3 Common Traits of Good Insurance Agents

Should I transition into insurance sales?

When you travel in a salesperson’s circle and you’re the lone part of your group within the industry, that’s a question you hear a lot. With good reason, too! Any person qualified to make sales a career knows that every product is different, and your success with it often depends on how much time you’re willing to spend learning.

In truth, not all salespeople are cut out for the insurance industry the same way that not all insurance agents are cut out for other sales jobs. But if you do make sales your profession and you’re considering making the leap, what things should you know? That’s what I hope to clear up today.

First of all, the most likely people to succeed in insurance sales cannot really be pinned down to one specific group. Former real estate agents and mortgage loan officers have made the leap in part because they’re already somewhat familiar with property casualty insurance dealing with the specter of homeowners insurance. But there have also been successful outside sales reps for pharmaceuticals, office products, and even school furniture! According to Greg Jensen of New York Life Insurance Company, teachers have even been able to make the adjustment. In an interview with job-hunt website Monster, he confesses that the ones who succeed are the “ones who have the ability to position themselves and network, the good ones who are finding they need a recession-proof career and those with deep-rooted relationships within their communities.”

In short, it’s less about the person’s background and more about the person’s traits. That said, here are some qualities that you need to make it in the insurance business.


1. People-Focused

Teachers, real estate agents, mortgage loan officers, nurses — all of these types of people do well in part, despite their varied backgrounds, because they have experience working face-to-face with people in the execution of their duties. They have an understanding for paperwork and regulations, but they also know how to communicate those materials in a way that their human clients grasp.


2. A Grasp of Regulatory Language

I mentioned it above, but it warrants its own item on this list because of just how complex some of the paperwork and regulatory requirements can be for the insurance industry. While you may not be held to the same standards of others with your company, you definitely need to understand the jargon behind products and regulations as they relate to the industry. You also need the ability to translate contract terms to your customers, so they have a clear understanding of what they’re buying — what it will cover and what it won’t.


3. A Dislike for Ceilings

No, I’m not talking about the physical ceilings you might find in a home or apartment. I’m talking about earnings ceilings. Too many non-sales jobs have a very limited view of what the employee is actually worth. They set a salary, then keep that employee working as closely to it as they can for the next several years, doling out 1% cost of living increases annually or (maybe) a 3% pay boost on a particularly good year. Sales success stories in the insurance industry usually happen because the agent has rejected that line of thinking. They want to fail or succeed on their own merits. While it could mean lean pay during slow times, it also means that you could enjoy a significant boost, doubling or even tripling your income from year-to-year when things are firing on all cylinders. But unlike a lot of other sales jobs — residential real estate, for instance, where you earn a commission on the sale of a house and that’s that — insurance agents often keep earning on past successes for as long as they hold onto the business.


In Summary

As you consider a career as an insurance agent, don’t focus on whether you have insurance sales experience. Instead, focus on the mindset. Do the three qualities we’ve listed here sound like you? Then it may be time to give this career a try.

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