The commercial insurance proposal. It represents your business offer to a prospective customer. One of the primary functions of the proposal is to help present the insurance recommendation in a way that is easily understood by a business owner, and hopefully, help close a sale.
We work with hundreds of commercial lines brokers every day, and the one thing we notice over and over is that more can be done, at the brokerage-level, to help producers close more business opportunities. How? By improving on the proposal.
At a minimum, an insurance proposal needs to accurately reflect a business's operating reality, and the corresponding insurance recommendations. These include clearly itemized descriptions of the coverages being offered for the particular line of business.
But the expected doesn't close sales. No, people buy from people they know, like and trust (here's a short article from Inc on the subject).
The idea of trust is particularly important in commercial insurance sales: buyers are most anxious and feel a high level of risk when purchasing credence-based items like insurance.
Essentially, a credence-based service means that the buyer has no way to tell if they are getting the right product or service - they are unable to evaluate the thing they are buying. So, buyers rely on trust.
The construct of trust is made up of these three things:
So how do you reduce anxiety and help a potential customer trust you? Educate them on what life will be like after they become your customer.
(here's a white paper on trust and insurance if you'd like to learn more)
One of the most common feelings of trepidation or anxiety with buying something is the feeling that the sales person is just 'trying to make the sale'. And really, this is a trust issue. So to reduce that fear, show the prospective customer that you know what you're talking about (expertise) and that you're going to help them regardless of whether they do business with you. How do you do that?
Include valuable content in the proposal that will help the prospective business owner manage their risk and run their business better. Give it to them for free. No strings attached. (For some people, this will be a hard thing to do. You expect to get paid for your expertise and advice. And so you should. But giving away something of value to prospects can come back in spades.)
Here are three things that you can include in every proposal that will help build feelings of trust with every prospect.
Most insureds are not really sure what to do when a disaster hits. And I guarantee you that even if the business owner knows, others within the organization don't.
So help by giving them a checklist, a step-by-step procedure of what do to in the event of disaster or situation where a claim is necessary. This can include instructions on how to properly document, record and report. Make this available in electronic and hard form (if desired). Offer to educate a prospect's staff during a lunch-and-learn about claims best practices.
Of course, you include who to contact at your brokerage - CSR or Account Manager - including names, phone numbers, and email addresses. Use your staff to help make the intangible - insurance - tangible.
Again, most business owners and managers at small-medium sized enterprises (SME's) don't really know that much about risk management. That's your gig. So share your knowledge here. Give your prospects a top-ten list, or a 'new risks you should be thinking about' list like cyber insurance.
The list can include advice on when to contact your broker, such as changes to a business' financials, property changes, changes in services rendered or products sold, or side ventures. The same tactics apply as the first item: make the information easily available and easily shared and offer to do a lunch and learn for key staff.
The idea is to help educate your prospect and show them that you care about their business' well-being, even if they don't go with your offer right now. Because if they ever decide to switch brokers, you'll be at the top of the list.
Include ways to access more insurance and risk-related information. Maybe it's a link to your brokerage's blog. Or access to a risk management advisor if the prospect is looking for a different perspective.
The proposal is a chance to not only make the information available, but to show that you are a thought-leader and knowledge expert. Take advantage of the opportunity.