Being an insurance agent is a profoundly satisfying job for many people, but it's not easy initially. An astonishing 30% of new agents quit within their first 90 days.
Finding success in the insurance business requires a plan and good strategizing. It is important to establish good business practices early on and make them a part of your routine. If you're new to the insurance industry, there are many things, big and small, that you can do to get your business off the ground. Here's what you need to know.
Master the Art of Conducting Work by Phone
Many insurance agents live by their phones, which they use to make sales and answer client questions. For new agents, it's essential to become highly effective at conducting most work over the phone.
Be approachable, friendly, and organized. Develop a method of transacting business that puts clients at ease. Focus on being friendly but knowledgeable. Be a good listener, but know when to say the right thing when the time comes.
Make appointments to talk when appropriate. Making appointments shows clients that you value their time. It also shows clients that you have an organized and thoughtful approach to business.
Promise to follow up, then do it. Most sales need several points of contact before they're finalized. If a potential client says they need time to think about something before moving, let them know you'll follow up later. Then, do it! Keep a calendar to make follow-ups easier, or purchase a customer relationship management system with built-in reminders to keep you on your toes. Keep notes on conversations with clients and potential clients so that you'll have some information about your previous conversations when you follow up.
Keep conversations organized. Know what you need to say and get it said early in the conversation. Practice your sales pitches to be concise and confident when delivering them to clients. Pitches shouldn't sound like pitches; they should sound like you're offering a valuable service – which you are. If you need help getting these conversations with clients right, rehearse with friends, family, and coworkers to get the right tone and approach the topic logically.
Offer Alternative Methods of Communication
While many insurance agents conduct most of their business by phone, it's important to offer multiple methods for clients to contact you. Some alternative methods include social media, email, texting, and fax. Ensure your business cards list all forms of communication and your website(s).
Set Up a System for Referrals
Referrals work, but many insurance agents fail to establish a referral system. There are many things you can do to encourage referrals. Start by reminding clients that referrals are appreciated. Mention it on your social media and web pages, and bring it up at the end of conversations on the phone.
Some agents reward clients who give referrals, while others send "thank you" gifts. Send personal notes of appreciation to clients who make multiple referrals.
Network Within the Industry
Networking within the industry is essential. The more people you know who do what you do, the more people you'll have to consult with when you're stuck on a problem, want support, or are looking for ideas. Knowing others within your industry can also help you identify issues and trends.
To meet others in your industry, attend events like insurance conventions. Consider joining local insurance agency associations, your state regulatory agency's board, or an insurance cluster that offers networking opportunities.
Practice Effective Time Management
Working independently as an insurance agent can be tricky if you're not disciplined or have poor self-management. Practicing effective time management is a part of this. There are many things you can do to manage your time effectively, including:
- Use customer relationship management software to help you use your time more effectively.
- Schedule tasks throughout the day using a calendar.
- Maintain an office free of distractions to make focusing on work easier.
- Do one thing at a time, and avoid multi-tasking.
Set Aside Time Each Day to Read and Research Your Products
Become the expert in your products that your customers expect you to be. Independent insurance agents are particularly challenged in this area because they have many more products to sell than captive insurance agents. Set aside time each day to research and learn more about the products that you're selling to clients. Become comfortable talking about each product.