Written by Kronos Technologies on September 19, 2018
Paper can create a drag on an advisor’s business. Time spent filing, entering data and searching for documents takes away from productive, revenue generating activities. The best advisors have transitioned their businesses away from paper— using advisor-specific CRM solutions to manage the newly efficient and nimble digital practice.
Read on for the four essential steps to making a successful transition to a paperless practice using CRM.
Step 1: Choose the right CRM (and vendor)
Modern CRMs are designed to manage all your client interactions—helping you to automate and streamline your workflow, reduce paper, and keep track of what has been done. However, for an advisor the best CRM is one specifically designed to support their insurance and investment business needs. Not only do these solutions contain powerful features that support your unique practice requirements—like tracking the different kinds of insurance and investment revenues, centralizing client data from carriers and distributors, and managing sales opportunities—they are also easy to set up and begin using. With an advisor-specific solution, there’s no need to spend time reconfiguring a generic, one-size-fits-all CRM.
Part of choosing the right CRM is making sure that the vendor is a good fit for you. A great vendor will provide tools and support to get you up and running with minimal fuss. Look for vendors that provide resources like articles, webinars and videos that walk you through everything you’ll need to know about your CRM. And make sure they have a great support team.
Step 2: Migrate your data to your CRM
Once you have your CRM up and running the next step in eliminating the paper that is slowing you down is to port all of your insurance and investment data into the CRM. There are a few ways you can accomplish this.
Set up gateways
The best advisor-specific solutions have gateways to carrier sites and distributor back office systems that enable you to pull client data into your CRM. However, if the gateway you’re looking for is not available, there are other methods for bringing data into your CRM.
If you don’t have access to all the gateways you need you can always import your client data manually. It does take some time and effort, but in this case the data entry has an upside—it’s a great way to learn the ins and outs of your CRM solution and become a master of all its great features, which will actually increase your efficiency and effectiveness.
Data Migration from another Software Solution
In some cases, however, your book of business may simply be too big for manual data entry to make sense. If this is the case look for a vendor who can perform a data migration for you. Usually they can perform this migration no matter what software (Salesforce, Maximizer, or ACT, or a homemade software solution) you were previously using. This is an efficient and effective solution, though it likely will have a cost attached.
Step 3: Scan your documents
The next step in going paperless is to convert all of your existing paper to digital files that will be attached to the client records in your CRM. Not only will digitization of all that paper save you time you used to spend shuffling paper—but it will make compliance a snap, since each document will be related to a client creating a defensible record of your work with them.
This digital conversion can be a big job, and the best practice is to not attempt to do all the scanning yourself. Even delegating the task to a staff member will eat up a large chunk of time, they might better spend supporting your sales and marketing efforts. Instead look for a vendor who has a service that, for a price, will scan your files for you and organize them in your CRM. Or, you may want to outsource the job to a company that specializes in document scanning.
Step 4: Set expectations with your clients
Once you have digitized all your historical data you’ll still need to contend with the ongoing ingestion of documents. If you continue to receive documents and client requests in paper form you’ll quickly find that you’re back where you started—spending time filing, managing and scanning paper.
Avoiding this problem means implementing a process for eliminating incoming paper as much as possible. And to make this process work—you need your clients’ help.
The first step in getting client buy-in is to explain to them what you are doing and why going paperless will be good for you both. Talk to them about the many benefits, such as: improved service, quicker turnaround on requests, increased compliance, and a more responsive, mobile approach to meeting their needs.
Make sure to explain how the paperless process will work going forward and what your expectations of them are. You may, for instance, request that they email you word docs, or PDFs rather than faxing you. You may want to use a digital FNA for annual reviews, make digital recordings of calls for compliance purposes, and share meeting notes electronically to ensure you’re both on the same page.
It’s a good idea to create a document you can give to them that highlights the process and expectations, including FAQs, and explaining how they can get help if they need it.
And, after the transition, check in with your clients regularly to make sure the move to a paperless practice is a positive experience for them and not causing unforeseen headaches.
Putting it all together
A paperless office brings increased speed and efficiency to your practice. It increases productivity and puts you in front of more clients, more often. Follow the four essential steps to going digital with an advisor-specific CRM and you’ll save time, suffer fewer frustrations, and meet more client needs. It will ensure a higher state of compliance. And it will allow you to automate and better manage activities that are important to your marketing, sales and service strategies.