(Image credit: Dollar Photo Club.)
Quoting employee retirement plan business was a time-consuming process for The Standard’s ($26.62 billion in total assets under administration) sales team, resulting in both inefficiencies and the potential for lost business. The Portland, Ore.-based insurance and financial services company turned to Bluewolf, a New York-based consulting firm, for help in improving processes and implementing a new Salesforce-based tool to radically reduce the time it took to quote business. The result was to speed proposals from three days to just minutes, while meeting IT’s goals to replace legacy solutions with modern alternatives in line with the company’s digital strategy.
The Standard’s existing new business process allowed sales people to submit an initial quote to the Sales Operations team, who in turn would generate a proposal for recommended products and pricing. Sales people were dependent on Home Office staff to complete the request, within which pricing and proposals were separate processes. During the three days that it took to deliver a proposal, the customer was likely soliciting proposals from other carriers, according to Katie Payne, director of Business Improvement at The Standard. “If you can be first to put the pricing in the hands of the customer, that’s an advantage,” Payne comments. “Our challenge was to reduce the effort it took us to deliver a comprehensive quote and proposal but still respect the product and regulatory complexity inherent to the business.”
The Standard selected the Salesforce-compatible Apttus eSales product as its new quoting platform. The solution aligned with IT’s objective of replacing legacy apps with modern capabilities in line with the company’s digital strategy generally, and in this case with the cloud-based approach exemplified by its earlier Salesforce selection. “Beyond wanting something faster and more efficient from a process perspective, we try to find solutions that don’t require a great deal of IT support,” notes Dave Friesen, senior director of IT Solutions at The Standard. “It’s a software-as-a-service kind of capability, and when we see that available for a given need, it fits our strategy to take advantage of it.”
The Standard’s team undertook a process mapping exercise, identifying the future-state flow of quote and proposal from the opportunity through entry into the onboarding process, according to Payne. That included criteria and flow for underwriting approvals, in order to maximize straight-through processing and quoting in general. “Essentially, not everything needs to go through underwriting—which is one of the things that made the Apttus solution a great fit for us,” Payne says. “This facilitated what Apttus workflow had to be configured, and how.”
As a result of the implementation, The Standard can now quote employee retirement plan business in minutes rather than days, resulting in a significant improvement in proposal activity, according to Payne. “After the first 90 days we did a year-over-year comparison of proposals delivered to customers and saw that the rate had doubled,” she said. Payne sees the results as the outcome of an effective partnership with Bluewolf. “Having an implementation partner who could supplement our knowledge of the business with their technical experience was crucial,” she says.