How To Prospect Commercial Accounts Online (In 2020)

By Dane Gorton

Like it or not, the smartphone in your hand is changing how we do business … and you’re right, insurance is not immune.

You might not feel the pressure yet, but momentum is growing … fast.

But here’s the question on your mind: How will it affect commercial insurance producers?

Every year we see new insurance platforms launch for personal lines or health care …

Google and Amazon are not just ‘sniffing’ around the insurance industry. In 2018 they invested heavily.

Google invested $375 million in US health insurance startup Oscar.


Amazon joined forces with Birkshire Hathaway, partnered with Travellers, acquired an insurance license in India, and according to Business Insider, Amazon is considering a price comparison website in the UK.

2018 was a busy year at Amazon’s insurance division.

Now, we shouldn’t be complacent and think that commercial insurance will continue as usual.

E-commerce platforms, such as Bullfrog in the east and Apollo in the west, are starting in the small commercial market.

That said, is it all doom and gloom for producers?

Certainly not. The internet has opened a floodgate of opportunity.

Which leads me to the first fundamental principle you need to grasp to succeed online:

Your role as insurance producer.


  1. Your Role as Insurance Producer in the Digital Age
  2. Pick a Niche
  3. Create Content
  4. The Buyer’s Journey – Know, Like, Trust
  5. Conclusion

1. Your Role as Insurance Producer

Fundamentally, to succeed online, your job description changes.

But first, I have a question for you:

If your colleague recommends a restaurant with terrible reviews on Google, would you choose to go to that restaurant or the one next door with hundreds of 5-star reviews and lots of mouth-watering photos?

I ask because this highlights how technology and the internet influences our buying decisions.

Equally, if you recommend a great insurance broker and I can’t find her online, however I find a broker who specializes in my niche with 10 excellent references and evidence of doing business with some of the largest brands in my industry, and he provides incredible insights about risk management to reduce exposure in my business, which am I likely to pick?

In fact, if I haven’t heard from my insurance broker since the last policy renewal 8 months ago, I might just switch to this superstar broker who clearly understands my business needs before I’ve even picked up the phone. I don’t care that he’s based in Calgary when I’m in Vancouver.

In other words, local brokers are competing against specialists, nationally.

You can prospect business on the other side of the country, online, and close the sale with a phone call.

Given this is reality, you need to shift your focus from ‘selling’ to becoming an expert in a niche and exemplifying your expertise online.

2. Pick a Niche

Before the internet introduced us to inbound marketing, we relied on outbound.

Indeed, I’m sure you still do.

Outbound, however, is inherently limited by geography and scale; causing us to accommodate a wider array of business types to keep the lights on.

Of course, I am not saying that this is bad. But I do propose that business owners and decision makers prefer to place risk management needs with a specialist who unequivocally understands the business and is trusted by 2,826 other businesses just like theirs.

So, pick a niche and understand the business in more depth so that you can provide greater value to prospects and clients than any other insurance broker in the market. This will help you land and retain more clients when competing with brokers across the country.

Experts have an understanding of the industry they operate in, beyond their own expertise. For example, architects understand many aspects of construction and engineering, beyond the art of design.

To be an industry expert, model the architect. Understand the industry from more perspectives, such as marketing, overheads, facilities, growth challenges, and of course, risk management.

Demonstrating a broader understanding of businesses in your niche will provide greater value (real and perceived) to your clients and prospects. Additionally, this goes a long way in building relationships online.

“So,” you say, “I am a specialist in my niche and I have a great insurance program. What next?”

3. Create Content

Sales must adopt a marketing mindset.

To get found online, create attractive ‘content’.

For example, write an article for your blog. Then summarize it for Facebook and LinkedIn posts; linking to the original blog if people are interested enough to read further.

I write extensively about various content ideas and online marketing strategies on my blog – check it out.

So how does this content convert cold leads into hot prospects?

4. The Buyer’s Journey: Know, Like, Trust

There are three stages that you need to address before you can make a sales call: Online, leads need to KNOW who you are, LIKE you, and TRUST you before you can even think about soliciting a sale.

Each stage of the buying cycle requires a different content strategy. I created an interactive infographic to guide you through the stages and how to communicate at each stage.

Here’s the crux of it:

  1. When prospects know you, they will be more receptive to your future content.
  2. When prospects like you, they’ll sign up to your email list to receive content directly into their inbox.
  3. If prospects trust you, they’re ready for your sales call!

What’s more, you can time these stages to coincide with insurance policy renewal dates.

To raise awareness for yourself, your team, and to get noticed by potential prospects, consider creating a case study, a step-by-step guide, or an infographic to post on Social Media.

If your content is great, prospects will know who you are and like the value that you provide.

Then you need to create content that moves new prospects to trust you.

Here are some content ideas that build trust:

  • Niche specific opinions and commentary
  • Reviews, Testimonials, or References from your current and past clients
  • Logos or names of your most recognizable clients
  • Your professional achievements and designations (+ achievements of people on your team)
  • Specialties or niche specific experience
  • Your unique insurance program, its benefits, and how it compares to the market
  • Direct advice about insurance coverage for businesses in your niche
  • Plus anything that speaks to your credibility

Indeed, engaging your current clients with this type of content will strengthen your relationships, open a dialog, and increase client retention.

5. Conclusion

We’ve heard it before: the insurance industry is changing!

As such, if you want to protect your business, I recommend that you take a proactive look at how the internet will impact your business and the steps you need to take.

As we move into a more connected digital world, insurance sales – both personal and commercial lines – will be transformed. How we sell insurance to individual consumers or how we prospect large commercial accounts is evolving quicker than you think.

Ultimately, I encourage you to consider how you will compete if a specialist producer from the other side of the country offers your clients a very compelling case to switch.

About the Author

Dane Gorton spent 10 years in the insurance industry working for several companies including RSA Canada, and BFL CANADA, where he launched one of the first online insurance platforms in Canada:

Today, Dane’s digital marketing agency specializes in online prospecting and digital marketing strategy for insurance agencies and producers.

Dane also visits insurance agencies across Canada to provide LinkedIn lead generation workshops for brokers.

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