So You Want To Be An Insurance Agent? Understanding What It Takes To Succeed
Becoming an insurance agent can be one of the most accessible yet challenging careers out there for the upwardly mobile. In spite of what the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) say regarding income — the median for 2012 was $48,150 — it’s actually a field with a great outlook and limitless earning potential. You can basically be the driver of your own success. What helps is to have a clear understanding of the job itself.
Just what does an insurance agent do? Let’s look at several of their responsibilities.
They establish and expand a customer base.
An agent won’t earn anything without customers and the only way to find them is to look where highly qualified leads are most likely to be. That means sourcing such leads through services like Hometown Quotes, but it also means mining from other places as well. For instance, say you pick up a hot lead from HQ, and you convince them to come on board. Well, you have a willing, captive audience from which you can ask for referrals. Since they’re satisfied enough to trust you with their insurance needs, you can bet that they will recommend people in similar circumstances. That’s because we tend to hang out with and trust those who are most like us.
They interview their existing clients.
That’s right. Insurance agents do not forget about their clients after they’ve deposited their first check. They realize that to be successful they need an ONGOING client-agent relationship. That means gathering personal data as well as facts about their financial resources and information on their existing coverage. After all, you don’t want to oversell to your clients. If you did and they found out, the bond of trust might be damaged. By the same token, underselling could leave them vulnerable both financially and emotionally.
They explain how policies might benefit a client.
They don’t try to push themselves on the client, but they do educate the client on which features go with which policies, so the client can make up their own mind. Being able to translate policy talk into plain-speak is an essential insurance agent skill.
They meet clients where they are and suggest changes as needed.
The vast majority of business will come from existing insurance customers. In other words, these customers already have policies, either with the agent or with another company. Insurance agents must be able to meet a client where he is on existing coverages and recognize gaps wherever they exist.
They try to customize an experience rather than sell a product.
Every family is different in both makeup and finances. That means insurance agents must strive to customize an insurance experience rather than sell as many policies as they can. By customizing to a client’s needs, insurance agents are able to build trust and loyalty — the two things that separate career pros from the company washouts.
They manage policy renewals.
Keeping a customer past their renewal date is about more than winning on price. You have to be able to convey to the client how staying with your company is a benefit in every area of their life. Unfortunately, many insurance agents fail at this because they depend too much on being the cheapest price. While some customers may shop based on price, they appreciate value more. So insurance agents must be prepared to demonstrate it day-in and day-out.
They maintain records, both print and electronic.
This is important for both customer service and tax purposes. While you might be able to afford a reputable firm to outsource this function to, most companies have systems that facilitate doing it in-house, and if you’re just starting out, you want to maintain as much control over your business as possible.
Finally, an insurance agent helps his customers settle their claims.
The agent won’t be the lone wolf on this, but they can and often do give their clients peace of mind and help to prop their spirits up through what can be a trying and uncertain time.
As you consider becoming an insurance agent, keep the above overview in mind. It should give you a good idea of what you can expect and what possibilities await. Best of luck!