While property/casualty insurers are using mobile computing devices to support claims management, life insurers are looking for opportunities to enhance the capabilities of agents and brokers in marketing wealth management products.For instance, wireless devices that have built-in customer relationship management capabilities add a significant level of traction to agents and brokers looking to identify new sales opportunities.

"If an agent is sitting with a customer, a wireless device that supports real-time data transmission helps that agent to capitalize on sales opportunities on the spot: In essence, grab the business from the customer before they have a chance to shop around," explains Kimberly Harris, vice president and director of insurance research, for Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, Inc. "Pulling data from a back-end system that's linked to a laptop provides the agent with information to cross-sell and upsell."

To carry mobile sales a step further, an agency principal can track the performance of agents using a mobile-driven application.

Seymour & Associates, a Maumee, Ohio-based insurance agency that markets life, annuities and retirement products from Springfield, Mass.-based MassMutual, is currently using a mobile performance management tool called ManagePro for its 55 career agents and another 55 independent brokers in its network.

The software enables agency managers using a laptop or PDA to determine whether agents are meeting their sales projections. Agency principals can track agents' completion of tasks and goals, development of marketing programs, and appointments and activity prioritization, says Angie Barney, the business manager for Seymour.

"We're able to determine an agent's production and whether that agent is lagging behind in fulfilling a goal based on the time they have to accomplish it," Barney says.

Using a laptop most of the time, Barney is considered the "power user" of ManagePro at Seymour & Associates. Rather than being tethered to a PC in her office, Barney uses ManagePro while in transit and at home.

While the ManagePro version that Seymour is using is not a Web-based product, it does have the ability to link to the company's e-mail server to access Microsoft Outlook. "From the database, I can pull up and review what one of our agents is doing from anywhere, and on the spot send an e-mail to the agent to revise or modify a goal," Barney says.

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