Women in Insurance Leadership 2019—Tammy Nelson, SageSure

For chief marketers like Tammy Nelson, modern branding success requires making the customer experience an equal partner to sales and marketing. “If a customer’s experience with us doesn’t match the messages we’re communicating, then all we’re really doing is putting lipstick on a pig,” explains the CMO of New Jersey-based specialty MGU SageSure Insurance Managers.

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Tammy Nelson, CMO, SageSure Insurance Managers

The CX epiphany came to Nelson during an earlier role at Ameriprise. There, she’d led marketing efforts for nearly a decade, only to see the company fall short on the 2010 J.D. Power survey. In response, she spearheaded an initiative to reorient the company’s culture and processes.

“By altering our priorities to becoming driven by customer expectations, such as one-call issue resolution, the very next year we shot up 25 points in the rankings,” Nelson says. “We had a top-five slot.”

Putting passion to work
Since then, Nelson has remained passionate about combining CX with sales and marketing, including at fast-growing SageSure. Since joining the firm in late 2016, she’s built a department of 12 into a data-driven integrated sales, marketing and CX team of 41.

“It’s our team’s job to continue driving outsized company growth,” she says. “To do so, we’re evolving our brand and experiences because we want to be the number one choice in coastal property insurance with our producers.”

Nelson says her approach, which emphasizes teams over individuals, arises from an early mentoring experience. “As a young professional working at a marketing agency, I held a successful client meeting by myself and was fairly smug about my accomplishment,” she says. Her manager was not as impressed, and gently schooled her on the weakness of excluding others. “He pointed out that the client belonged to the firm, not me,” she says. “It was critical to nurture multiple relationships by always approaching clients as a team.”

Humbled, Nelson has forever afterwards focused on the needs of the whole. “To this day, ‘we’ is my preferred pronoun,” she says.

As for technology, Nelson is leveraging multiple applications and analytics, such as combining Salesforce’s Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud to create detailed producer and customer journeys “For example, a new producer might get an immediate marketing message welcoming them to SageSure and inviting them to a training webinar,” says Nelson. “Then, a week or so later, a task for that producer’s sales manager may get kicked off prompting that individual to call or visit the producer, along with the messages we want the manager to convey.”

Nelson’s other SageSure initiatives have included an internal purpose and values initiative, where led a cross-functional team to establish a set of “ownable” and relatable core principles that drive all internal and external activities.

“We went beyond the types of vague value statements that you could find on a wall anywhere,” Nelson says. “Instead, we worked to uncover and formalize the concepts that were already fundamental to our corporate culture. As a result, the embrace within our company has taken off like wildfire, which is really exciting.”

Regardless what the future holds, Nelson plans to continue helping people turn a desired change into a reality. “My goal is to lead people beyond the ‘wishing’ phase to envisioning what changes are required and the steps they need to take,” she says.

“Ultimately, it’s about facilitating the realization that we each have the power to make create change,” she concludes.

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