Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it. You see that shiny new piece of technology that will “transform your agency,” but two months later you regret making the purchase.
Did you ever decide that Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter would make your phones ring off the hook, only to quit after week three of the mission?
Tools are an important part of our business, whether it be an agency management system, comparative rater or Microsoft Office. But those of us trying to grow rapidly have to have even more tools: Lead management, customer relationship management, marketing automation, blogs and more.
Whether your strategy is to build a marketing team and generate your own leads, or to purchase leads from providers, you need tools. More importantly, you need people that use them effectively and consistently. Based on my experience serving the local independent agency distribution channel, I have come up with three reasons your tools might not make a difference in your agency:
1. Culture: This should come as no surprise, as agencies with poor culture have the toughest time implementing new technology — and are often the biggest victims of thinking there’s a magic pill for success.
Agencies with a poor culture often believe that a vendor can turn their agency around as opposed to having to do it themselves. Agencies with a poor culture always blame someone when their purchases don't move the needle immediately.
If the culture in your agency leaves a lot to be desired, fix it before buying anything new. The best way to fix it is usually by the agency owner looking in the mirror. Harsh? Yes. True? Absolutely! Leaders are accountable for culture.
2. Training: Most agencies don’t have a training program. As many agencies hire new people or turn over the veteran employees, the tools in the agency are used less and less. Eventually, that tool is not an investment but an expense.
Most technology vendors have great training platforms for you to learn about their software. Use them. Make it a part of your onboarding and ongoing training processes. Developing people is the best investment you can make in your agency.
3. Implementation: if the top two reasons apply to you, then implementation will ultimately fail. You don’t want to fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis, but to succeed you do need to analyze exactly how you’re going to implement new technology.
Getting your team to buy-in to new technology will make this process effective and increase your chance of success. Fail to plan, plan to fail.
Tools are important — but not more important than the basic principles of running a good business – creating a positive culture, training people well and helping them to be successful is the only way to be successful.
Stuart Ganis is the founder of Redondo Beach, Calif.-based Ganis Consulting, which provides sales, marketing, operations, and mergers and acquisition consulting to insurance agencies. Follow him on Twitter @StuartGanis.
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