Canadian Underwriter

How brokers can overcome barriers to cross-selling

August 9, 2019   by Jason Contant

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What are some of the biggest barriers facing brokers looking to cross-sell?

Access to market, high rates and underwriting practices (such as asking 30-40 questions on a renter’s policy) are the main culprits, said Jeff Roy, president and CEO of Excalibur Insurance.

He spoke to Canadian Underwriter recently following a story on the topic that found cross-selling was a huge untapped potential for insurers.

The study released last month by global strategy and marketing consulting firm Simon-Kucher & Partners revealed that insurers frequently contact their customers, though rarely for cross-selling. In Canada, only 4-5% of the nearly 350 respondents said their carrier contacted them regarding additional coverage, even though about nine in 10 had been in contact with them within the last year.

But the same missed opportunity could be said for brokers, according to those who responded to the story on LinkedIn. So, what then can brokers do to better cross-sell?

Roy recommends a compensation or reward system and making sure the cross-selling efforts are measured. “What gets measured gets done,” he said. “If you’re not measuring it and it’s not one of the key performance indicators, or KPIs, in your brokerage or agency, you’re not going to do it.”

The biggest problem, however, is that people don’t ask for additional business. “If you don’t ask, you don’t receive,” Roy said. Then, “if you reward people to do the behaviour you want, you have a better chance of getting it, so look at building some kind of incentive in there.”

For both insurers and brokers, cross-selling effectively takes training, technology and investing in proper sales training, said Graham Haigh, vice president of broker distribution with Wawanesa Insurance. For example, Wawanesa has partnered with a professional sales training provider to work with their business development team on basic and intermediate sales skills.

“We’ve seen a big uptick in the closing of sales opportunities since doing so. And a greater confidence and comfort in asking for additional business,” Haigh said, adding that Wawanesa has also invested in a Salesforce-based platform that is “helping us get better at measuring and monitoring our sales pipeline and broker success – or not – stories.”

Excalibur has already spent $25,000 on sales training this year, Roy said. “We hired a firm out of the U.S. because one of our biggest problems was we weren’t writing the second and third policy. We’ve actually really improved our metrics.”

The brokerage also assigns dedicated account managers to look after a client year-after-year. “If we don’t write the policy the first year, we do a thing called a protection review or call that we do every year for our clients and we reach out to them and try to upsell or cross-sell.”

For example, “if they haven’t bought a [renters] property policy, we just check in,” Roy said. “‘Hey, have you moved out of your home at this point with your parents?’ or ‘You didn’t buy it last year, we just want to review the benefits of a renter’s policy at this point.’”

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