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Life Health > Running Your Business > Prospecting

Sales Prospecting Tools Proliferate

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Salespeople are always looking for tools that will add to their bottom line, and companies that offer sales prospecting products are lined up to supply that demand.

Among the tools is ERISA ONLINE, a Web-based sales prospecting database created by and offered by Manulife Financial, Boston. The product provides brokers with methods for sorting information, says Paul Henry, director of strategic planning and market research, Manulife.

The information in the database comes from the 5500 forms, filed by pension plan administrators, that give the status of their retirement plans, Henry says.

A broker who wants to know which plans are based in her area might do a zip code search, notes Henry. She could also sort the information by name of provider.

A broker could also use this tool to find out whether a provider is leaving the business. She could then call the participants that had been served by that provider and offer her services, Henry says.

Another search available is of companies that have a certain number of employees or amount of assets, says Henry.

Instead of a traditional payment plan, the cost to the broker is that he or she register on the site and bring on one plan with Manulife.

What sets ERISA ONLINE apart from other prospecting tools, notes Henry, is its ability to track historical information.

“A lot of tools will only show the most recent (5500) filings, we have 5 years of 5500 filings,” he says.

“It allows brokers to identify trends so if you have a plan that is increasing in assets, levels of contributions and employees, those people might welcome a broker calling to see if their current provider is meeting their needs.”

ERISA ONLINE was launched Nov. 12, 2001. From that date to Nov. 30 there were more than 3,800 hits to that part of Manulifes site, Henry says. By the end of December that figure grew to more than 7,300 hits. About 2,500 people are currently registered on the site, he adds.

Among them is Kevin Reynolds, executive vice president, EJ Reynolds Inc., Pembroke Pines, Fla.

Reynolds says he finds that ERISA ONLINE is easier to work with than other search engines hes used. Part of that comes from not having to use the exact name of a company, he explains.

“With some of the search engines you have to have the exact name as it was filed in the 5500,” Reynolds says. “With this you can use approximations.”

The only drawback Reynolds has noticed is that at times the system “times out,” forcing a user to log off and back on. Other than that, ERISA ONLINE is “user-friendly,” he says.

DataQuick ProspectFinder, by DataQuick, San Diego, Calif., offers two products that can affect a customers bottom line by increasing revenue and making operations more efficient, says Amy Rukamp, product manager for DataQuick.

The targeted customer for DataQuicks subscription-based ProspectFinder is the independent insurance agent, or the agent of a small-to-mid-size insurance company, Rukamp says.

Accounts start at $75 per month, and 18 cents per lead, she notes.

“Agents are able to log in anytime via the Internet and start prospecting,” she says.

Each list has a save-search capability, statewide and nationwide searching, extended output file and several “smart” search filters (i.e., sale amount, sale date range, etc.), allowing agents to further narrow their target market, she says.

DataQuick ProspectFinder Enterprise Solution is a customizable Internet product for large insurers that comes with an application through which agents can buy the latest leads.

DataQuick works with Enterprise customers to create targeted lists, and offers large companies the ability to scrub leads against their current customer base–a method that ensures only new contacts are established, Rukamp notes.

Companies may also choose to distribute leads on an exclusive basis, giving sales reps who have purchased leads sole access to those leads for 30 days.

Among software products, FrontRange Solutions, Colorado Springs, Colo., offers two sales prospecting packages: GoldMine Standard, which retails for about $200 per license, and GoldMine Front Office 2000, which retails for about $495 per license, according to Donald Farrey, president, Icon One Source, Atlanta.

Icon One Source has an emerald-level partnership with FrontRange, which means it can sell any FrontRange product, Farrey says.

GoldMine is primarily boxed software sold through a reseller channel. Online capabilities are offered via an add-on feature, Farrey says.

The product allows companies to have one database of their prospects, he explains.

“It allows them to track any touch points they have with prospects from the calls, appointments, e-mails and faxes. Every time the prospect or customer is contacted, its updated in the history,” he says.

If a sales manager wants to see how many field calls his team is making, he can retrieve that data through one of more than 80 types of reports GoldMine offers, he adds.

“They can also forecast sales and product interest,” he notes. “When it comes budget time, it helps to know what sales will be like down the road and whether [one] is doing enough marketing.”

Front Office is more expensive than GoldMine Standard, Farrey says, in part because it has a “much stronger database and includes synchronization software” through which field office reports can be sent to a corporate location.

Independent vendors develop add-ons that work with GoldMine to create an expanded package, Farrey says, so that customized products are pre-made for companies requesting extra features.

Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, March 11, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.

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