These days, there is no shortage of conversations around the importance of data—how to collect it, how to analyze it and how to act on it. Businesses have access to vast amounts of information that can help them make informed decisions. From customer behavior to industry trends, data can provide valuable insights that can drive growth and improve profitability. As we spend more time with the concept, it becomes more and more expansive. Data lets Chewy know how often I need dog food; Spotify uses data to show me my new favorite song; Instagram uses my data to know what shoes to advertise.

Executive Summary

Carriers looking to expand distribution can arm field teams with insights from industry data revealing which regions agents serve, what lines they write, and new vs. renewal business placements, better preparing the field teams for conversations with potential partners and helping them to evaluate agencies with confidence, writes Kathy Hrach of IVANS.

Why wouldn’t we use data to find the perfect agency partners?

Agency partners play a crucial role in the insurance industry, where nearly 88 percent of all commercial lines written premium is placed by independent agencies, according to the Big “I” 2022 Market Share Report. Working with the right agency can mean the difference between success and failure, especially when it comes to expanding into new regions or introducing new products. But finding the right agency partner can be a time-consuming and challenging process.

While traditional methods of identifying agency partners can be laborious and unreliable, using business intelligence (BI) solutions can help streamline the process and provide a more data-driven approach. It’s likely that you have heard about business intelligence tools recently. They’re a big topic in our field right now. But let’s level set by defining the term.

A business intelligence solution is a set of tools, technologies and processes that help organizations collect, analyze and visualize their data. BI solutions typically integrate data from various sources and present it in a way that is easy to understand and use, allowing organizations to make informed decisions based on real-time data. These solutions can include data warehouses, data integration tools, reporting and analytics tools, dashboards, and other visualization tools. BI solutions are designed to help organizations better understand their data, identify trends and patterns, and make more informed decisions to drive growth and profitability.

When I meet with clients, from large national carriers to small MGAs, one pain point they are all looking to solve is the massive amounts of time spent identifying the right partners for a particular product or regional expansion. Most of them employ field marketing teams who spend months making calls and having in-person meetings, and those teams are often working off anecdotal intel from agents, with no way to validate.

There is nothing worse than spending marketing resources to appoint new partners, just to have the partnership fail to generate a profit. While many companies have massive amounts of data on their current policyholders, most lack the industrywide view to make data-driven decisions. With the right solution, you can help your field staff be more productive, be better prepared for agency conversations and be more confident evaluating agency partners.

Investing in a BI solution that provides access to industrywide data can help carriers looking to expand distribution. By analyzing industrywide data, you could gain insights into which agencies are writing which lines of business, what percentage of their business is new business versus renewals, and what regions they are serving. By providing field teams with better information and insights, you can save time, improve accuracy and increase your chances of success. Armed with this information, you can approach potential partners with a better understanding of their business and the potential for a successful partnership. But more than that, using data to inform agency partnerships can help you unlock the full potential of your distribution channel, driving growth and profitability for years to come.

The benefits of using data to identify agency partners are clear. By streamlining the process and providing field teams with better information, you can save time and money while improving the likelihood of a successful partnership. But the benefits don’t end there. Businesses that use data to identify agency partners can also gain a deeper understanding of their distribution channel and the opportunities for growth.

For example, by analyzing data on agency partners, you could identify trends and patterns. You may discover that certain types of agencies or that certain regions are underserved. Armed with this information, you could optimize your distribution channel for growth, targeting the right partners in the right markets to achieve maximum profitability.

Identifying ideal agency partners requires more than just data. Companies must also consider factors such as the agency’s reputation, expertise and cultural fit.

Of course, identifying the ideal agency partners requires more than just data. Companies must also consider factors such as the agency’s reputation, expertise and cultural fit. However, by using data to inform their decisions, you can improve your chances of finding the right partner and, perhaps more importantly, finding them quickly.

Furthermore, BI solutions can provide real-time insights into industry trends, allowing you to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changing market conditions. For example, if a new competitor enters the market, you could quickly analyze data to identify potential agency partners who may be able to help you better compete.

The impact of a strong partnership could be the most important part of your business that you aren’t looking at. You should be able to find your ideal distribution partners in less time with better accuracy and get a deep understanding of all the opportunities to optimize your distribution channel for growth. The investments you make in your business intelligence solution today could determine the success of your market expansion tomorrow.