I’ve heard more than once the misconception that selling insurance is easy.
If selling insurance was so easy, then why is it that roughly 10 percent of the independent insurance agents generate the vast majority of the sales?
For you non-gamblers those are not good odds.
Why Do Insurance Agents Fail?
What you’ll hear most often is that agents are lazy; a “muddy bucket of water” as one agency owner once told me. Or, worse, they’re not smart.
We’re not buying it. What we see is a lack of preparation, not a lack of brains or laziness.
I talk to scores of agents every week, many of whom are venturing out on their own for the first time and a friend told them selling insurance as an independent agent is easy and a good place to start.
You Aren’t Prepared to be a Business Owner
What that “friend” failed to tell them was they would be faced with all the realities of a new job PLUS all the realities of running their own business. No one told them they were supposed pass the “Cash is King” course at their local community college before they could start.
Just kidding… but you get where I’m going.
But wait, there’s more.
And, this is where the odds go way down for a new independent agent. What the insurance industry has done is build a false sense of security for agents by funding marketing costs in return for a significant slice of the agent’s commission pie. That’s all well and good as long as the up-line’s lead generation capabilities consistently produce quality leads.
Unfortunately, response to direct mail is down and less than 10% of any list you want to pull has phone numbers you can call without getting locked up in the slammer. Good news: regulators haven’t gotten around to completely suffocating the Internet lead game, but it’s coming.
You Can’t Afford Leads
And, this isn’t just reserved for new agents.
I can’t even tell you how many prospective independent agents have abruptly ended a conversation when they learned we didn’t pay for their leads. What our industry has done is create a self-fulfilling prophecy where the “bottom 90% or so” of independent agents are slaves to somebody’s else’s marketing.
They are on their heels waiting for the next lead card to hit their mailbox vs. out hustling and generating new prospects.
When one agency’s leads start fading the agent simply pulls up stakes and moves to the next FMO. And, that often means taking on new product contracts and a lot more boxes of applications and brochures.
They never really take command of their business. And when you’re an independent agent, you need to operate in a capacity where you take command of yourself and the choices you make.
How to Not Suck at Being an Insurance Agent
It doesn’t have to be that way, you don’t have to suck at this business if you make the right choices.
You have a choice to actively participate in the success of your business and dramatically increase the odds of success. We believe there are three critical factors to make this occur:
Control What is in YOUR Control
I like to think this is the golden rule of becoming an insurance agent.
When you first start out you will be absolutely flooded with information which creates an environment of distraction. It’s overwhelming, stressful, and 100% real.
This is your chance to take a step back and look at your environment through a different lens.
There are only so many things you can do in a day, so getting overwhelmed is only going to hurt your results. Below are some tips for how your can stay focused when you’re surrounded by distractions.
- Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. You will never learn it all and you’ll constantly experience situations that will catch you off guard. Take things one day at a time and create small victories on a daily basis. For example, you received 15 new leads today and still have 75 that you haven’t connected with from previous orders. Instead of worrying about getting to all your leads today, shift your mindset to setting your target number of appointments. By doing this, you extract some of the stress and focus on what you can control, your ability to make quality calls and set quality appointments.
- Part of being a strong member of a team is being a strong follower. Some of the most effective leaders are the best followers. Allow yourself to learn from others and follow their lead. Doing this will establish a foundation from which you can customize over time. It’s easy to let your mind wonder and think that one approach isn’t right for you. What you need to remember is that establishing a foundation is critical, and being a good follower will get you to the finish line quicker.
- Don’t cast blame on others. Before casting blame on others for your lack of success or results, step back and think about how you choose to respond to directions from your leader. Has your attitude been in the right place and have you mentally accepted taking direction from someone else. Most agents hate hearing this, but frankly it’s the cold hard truth. Sure, sometimes it’s someone else’s fault, but most of the time it’s because you’re letting something other than yourself control your mind, actions, and decisions.
Choose how your respond. Choose how you embrace education. Choose to be positive.
How you choose to to respond will have a immense impact on your ability to succeed.
Learn to Love the Phone
It’s the number one fear for agents yet it’s the number one component that agents have complete control over.
We’ve heard a million reasons why insurance agents hate the phone, but we’re 100% certain that the most successful agents are those that make the phone part of their daily routine. We believe it is the lifeblood of a successful practice.
Remember, you have full control of your focus and effort!
The 10% of agents that absolutely knock it out of the park are glued to their phones on a daily basis, it’s in their blood! If you’re scared of the phoning, then go sell Iphones at the Apple Store. If you’re lazy, then go get a salaried job.
Long term, if you don’t make friends with the phone you have little chance of success selling insurance.
Always Ask For Referrals
Why, why, why won’t agents do this?
If you only track one metric in your business it should be cost per sale. Take five minutes and do the math where each prospect you see gives you one referral and you close 25% of those leads.
Getting consistent referrals will transform your business if you’ll just do the work.
Create a Prospecting Plan
I know everyone says that.
Well, it’s true.
I’ll bet you 100 push ups that 90 percent or more of agents who wash out never spent more than five minutes thinking about the who, what and how of their business. Again, they weren’t prepared to be business owners.
The most successful insurance agents have goals for their business, a target audience, products they are comfortable with and a passion for being their own boss. Agents who try and wing it on a daily or weekly basis are bound for failure. Following a plan not only provides confidence in yourself, but it also provides consistency in your life.
There’s nothing mysterious about the above. And, the truth is a lot of agents suck at selling insurance when they don’t have to.
Maybe they just need to hear it from someone like me?
Take a long weekend and draw out your business road map.
- Where do you see opportunity in the market?
- Who are you comfortable talking with?
- Who do you identify with?
- What are their needs?
Start tracking your activity and results. How many people did you talk with last week? How many calls did you make? Write it all down and keep a log.
Think about it this way: you are unemployed every minute you are not in front of or talking with someone. Commit yourself to the proven tools and strategies for success and hold yourself relentlessly accountable so you don’t end up sucking and washing out! 🙂
Great Free Resources
If you’re really pumped up to increase your sales, check out this awesome resources to help get your business back on track!