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For most veteran insurance brokers and agents that are already established, growing their book of business may mean having to venture into uncharted waters. The time always comes in a broker’s career when they reach a natural ceiling of how much their business can grow through networking, referrals, and modest advertising.
The good news is that many options are available today if you’re a broker who wants to learn how to grow your insurance book of business and expand your market reach. Growing your insurance business isn’t much different from growing any other type of company, in the sense that it will invariably take time, effort, and commitment to see the growth through.
But what’s most interesting about commercial insurance right now is that it’s a traditional and deep-rooted industry that’s in the midst of massive disruption. As is the case with any and all revolutions in business, the opportunities and risks involved are significant right now.
Let’s try to break down some of the key concepts that insurance brokers should focus on in their efforts to grow their insurance books of business and prepare their agencies or brokerages to adapt and thrive in the modern insurance industry.
Embrace the Impending Digital Transformation
The insurance industry is rapidly evolving. New technology companies are receiving huge investments from venture capital firms to improve and modernize the old, outdated insurance value chain.
This influx of capital is a clear response to an increasing market need for convenient, affordable, and efficient business insurance. Commercial insurance buyers, especially Millennials and younger generations, increasingly want to be able to purchase insurance online and manage their policies and claims from their computers as well.
The hope is that the impending digital revolution will improve the insurance user experience while making policies more affordable for business owners and more profitable for insurers.
Reportedly, more than 80% of all insurance buyers rely on a digital channel at some point in the purchasing process. However, 75% of them had issues purchasing insurance online. This means that buyers want digital options but a clear disconnect still exists in the process and offering.
Two of the most common misconceptions that brokers have about the digitization that’s occurring in the industry are as follows; They believe that the adaptation process will be overwhelming and they fear that digital automation tools will eventually displace brokers.
Let’s take a closer look.
Is Digitalization Difficult?
Many traditional brokerages and agencies believe that going digital will be a painful process. But it doesn’t have to be. Solutions for going digital are plentiful and will only increase over time.
So what could you do? For one, you create a partnership with an agency or larger brokerage that can allow you to use their digital distribution systems. Or you can team up with a brokerage that sells digital products and sell them yourself.
When taking steps towards digitization, it’s important to remember that benefits are well worth the effort and will only multiply over time.
Most importantly, you won’t be left behind once the industry goes fully digital. Furthermore, you’ll be able to outsource all the repetitive insurance processes to a digital solution. This will allow you to focus on what’s important, providing clients with the best coverage, building and maintaining relationships, and build your book of business.
Will Digital Tools Replace Brokers and Agents?
While this is a common narrative around emerging insurance technologies, it sells short the value a good broker has to a client. Instead of thinking in terms of replacing the broker, digital tools will better serve to enhance their everyday operations.
Brokers are not, and will not go anywhere. The technology will reduce the time required to manage back-end tasks, but it will be a long time before the technology can come close to understanding the client’s needs and matching them with the right insurance products.
Developing a Marketing Plan
Insurance buyers today largely make their purchasing decisions online. They rely on the Internet to tell them what insurance policies they need, where to find them, and from whom to buy them.
The traditional business model of brokers relying on referrals and in-person contact before a policy is sold is disappearing. While recommendations and personal relationships are obviously still important to today’s commercial insurance buyers, the convenience of researching and buying insurance online has become paramount in the customer journey.
The fact that prospects are looking for information online is good news for forward-looking brokers. Those that can adapt to the new conditions and take advantage of new marketing opportunities and channels will thrive.
Modern marketing tactics such as search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and email marketing will be crucial for any broker looking to grow.
For some brokers, online marketing might seem overwhelmingly complicated and technical. It’s important to note that these marketing tactics are getting more and more accessible and that simply having the essentials in place can go a long way.
You can start with the basics; a well-optimized website and one or two online distribution channels such as Facebook and Linkedin can get you started on the path to digitalization. You don’t have to spend a fortune on outsourcing a marketing agency to improve your online presence.
Leveraging these online marketing channels isn’t only about simplifying the process of selling policies, it’s also about demonstrating your expertise and taking advantage of this opportunity to become a thought leader.
There’s a demand for insurance-related information, and distributing your expertise through modern marketing channels will allow you to start building a relationship with your prospects much sooner than was ever possible. While the traditional model requires brokers to jump on a call or meet in person in order to start communicating, digital marketing allows you to develop a relationship and more yourself known to your prospects much sooner in the sales cycle.
If you want a more detailed overview of how to implement modern marketing tactics as an insurance broker in 2021, read this blog post, which covers best SEO practices for brokers, optimizing your website for conversions, and leveraging content and video marketing strategies for best results.
Focusing On What Makes You Unique
Insurance is a huge industry. It’s also fairly top-heavy. The biggest players all have their clearly marked places in the industry and everyone else needs to find a way to find a fit around them, which can be difficult. After all, you’re competing for business with multi-billion dollar giants and elite bespoke insurance agencies. How can you stand out?
The most successful brokers start out without a clear, unique differentiator. Where do your strengths lie? What makes you unique and sets you apart from your competition?
Why would a prospect choose you over a competitor? What can you offer that they can’t get from someone else? The answer to these questions is called a unique value proposition.
You’ll need to take a hard look at what you do for your clients to determine what it is that makes you stand out. Is your expertise in a specific niche a difference-maker? Maybe you have a deep understanding of insurance for construction companies. Or maybe you have an immense amount of experience with cyber exposures and can leverage that into becoming a go-to broker for cyber and other technology-related business risks and corresponding coverage.
If you’re still unsure and are taking a shotgun approach to selling insurance, it may be time to rethink your tactics. If you can answer these questions and determine what your unique value proposition is, your growth efforts will become much more attainable.
Knowing what sets you apart makes it easier to market yourself. You’ll be able to clearly and consistently communicate your value to the prospect; on every call, in every line of copy on your website, and with every marketing campaign you run. Everything you do marketing-wise will take a bit less effort and become a lot more effective at the same time.
Improving Your Sales Process
We’ve covered what’s changing in the insurance industry. Let’s talk about something that’s always been a part of being a broker; getting on the phone with your prospect and turning them into a client.
Let’s break down a few best practices and strategies that brokers can use to ensure that they are making the most of their sales calls.
Do the Research: How much time you spend researching your prospects should depend on the potential value of the deal. It may make sense to do in-depth research for deals that may bring in serious commissions, or long-term cooperation. Learn as much about the company as you can only and couple that with the deep knowledge of the industry and niche that you already have to get the best results.
Don’t Overwhelm Your Prospects: Business insurance is complicated. Presenting multiple policies with varying limits, exclusions, and add-ons may end up overwhelming your prospects. Remember, just because insurance is simple and easy for you, doesn’t mean that your prospects will have the same comfort level. Consider giving better customer service to your insurance prospects by narrowing down the choices for them. A client is more likely to buy when given three thoughtful options having to weigh dozens of variables on their own.
Focus Efforts on Sales Initiatives: Sales initiatives are coordinated outbound marketing efforts with the goal of acquiring a specific type of business. Initiatives can target businesses by niche, insurance needs, their current situation, or even buyer characteristics. For example, most venture-backed startups will need to secure a directors & officers policy during a specific time frame once they have closed their round of funding. A sales initiative targeting startups would allow you to focus your prospecting, cold calling, emailing, and other sales efforts around their specific needs.
Keep Emails Short: According to HubSpot, the ideal sales email is between 50 to 125 words. Long, overwrought messages will most likely get ignored, as the prospect quickly zones out on the second paragraph. Try to keep your emails short and on-point unless you’re able to provide an answer to their issues or a valuable resource.
Stay Energetic: One of the most important traits of a good salesman is that they are always excited and eager on the call. You won’t always want to be on a long sales call, but the prospect should never notice. They are entrusting you to protect their business and if they feel as if they have your full attention, the deal could be jeopardized.
Offer a Referral Program: If your insurance book of business already includes a long list of satisfied clients, don’t hesitate to use them to find new ones. Start a referral program for your clients and offer them rewards for pointing other businesses looking for insurance towards you. Even in today’s digital era, word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted sources can go a long way towards building a book of business. This is especially true when we’re talking about something like business insurance, which isn’t necessarily cheap but is still undeniably necessary for businesses to have.
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