“Insurers are locked in to accelerate growth in 2022,” Deloitte reported. “But attracting (and retaining) talent in an evolving hybrid work environment will be key.”
Jacobson and Ward’s latest labor market survey of the insurance market found that 62% of insurance companies plan to hire staff, but “recruitment challenges are increasing”. For the first time in the study’s history, from IT to sales to operations, all roles are rated moderately to extremely difficult to fill.
The average salesperson only spends 35% of their time selling. The main obstacles to sales productivity are administrative. According to insurance marketers at Zip Quote, tasks that hinder producer productivity are:
- Email and inbox management. A black hole that renews itself every day.
- Poor AMS/CRM data hygiene. Inconsistent and incomplete contact information and status.
- Lack of lead management system. Physical tracks on business cards and post-its disappear.
- Time spent prospecting. Finding and researching qualified leads, building lists, and making contacts takes time.
- Inconsistent lead tracking. Lack of a formal lead follow-up process.
- Tedious manual workflows. Monitoring of new applications and renewals.
The Disappearing Executive Administrator
The Wall Street Journal wrote about the “disappearing executive administrator” in 2020. The decline has been gradual but massive. The number of workers with the administrative assistant title has fallen 65% since 2004. The United States has cut more than 2 million executive assistant jobs since 2000. Meanwhile, job site Lensa reported that administrative assistants are the third most difficult position to fill in 2022. .
It turns out that all the productivity apps designed to empower executives and fire armies of administrators have had the opposite effect. A Service Now study found that salespeople only spend 35% of their time selling. The rest of their time is spent on day-to-day tasks such as email correspondence, scheduling meetings, CRM/AMS data entry, prospecting and finding leads.
Enter Managed Executive Admin Services for Teams
The shortage of executive assistants is particularly difficult for companies with larger management teams that need to quickly increase their support. According to LinkedIn, the tight job market and growing demand means it takes 33 days to hire an administrative assistant. Stretch that timeframe for several frames and you have a tall order.
Companies are realizing that paying executives to do administrative work is bad business, and they may instead outsource the work to experts – managed remote (virtual) assistant services. In a managed virtual assistant service, the service provider hires, trains and supervises assistants – the assistants work for the service provider. Leadership teams get a layer of professional administrative support without the time and cost of recruiting, hiring, training and managing more people. Leadership teams can:
- Hire faster. Service providers maintain a bank of qualified and trained assistants.
- Scale faster. It is much easier to hire several assistants to form a cohort.
- Lower overhead. The assistants are employees of service providers, without HR leverage or performance management for companies.
- Lower cost. Assistants are hired on a split basis and you pay for the hours used.
What can managed virtual assistants do for insurance sales teams?
Virtual assistants can perform many tasks that slow down agency productivity. The beauty of a managed service is that this work happens in the background while the sales team focuses on selling and customer relationships. Managed virtual assistant providers train assistants to perform the following functions.
CRM/AMS management. Although 86% of companies said their CRM system was “important or very important” to meeting their revenue goals, 39% said they did not have a CRM data management process, or said that one available to them was ineffective.
Your assistant can:
- Enter all your contacts into your CRM and fill in the missing information about them.
- Keep your contact data clean and up-to-date by editing statuses as needed, deleting duplicate data, etc.
- Run reports and send them to yourself so you have access to the latest information about your pipeline.
Lead management. Between 30% and 70% of prospect data “breaks down” each year (job changes, promotions, phone numbers, and email address changes). A virtual assistant prevents this by:
- Continuous update of contact information.
- Record all communications such as calls, emails, and meetings, so you have a record of all your contacts with prospects.
- Maintain prospect status and ownership in your CRM/AMS.
- Track applications, renewals and policy changes.
Prospecting. More than 40% of salespeople say that prospecting is their biggest challenge. It is tedious and time-consuming. Virtual assistants can:
- Search contact databases such as Sales Navigator and ZoomInfo based on lead qualification criteria.
- Build lists for email distribution.
- Launch and manage email campaigns.
Lead tracking. Eighty percent of customers buy from the first business to respond to a request, but most sales teams take five days to respond. Your virtual assistants will:
- Reach out to qualified leads who fill out forms on your website or respond to campaigns.
- Schedule calls for you to meet prospects.
- Confirm meetings to reduce no-shows.
Create and manage workflows. According to Salesforce, it takes six to eight contacts to close a sale, but 70% of salespeople stop at one. Here’s how virtual assistants help:
- Create automated email drip campaigns for your leads.
- Schedule a social media post.
- Set up alerts and contacts for customer milestones such as renewals, birthdays, and holidays.
More tasks than a managed virtual assistant service can provide
All sorts of back-office tasks distract producers from their primary mission: winning new business and serving existing customers. Some of the tasks performed by managed virtual assistants include:
- Communications with the underwriter, so you are not on hold for hours.
- Processing riders as plans change.
- New business and quote preparation.
- Invoicing and payment processing.
- Preparation of tear-off sheets for sales calls.
Find the right solution
There are several virtual assistant business models, including hiring a local freelancer, freelance marketplaces like Upwork, using an outsourcing agency, and the managed service model described here. Review sites such as Investopedia and The Balance SMB provide helpful tips on finding the right solution to ensure you don’t fall behind the growth curve in 2022.
Rob Vaughn is Sales Manager at Prialto. He can be contacted at [email protected].
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