Sales vs. Service: Do You Feel the Friction?
Frank Pennachio is a Principal at Oceanus Partners, a ReSource Pro Company. Frank has more than 30 years of experience in the insurance industry as an agency owner and producer. Highly regarded as a speaker and thought leader, Frank regularly presents at conferences and publishes articles in national and regional trade publications. He hopes to educate, entertain and provoke his audiences to think in a new way about emerging challenges.
The insurance profession is among many other professions and industries that experience friction, inefficiencies, and inherent risks that arise from challenges to coordinate their sales and service departments. Some level of rift between sales and service is healthy and positive as it can provide some checks and balances. However, when sales and service fail to adequately align and coordinate their respective roles and responsibilities, all stakeholders are put at risk.
ReSource Pro, Oceanus Partners, and Insurance Journal partnered up to survey U.S. insurance agencies about the alignment of sales and service teams. The data, collected from 600+ U.S. insurance agency professionals in 2019, shows that at this critical time, collaboration is breaking down and best practices are eroding, threatening opportunities for organic growth and customer retention within agencies.
What’s at Stake
The survey findings include significant discrepancies between how producers, sales management, and service teams perceive processes in the client lifecycle, from client onboarding to renewals. Left unresolved, these issues result in:
Money left on the table
Lax service and inadequate protection for insureds
The risk of a tarnished reputation
Survey responses reveal that due diligence on behalf of the client, especially with executing consistent and repeatable processes to address current and emerging risks, is lacking for many.
Improving the integration of sales and service team processes is critical, but not simple. Talent shortages, an accelerated pace of marketplace changes, and overwhelmed and distracted clients, are just a few dynamics that influence and exacerbate the challenges. In addition, the insurance profession, like many others, tends to address difficulties and obstacles in silos.
Service teams take on their operational issues inside the service team, and sales meets separately to focus of sales and growth barriers. We rarely see the sales and service teams come together with a comprehensive and enterprise approach to identify where each department is aiding or hampering the other side of the house and adversely affecting clients. Adding to the turmoil, outside support and consulting companies are usually working in specialized silos, as well.
Change Won’t Go Away
It is rare for a day to go by without insurance professionals hearing about disruptions and transformations affecting the economy, marketplace, and their profession. There are many unknowns regarding the present and future impact of artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, exponential and consumer technologies, and changing buying habits, just to name a few. But, one point is certain: there will be winners and losers.
In order to successfully navigate the choppy waters ahead, insurance professionals must build a bridge across the divide that separates sales and service teams. The profession can no longer afford the luxury of avoiding the risks and waste that arise from the lack of effective and efficient coordination between sales and service. Failing to do so will likely leave insurance companies, agencies, and clients at greater and unnecessary risk. Moving forward and addressing these risks is not only important work to be done, but is likely urgent.