Congratulations. You’ve signed-up with NextAgency. (At least, I hope you have. And so should you!). Now you want to get your client data into your new software. Immediately. I don’t blame you. The sooner you start using your new agency management system, the sooner you’ll have a more effective and efficient agency.
Yet, may I suggest you pause first to do a little planning? Thinking about how you want to organize your client data before uploading it will help you get the most out of NextAgency (or any similar software). This post offers a simple way to do that. And the minutes you spend in planning now may save you hours later.
Definitions and Structure
Insurance agents use a lot of terms. Sometimes different words for the same thing. Which can get pretty confusing. So, for the purpose of this post, let’s agree on the following:
Cases are your customers and potential customers. They may be individuals or groups. Active or inactive. Leads, prospects, or clients. These are the people and organizations that buy coverage from you – or who you hope will buy coverage from you.
Market Segments describes whether the policy or product your selling is for individuals or groups. To determine the market segment, ask “Who pays the premium?”
In NextAgency we provide three market segments: individual, small group and large group. For technical reasons, the market segment options are one of the few items that cannot be edited.
Sales Statuses defines your relationship to the case. Is it someone who you already work with or someone you hope to work with? To determine sales status ask “What is this case to my agency?”
In NextAgency we start you off with two sales statuses: prospects and clients. For many agencies this is enough. However, you may add as many other statuses as you want.
For example, some of our agencies sell benefits and other products (like P&C or payroll services). Several have created a sales status for each product line (for example, “Client-Benefits,” “Client-Payroll” and“Client-Multiple”).
Sales Stages describe where the case is in your world. Stages vary depending on a case’s status. For example, you may be trying to reach a prospect for the first time or you may be showing them a proposal. Your clients may be doing fine or they may be having a service problem. To determine sales stages ask, “What is happening with this case?”
You can group stages into processes – sometimes called pipelines. We provide some default pipelines, as identified by the color associated with each stage. Again, however, you can quickly edit these or make your own.
Fine-tuning Statuses and Stages
Knowing the questions to ask enables us to begin shaping how our case data is organized. After all, you know your block of business well enough to anticipating the kind of answers you’ll get to these questions. You can use this knowledge to choose the statuses and stages that work best for your agency. Let’s see how.
Market Segment: Who pays the premium? Either an individual or an organization of some kind. Whether an organization is a “small group” or “large group” is for you to decide. Just be consistent.
Sales Status: What is this case to my agency? If the case is already a client, do you have different kinds of clients? For example, are you a sub-agent of another agency on some cases? Or do ever act as GA? You may want to have separate statuses for each type of client. Or you may want to distinguish between hot and cold prospects. Choose the statuses that make the most sense for your agency.
Sales Stages: What is happening with this case? If everything is going well with a client, everyone on your team should know. Similarly, if a client is having a service issue, your team needs to know that, too. For prospects, your team should know if an appointment has been set or if the case is in the process of enrolling.
About active versus inactive cases: There’s a difference of opinion among NextAgency’s brokers as to whether “active” versus “inactive,” (or “closed” or “termed”) should be a status or a stage. There’s no right answer. By default, NextAgency includes active and closed as stages. However, if you prefer to use them as statuses, it only takes a minute to make that change. Active/Inactive are one of the few items that can go in either category
Keep it Simple
At NextAgency, making it easy to personalize our agency management system is an important part of our design philosophy. Which means we’ve seen a lot of agencies organize their case data in different ways. There’s no single approach that’s right for every health, life or senior insurance agency. And that’s fine.
However, there is one lesson that comes through regardless of how the data is organized: keep it simple. This is especially true with sales statuses. Some agencies tend to get extremely granular with this list. Yet there’s no need.
That’s because there are dozens of built-in fields to help you understand your cases. And you can create as many custom fields as you like. If you want to assign each case a Dewey Decimal System number, go for it. (Although really?) But you don’t have to create dozens of sales statuses. And you probably don’t need dozens.
Keeping it simple means everyone in your agency will understand how your case data is organized. This means everyone will be entering the data consistently. They’ll be able to quickly find what they need. And new hires will find it easier to get up to speed.
Best of all, you can adjust things down the road. The simpler you structure your data in the beginning, however, the faster you’ll get up-and-running. Which means the sooner you’ll be saving time, money and clients.
NextAgency is an agency management system with CRM and commission management tools for health, senior and life agencies. Our goal is to help agents and brokers save time, money and clients. To learn more, please visit www.NextAgency.com.