A well-designed distribution system or platform with the ability to manage the key business process of distribution—recruiting and on-boarding, compliance, compensation, portal, and analytics—will have all the requisite functionality. Additionally, the modular design of the system should let modules “plug and play” with each other. This allows various applications, some disparate, to be used in concert, sharing information to the entire organization, not just sales and marketing.

For example, a modern modular distribution system will have applications for agent recruitment and on-boarding (a function that is a hand-off from the field to internal distribution operations); agent and agency management and compliance, which is the application that is required after the on-boarding/recruitment process is complete; a module for compensation management that is not only for the producer/agent, but for the distributor as well; a self-service portal that enables agents and agencies to access their information for simple file maintenance, but also as a means of accessing key information such as sales results, expiration lists, claims in process, application status that is accessible from any device (phone, tablet, PC); and a reporting or analytics module that pulls data from the entire distribution system and brings that information to dashboards that are granular at the manager level and more holistic at the senior management level.

Ultimately, driving the overall distribution system is workflow designed to automate the entire function of field management, enabling easy reporting, scheduling, task lists, and communication between the field and the office.
CRM for Insurance is the Key to Field-Management Success
Marketing: The Payoff

The obvious payoff for CRM designed for insurance is its ability to manage a significant part of the sales process. However, the missing link in most CRM applications is the point where marketing meets sales. Most CRM applications handle the sales aspect very well but do not have the functionality to manage marketing campaigns. Although it is well and good to manage the interactions between parties, agents, and field-marketing personnel, having the ability to design, develop, and execute sophisticated marketing campaigns is better. Even better is having the ability to use email, specialized content, and other marketing tools to gain insight into who is opening the email, going to the website, or downloading a value-exchange item.

Obtaining that type of data is where the rubber meets the road. Driving e-marketing campaigns generally requires third-party applications that are specifically designed to track and manage the entire marketing campaign. A leading independent marketing-management vendor, according to a recent Gartner Magic Quadrant for marketing management, is Marketo. Marketo, for example, has the ability to process unqualified contacts from a variety of sources including web-registration pages, direct mail campaigns, email marketing, multichannel campaigns, and database marketing.

Most CRM systems will not natively do all the sophisticated marketing management that one would expect and require. With social media, electronic media, and even old snail mail, being able to identify prospective insureds for a specific product is a very effective use of CRM. Today’s technology allows a marketer to see virtually, in real-time, who is on a particular website, what they are looking at, how long they have been on the site, who the person is, and what got them to the website in the first place. The ability to tailor content to meet the needs of potential clients is a major factor in the sales race. A major benefit for insurers is that with lead management, they have the ability to run and manage marketing campaigns that directly involve their agents at a very reasonable cost.

CRM Still is the Swiss Army Knife of Technology

CRM has become a necessary business tool and application in virtually every industry. The challenge for an industry like insurance is to find CRM applications that are designed for the insurance market and not just a warmed-over version of CRM that the vendor is also selling to manufacturers, pharma, or some other industry vertical. Insurance has unique needs and operates very differently from other industries and requires applications designed to solve business issues that insurance organizations face each day.

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