Congratulations! You’ve been challenged to grow commercial insurance at your agency. It’s a compliment to your skills and the trust your business has in you. Your dilemma: you’re not quite sure what it takes to be successful in this line of business.
Among the most-requested information we’re asked to provide our agents is guidance for breaking into the world of commercial builders risk insurance. So, we called an experienced producer who is in these trenches every day and has been there for more than 25 years. Matter of fact, he recently wrote the builders risk policy for a multimillion-dollar commercial project in Northeast Florida.
In this high-touch area of builders risk — where complications run high and time can run low — maintaining positive connections can make the difference between a one-off experience with a business entity or contractor, or a years-long professional relationship. Our commercial insurance agent shared four tips that have helped him be successful in commercial insurance.
(This agent, who chose to remain anonymous, will from this point be referred to as John Doe. Doe said his choice to remain anonymous is due both to his introverted nature, as well as the contributions his hardworking teammates have on his personal success.)
When it comes to making and maintaining positive connections with clients, Doe had a good deal to say based on his experience. Read on to learn the four steps Doe suggested for commercial insurance agents.
- Educate yourself.
First things first, educate yourself as thoroughly and regularly as possible, Doe said. Not only do you need to know what the product you’re offering can do for your clients, but you need to know how it stacks up against other forms of coverage in the marketplace.
“You always want to make sure that you’re offering the best program available for your client, and keeping them educated about what’s out there,” Doe said. “There are so many moving pieces, especially with more complex commercial accounts. Staying on top of everything takes preparation.”
Doe recommends soaking up as much information as possible during Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) training, reading insurance publications your agency may have available, and regularly participating in Ruble Seminars through the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research to stay current.
Equally important, Doe said, is to ensure you’re keeping clients informed.
“You can start the conversation when you’re in the policy renewal process, as simply as saying ‘These are some of the new enhancements that are out, because you have X risk, this new coverage might be better suited to you than what you currently have,’ and so on,” he said. “We’re regularly updating clients to make sure they’re as well-covered as they can be.”
- Train with a mentor, and do as they do.
As may be the case for many agents working today, Doe said, he started into the business by finding and working with mentors. His mentors were family members, and he credits them with teaching him much of what he needed to know about writing insurance, servicing the accounts and ensuring projects are properly covered.
“Certification can teach you the basics and the concepts,” Doe said. “But when it comes to applying those concepts and being a great agent, my [mentors] were instrumental in teaching me what I needed to know, and every step that I've taken since was because of what they taught me.”
However you learn best, whether studying up individually or shadowing the agents you want to learn from, finding solid mentors and trusting their experience to guide you can be a game-changing tactic for new insurance professionals.
- Be genuine to establish rapport.
If you, like Doe, are introverted in your personal life, mentors can teach you how to talk with complete strangers and establish a relationship out of thin air. This is, he said, one of the biggest and most important lessons he ever learned.
“If you're going to be a success in this business, you have to be able to establish relationships with your clients,” he said. “If you can't do that, then all you're doing is pushing paper and doing a transaction. Get to know clients, and let them get to know and trust you. With that relationship established, it becomes more natural for them to open up about what's going on with their business and trust you to take care of it.”
“Everything is so transactional now,” Doe said. “Nobody can stop clients from shopping around, but when you have that personal relationship, they’re probably less likely to go to an online-only solution because they won’t be able to talk with you about their coverage. And should you miss something or mess something up, knock-on-wood, those clients may also be more understanding because they know you have their best interests at heart.”
Not sure where to start when creating a relationship? It starts with being willing to invest the time, Doe said.
“Spend time getting to know them,” he said. “Look around if you're in their office, because everybody's got personal mementos hanging somewhere. I always make it a goal to try to find at least one thing that I have in common with them, and then you build the conversation out from there. Try to get them to the point where they understand that you have a genuine interest in what they do personally. When they decide they like you, you're making a new friend.”
But Doe cautioned that agents should actually be interested, and not fake it to make a sale.
“Be true to yourself and have a genuine interest in the people you are talking with,” he said. “Because if you're trying to be something you're not, and you’re just there to pick up copies of their policies and hit the next door, that's going to come across.”
- Be your clients' champion.
Having true care for your clients and a passion for serving them well is a necessary part of a good commercial builders risk insurance agent, Doe said. It’s just as important to ensure your clients’ wellbeing is foremost in your business decisions.
“When it comes to talking with clients, we want them to know that we're always going to have their best interests at heart,” he said. “Ultimately, if we take care of business, then businesses are going to take care of us.”
Keep your focus on the client first, and let everything else come second.
“We're not just our clients' agents. We're their advocate,” Doe said. “While the attitude can sometimes be ‘No, we can't do that until you tell me why I can,’ our job as agents is always to find a way to get to ‘yes’ in a way that makes sense for our clients. We always want to find a way to get that answer for them.”
Ready to put these steps in motion? We can help. Download Constructing Your Builders Risk Book of Business to identify opportunities to build awareness, drive business and position your agency as a builders risk expert.
This is intended as a general description of certain types of insurance and services available to qualified customers. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. The description of the policy provisions gives a broad overview of coverages and does not revise or amend the policy.
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