Plamen Petkov, vice president of Ontario and business resources at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents 110,000 small businesses across Canada, provides insight to help brokers forge successful business partnerships with small business owners.
DO: Establish very clearly the value you provide as a broker.
“The value could be translated in different ways – it could be better rates, it could be better coverage, it could be a combination of both. It could just be easy to deal with—saving time. Business owners don’t have time to be calling insurance companies direct and being put on hold or being asked to call back or wait. So, if the broker is easily accessible, if he or she can make the process easy for the business owner, then of course they will have a preferred status.”
DO: Play up your own status as a small business owner (assuming you own a small brokerage and sell directly to clients)
“Brokers are running a business, they are entrepreneurs. They have a bottom line to meet, a payroll to meet. It gives them that advantage when one business owner is approaching another business owner. They speak the same language. That is absolutely very helpful, as opposed to you working for a big corporation trying to sell some sort of product. Brokers can relate. You can say: ‘From one business owner to another, I have a firm that I am running, these are the types of insurance products that I need to keep my business safe and successful, and that’s why I am recommending that you do the same.’ That provides that extra level of association, from one business owner talking to another.”
DON’T: Don’t try to sever an existing relationship with an insurance provider.
“Unless the client is a start-up, in most cases, when the insurance broker approaches the small business owner, the owner would already have some sort of coverage. Don’t try and diminish the relationship the business owner may have established with their existing insurance company or broker. That business owner may have had that relationship for years; they may be happy with that relationship. Present yourself as a partner, even as a complementary offering to what the business already has. Instead of trying to sever that relationship so you can take over that business, in some cases, it may be more beneficial to provide additional coverage for something they don’t already have, while allowing them to maintain that existing relationship. Over time, you are competing and gradually trying to win that business.”