What do you know now that you wish you had known much, much earlier in your life? There are songs about it, movies about it, and today, even a blog post about it. These seven agents were once new to the industry—keep reading to find out their tips for new insurance agents and what they wish they’d known sooner.
Successful Insurance Agent Stories: What I Wish I’d Known
1. 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.
2. 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? (Tweet this!)
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.
3. 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
4. Look at your competitors as colleagues rather than enemies.
Learn the industry and the current positions of competitors, and then leverage that information in your favor. I accidentally became the guy for many younger people in the area looking to save money on their P&C needs. Many times I wasn't the most affordable option, so I sent them to other agents I knew who currently had better rates. This allowed me to build great relationships with other agents, and customers also appreciated my honesty—while my solution wasn't the best fit for them, I at least provided them a solution to get the best rate possible. This strategy led to a ton of referrals from prospects and other agents alike.
Luke Kinton, Director of Marketing and Communications at True Blue Life Insurance
5. 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
6. 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
7. 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
8. 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 its not nearly as simple as most people think.
Scott W. Johnson, Marindependent Insurance Services LLC
9. 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.