What are you leaving on the table?

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Don’t Get Left Behind by Advances in Sales Automation Technology

The life insurance and annuities industry is changing quickly, thanks in large part to rapidly-evolving technology. As the industry continues to modernize, the technology supporting your digital processes needs to keep up. The firms best positioned to win are the ones that don’t assume they have the best technology stack. They evaluate it on a regular basis to make sure it is still meeting their needs.

Compare your current sales automation solutions’ capabilities to what you could be doing with leading modern technology. Do your current solutions stack up? Or do you have untapped potential with better technology?

Eliminating NIGOs

Where you might be right now

Some e-application solutions used today don’t help with not-in-good-order (NIGO) rates as much as they could. That is problematic.

NIGOs are a common and expensive challenge. On average, 60% of life and annuity applications are returned NIGO. They wreak havoc on your efficiency. They lead to negative client experiences, which then snowball into bad word-of-mouth.

Plus, NIGOs make producers wait longer to get paid. This can lead to a less satisfied and unmotivated advisor force.

What you can achieve with the latest technology

Some modern sales platforms are dramatically reducing—or even eliminating—NIGOs. Depending on the client, the best platforms can provide average NIGO rates of 10%. Sometimes even less.

NIGOs are especially common in replacements. Some of today’s sales platforms have an effective way to combat replacement NIGOs. They integrate with a ceding carrier database. This allows you to ensure you are meeting all ceding carrier requirements.

Top automation solutions can eliminate NIGOs for missing paperwork or incorrect applications. They do this by ensuring you always have the latest carrier rules and forms. They also use rules to make sure advisors never miss a field.

This technology is important for you if…

  • You have a higher than acceptable NIGO rate. NIGOs inject inefficiency into your process, which kills your productivity and profits.
  • You have ever lost a sale due to a NIGO. Every dissatisfied customer is a liability. Your agency’s future hinges on your reputation. Losing this sale might lose you the next one, too.

End-to-end functionality

Where you might be right now

Many firms are using multiple, disparate technologies for their sales process. Even if the solutions are from a single vendor, the process might still be disconnected and feel disjointed.

Advisors have to deal with different systems—and different user experiences—for the various sales activities. This results in inefficiency. Advisors’ workflows are interrupted every time they change systems. And, data fails to carry through from one activity to the next, resulting in redundant data entry and a greater chance for errors. Plus, adoption suffers when advisors are forced to learn multiple systems and master new user interfaces (UI).

What you can achieve with the latest technology

For starters, an unbroken digital chain. Eliminating paper cuts down on costs and delays. End-to-end solutions ensure your process starts online and stays there.

One of the most important benefits of an end-to-end solution is workflow efficiency. Advisors do not have to jump between multiple systems for a single application. Plus, no more going to different carrier websites to get comparison quotes.

End-to-end platforms also offer a connected data flow. Information previously entered carries through to future stages of the process. This eliminates time-wasting data entry. It also prevents keying errors.

This technology is important for you if…

  • Paper is still part of your workflow.
  • You currently have disparate solutions or plan to add new sales activities down the road. Your vendor may offer all the solutions. However, they might be held together by the software equivalent of duct tape. These solutions may seem attractive on the surface, but they do not offer the workflow efficiency you need to stay competitive.

Ease of workflow changes

Where you might be right now

Some sales automation solutions make it hard to customize your workflow. You have to wait months for scheduled releases. Or, you must pay the vendor to complete your changes—if the vendor offers this option at all.

Either way, you lack control and are beholden to your vendor’s schedule. You may decide workflow adjustments are not worth the time or money they would require. Which leaves you right where you started. And saddles your advisors with a suboptimal workflow.

What you can achieve with the latest technology

The best sales platforms give you control of your workflow with self-administration tools. You can make changes at any time and without the expense and delays of the vendor completing the job for you.

For example, you may decide you want a special review queue for a specific product. With the ability to self-administer, you can set this up yourself in a matter of days. Compare this to the months of planning it would require waiting for your vendor to complete the task.

This technology is important for you if…

  • Your solution does not give you control with self-administration capabilities.

Unnecessary costs

Where you might be right now

Some legacy vendors are still charging transaction fees in addition to license fees. This is a dated business model. Industry-leading carrier-supported platforms are available.

The software expense is not the only consideration for distributors. Consider the costs of not upgrading to a more powerful system. What are your current processes costing you?

For example, when an application is returned NIGO, it adds costs to the process. Back-office staff must do—and redo—additional work. All while staff and advisors could be spending time on more profitable tasks.

If you really want a scary thought, consider the sales you have lost out on because of your legacy solutions. According to a report from Advisor360, a staggering 65% of wealth management advisors say they have lost clients or prospects because their technology didn’t meet client expectations.

What you can achieve with the latest technology

The latest automation can reduce NIGO rates and make advisors more efficient. It can also shorten the sales cycle. Shorter sales cycles mean everyone gets paid faster. Clients are less likely to drop out of the process, get the products they need faster and are more likely to recommend you to friends.

A good e-application solution, for example, can use automated underwriting to speed up application processing. Instead of waiting days or weeks for a decision, the client could receive a decision in seconds.

This technology is important for you if…

  • You are paying transaction fees. In today’s marketplace, there is no excuse for this. The industry has moved on.
  • Your sales and margins are poor, and it is hard to identify why. It is challenging to put a value on missed opportunities. But, that is often exactly what goes on. Poor client experiences, slow sales processes and NIGOs are the silent killers of agency profits.

Advisor adoption

Where you might be right now

It is a horror story as old as the industry itself. Agencies adopt a new process or technology that would result in better efficiency and grow sales, only for it to be swiftly ignored by producers.

One could blame it on an “if you build it, they will come” mentality on the part of agencies. But that is rarely the culprit. Agencies typically put in the effort to drive advisor adoption. More often, advisors have good reasons they avoid using new solutions.

What you can achieve with the latest technology

Modern solutions can have features that eliminate advisor adoption barriers. For example, you can present a workflow advisors are comfortable with. One with the option to choose between forms and wizards.

Some modern sales platforms offer embedded API capabilities. This technology allows advisors to work in the system they are accustomed to. This helps adoption because advisors do not have to learn a brand-new system.

This technology is important for you if…

  • You struggle with advisor adoption.
  • You have trouble attracting and keeping top advisor talent. Good advisors do not have the time of day for legacy solutions. Or even modern solutions that lack the most competitive features. Good advisors know the difference. They will go where they can get the best technology to support their sales process.

The cost of staying the same

Sticking with your current solution may seem easier than adopting new technology. But this can be a costly mistake. Sales automation technology is changing by the day. If you are not getting more efficient, your competitors will not wait around for you. You can improve your efficiency and maintain your competitive edge. And the right technology can help you along the way.

Article by Lasse Ljung, SVP, Life Distribution Sales, Hexure

This article was first published in Aspire Magazine.

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