While reading Mary Dean’s excellent article in the April 28 issue of National Underwriter I could not help reflecting upon my own transition into the life insurance business. Dean’s article, titled “Top ways to recruit and train women agents,” was, as you would expect, about bringing women into our business and leading them to success. However, I found many of the points she raised equally applicable to men making their way into life insurance.
There were 4 points in particular that she raised that I related to in my own journey into the world of life insurance.
First point of relevance to my own quest that she made: “The majority of women who joined the company (66%) were not looking to become agents when a recruiter contacted them.” How well I remember my own attitude!
In 1955 I was comfortably ensconced in a sales job and with a promise to some day be able to buy the company. Suddenly the boss’s son-in-law came to work for the company and I decided not to wait around to see how that would play out. For the first and only time in my life I answered a blind help-wanted ad in our local newspaper. A few days later a response arrived, but it turned out to be a life insurance company looking for agents. I threw the response in the wastepaper basket–not for me, I thought.
Luckily, a couple with whom we played cards on a weekly basis came to our home that evening. My friend (also a salesman) asked me if I had gotten a response from the aforementioned ad. I told him what it was and what I had done with it. He said, “Why don’t you go and talk to them, you might learn something.” I respected his opinion so I fished the response out of the wastepaper basket and thus began the journey.
The journey started badly. I had a terrible time finding a parking place and when I finally got to the building where my interview was to take place, there was a power failure and I had to walk up 7 floors to the insurance company office. I thought to myself, “Is this an omen of bad things?” The general agent was, I believe, a bit surprised I showed up after all the difficulty, but observed, “If you can walk up 7 floors, at least you can pass the company physical.”
To my great surprise I did “learn something” and found myself quite interested in insurance as a new career. However, I am not one to make rash decisions and my wife and I, being children of the Great Depression, did not relish the idea of giving up a good job for the unknown, which brings me to another point Dean made in her article. “Next is the role of the recruiter. He or she needs to be honest and realistic when describing the job as a life insurance agent.”