This article shares the initial results of the implementation of the Kanban method in the commercial area of an automobile insurance company, also aligned with the marketing area. Kanban implementation encompasses key subjects such as numbers, people, and motivations.
The motivation to use Kanban in the business area of the company was to validate the concept of increasing sales by managing the sales process rather than through customer management used in the vast majority of CRM solutions in the market. This includes those used by the insurer. The idea was to confirm that it is more practical for a sales manager to apply management of the metrics under their control and sales activities, rather than unpredictable behaviors of people who may be interested in the company’s products at some point.
In this case, the insurer planned to promote a fair of new cars (maximum two years of use, with at least 1.6 engine, air conditioning and steering), in July 2018 with an average value of R$ 30,000.00 (thirty thousand reais) per unit. The potential sales value of this fair was BRL 9,000,000.00 (nine million reais) in revenue over two weekends.
The insurer’s direct sales area consisted of approximately forty-five people, divided into six teams of six brokers, with a sales manager for each team, administrative staff, and a commercial director. In the initial phase, the commercial director chose only one sales team to adopt the Kanban method, serving as a pilot for comparison with the other five teams. The team that adopted the Kanban method obtained the first position, responsible for 25% of the Total Sales Value or BRL 2,250,000.00, with the second placed at 16%.
When we think about the main objective of the sales and marketing areas in the Automobile Insurance Market, we noticed that two areas are looking for the same thing, having at least two metrics in common: Total Sales Value and achieving % of minimum profitability for the organization. The Total Sales Value is calculated by the sum of the potential sales value of all available units in a particular event or calculation period.
Historical insurance market data points out that companies spend 3% to 6% of sales value on marketing. The way this percentage is distributed in marketing actions depends on the profile of each event, the target audience and the characteristics of the product. Usually most are invested in points of sale, where the business is closed, but the relationship is fostered more often by digital social networks.
How does the customer’s purchasing journey take place in the insurance market? Using the concept of a sales funnel, one way to describe what consumers go through before deciding to buy a used car is to divide the funnel into 4 steps, as shown below:
In summary, these steps represent that the journey begins with one person:
1) unknown, who has a challenge but does not recognize it or does not clearly identify it
2) you have the name and contact and understand the challenge you have
3) begins to consider solutions to your challenge
4) is then converted into a customer by choosing a company as the solution provider.
Nowadays, with the momentum of Digital Marketing, the steps and responsibilities for the sales funnel are mixed between the internal marketing and sales areas, and these areas need to work together so the person actually reaches the bottom of the funnel, manages to confirm the purchase and converts into an account of the insurer. Prospecting strategies via digital channels (Google AdWords, Facebook etc.), online customer service, point-of-sale, word of mouth and other actions should be planned and executed together, under penalty of management workflow. And that’s where Kanban can help. The application of the concepts of the Kanban method improves the management and controls of the activities of the teams: through the Kanban Board (or Kanban Board, physical or online), it promotes the standardization and the monitoring the flows of the different sales processes, measuring the productivity of the teams.
The insurer’s marketing is responsible for bringing that potential customer to one of their products, through their digital channels or offline marketing. Then it is the marketing area that turns this mere visitor into a lead (possible customer), with name, contact and other information that will be important for the company’s brokers to qualify the lead, schedule a visit, and negotiate business conditions.
How can marketing and sales be more attuned?
To improve the alignment between marketing and sales, we recommend that those responsible for the areas follow five (5) steps:
- Define objectives: how much is the sales team selected valued, how many leads would the marketing area need to generate for the sales team, how many people would need to be contacted, how many contacts would be made, among other points highlighted.
- Implement Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between the areas: the commitment each one made to achieve the shared objectives, the explicit communication regarding the agreed rules.
- Feed the process with information: increasingly qualifying the leads and defining more profitable profiles, so that it is possible to make proposals more directed to those opportunities with greater chances of conversion.
- Keep open communication between areas: with regular meetings between teams, to realign objectives, if and when necessary.
- Follow the results: by means of metrics and key indicators.
The Kanban method, method of visual management and flow control created by David J. Anderson for the conduct of evolutionary changes in the work of knowledge, was then chosen to make tangible the execution of the steps described above. The environment in which the work was being done was very complex and we tried to show that there is no recipe to solve the problems, but rather good practices that helped identify the most appropriate alternatives to the company context, as follows:
- Start with what the company already has! We explained that the Kanban Method could be applied as a complement to any methodology that the team already uses and was already used to. We are looking for incremental improvements. We respect existing roles and positions, encourage leadership at all levels, with regular reporting to the commercial director and other executives involved (stakeholders).
View the workflow. Part of the essence of Kanban is to start from the existing process with minimal initial changes. So, first we only make the work process visible, reflecting the flow and the stages from the beginning to the end of the sales demand. We use a chart with queues to represent the work steps and cards representing the demands. After providing visibility into the workflow, the problems of the existing process were exposed and the impact of the team’s daily decisions, the bottlenecks in the accumulated job queues, and the blocked items per day became evident. In addition, visual management encouraged better communication, collaboration and prioritization of the work to be done, helping make the system self-organizing after a short period.
- Limit work in progress. There is a cause and effect relationship between the amount of work in progress (WIP) and its average Lead Time. We have explained the concept, but this practice was not implemented in the initial pilot, being at the discretion of the commercial director to adopt it at a later stage of the project.
- Manage and measure the flow. We reinforce the importance of managing and measuring the workflow of the Kanban method with a set of indicators that present relevant information to guide the sales team’s decision making process optimization and the necessary reporting to the sales manager.
In a Kanban approach, it is critical to show the system is predictable, the organization has business agility, the focus is on flow, and continuous improvement is happening. Therefore, for each of these needs, there are specific indicators. These include the Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) that helps us visualize the amount of work at each stage, identifys the bottlenecks, and whether the system is flowing properly. With the distribution of the average lead time, we improved the predictability of the proposed trading conditions and the advance to the negotiation and contract signing phases.
Among the six teams allocated for the sale of insurance in the automobile industry, the team that adopted the Kanban method obtained the first position, being responsible for 25% of the general sales value (VGV), which is equivalent to BRL 2,250,000.00 (two million, two hundred and fifty thousand reais), the runner-up ending up with 16%.