Just starting your career? View these insurance sales tips for new agents
- Learn all you can about insurance
- Learn all you can about sales
- Do your homework
- Expect to be judged by your “cover”
- Start with small talk to find common ground
- Focus on their business
- Put them at ease
- Build good relationships with underwriters
- Build your niche
- Use your age to your advantage
You’ve passed your licensing exam with flying colors. You’ve been on calls with other agents, watching their techniques and taking mental notes. You’ve been calling, emailing, messaging on your social media, and you’ve lined up some potential clients. Now it’s your turn. If that makes your heart race just a little, here are tips from our own business development leaders plus a few of their producers, to help you nail that first in-person meeting. Read on to learn insurance sales tips for new agents.
Devour everything you can about insurance
First, understand that your knowledge of insurance is limited, and it will take a while to master the ins and outs of specific lines you’ll write. Several of our agency owners and producers have provided insurance sales tips for new agents to help you get up to speed faster.
“An agent is only as good as his or her depth knowledge of the industry,” Tom Etier, owner of Keystone Insurance Agency, said.
“Attend events that expose you to individuals doing the type of work that you’d love to do. Reach out to them. Most of us are more than happy to provide tips or some form of guidance. There’s always the chance that you might get offered a position.” — Vira Egli, licensed agent
“Ask a lot of questions, LISTEN and read, read and keep reading. This will serve you well for learning commercial and specialty lines. I strongly urge newly licensed insurance brokers to first work for another company, whether a retail agency, wholesaler or insurance carrier before going off on their own. – Jon Lipton, president, Castle Rock Capacity, LLC
What one agency owner looks for in a new agent:
I look for their willingness to learn. I want their commitment, so I can invest in their professional growth. We have trained a few agents from ground up who’ve done extremely well. As a result, we have too. Our staff retention has been awesome. A satisfied agent is one of our best advocates! Azfar Haque, Bulldog Agency.
“Google is your friend! You can find so much information online if you know where to look. When I first started out, I’d go to the Big I or IRMI’s website to help clarify coverages, such as the definition of Business Personal Property.
“Take as many CE classes as are available to you. Learn all the products your agency offers and their details – and selling is easier after that. In short: Learn your markets.” — Chrissy Suhr, commercial lines senior marketing account manager (and new agent trainer) at Corkill Insurance Agency.
Learn all you can about sales and practice the techniques
As you go on sales calls with other, more experienced agents, follow this insurance sales tip for new agents: watch and listen closely; afterwards, talk with them about their technique. When you’ve observed several, practice each one and decide what seems to work best for you. Every technique will include a developed ability to read other people – and how to relate and respond to them. This is crucial for you to learn.
“No one is born a natural salesperson. It takes careful development. There’s a plethora of insurance sales helps and tools online – make use of them. Having or not having a degree is not a showstopper in sales. What matters is drive, a willingness and ability to learn and act, soft skills, computer skills and, ideally, at least some sales experience (but that can be learned).” — Vira Egli, licensed agent
“When I first entered this industry, I realized immediately that I needed to shadow someone who’d been in the field awhile. My biggest suggestion would be find someone knowledgeable, with whom you feel comfortable and who’s willing to spend time showing you the ropes. Someone who can help you navigate through tough situations. Observe how they sell, work with clients and the underwriters. It’s all about learning how to work with people. — Chrissy Suhr
Do your homework
Here’s another insurance sales tip for new agents, as well as experienced agents: Scour the company website, learn their products and services, view their most recent news, see if there’s a bio on the decision maker you’re meeting with. Read more on their LinkedIn company page, then find your contact’s individual LinkedIn page and read his or her background. And that’s just a start – there are many other business intel websites that you can utilize.
“My pet peeve is when a client or prospect is quoted a lower rate because the agent doesn’t understand the exclusions, conditions, endorsements and sometimes warranties involved in the client’s business. Insurance is an extremely complicated product. Clients of course want the best price, but not at the expense of spotty coverage.” – Jon Lipton, president, Castle Rock Capacity, LLC
Expect to be judged by your “cover”
If you’re a producer still in your 20s or even 30s, your initial visit with a new prospect or client can feel like a job interview. The business owner needs to feel safe putting his company in the hands of someone still wet behind the ears. If you’re asked that standard job interview question, ”so tell me about yourself,” this Ladders article provides some great ways to answer that question confidently. While they’re listening to what you say, they’re also listening to HOW you say it. Are you confident, poised and smiling, or are you ill-at-ease and stumbling?
Dress the part of a professional. That goes without saying. Not only will you look professional – you’ll feel professional – and that’ll come across in your demeanor and conduct.
Unless you’re meeting with someone your own age, lose the slang. Take close note of the way your prospect speaks and acts – and mirror that.
If they refer to your youth and call into question your experience (or lack of), respond by saying, “Yes, I passed my licensing exam a few months ago and have been assisting other agents in our office put together the best solutions for several clients. Together we have a combined 58 years of experience. Every policy I write is double-checked by one of our most experienced agents.”
Start with small talk – but keep it short
Look around their office. Do they display family or pet pictures? Sports memorabilia? What did you learn about this prospect in your homework? Find some common ground, and discuss it briefly, as a warm-up.
Focus on their business
This insurance sales tip for new agents is a natural: Your curiosity about your prospect’s business should start every conversation. Show that you’ve done your homework and know a little about their business, but also ask questions. You want to seek out their pressing issues. Don’t start the conversation talking about yourself and your insurance products. Your prospect will expect you to, but you don’t know yet how to tailor your offerings around their company’s needs. “As new (and nervous) agent, your instinct is to gravitate to a comfortable subject: yourself and your agency’s offerings,” says Michele Mayer, Arrowhead Core Commercial business development leader. “Instead, let them speak first, with you adding into the conversation the things you learned about them when you did your homework.”
“When you make the conversation about them and their company, you’re not only gaining a deeper understanding of their needs and the resources you can offer – but you’re also building rapport,” added Steve Goebel, Arrowhead Aftermarket business development leader. “You’re learning triggers that will influence their buying decision – what’s important to them.”
Put them at ease
Before you dive into the nitty-gritty of their risk exposures and finances, you may need to put the prospect at ease with a mutual non-disclosure document. You sign it first, underscoring the fact that whatever they say is held in strictest confidence. This elevates you from being just a possible vendor to a potential business partner. After all, they sign similar documents with their accountant, attorney and IT consultant.
“Number one: I get to know my clients. When a commercial client calls, they know you value them if you know their name and remember their account and their company.” – Licensed agent Jennifer Robinson.
“Get into this profession because you want to help people, and you believe in what you do and what you sell. It can’t be about the money. Be honest and be genuine. Insurance agents often have a stigma for being sleazy salespeople, so it surprises people when you show that you actually care about them and not just making a sale. — Scott Mosher, operations manager and co- owner of Mosher & Associates.
Build good relationships with your underwriters
“At the end of the day, we are in a relationship business, so having good relationships with underwriters is crucial. Get to know them – their appetite, what they like. Building a strong relationship with your underwriter is key, especially in situations where you may need them to help you with coverage inquiries.
“Before talking with an underwriter, be sure you understand what your client does, so you can explain it. When the underwriter fully understands the operation, you’ll be more successful writing the account. — Chrissy Suhr
Pick your niche
Scott Henderson, Henderson Insurance Dry Cleaner Practice, says he prefers the small commercial niches within insurance. “There are a zillion personal, life, and health agents. And if someone goes into commercial, they usually go after large accounts – but that’s where all the competition is. But in small commercial, your competitor is generally a personal lines agent with a one-time client who needs small commercial. Our personal lines competition isn’t that competent in commercial. That’s the layer to join, because no one else does.”
Use your age to your advantage
Here’s an easy insurance sales tip for new agents: Find young entrepreneurs and business owners just starting out who need insurance. After all, you already speak their language, and you can quickly find common ground and establish rapport.
“Hang in there. Yes, it’s hard and will be difficult at first. The advice we received early on really worked: Just do the right thing and work hard, and everything will work out. It’s not overnight success, but if you hang in there and work hard, success will come!” – Tyla Belton, co-owner, Foothill Valley Insurance Agency.