NU Online News Service, July 30, 2:55 p.m. – One of the most critical factors for getting good results from a bank insurance sales program is a well-managed referral system, says James Campbell, a principal at Reagan Consulting, Atlanta.

“The number one priority is to define precisely what kind of leads the banks’ employees should be looking for,” says Campbell, whose firm studies the bank insurance market for the American Bankers Insurance Association, Washington.

“A lot of systems don’t make clear what a qualified lead looks like,” Campbell adds. “A clear definition of who is a candidate for life insurance products should be spelled out, and the bank should provide incentives to bank employees to provide referrals to the bank’s insurance agents. There should also be some kind of reporting and tracking of what happens to each lead, so you can have a very tight and well managed referral system.”

Referrals are especially important to the success of the advanced agents who cater to the bank’s most profitable individual and business clients, Campbell says.

“Advanced agents are the most productive of bank agents by a significant margin, which is not surprising,” he says. “These agents are typically selling through commercial or private or trust groups in the bank, marketing through existing relationships, so it’s not a transactional sort of business.”

Bank representatives who sell products and services to trust and business customers are the gatekeepers of the bank’s sales to these customers, Campbell observes.

“It’s absolutely essential to establish personal relationships with trust officers, commercial lenders and so on,” Campbell says. “Those employees are not inclined to provide access unless they know and believe in the agent and feel he can add value to their relationship with the customer.”

Campbell has seen a few banks achieve strong results by developing a team approach to serving wealthy customers and business customers.

“Some banks have put groups together from different disciplines, and these groups will have joint responsibility for each customer relationship, deciding what products to provide,” he says. “Each member of the group provides a point of contact. All are given some type of incentive, and all live or die with their bank’s success with the relationship. So they are all tied toward the same goal rather than competing with each other.”