The general public has historically viewed the insurance industry with a certain amount of skepticism. Insurance products can be complicated, and the process for selling often falls short of being consultative. Trends in the industry are helping a new generation of insurance salespeople to approach insurance sales differently.
The age of insurance agents going door to door and relying on high-pressure sales tactics has gone the way of used-car salesmen in checkerboard pants. Today’s buyers want to see their insurance as part of their overall financial planning. They respond to salespeople who relate to them as individuals, take the time to develop rapport, explain products clearly and provide personalized service.
How to gain client confidence
First impressions count. There is no reason for an insurance agent to put on an act. People respond to authentically friendly people. For in-person meetings, a smile and warm handshake put clients at ease. Over the phone, an engaged, confident and friendly voice sets a positive tone.
Preparation sets the agent up for success. When meeting clients, it’s important to know the steps of the sales process and move through them professionally and with assurance. Clients gain confidence in insurance agents who ask questions that uncover insurance needs and have the knowledge to present the correct solutions. Prepared agents know what to ask and understand the product options beforehand.
Success in insurance sales arises from long experience. New agents spend most of their time developing business, winning one client at a time. Building a large enough client base to sustain a steady, lucrative income takes years. When agents treat clients right and keep in touch, they earn repeat business and referral business. They build a reputation as knowledgeable and ethical professionals.
Changing client perceptions of insurance
By helping clients solve problems, such as how much life insurance protection is enough, insurance agents become valuable to clients who see them as advisors rather than salespeople. When clients perceive a life insurance agent this way, the agent can easily correct common misconceptions about life insurance.
Often, clients reflectively object to life insurance because “it’s too expensive.” This objection arises from misunderstanding the product, but the great thing about life insurance is the ability to customize it to fit anyone’s budget.
Term insurance provides large coverage amounts for modest premiums. The term of coverage usually lasts between 10 and 30 years. Its purpose – protecting the policyholder’s family if the policyholder dies prematurely. Thankfully, most clients don’t die during the coverage term. Since most term policies don’t result in a claim, they are inexpensive.
Whole life insurance remains in effect for the policyholder’s whole life. It costs more because insurance companies expect to eventually pay a claim. Whole life policies also build cash value, which can increase the benefit amount or be used to pay future premiums. Therefore, the client gets more than just protection. Whole life policies are assets.
Ideally, clients carry a whole life policy and term insurance during their prime earning years while raising a family. Once in retirement, only the whole life policy is needed.
Sometimes affording both can be problematic. In this case, insurance agents have an opportunity to show their prowess by suggesting an alternative that doesn’t force the client to choose between one or the other.
One way to do this is through a term policy that provides the right to convert some of the policy benefit to whole life later. Policyholders can convert term to whole life without qualifying medically, so there is no chance of being denied the whole life coverage if they contract a medical condition. The client gains the coverage he or she needs now and protects the whole life option for the future.
By providing a consultation that solves problems as opposed to pushing policies, insurance agents can earn clients for life.
Considerations for new salespeople entering the industry
Being an insurance agent offers benefits you can never get from a 9 to 5 salaried job. Insurance agents enjoy a high degree of freedom and can go into business for themselves. Commissioned sales mean there is no cap on income.
Like every other business, getting started comes with challenges. To overcome these challenges, insurance agents need to think like entrepreneurs. Building a business has always been a long-term process that requires constantly evaluating the productivity of different activities and adjusting in ways that increase revenues and decrease expenses.
Here are seven tips from insurance pros:
- Focus your insurance business around your clients.
- Be the insurance expert.
- Pay attention to ROI.
- Commit to the long term.
- Know your numbers.
- Manage your money.
Constantly seek out training. Selling life, accident and health insurance requires constant development. From studying for license exams to sales training, success comes from focus and continued development. By learning to inspire client confidence, change misconceptions and manage their business for long-term success, insurance agents become well-respected, highly compensated professionals.