How a smooth pipeline fuels growth

Monday, February 3, 2014
Written By
Zywave

How often does a broker say that a prospect “feels good”… and then the business never comes through? How about a seasoned veteran confident about hitting a quarterly sales goal and then coming up short, with many excuses—none of which is, “I didn’t follow our sales process.” Lost opportunities such as these stifle your brokerage’s growth—in more ways than one.

Recently while deer hunting (aka card playing), one guy used the proverb “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.” If you don’t plan your team’s pipeline and manage it, you are setting yourself up to fail—once the sales process has begun, it’s too late to make changes to fix the gap. When prioritising brokerage initiatives for next year, be aware of what good pipeline management can do for your growth. Effective pipeline management helps you:

  • Predict future cash flow (can we make investment x now?)
  • Track conversion success rates (the past helps predict the future)
  • Evaluate why business was not won (don’t make the same mistake twice)
  • Spot concerns early in the pipeline, so the broker can change approach
  • Better manage newer brokers’ pipelines, so a manager can step in when needed to help close bigger accounts
  • Monitor progress towards sales goals, so changes can be made if needed to meet quotas

Are you using pipeline management to get ahead? If not, seize the opportunity to be more efficient and effective than competitors and position yourself among elite brokerages. A recent survey from Rainmaker Advisory LLC found that:

  • 64.3 per cent of insurance brokers do not manage a pipeline at least once a week.
  • 16 per cent don’t use a pipeline management system at all.

This is one of the factors that will distinguish tomorrow’s top brokerages from those who will fail. Considering the benefits above and these statistics, you have a huge opportunity to stimulate growth through pipeline management.

Ready to get started? Once you’ve chosen the best way to manage your pipeline, spend time setting up the right metrics to make the most of it.

  1. Define the stages of the pipeline for your brokerage. Think about what verifiable outcomes get you from stage to stage. This could be a meeting with the loss control person, a meeting with the managing director, etc. Chances are you’ll improve this once you get started, but work hard to identify verifiable outcomes so you can challenge your brokers to show proof.
  2. Once your sales pipeline is established for a quarter or two, you can begin forecasting using the stages in your pipeline. For example, at the beginning of a quarter, look at the number of opportunities in each stage and the probability of closing each (based on historical results). Then, forecast cash flow and begin making better-informed business decisions.
  3. At the end of the pipeline cycle (monthly, quarterly, etc.), STOP! Take time and review what each broker submitted at the beginning of the cycle and discuss each opportunity. Where is it today and why did we win, lose or push it? Is there something we knew but didn’t realise at the beginning? This isn’t a one-way discussion—and having a rep always hit 100 per cent isn’t realistic.
  4. Make sure your brokers understand why you are doing this. For example, “We are a growth brokerage and for our brokerage to continue investing in tools to help you bring in new business, we need to understand our cash flow. Plus, better understanding how we are winning and losing business will help us all write more next year.”

 

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