I have a few Marketing Commandments that I encourage people to follow that cannot be broken. The first rule is that you cannot only market the way that you would respond. A close second is making sure that your marketing matches your sales and service experience.
Many marketing people have great ideas on how to drive leads but if the marketing message is different than the sales approach, the disconnect results in a lost opportunity. The same can happen with marketing materials to existing clients. If marketing is making promises that aren’t delivered by the service team, the client will feel mislead.
The blame is not on any individual department but on the lack of communication between the departments. There needs to be a stated plan for how the departments will interact. I highly recommend a weekly or bi-weekly discussion between the marketing team and the sales and service teams. This is an opportunity for the sales and service teams to let the marketing team know what they actually do so that marketing can match the message. It is also an opportunity for the marketing team to discuss some of their ideas and work with the front line staff people to bring their ideas to light in a way that matches up with the actual client experience.
The best way to get everyone on the same page is launching a new initiative before starting the more regular calls. One way to accomplish this would be in a full day off-site meeting where you walk through current campaigns, what should be changed and develop a new strategic direction for the marketing team and identify if there are new services or a new process that can be implemented to help the marketing team.
Another way to make sure that everyone is on the same page is by developing a Brand Guide. We want to make sure that all departments are using the same voice and tone that lines up with the agency mission and values.
Let’s look at a couple of examples of areas where we should make sure that the marketing and service or sales department need to be in sync. If your agency is doing a proactive annual review with all of your clients, this should be well promoted to your prospects as well as your existing clients. By promoting this strong and unique program you are able to show why a prospect should be doing business with your agency. Just as important, this will help the service staff when they are making the calls because there will be some familiarity with your existing clients.
One of the biggest areas where I see a disconnect between marketing and sales has to do with promoting other people’s savings. There is an old expression that if you sell it on price you will lose it on price. Good salespeople are promoting the product, services, and coverages. However, if the marketing efforts are pushing savings as the reason to call, the salesperson has to undo that thought process in order to be successful. This can be hard to overcome. We need to recognize the difference between lead quantity and lead quality. I define lead quality as someone that is likely to buy. This includes a decent underwriting risk to open up most of the markets as well as someone that is going to listen to our value proposition, not just compare premium. I often see marketing posts about how we just saved “Chris M $452”. While this can certainly make the phone ring, it puts the salespeople in a tough spot as we cannot do that for all clients.
A great way to combat this issue is by making sure that the departments are measured on metrics that are mutually aligned. For example, if marketing is measured on number of leads and sales is measured on the number of clients sold, their interests are not aligned. By measuring both departments around a more inclusive metric (close ratio and total premium for example), the two departments need to work together to ensure there is enough volume to achieve the total premium number but that the quality is high enough to hit the close ratio goal. This will encourage marketing to focus their efforts on leads more likely to buy while encouraging sales to help contribute to lead volume by assisting with marketing efforts (blog content for example) and lead volume directly by generating their own referrals.
Creating a Customer Experience that conveys a consistent message from the first time they become aware of the agency, through the sales process and onboarding process, into their interactions as a customer, and even potentially when we receive a cancellation notice from them is vital to the agency success. It prevents anyone from having to stop to explain why we are delivering something that appears to be in a different direction from the set expectation.
Agency Performance Partners’ Customer Experience AppX is a 12-month program that helps an agency develop the unique client experience desired for their agency. Contact us today to learn more!