that you can attain while using the proper form.

For form counts too – lift a foot, arch your back, move in the wrong way, and the lift is disqualified.  Strength, strategy, skill – all three must work in tandem to produce a win.

Sales is also heavy lifting and requires the same type of finesse. In sales, getting that customer to sign the dotted line takes a blend of salesmanship, service, and a seamless customer experience. A kink in any one element can mean the difference between closing, or losing, the sale.

We’ve improved our sales results for our clients by making the process easier. By combining a seamless experience with exceptional service, we not only close more sales, but have also cut time from the sales cycle, cutting 45 days down to 12 minutes.

We did this in one of the hardest verticals to sell:  insurance. Insurance is a service that consumers hope they never have to use. There’s excitement in buying car, house, or new clothes.  With insurance, there is less emotional pull to help get consumers to yes.

Making a Complicated Process Easy

Everyone is familiar with the process of buying insurance. You evaluate and compare among complicated policies, picking one that best meets your family needs and budget.  You complete a long application and submit it to the insurance company.

We smooth out this process for consumers, by helping them weigh the benefits and costs of different carrier and policy choices, matched against their own needs and criteria.  For example, a consumer comparing plans online can click “call now” and then they are talking with one of our licensed agents who helps them select the best policy option. Once that choice is made, they are handed over to the “welcome team,” responsible for verifying that everything is correct (our QA process) and to close the transaction. Every step of the way we work to ensure a smooth, pain-free experience for the consumer.

At this point, it’s time for the consumer to sign on the dotted line.

And this is where, in the past, the experience stopped being easy. Not unsurprisingly, this is where we were losing customers.

Identifying and Removing Barriers to Closing

The old process for getting the applicant’s signature was far from easy: We would create step-by-step instructions for completing the applications, then email it so they could read it.  From there they would have to log in to the carrier’s system on their laptop or computer and go through the process to complete the application, which was then snail mailed to the applicant for a signature.

Too many steps, too many opportunities for misunderstandings and too many consumers bailing out. In this system, about half of the applicants were not completing the process, which could take up to 45 days to complete once the application was sent through the postal service.

We found a way to make it easier.

The snail mail link in the process chain was the weakest. So, we replaced it with the ability for consumers to sign electronically. Once applicants complete the application, we email them a link to their documents which they can sign online with the click of a button.

This helped, but not enough.  Within six months, we were seeing e-signature rates of between 50 and 60 percent. While email is much more rapid than snail mail, it’s still not instantaneous.  Customers may not remember their password. They might have to go home to log onto their computer. They may not even have a computer and must wait until they could get to a library or a commercial vendor with email access. The gaps were still too big and long enough to allow doubts and competitors or second thoughts to break through.  We had to eliminate them.

Using On-the-Spot Technology

So we added the option of sidestepping email. We added SMS messaging – texting – to our tool kit. Now we can send a text message with the link to the application that consumers can navigate to straight from their smart phone and sign on the spot.

There were abundant reasons for doing so.

According to Pew Research Center:

  • 90% of adults own a cell phone
  • 81% use their phones to send or read text messages.
  • 63% use their phones to go online.

Another sign that we are in the age of mobile wireless is the fact that 41 percent of American households are wireless only – cutting the cord by eliminating their landlines.

Wireless is also effective at communication. Text messages have a near 100 percent open rate. On a good day emails hope to capture a quarter of that share of pie.

Adding the option to send the documents for signature by text messaging almost immediately shot our e-signature rate up. Now, a year-and-a-half later, our e-signature rate is as high as 98 to 100% for some carriers we serve.  Our agency average is 95%.

Even more importantly we no longer had to wait 45 days after the application was completed to get a signature. With text, the average time to completion is 12 minutes.

Accurate Service with the Right Tools Deliver a Win for Everyone

The move to text was also a win for our client’s customers. They only need one device to do everything – search for products using the phone’s browser, talk to the agent who will help them find the right insurance product, talk to the welcome team who verifies everything, then use their phones to complete the process with an e-signature. True one stop shopping for the digital age that sits in the palm of your hand.

In addition to the technical enhancement that we added with the text delivery option, our staff makes sure the applications are filled out correctly and verifies the information.  A comprehensive review process verifies everything and helps ensure the agents are diligent about error-free work.

Not only does this process ensure an easier ride for the buyer and a more certain close for the seller, it gets the relationship started right.  Already we’re seeing that pay off in terms of a stronger, lasting relationship, with annual retention rates higher than projected.  These results are proof of our motto, “if you do it right the first time, you don’t have to do it over.”

By creating a seamless process that combines a mixture of “get it right the first time” customer service and technology, we’ve created a better experience for our prospects, who find it easy to become customers, and stay customers. It’s the outcome of a strong process supported by the right technology.  By achieving this perfect blend, we make the heavy lifting of sales look easy, with a real victory for our customers.