Independents are worst in the industry for critical tech adoption: Report

A study reveals that independent agencies are least likely to adopt technology, though its head researcher recommends ways to remain competitive.

Insurance News


Any brokers who believe that they are not leveraging technology to its full potential should not feel alone in that assessment.
According to a new study conducted by Velocify, a firm specializing in sales automation software, not only do “relatively few agencies” enjoy the full benefits that technology has to offer, but most tools remain underutilized by the industry as a whole.
This comes in stark contrast to the benefits that technology can provide to brokers and agents.
“One of our major findings when looking at insurance policies per producer was that agencies using at least one of six technologies were seeing 43% more sales than their counterparts,” said Jorge Jeffery, director of research at Velocify.
The six technologies evaluated in the study include: marketing automation software, lead management software, automated dialers, competitive raters, agency management systems and customer relationship management (CRM).
Jeffery’s team also found that larger agencies were 93% more likely to adopt technology than organizations with 10 or fewer employees, and direct-to-consumer trumped independent agencies by 26%.
While these numbers are startling, the researchers were more surprised by the trend that followed.
“Another thing we found that we didn’t expect was the widening tech gap. Directs are not only the heaviest users of technology, but they also reported the most plans for investing in technology over the next year,” said Jeffery. “They’re already leaders in tech adoption and if they’re planning to invest the most as well, the gap will widen even further.”
This discrepancy is worth noting since there is a strong correlation between technology use and revenue growth, with the most successful companies reporting the highest rates of tech use and most ambitious plans for investment.
Still, Jeffery sees this as an opportunity for small brokerages and independent agencies to play “catch up.”
“One way is in terms of the sales process,” he said. “Surveys continually show how closely correlated structured sales is to increased revenues and better sales.”
Standardizing sales is a particularly advisable first step for brokerages since it ameliorates common issues plaguing the leads process.
“A lot of agencies leave it up to the agent to follow up with leads, but in many cases, they fall through the cracks or get lost in the system,” Jeffery said. “Research has found, however, that there’s effective ways to follow-up with somebody in terms of number of calls, emails, and the timing of those, and having everyone follow the same process makes a significant difference in results.”
This can extend to household sales, as technology can be advantageous in acquiring customers, closing leads and upselling to existing clients. 
Finally, since independent agencies already have a competitive advantage over larger, more established rivals, technology can enhance already existing differentiators.
“These agencies offer a lot of different services and products that directs and captives can’t compete with, so if they were to adopt technology and take advantage of those benefits, it could make a big impact on the industry as a whole,” Jeffery said.



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