10+ Strategies for Agent Success in the Small Business Market

Fran Majidi
March 19, 2019
commercial insurance agent strategies

Small business is big business right now. Small businesses make up one-third of total commercial line insurance sales and generates between $99 and $103 billion in premiums, according to a 2016 McKinsey $ Co. report. Consider the fact that the report was published before the recent spike in business growth in the U.S. If you’re an agent selling personal lines insurance only, it’s a good time to diversify your sales by selling business insurance. We’ll tell you why and how.

Who Needs Commercial Insurance?

On average, 400,000 businesses start up in the U.S each year. Most of them need business insurance. In 2017, the number rose to 415,226. These businesses often lack commercial insurance protection or if they have it, they are without some very important ones like, flood, business interruption insurance and the increasingly important cyber insurance.

According to the McKinsey report 40% of sole proprietorships don’t have any commercial insurance at all. With that said, a handful of larger carriers are working hard to swoop in and stake their claim. Over the past six years, this cluster has secured 51% of premiums on small business accounts. It’s time for you to jump in!

What About Online Commercial Insurance Sales?

Some online providers are also stepping into the game without working through agents and brokers. Meanwhile, there are tech-oriented brokers vying for business too. Where are you in the game? Are you an agent working with large carriers? If so, do you have assistance from carriers in generating business leads? Are you a captive agent who gets fed a variety of insurance leads, covering different bases in the property and casualty lines? Or, are you an independent agent who is open to working with online providers? Either way, there are shortcuts to increasing your ROI even more quickly, like buying insurance leads.

Should I Buy Leads for Business Insurance?

Insurtech companies like SmartFinancial generate leads so you can just focus on grooming the client and closing the deal. Even captive agents are limited in the number of insurance leads their employer generates. While spending money to buy insurance leads may sound like a business expense you weren’t figuring to spend, you have to remember that it always costs money to find leads for insurance, especially business insurance. You’re either paying for it in your marketing strategy or you’re buying leads. Companies like SmartFinancial are spending money and using the latest technology to market to insurance shoppers. What would you rather do, pay for the calls and start working or spend time and money to generate insurance leads?

If you’re interested in reading how Jason Duree, an agent in O’Fallon, MO is using insurtech leads to grow his business, visit here.

Interestingly enough, the majority of commercial accounts are owned by a handful of large carriers but are handled by local agents. For independent agents wondering which companies to sell for, many large carriers are now very committed to growing their commercial lines and want agents to sell big. These insurance companies already see the potential for sales based on hiring data and data on business buying expensive equipment, which also needs to be covered through commercial insurance.

Things to Know About Small Business Lines of Insurance

  • Small business can generate large premiums.
  • Small business units in insurance agencies are effective when managed properly.
  • You don’t need a partnership with very many carriers to grow this type of business.
  • Carriers expanding their small business lines include Chubb, Liberty Mutual, The Hartford and Travelers.
  • Consider sending business with small premiums to the carrier’s service center so that you’re not losing money servicing very small accounts.
  • In a strong economy, construction is an industry to write business for.
  • Some agencies work as business advisors to commercial clients.
  • A large percentage of business insurance leads come from referrals from other businesses and even personal lines of insurance.
  • Some insurers focus on writing tons of micro-small businesses, while others can’t afford the technology it takes to generate these many leads (unless you use SmartFinancial).

How Can I Grow My Commercial Insurance Book of Business?

  1. Take a look at all your commercial insurance clients and see what market you’re strongest in.
  2. Always contact your client-businesses to see if they need commercial auto insurance policies (do they have company cars or vehicles used for their jobs)?
  3. See who your competition is and see what kinds of other business they are writing (this may give you ideas on how to expand).
  4. Determine how you are going to sell yourself as being different from (preferably superior to) your competitors.
  5. Join the chamber of commerce and grow your connections by using this membership to its potential.
  6. Referral programs work. If you already have a referral program in place for Auto, Home, Health or any other insurance product, double it for business insurance. It’ll pay for itself, we promise.

How to Create Commercial Insurance Leads

  1. Business clients are on the Internet. Are you? If not, you need to be or you need to consider acquiring leads from SmartFinancial, which conducts a marketplace for business clients shopping for insurance online.
  2. Commercial lines insurance leads require online and offline communication. Get on LinkedIn and other social media channels and begin exploring. In-person meetings do matter with business clients who request it. With that said, 80% of clients prefer to start business relationships online, so don’t be pushy to meet in person if your client’s not down with it. .
  3. Create value for your relationship. What do you have to offer this client other than showing up at renewal time? Many business clients want some hand holding. Can your experience with similar clients help you help your new clients?
  4. Many business insurance clients will come to you for cyber liability insurance because they have increased risk using the Internet. Be prepared to know this product and to have several options for it.

Regardless of how you go about doing it, it’s the perfect time to grow your commercial insurance book of business. Whether you are buying insurance leads or growing a steady stream on your own, make sure you are staying on top of new businesses opening up in your neighborhood and beyond.