Selling Insurance in the 21st Century

What can you expect as a new insurance agent?

So you’ve decided to take the plunge into the world of insurance.  Nice work.  You now have one of the most challenging, frustrating, but at the same time rewarding career opportunities in front of you.  And the timing couldn’t be better.

Whether you plan to sell life insurance, health insurance or all of the above, major legislative changes are leaving clients confused and many of them will turn to you with questions.  By becoming an insurance agent, you are joining an elite group of advisors who will be on the front lines when it comes to helping clients navigate their insurance choices, be it health, life or retirement planning.  Are you ready?

When I sit down with newly licensed insurance agents or people thinking about getting into the business, I don’t sugarcoat anything.  I tell them exactly what they can expect.  But what I also tell them is that with the right approach to helping your clients, and the right motivation, you’ll find your career in the insurance industry to be one of the most gratifying decisions you’ll ever make.

Starting out: The right approach + High ROI marketing = Success

I recently read Do or Die: Reinventing Your Benefits Agency for Post-Reform Success by Nelson L. Griswold.  In it he talks about the way current events are redefining what it means to be an insurance agency, and how the old ways of doing things will ultimately force some insurance agencies out of business.

The book is targeted to agency owners and leaders but I recommend it to everyone in my agency.  As an agent, especially one who is new to the industry, you will want to look for an agency who provides the type of support and vision that is outlined in this book.  These agencies recognize the way you market, prospect and ultimately sell to clients today is drastically different than the way it has been in the past.  The book offers key takeaways all insurance agents can begin to implement today, regardless of their business model.

Tips to help you “Do or Die”

1. It’s not what you sell; it’s how you sell.

For a long time insurance agents have had a bad rap for only caring about getting the sale, pushing product not solutions and misleading consumers.  The new way of selling (anything from insurance to bird cages) is to be a true consultant for your client. You need to focus on each client individually and find a solution.

Insurance is no longer a transactional purchase.  As an agent, you must listen to the needs of your clients and craft a solution around them.  When you go in with the mentality that you are there to sell a product, you are destined to fail.  When you sell consultatively, close ratios increase, and cross selling will improve dramatically.

2. Implement the High ROI marketing system

The book talks a lot about knowing your prospects and knowing how and when to communicate with them.  One of the biggest realizations about prospecting is not treating everyone as a potential customer.  You can’t be all things to all people, so stop trying to be.  When you have a focused profile of the people you are trying to reach, you are able to determine how those people communicate and how to reach them most effectively.

What are their concerns?  What motivates them?  Once you are armed with that information you’ll be able optimize your prospecting process and spend more time talking to the right people.

In addition to knowing your client you also need the following things. You need the right:

Marketplace: What do those small segments of prospects have in common?  What groups or industries are they a part of and how can you offer solutions to that group as a whole?

Message: What is your unique selling proposition?  What makes you different from other agents/agencies?  Are you offering what your target market really wants?  These are all things you must be able to answer if you are to communicate to your prospects effectively.

Media: Where does your target audience spend their time and what is the best way to communicate with them.  There are a variety of media channels you could use to reach your market, but knowing what channel your audience will be most receptive to is key to high ROI marketing.

Time: When do you reach out?  How often is too much?  Are there certain times that are better than others?  Again, it comes down to knowing your audience and aligning their buying cycle to your prospecting cycle.

The book goes into great detail about each part of the high ROI equation and gives you specific tactics to refine and optimize your process to achieve the best results.

Although geared towards agency leads and the voluntary benefits world, I highly recommend it to anyone starting out in the insurance industry, or anyone wondering how to keep their business afloat post reform.

Best of luck with your test and future career.

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Michael Allen

Michael Allen

Michael Allen is president and founder of Blue Goose, Inc., a life and health insurance agency in Portland, Maine. He has experience in agency building, selling, recruiting, and training life and health agents. Michael is aware of the stigma surrounding "typical" insurance agents and has spent his entire insurance career reshaping the agent culture. He believes that when you forget about your commission and put the needs of your client first, you will be more successful than you ever imagined. Email Michael at mallen@bluegoosemaine.com
Michael Allen

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