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How Agents Can Strengthen Relationships with Mid-Market Business Owners

September 3, 2020
  • New Nationwide Agent Authority research shows top concerns and needs for middle market business owners
  • Middle market business owners are focused on making it through the economic downturn, but reassessing their insurance needs
  • They have a high degree of confidence in their agents’ ability to help

It’s not surprising that many mid-market business owners are spending a lot of time thinking about how they will make it through the economic downturn brought on by COVID-19. The good news is that the latest Agent Authority research1 found middle market business owners are confident in their insurance agent’s ability to serve their protection needs, yet they struggle to understand their coverage, creating an opportunity for agents to provide personalized attention and advice.

1. Initiate touch points with your clients

Middle market business owners are confident in the value their agent brings.

With more complex insurance needs, middle market business owners feel confident they can rely on their agent. Agents and middle market business owners were nearly aligned in agreeing that the agent is always available when they need them, able to offer the best price and regularly checks in on needs.

mutual confidence graphic

Agents are on the right track and should continue to look for new opportunities to initiate touch points with their clients. They can also bring value in helping their clients understand the importance of finding the right price.

2. Offer digital and personal interactions

Our research shows middle market business owners look for insurance agents who are trustworthy, bear a strong reputation and know and understand their unique needs. They also prefer strong, stable and well-established carriers to protect against their complex risks and value an agent who can handle all of their insurance needs, beyond just property and casualty.

Most middle market business owners prefer working with an agent close by, but also emphasized that they value digital experiences, highlighting a need to offer both digital and personal interactions.

What middle market business owners want Graphic

Agents can demonstrate they’re prepared for anything by staying up-to-date on industry trends and emerging risks for clients. Nationwide’s Commercial Insight Center offers quick, specialized and actionable information to assist agents as they protect clients. As business owners seek education about their risk management, consider pointing them to My Loss Control Services, which offers digital safety resources, virtual consultations and more for business owners looking for quick technical advice.

It is also important that agents work with carriers with strong digital capabilities and the ability to deliver a breadth of expertise and solutions to meet their needs.

3. Understand middle market business challenges

Middle market business owners face significantly more challenges than small business owners when shopping for insurance, and need help comprehending their coverages. Commercial agents also shared obstacles, such as understanding nuances between different industries and helping clients with disaster preparation.

Middle market challenges Graphic

Agents have the opportunity to work with clients and walk them through scenarios to help them better understand how proactive planning and loss control can help fill potential gaps and keep them running smoothly, if the unexpected should occur.

4. Have a conversation about economic challenges

Mid market companies are still uncomfortable talking about economic challenges with their insurance agent, even though 84% of them believe their agent is prepared to have the conversation. Agents shouldn’t be afraid to have difficult conversations about the economy. Compared to small business owners, middle market business owners are much more concerned about their business surviving today’s economic turbulence. Most are uncertain about how the economy will impact their insurance needs, but it’s a topic they should be thinking about.

While they may not be thinking about insurance right now, this is a key time for agents to be thinking about it for them and considering new and different risks clients could face. Agents can highlight potential risks like cyberattacks as employees work remotely, or innovative technologies like telematics that can help them operate more efficiently and safely.



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    These and other important insights came out of the summer survey of the Agent Authority research series conducted by Nationwide, which includes samples of independent insurance agents, small business and mid-market business owners, and consumers. Nationwide also recently shared Agent Authority survey data on the agent-customer relationship and agents’ top concerns through the pandemic.