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Shaking the Stereotype

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Over the weekend, I read a blog post not related to the insurance industry about the different people you might encounter in your life. As part of the post, the author listed several types of people the temperamental child, the moody teenager, the hippie-turned-teacher, etc. And one of the people that the author included in her list was The sleazy insurance salesman.

Not even just salesman, insurance salesman specifically.

This isnt the first time Ive heard this claim. Back in April, we published a story exploring Gen Ys opinions about insurance agents and nearly everyone I interviewed described agents using negative words. Even though most of them did their insurance shopping online (or not at all) and had never worked with an agent, their impression of agents was very specific and not flattering.

I cant seem to wrap my head around this idea. Yes, I know that salesmen are traditionally considered pushy, but 95 percent of the agents Ive met in my two years as associate editor have been anything but pushy theyve been helpful and passionate about insurance and hoping to help change lives. Trust is such a huge issue in this industry, but it seems like thats the big thing missing here trust.

So what can you do to fix that? The key to not being taken for a sleazy insurance guy is to know when to accept no. Sometimes, that means taking the no on the first rejection. And thats OK, because you can always ask that client to stay in touch if they ever need you. You can also think about mirroring your behaviors and dress code after your clients dont act exactly like them, but if most of your clients are jeans-and-t-shirt people, youll look slimy in a three-piece suit, so maybe dress down a bit in khakis and a polo.

But the most important skill of all is to listen. Ask important questions, and show the client that you truly care. We can break the agent stereotypes, even though it may take one agent at a time.