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Understanding Commercial Insurance Prospecting

Commercial insurance prospectingCommercial insurance prospecting
min read
August 21, 2023

Insurance prospecting is the best part of being an insurance agent—said no one, ever. In fact, generating and cultivating insurance leads may be something you dread. Yet every agent needs to find potential new clients regularly—often daily—to stay in business. But can it be done without becoming tedious and aggravating? You bet it can.

If you have enthusiasm for your product and a drive to succeed, you can turn insurance sales into a part of your job that you genuinely enjoy. And that’s great because prospecting is something that the best agents do often.

How? Let’s take a look at nine prospecting tips that work for agents marketing commercial lines to a range of small businesses.

1. Believe in Your Product

Enthusiasm for your product is essential. Whatever your reason for going into the insurance business, you need to believe on a very basic level that your product is helping people. 

Because once you do, you’ll naturally be more confident in the products you sell. That confidence and genuine desire to help others will come through in your tone and sales approach, resulting in others being more likely to see the value of your offer. 

Insurance, after all, is meant to protect people from catastrophic financial loss. Whether you are working with mom-and-pop businesses or large corporations, your job provides a vital lifeline of support for people who are facing a disaster of one kind or another. 

2. Be Personable

When you open a dialogue with a potential client, remember that you are selling your product and yourself. That’s true whether you are selling life insurance policies to business execs or managing health insurance needs for clients in construction. Your best weapon in selling commercial insurance is always you. 

So if you enter your interactions with a positive outlook, a friendly demeanor, and the knowledge that you can help make their lives easier, you are far more likely to make a sale than you would be if you come as a bearer of doom. 

This is also the best way to help with retention, too. You want your clients to like and trust you so that they stay with you through thick and thin. Only when you sense that your prospect is relaxed and enjoying their chat with you should you bring up ways in which your agency may be able to help them.

3. Meet Multiple Needs 

Your goal, of course, is to build a rapport with your clients so that they will stay with your company for the long term and will come to you if they need additional insurance support. One way to build rapport? Offer multiple services. But what you don’t want to do is suggest services they don’t need just to make a buck. If you do, you’ll push your clients away instead of strengthening your professional relationship.  

Instead, consider their pain points and the services you offer that will make their lives easier. If you sell workers’ compensation policies, for example, you could suggest Hourly to your customers. Hourly helps your clients by using their real-time payroll information for determining workers’ comp premium payments, rather than estimates, saving money—and audit headaches.

4. Be Helpful and Responsive

Some agents work really hard to get these conversations started but aren't able to follow up in a timely manner or keep their promises. The best thing you can do? Be consistent. Reach out when you say you will. And stay true to your word.

People do business with people they like and trust, and the number one way to cultivate strong relationships is by going above and beyond with customer service.

5. Develop Scripts to Practice Conversations

Developing scripts based on various scenarios with your potential customers can help, especially when you are new to the insurance business. For example, think about some objections business owners might have to your sales pitch ahead of time. 

Let’s say a potential client says your policy is more expensive than what they’re currently paying. Seems like a tough one to tackle, we know. But if you have handy a list of all the extra benefits your company offers that the other one doesn’t, you can show them that the ROI is worth the higher cost. For example, if one carrier is known for closing claims quickly, that can positively impact the client’s experience mod or the adjustment that's made to their premiums based on their losses.

It’s easy to develop a template based on how you might handle their objections. Give some thought to what you will say when a potential customer picks up the phone for a cold call. Practice your scripts with a friend or colleague so you use them naturally in a conversational manner. 

Here’s a script you might use for the situation above:

Client: I love what you’re offering here, Bob, but XYZ company offered me a policy for 10 percent less, and I can’t justify the additional cost.

You: I understand, Sarah, but there are a couple of reasons why I believe the added expense is worth it. 

First, our J.D. Power rankings for customer service are considerably higher than XYZ company—we’ve built our reputation on making every interaction we have with you a positive one. Second, notice that our policy includes $50,000 of cyber liability insurance, which you’re not going to have with any other policy. Third, we have local agents while XYZ doesn’t have a presence in our community or feet-on-the-ground knowledge of our area.

Get the idea? Knowing what your competitors offer and understanding what sort of roadblocks may be raised allow you to craft some carefully worded counterarguments that can earn the loyalty of your clients.

6. Use Social Media for Greater Visibility

You don’t need to have an expert understanding of the myriad social media platforms to take advantage of their reach. 

Facebook is a good platform for creating and building relationships. Your agency, for example, might post shout-outs to clients who achieve significant milestones or introduce clients to a new service or product that you’re offering. Don’t forget to include an image with your postings too, which will increase visibility. 

YouTube or Vimeo can work for short videos of seminars or webinars with information that may have value for your clients. Discussion forums like Reddit or Quora give you a way to highlight your knowledge of the industry.

Any social media platform that gives you a way to follow up and connect with viewers can be helpful to you when building leads. Just remember to take it slow. You don’t need to use every single platform available—a better idea is to pick one or two and become proficient on them before moving on to another platform if you have time. 

7. Give Rewards for Referrals

Current customers who are happy with you and your products can be your secret weapon. They are often more than glad to pass your name on to their colleagues and friends who may need a policy. 

One way to encourage referrals is to reward clients who offer them. For example, you could hold a monthly drawing for a $100 gift card, open to any client who referred someone to your business. For a minimum outlay of cash, you could gain a new high-end account.

8. Leverage Your Book of Business

Your book of business—that invaluable list of accounts and clients that you have developed as an agent—holds a wealth of information. Take a close look at your existing customers. They are likely to fit into certain buckets. Are the majority of your existing clients in construction, for example? Are they restaurant owners? Is there already an area where you or your insurance agency specializes? 

If not, you can consider offering more specialized services to the biggest industry you serve, such as contractors equipment coverage for construction businesses.  

If you haven’t put some thought into determining who your ideal client might be, do so now. If your insurance company already has an area of strength, knowing what it is can guide you in your next steps. For example, if your company’s focus is already on contractors, perhaps there is a professional networking organization for construction pros that you can join to meet more people in the field. 

Once you know who your ideal client is, you’ll be in a better position to shape a value proposition to present to them. Your value proposition is simple. It’s what makes a business want to work with you; the reason for their willingness to spend time listening to what you have to say. 

An example: if your ideal client is the manager of a construction company, your value proposition might be showing them how you can make their workers’ comp payments simple and effective while saving them money on their premium costs. 

9. Get a Library Card

Libraries are great for a lot of reasons, but did you know they can help you with lead generation? Libraries frequently subscribe to corporate data collectors such as Data Axle and Versium, which provide data and marketing services for salespeople. 

These companies can help you find sales leads, email lists and business credit lists—usually for a fee. But using them at the library may give you free access to some of their services.

You can start by identifying verticals (i.e., industries). Then use the class codes to build lists that offer high-quality leads for your cold calls, email marketing, and more. 

Getting from a class code to a list of businesses may take a little research—don’t lose that library card! You might need anywhere from a close reading of your local yellow pages to a Google search on “construction companies near me” to hiring and working with a data collector who can do the legwork for you. 

Your local reference librarian can also likely point you toward other sources, both online and old school, that can help you identify potential clients. The best part? You never have to pay for a library card.

10. Diversify Your Outreach Efforts

There’s no silver bullet that will win you 100 percent success. No single thing—not cold calling, not networking, not cross-selling—can be your total strategy. 

What does work, though, is mixing it up. Successful insurance pros may spend one day in the office building referral lists and the next day networking at a Chamber of Commerce event. Ask the heavy hitters in your office what works best for them, and then try it all to find the perfect combination of strategies for you. 

And don’t discount cold calling. It’s not a favored way of getting leads for some insurers because it can be tedious and you’ll get many more “no” answers than “yes.” But it can work well if you attempt it with enthusiasm and a good script. 

The secret with cold calling is not to expect too much from a single experience. You’re unlikely to make a sale from your first contact with a potential client. What you can do is break the ice, let them know who you are and, even more importantly, that you are interested in them and their business. 

The best-case scenario for most cold calls is that they will lead to an invitation to talk further, and that will leave the individual feeling like they wouldn’t mind hearing what you can offer them next time.

Other approaches you might try include: 

  • Joining your local Chamber of Commerce, if you’re not already a member
  • Subscribing to professional journals in the industry you’re targeting
  • Attending conferences for the industry you’re targeting
  • Starting a blog—if you have others to help you write posts, otherwise it might be too time-consuming
  • Creating a website if you don’t already have one. Buying a WordPress Theme geared toward insurance agents can make the setup much quicker
  • Investing in a good customer relationship management (CRM) tool to help you keep your interactions with clients organized

Try a Variety of Tactics for the Best Outcomes

Prospecting for leads isn’t rocket science—but it’s not easy, either. Consider tapping into our suggestions above to increase your conversion rate and improve sales

Believe in yourself and your product. Plan your scripts. Use social media wisely. Diversify your strategies. 

These and our other tips aren’t always simple to implement but can be very worth it when you end up with new clients who genuinely appreciate your services.

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