Every insurance professional wants a competitive advantage. So much so that it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you need to outsell everyone around you. But that mentality can only take you so far.
The truth is that while competition is healthy, over-competion is not. After all, a totally dog-eat-dog world would be nothing more than a recipe for a dogless world. There are a lot of benefits to working nicely with others. After all, a truly dog-eat-dog world just in your industry.
So how do you build and maintain quality strategic partnerships?
Here are 4 ways you might not have thought of.
1. Overhaul Your Management Platform
A modern management platform is a must. By switching to a digital, cloud-based system, you’ll be able to pay special attention to your data feeds and improve how you communicate with partner insurance companies. Seamless communication is key to gaining and maintaining strategic insurance partners no matter what type of technology they are using.
Mind your EDIs
EDI or “Electronic Data Interchange” is the process which allows one company to send information to another company electronically rather than with paper.
Most people don’t use faxes anymore, but unfortunately many companies in the insurance industry have not become a part of the digital age. The old 834 standard still lives because a lot of insurance companies haven’t updated their legacy systems. They’re running software systems that are 10 years old and some of them have no intention of upgrading anytime soon.
It can take a month (or two) to get setup with just one insurance company, and even when that happens, you can’t always communicate between multiple insurers. Even though it’s the same standard, the data embedded in the file feed can be organized differently and it’s usually non-compatible between insurers. So, if you are not using a modern insurance agency management platform and you have to transmit the same data to multiple insurers, it’s a big fat headache.
The wave of the future is API or “Application Programming Interface.” It’s an integration where the software talks directly to the partner’s system rather than through a data file feed. Truly a system you can swear by (and not at).
Of course, you need to maintain a duel EDI/API system because technophobic insurance companies are slow to change, so some of them are ready with APIs, but some are not. And, some only have part of their legacy system upgraded.
But insurance agents must adapt now. Updating your systems to include the latest APIs will put you ahead of the curve so that when the industry does finally catch up, you’re poised to increase your sales with the help of strategic partnerships, both slow to tech and high-tech.
2. Nichify Yourself
Every insurance broker wants to be the “one stop shop.” But it’s funny when you really think about it. How many agents do you know who are a total expert in all areas of insurance? Not one. There are life insurance specialists, property and casualty specialists, liability specialists, etc. Maybe there’s some small crossover but, for the most part, you should stick to one or maybe two lines of insurance.
By developing a specific niche and working to be better than others at that specific line of insurance, you’ll find yourself becoming an authority figure on the topic.
Build relationships with other niche agencies in the industry, and that way you’ll both be able to refer leads to each other.
For example, if your brokerage specializes in life insurance but comes across a prospect for car insurance, you can refer that lead to your strategic car insurance partner. In turn, he’ll be inclined to return the favor when he comes across a life insurance prospect. Not only will you both gain more sales, the clients will be happier with the service they receive, because each agency is a specialist in their specific field. As a bonus, you’ll find the “magic” of specialization will increase customer retention.
3. Nurture Your Partners
When it comes to nurturing programs, everyone knows they need to send prospects and clients “drip” emails and periodically contact them via email or phone. But, are you doing the same with your insurance partners? If not, why not? They are the ones sending you business.
In some cases, they can make or break a case — especially underwriting.
Keep VIPs on your distribution email list, send them birthday cards, and let them know you appreciate their partnership. Not many brokers are doing this, and it can make all the difference.
4. Collaborate With Complementary Businesses
Collaborating with others in your industry can work wonders for your bottom line. When you join forces with complementary agencies, you harness double the power to generate more leads and get more sales.
A compelling way to help each other generate leads is by creating a joint venture of some kind.
For example, you could create a series of articles or educational materials on some aspect of personal finance and how insurance fits into that. You link to each other’s sites and boost each other’s SEO. You could also host a webinar together or a seminar. By inviting your existing clients and potential customers, both of you will benefit from the increased exposure.
The old saying, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join em” is truer today than it ever was. Expand your sales efforts to include strategic partnerships, and enjoy higher revenues by working together.
Digital platforms like Novidea make it easy to integrate with third-party platforms using secure APIs. They also make it easy to expand your existing brokerage in the process. Contact us today for more information.