During my daily conversations with producers and managers, I am often reminded of the typical agency sales process. It can be cumbersome and often complex, leaving many opportunities for incremental progress to break down. Some agencies have found creative and intelligent ways to streamline the prospecting/quoting/presenting/closing flow. Others have not. Here is a scenario that is more typical than most organizations would like to admit:
- Producer prospects an account. Lets say it is a garage named Joe’s Auto Repair. He or she starts the conversation during a lunchtime oil change. They are open to a quote and a meeting is set for next week.
- During the car ride back to the office, the producer calls an account manager to see who is competitive for garages these days. He also calls his go-to company marketing rep who says he would love a garage risk.
- The producer then meets with the prospect and completes 98% of the applications, gathers the information needed to satisfy the required supplementals, and even obtains current loss runs. He drops off all the paperwork to his account manager and asks her to call the prospect in the morning for the remaining 2% of the information and then pass it off to marketing.
- The following week he returns from a CIC course and sees someone from marketing in the coffee room. He asks how the quotes for Joe’s Auto Repair are coming along and receives a quizzical look. Concerned, Mr. Producer heads over to see his account manager who says Joe has not returned two calls and she still does not have the information.
- Now time is running out. The producer drives over to Joe’s and learns that although he received the messages, he had not had a chance to calculate the percent of revenues generated at his primary location versus his uptown location. And since so much time has passed he was nervous and paid his renewal bill, in full. However, he would be happy to talk next year.
Whose fault is this? The producer thought he covered his bases when he left for his CIC course. The account manager was simply following instructions. The marketing department could have still provided a quote but never saw the apps. Nobody was wrong, but every loses.
The problem is the complexity of the process. Simplify, remove barriers, share duties, allow all parties to interact and continually keep communication open. You will never win every sale, but it is better to lose to a worthy competitor than to beat yourself.