Sales Enablement for the Digital Era

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Without the right tools, content and processes, healthcare sales representatives cannot perform to their maximum potential. The emergence of the omnichannel consumer has made many healthcare sales processes and tools outdated and ineffective. Most millennials don’t like to talk on the phone or even in person – they like to conduct their own online research and product comparisons and should they seek consultative sales support, they prefer digital outreach channels. Even Boomers are beginning to prefer digital forms of engagement with health insurance sales reps.

Today’s agents must be online—they must be digitally connected and real-time responsive in order to be effective in today’s marketplace. For this reason, healthcare organizations are putting a big focus on developing sales enablement strategies for the digital era. These organizations are focusing on the four key components detailed below:

1. Social Media
Agents must understand that social media is a necessary evil. Your agents should be on Facebook and LinkedIn, because your current and prospective customers are there, as are your competitors.
The Insurance Digital Revolution study, an industry initiative organized by Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America’s Agents Council for Technology, the ACORD User Groups Information Exchange and the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, conducted a study of more than 4,000 agents and brokers, titled “The Insurance Digital Transformation Survey.” The study found that agencies are active on social media, including Facebook (78%) and LinkedIn (68%), but surprisingly, only 16% of agents are using chat/instant messaging to communicate with customers and prospects. When prospects post questions to an agencies’ or health plan’s social media, assigned agents should be empowered to step in and answer. Agents should also have their own professional Facebook and LinkedIn pages for directly connecting with prospects and customers. Through these pages, they can start discussions on trending topics while posting links to video and article content that positions themselves as an industry resource.

2. CRM System
As agents generate leads through an increased amount of channels, including online website, search advertising, content marketing, email campaigns and more, it is becoming imperative to track which leads results in sales and how quickly. An up-to-date CRM system can enable agents to determine the most effective channels and tactics to use throughout the sales cycle for different individuals and segments, while enabling better planning and tracking of followup activity. An effective CRM system should also be able to measure conversion ratios and average cost per lead so managers can evaluate cost against ROI, and identify the highest value customers to focus on.

3. Automation
Prospects expect agents to respond to their inquiries and requests for sales literature in real-time and with a high degree of personalization. With online lead generation, this can become difficult to achieve over time if the agent is having to handcraft each message. Integration of a sales automation platform can allow sales to deploy multi-touch communications to prospects quickly, efficiently and affordably. For example, we build custom online sales ordering portals for our health insurance clients that integrate the insurers’ full spectrum of pre-sale materials across product lines. Through access to the portal, their sales reps are able to 24/7 login from any device and on-demand customize and order personalized marketing and pre-sale materials for print-on-demand or digital output. From postcards with personalized landings pages to pre-sale kits and provider directories, our portals automate the complete sales cycle, empowering sales to nurture their leads with ultimate ease and efficiency while delivering a 1:1 touch.

4. Workflow Enhancement
When asked about workflow, the IDC survey found room for improvement. Even though progress is being made in agents’ adoption of automation tools to process claims, quote new business, and make policy changes, the survey found that 40% of agents feel that disjointed workflows is one of the biggest challenges to achieving sales automation. In managing pre-sale communications across a vast portfolio of health plans, we certainly can attest to the fact that sales effectiveness is often not due to lack of technology, but lack of process. Sales can have all the technology tools in the world, but without training in how to use the tools and established workflows for prospecting, preparing for calls, negotiating deals, entering prospect data into online systems, leveraging marketing content, and ordering printed collateral, the technology becomes useless. Any new technology integrations needs to be purpose-driven and slot into the sales lead nurture workflow in a very clear and defined manner, and with the training to support. Insurers should integrate the tech solutions that have the functions sales both wants and needs. More importantly, they should ensure all technology systems communicate with one another to support secure and reliable data flow, and reduce needless data reentry that causes workflow fragmentation.

“Agents understand the current market and know they need to make changes to compete. A significant number — 70% — have proactive strategies in place to implement new technology to improve their businesses,” said Ron Berg, executive director of the Agents Council for Technology. “But even with that awareness, adoption of new technology has been slow. The number of options available is overwhelming and many agents don’t know where to start, or need help in evaluating the return on investment of new technologies.”

Agents are learning that digital tools can be critical components to their sales and customer relations toolkits, helping them acquire new customers and improve relationships with existing clients. And while many are moving in the right direction, others are unsure of how to start and require the support of a consultative technology vendor who can review their current processes and develop custom solutions for their unique business and sales needs. To learn about the sales enablement technologies and services Cierant offers, please call 203-731-3555. We’d be happy to explore how we can build the right digital toolkit to empower your teams and minimize your spend.

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