Small businesses dominate the American economy. With more than 28 million small businesses in the U.S., they account for 99.7 percent of America’s employers, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Top-performing producers specializing in small business and other experts shared their advice on how to target, sell and renew small business. Here are their words of advice.
Jim Mansfield, CPIA, is principal of Mansfield Insurance Agency Inc. in Bright, Ind., which specializes in small business. Mansfield is also vice president of the American Insurance Marketing & Sales (AIMS) Society, so he keeps close tabs on what’s happening in sales practices. Here are his 10 core basics for targeting small business:
- Deal with the decision maker.
- Ask the right questions.
- Listen to the answers.
- Formulate a plan that best fits the customers, not the agency.
- Be very clear in your presentation on uncertain issues or coverages.
- During the sales process, focus on the client, not the agency.
- Be prepared for objections.
- Business owners need a plan for the next steps in the sales process. Have a clear, step-by-step itemized list of what is to take place.
- Communicate after the initial sales presentation.
- Follow up on all questions and issues.
Aong with these basics, our experts pointed out 12 other areas that will help with small business sales. Click on the following pages to see them.
1. Use a diversity of approaches.
In his years as a producer at his father-in-law’s agency, Ryan Hanley, now digital marketing lead for TrustedChoice.com, discovered he hated cold calling, and preferred getting leads via the Internet. Conversely, his brother-in-law is very successful at cold calling, and his father-in-law specializes in passive referrals.
“As a team, we blanketed the market in those three ways, and the agency grew significantly every year.”
2. Play to your strengths.
“Main Street USA local community agencies are uniquely prepared to connect with small to medium-sized prospects,” says Keith Savino, COO at Warwick Resource Group LLC in Bardonia, N.Y. “Being engaged in local social media, local organizations and frankly just living in close proximity gives you an edge.”
Although “being there” for small businesses gives independent agencies an edge, having a unique knowledge of certain classes will bring you to the top of your prospects’ short list, Savino says.
4. Provide a solid value proposition.
With direct writers eating into the territory, small business sales are competitive, and if you want to compete your agency had better be able to offer customers something more than just a policy, Savino says.
“Is the agency staff up to the task of supporting small accounts? Does the agency provide a client with 24-7 support? Do they offer solid remarketing efforts upon renewal and does the agency have a robust customer relationship management tool with a commitment to always communicating?”
5. Use technology to succeed.
Without automation, targeting small business won’t be worth your agency’s time. Use tech methods such as CRM automated communication specific to the client’s policy information, emerging exposures unique to their classification, renewal process, and post-claims communications, Savino advises. Move away from email toward a combination of customer portals and personal touch via phone, balancing “high tech with high touch.”
6. Have the right processes in place.
Many small business customers can translate into a back-office nightmare without efficient processes, Savino says. Streamline processes such as first notice of loss, logging adjuster notes, and all claims followups. Claims download should be implemented to reduce staff time and agency costs, and to help client portal inquiries, he adds.
7. Go mobile.
Offer clients mobile support and 24-7 access; it’s not just a perk today, it’s expected.