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Posted on July 18, 2022 by Heath Shearon

Why Prospecting is Critical

Are you curious about how to prospect for commercial insurance? For most commercial insurance producers, the mere thought of “commercial insurance prospecting” gives them hives, or makes them nervous, scared, or insert whatever negative emotion you want to hear. Let’s just face the facts though, in order to grow your book of business and outlast the natural attrition of your book of business. 

In order to effectively prospect for new commercial lines clients, you must first identify:

  • Who is your ideal client?
  • What is your value proposition?

Both of these are extremely important to the success of your agency and the success of your book of business. Too many agencies go out with a shotgun approach, or they cast a large net, a net so large and an appetite so broad that it makes it very difficult to have a plan or measure your success. By identifying a specific ideal client, you can focus on their individual needs, determine what is important to them, and gain a better understanding of their pain points. Having a clear understanding of your ideal client’s pain points will allow you to develop a repeatable process, a proven strategy, and even build out specific value propositions that directly affect your prospects, thus driving them to you and closing at a higher clip. If your team struggles with this, it may be time to look into insurance producer training. Let’s see where APP was this past week before we get started!

Agency Performance Partners Update

Travels from Kelly & Heath 7.11.22-7.18.22

Both Kelly & Heath went to Albany, Georgia to Launch Agency 2.0 and Producer Sales Training

 

Where is APP This Week?

Kelly: In Rhode Island – Quarterly APP Leadership Team Meeting

Heath: Producer Training @ TrustPoint Insurance – Kansas & Agency Assessment @ Gartman Insurance Kentucky

How To Prospect for Commercial Insurance Opportunities

Watch as we discuss strategies to get more commercial insurance leads in this solo podcast!

How to Prospect for Commercial Insurance in Your Current Book of Business

Watch Our 3 Minute Video On How To Prospect for Commercial Insurance

I have found that many times the answers are right underneath your nose. Oftentimes, by taking a look at your current book of business, you will uncover who your ideal client is.

  • Look for 3-5 common trends in your own book of business 
  • Find the classes where you have the highest hit ratio
  • Identify your top 3-5 carriers

By taking a deep dive into your current book of business, certain trends will undoubtedly jump off the page and show you who you should be focusing your prospecting efforts on. You will undoubtedly see certain classes of business and certain niches that are naturally and organically inside of your current book. If I were a gambling man, I would bet that you would also find that these trends also come with carriers that are synonymous with these risks. Therefore allowing you to pinpoint your strategy not only in the direction of class of business with the highest hit ratio but also the carriers that are already showing you that this is a class they are comfortable writing. 

There is a big advantage there in identifying your top three to five carriers in your current book. Once you have identified those partners in your agency, this is where the fun begins and the rubber meets the road. This is where the true value comes into play. Take this three-step approach to solidifying your ideal client based upon your market access. 

  1. Learn the carrier appetite guide
  2. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of the carrier
  3. Find out what sets them apart from other carriers 

 

Clarify Your Commercial Insurance Prospecting Value Proposition

Now that you have identified your ideal client, and lined up the carriers to write these clients, it is time to build your value proposition. 

What, specifically, do you provide?

  • Education
  • Resources
  • Technology
  • Training 
  • Time/Effort

It is important that you stand out from the crowd, that you are not leading with price, or leading with “service.” You want to stand up and stand out from the competition at every turn. This is why it’s crucial to develop at least three value propositions that you bring to the table, and highlight those in your marketing efforts and your sales pitch. Insurance producer sales training can help you build this pitch!

Education:

Always remember that you are the expert in this situation. You are the one who carries an insurance license and you are the one who has the answers to their questions. You need to position yourself as the expert early and often. Identify areas where you can consistently provide value in the area of education. Some examples include: policy reviews, newsletters, webinars, podcasts, YouTube videos, et cetera. Get creative here. 

Resources:

By not leading with price, you can add value by bringing to the table incredible resources that can lead to discounts and fewer claims. You can provide these resources for them at no additional cost and make your customer happy, your underwriters happy, and grow your business. Now that’s what I call a win/win. Some examples include: compliance checks, safety trainings, employee handbooks, and telematics.

Technology:

These things are quite simple, it’s a very simple question of what technology do you provide for your prospects. Do you have an agency app, a client portal, website, a chat bot, or even a simple text feature? Technology is a way to show your client you are moving forward and they have options in that arena. 

Trainings: 

There are many different ways to add value to an agency that set  you apart from any competition out there and specific trainings for their business. This shows that you are an expert in their field, and can speak their language. That goes a long way in the minds of a prospect. Trainings could include: OSHA compliance, ladder safety, and safe lifting. 

The bottom line here, and I cannot stress this enough, ALWAYS look for ways to add value to your prospect. This should be done early and often. 

Commercial Insurance Cold Calling 

OKAY!! Now that we have identified who we’re going to prospect for commercial insurance, and what value we bring to the table, now we must put a plan together and bring action into the equation. This is where you can really put some fuel into the fire here. What we are going to do here is begin the process of cold calling. It’s easy to see that more and more people are doing independent research and online purchases and moving away from talking with salespeople. All that being said, cold calling is far from useless. There are stats out there that show cold calling still offers unique benefits. Here are some of those statistics: 

  • More than 50% of decision-makers prefer to be contacted over the phone
  • Over 71% of buyers say they want salespeople to reach out when they’re researching ways to boost their business
  • Up to 50% of sales go to the business that makes the first move and reaches out to the potential buyer—not the other way around
  • Cold calling has proven to be 5-10 times more effective than email marketing campaigns

 

Quote from Kelly Donahue-Piro: “Commercial insurance producers should think about cold calling like scratching lottery tickets. If you scratch enough tickets, you will get a win. Also, there is the wonder and mystery of not knowing if this next call is a winner or a dud. Make it a fun process to cold call and you will see it’s not a burden, but an opportunity.”

 

It’s important to capture the buyer’s attention in less than 30 seconds. The key is to remind them about THEIR pressing business problem only YOU can solve. Let’s discuss more specific ways you can achieve more success with cold calling through 2022 and beyond. If you are managing commercial producers, you will want to bookmark this blog!

We want you to use cold calling in your commercial sales approach because we believe it will increase your outbound sales. However, your focus during each cold call shouldn’t be on closing the deal, or even talking about insurance—at least not right away. 

Rather, your first goal is to turn the cold call into a quick visit that ultimately leads to an appointment. 

The goal should always be to get the appointment, not the sale. According to LinkedIn, the longer your cold calls are, the likelier they will lead to a meeting. So keep them on the phone with you. You don’t need to convince them to buy your product right away. The following tactics will show you how to do this, but, this does not mean that you should settle in for a long conversation. Don’t be afraid of a little small talk. It’s okay to ask your prospect about their day or what projects they’re tackling this week. Build a little rapport and try to gauge the customer’s level of interest in the conversation. Once you’ve established a relationship, immediately offer something valuable and it doesn’t have to be insurance related, or policy related. 

Commercial Insurance Sales

Being personal and friendly will set you apart from every other cold caller. The truth is, your prospect doesn’t care about insurance and doesn’t want to talk about their insurance. They care about how you can make their life easier! Show genuine interest in them as a person and in their needs. Mention something interesting they’re working on, or something you appreciate about them or their achievements. Help them open up so they can share their day-to-day inconveniences with you. Once you know how you can fix their problem, then you will be able to better explain it to them. Please do not try to fix the problem or explain how you can be their hero right then and there. Don’t ramble on listing the features of your product or service. Instead, focus on building rapport and trying to get an appointment to come back and discuss the solutions you gather. Cold calling is more about listening to that talking. It’s about asking the right questions and focusing on learning more about the prospect. The point of the cold call is to turn that into a future warm call as quickly as possible. This is how to prospect for commercial insurance. In our insurance producer training, we always include role-playing to help your team get more comfortable faster. 

When it comes to asking the right questions, it comes down to having a plan. Growing up, my father used to always say, “plan your work and work your plan.” While you always want your cold call to feel genuine and unscripted, you should always have a plan. What information do you want to obtain from them? I always start with a genuine compliment. 

Quote from Wayne Shearon: “Plan your work and work your plan.”

“What a great space you have here.” 

“What a great location.” 

“What a great shirt, jacket, sweater, necklace, earrings, etc.” 

Who doesn’t love a good compliment? Especially if it is a genuine one. After you compliment them and build rapport and trust with them. You want to be sure and ask non-threatening, open-ended questions to get them talking. Would your team benefit from commercial insurance sales training like this?

“How long you have been at this location?” 

“How long you been in the ____ business?”

“Have you always been in this business?”

“Tell me a little bit about your business.” 

Once you can get them talking about their business, just sit back and enjoy and ask good follow-up questions. Keep the conversation flowing and do not get awkward. 

How To Prospect for Commercial Insurance Leads

Checkout our Throwback 3 Minute Video on Why Producers Hate Prospecting

If your sales look like a roller coaster, read this section carefully. 

Average producers say they don’t have time to prospect. This is likely a result of being busy chasing bad accounts. Million-dollar producers prospect daily. So, what’s the difference? They’re disciplined to fill their pipeline on a daily basis, and discipline comes with the skill in time management for insurance agents. Commercial insurance has a process and a pipeline. When there’s not a lot occurring at the top of your funnel, you start scrambling. Then you take long-shot leads and the cycle continues. Stopping the sales rollercoaster only comes when you invest in commercial insurance producer sales training. 

Let me ask you, as a producer, what’s more important than filling your pipeline?

At APP, with commercial insurance producers, we conduct this exercise. Imagine that the most important person (or pet), in the world to you, needs medication to live and it’s $20,000. However, you don’t have the money. What would you have done differently three months earlier if you knew this day would come? 

The answer is, always, “I’d be out prospecting.” So, what aren’t you doing now that could be hindering you from reaching your potential? Buckle in, because we’re about to give you the answer and you may not like it.

The difference is….discomfort. It’s uncomfortable to prospect for many reasons. However, if and when you’re uncomfortable in your personal life, prospecting becomes a necessity. Turn this discomfort into a productive activity that helps to set your schedule, manage tasks, and streamline success.

It’s a great feeling when the referrals are rolling in. However, most often, referrals are on the “hope strategy” spectrum. Hope cannot be a sales strategy. We incorporate time management for insurance agents and get those referrals in from prospecting. You need to hope to get referrals but plan to fill your pipeline. 

Solution

If you avoid prospecting, more often than not, it’s time to get disciplined in your practice. Prospecting is the number-one activity that will set you apart from the average lot of producers.

Here are some tactics to adopt:

  • Time block: Set a daily golden hour to make calls. This includes: 
  • Plan networking events: Research and schedule them on your calendar ahead of time
  • Block a few times per week to be out of the office: Plan it so you don’t get trapped in the office
  • Set a goal: Create a weekly and daily plan for how many calls to make. Write these goals down and track them. Remember, these are lottery tickets, and they need to be scratched!
  • Grab a buddy: Prospecting together is way more fun and this also creates accountability strategies
  • Plan a reward: If you reach your prospecting goal, plan a reward for yourself
  • Find a regular accountability partner: We all need help doing the hard things

 

How to Prospect for Commercial Insurance Centers of Influence and Referrals

There is another method of commercial insurance prospecting. It’s super easy and incredibly effective and you are probably already using this method. This method is simply growing through your sphere of influence, otherwise known as referrals. Referral prospecting simply means prospecting through people that you know: your existing contacts, clients, and business partners. In the APP insurance producer course, we have a section dedicated to centers of influence. 

Why? Referral prospecting is the quickest way of filling your pipeline with opportunities. Most research shows that leads close five times faster when they come through referrals. Think about your own experiences, when you receive a referral from a real estate agent, a lender, CPA, financial advisor, or even a current client, you’re going to give them a call.

If a salesperson calls you and says they were referred by someone you know, chances are you will at least listen to what that salesperson has to say.

Think about it, it is human nature to put a greater degree of trust in information that comes from people that we know. This is particularly powerful in a sales environment where a salesperson may be viewed by the prospect as having an inherent conflict of interest (i.e., they want to sell something). What you will want to do here is to first identify solid referral sources. Struggling in this area? You may want to consider insurance producer sales training.

  • Commercial Realtors 
  • Lenders 
  • Bankers
  • CPAs
  • Financial Planners
  • Niche-Specific Association Vendors
  • BNI Partners
  • Captive or Exclusive Agents

Once you have identified your referral resources, it’s time to start working those people. Build relationships with them, develop marketing strategies to reach them. In order to do that most effectively, you must have a clear message and a clear process to communicate with them. If you are managing commercial producers, you may want to help them with this exercise. Commercial insurance producers need to have this skill!

  • Let them know exactly the type of clientele you want 
  • Details matter
  • Educate your referral partners on vetting process
    • What a good referral looks like
    • What a referral does not look like
  • What do you provide? Why you?
  • Let them know why their referral is coming to you
  • Educate them on your value proposition
  • Tell them about your process 

If your referral partners are confused, it will be difficult for them to refer you. This is so crucial to building a referral-driven pipeline. Once you have the messaging and process down and you have communicated that to your referral partners, now you can go out and network and look for more referral opportunities. Interested in scripts on how to attract centers of influence? Check out the APP Insurance Producer Course.

Commercial Insurance Goals


How to Prospect for Commercial Insurance on Social Media

Lastly, I want to give you another avenue on how to prospect for commercial insurance. That is social media. Social media is not just for stalking your high school friends to see where they are now, or checking out what all your friends are doing this weekend. It can also be a great tool for building prospects for commercial insurance. This must be done with intent though. You must build out content to build your brand identity. Before you can convince your social media connections to buy from you, they need to be familiar with your brand and trust you. Maintaining a consistent presence on social media and ensuring your brand is communicated powerfully through both design and content is the best way to achieve this. Your social media strategy should have a personality. Make social just that social!I could use another 2,000 words on social selling, but hopefully you get the point. Getting started with social media selling is the hard part. After you get comfortable with social media platforms and begin producing content consistently, you will see the impact they can have on revenue generation, and you’ll forget how intimidating it all was when you first started. Plus, there are many social selling tips and best practices you can rely on to help you see results. As part of your commercial insurance training program, you want to make sure you cover social media. 

Commercial insurance prospecting can sound overwhelming at first, but it can be simple. It is about making the prospect the most important person in the room and gearing your process around them. Once you have defined your ideal client and began putting together your value add, the rest is just communicating that to your prospects in various ways. The next thing you know, you will look up and have a whole pipeline of prospects for commercial insurance as well as a team training in commercial sales!

commercial insurance sales training