What are the most important things new insurance agents should do to set the stage for a profitable agency? To find out, we asked agents who have actually done just that! In this article, we’re featuring their advice, experiences, successes, and lessons learned. New agents, take note!
1. Understand the world of sales before you open your doors.
From the moment your agency opens for business, you’ll be inundated with things to do and people to meet. For this reason, it’s imperative to have completed as much sales training as possible before you open your doors. Chances are, once your agency is up and running, you won’t have time to do as much studying and learning of new sales tactics as you’d like (at least at first).
Take at least one type of sales training course to improve your skills in this area, and encourage your team to do the same. (Sandler Training, Challenger, Craig Wiggins Coaching and Role Play at the Olson Agency all are great options to look into.) Gaining the right sales mindset is one of the most helpful things you can do.
Use this blueprint to lay the foundation for your insurance agency:
5 Smart Ways To Set Up Your Insurance Agency For Success
2. Know how to work a sales process from start to finish.
The success rate of insurance agents depends heavily on whether or not they have a proven sales process in place—and know how to execute it backward, forward, and in their sleep.
New agents often cobble together different types of sales processes from things they’ve heard and researched. You don’t have to do this! We’ve written extensively about sales processes that actually work for insurance agents (and we have the data to prove it). Here are our top resources for agents just getting started:
- The Insurance Agent Sales Process Quick-Start Template is a practical, easy-to-use guide for improving the planning, activation, and conversation phases of your sales process. It’s useful for brand-new agents as well as agents who want to boost their sales numbers.
- Achieving a 16% Bind Rate: How Mark Jameson Uses EverQuote Leads & Defined Sales Process for Continued Success: In this white paper, a top P&C agent walks through the sales processes and techniques that have helped him achieve an average 16% close rate on leads across his four offices.
- Or check-out our extensive library of insurance agent-focused educational webinars.
Go ahead and check out these free downloads right now… they may be the most important things you read all day! (We’ll wait here while you read them.)
3. Learn how to use talk tracks.
A non-negotiable characteristic of a good insurance agent is being a good communicator: they know what to say and when and how to say it. Unfortunately, many fledgling agents and producers fail in conversations with leads because they jump into calling people without thinking through what they should say. They have no plan for their time on the phone with leads, and they don’t know how to take charge of conversations or overcome objections.
Learning the right things to say in any given situation contributes greatly to an agent’s success. Many use scripted game plans, called talk tracks, to help prevent conversations from going off the rails.
We created a free guide that includes talk tracks around four common objections:
- “I didn’t request a quote.”
- “I’ve been called too many times.”
- “Stop calling me! I wanted to do this online!”
- “I can’t talk right now.”
Download it and give it to all of your producers to make sure your team’s not losing out on deals because of objections they can easily overcome.
Also, as a bonus, we’ve included a special talk track from one of our partners—Role Play at the Olson Agency. They’ve created a great talk track for dealing with the objection “No thanks—you’re the fifth agent that’s called me!” Check it out here.
4. Purchase leads to give your agency more opportunities to succeed.
For many successful agents, the formula for using leads to bind more policies is a simple one: Lots of quality leads purchased equals lots of opportunities. (Wondering what we mean when we say “quality lead”? Learn more about different types of leads in our article, Where To Buy Auto Insurance Leads: 8 Options)
Why EverQuote leads?
EverQuote leads provide qualified insurance leads—it’s what we do better than anyone else! When you choose EverQuote to help fill your pipelines, here’s what you can expect:
- An abundance of insurance leads that will keep your producers busy working auto, home, and life products in all 50 states
- Customized leads based on your preferred geographic area
- Leads that aren’t resold at a future date; you can work the leads you purchase without worries about new competition from the same source
- Live transfers for auto, home, and life policies
- The ability to return leads with incorrect information
EverQuote partners also benefit from our onboarding process. You’ll learn best practices for sales, how to talk to internet leads, and more. And, you can pause your account at any time, with no consequences.
Ready to get started? Get a tour of EverQuote’s tools with one of our experts.
5. Focus on speed to contact and multiple dials.
The success rate of insurance agents depends in part on what they do with the leads they’ve purchased. Do they try one dial and hang up, or do they attempt to work each lead several times using various methods? Experienced agents stress the importance of using every single lead to its fullest potential. Two ways to do that are by optimizing your speed to dial (quickly calling every lead you receive) and dialing multiple times (or contacting them via email or text if your carrier allows). To equip agents with a proven method, we created this contact strategy white paper. It’s one of our most popular downloads for a reason; in it, we detail when agents and producers should contact leads, how frequently to call or contact leads, and which methods to use.
Additional Insights From Successful Agents:
6. Don’t underestimate the power of networking.
“I'm a total introvert. Early on, the idea of networking made my palms sweat, but I joined the local chapter of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) anyway because I thought I could learn something from my fellow agents. I could never have imagined what a critical step this was for my agency. Within a few weeks of becoming a member, I volunteered to join the board, and six years later I became the chapter president and then went on to sit on the state board for two years as the magazine editor.
This one move—joining NAHU—resulted in literally hundreds of referrals to my agency over the last 13 years, all because I swallowed my fear and put myself out there. I met some of my very best industry friends through this organization, and I can't say enough about how networking with fellow insurance peers will reduce your learning curve. It's absolutely vital.”
7. Treat your very first clients well.
“As a young agent, I really wish I had known and understood how important my first 100 clients were. Taking better care of those first 100 people probably would have grown my agency faster. I think of it this way: Do people recommend you because you got them the lowest cost product? Or do people recommend you because you go above and beyond for them?”
Building a new agency? Make sure your sales process will result in more bound policies.
Get proven, practical steps you can implement today in The Insurance Agent Sales Process Quick-Start Template.
8. You need to put in either time or money.
“Nine out of 10 new agents won’t last past their first year because they fail to do one or the other—invest time or money. Buying leads will help you grow faster, but if you don't have the cash, then you have to put in the hard work. I front-door cold-called businesses for two years to get my agency off the ground, and that is how I succeeded—by taking on the hard tasks with gusto and knowing that one day I wouldn't have to hustle quite so hard anymore.”
Danielle Kunkle, Founder, BoomerBenefits.com
9. Think outside the box early and often.
“As a young agent, I spent years sitting in veteran agent’s offices who had been doing business the same way for thirty years. I wish I would have started thinking outside the box earlier in my career. Eventually, I changed my model to an entirely digital platform and began selling policies on the internet.
Since then I have achieved nearly every accomplishment the insurance industry has to offer, including being a Top of the Table Patron of the Million Dollar Round Table. My best advice to younger agents is to use your creativity to create the customer experience you believe will change the world. You are in an industry that is ripe for transition.”
John Holloway, Co-founder and Agent at No Exam
10. Be patient, stay dedicated, and play the long game.
“I came into insurance as a second-generation agent and my father had a lot of success. I was very confident, but I found out quickly there was a learning curve and plenty to master. You have to be patient, stay dedicated, and play the long game—nothing happens overnight. Once you negotiate enough policies and earn the respect of enough of your clients, you begin to feel a strong connection with the community. Stay on that track and expand on it. Volunteer in the community, take part in community programs, and just give back in general.”
Kevin Gardner, Desjardins Insurance Agent, Desjardins Insurance
11. Go with your gut as a business owner.
“When I started I had the idea that insurance was a kitchen-table sale, meaning that people wanted to sit down in person to buy coverage. I spent a couple years running appointments like that before I came to the conclusion that this could absolutely be done over the phone, even in the senior market, which is my specialty. There were several “good old boys” in the industry who told me it would never fly, but today we sell policies in 47 states by phone every day. People absolutely buy insurance coverage online and by phone just like they buy everything else these days. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling on things as a business owner.”
Danielle Kunkle, Founder, Boomer Benefits
12. Owning an agency is a slow path to wealth—and that’s how it should be.
“I realize that this headline might not be sexy, but building an insurance agency is the opposite of working for a dot-com company. The latter may be fast and exciting and the former slow and sleepy; however, the fact remains that consumers and businesses need insurance, and it’s not nearly as simple as most people think.”
Scott W. Johnson, Marindependent Insurance Services LLC
13. Find your own voice and your own process.
“You have to understand what you're selling and the benefits, and how to read people's needs. It also helps when you give better customer service and get your satisfied customers to refer you to others without asking.”
Kevin Gardner, Desjardins Insurance Agent, Desjardins Insurance
What tips would you give to a new insurance agent?
If you’re a successful agent we’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below, and we may feature you in an upcoming article on the EverQuote Blog.