William J. Howery is a former Air Force Intelligence Officer. He retired in 2012 as a Lieutenant Colonel and began his career as an insurance agent with Physicians Mutual that same year. He has a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Master of Business Administration from Norwich University. He is currently enrolled in the Certified Financial Planner ® course at Syracuse University. Will speaks near-fluent German, is married to a native German and has a 2½-year-old daughter at home.
LHP: As a relatively new agent, what are some of the biggest challenges and struggles you face?
WJH: When I first started, I had no real experience in insurance, sales or cold calling, and call reluctance sidelined me more often than I care to mention. I just didn’t know how to handle the objections, and I was taking the rejection personally. I’ve since learned how to overcome call reluctance. The objections no longer bother me the way they did. I’m still working to be better at keeping my pipeline full. I know that I need to have a good mix of prospecting approaches. I just need to get a strategy and be more intentional in my prospecting.
LHP: Why do you think the “survival rate” is so low for new agents, especially in the first few years? What tips, advice or encouragement would you offer to other new agents who might be struggling?
WJH: I think work ethic and cash flow are perhaps the two biggest obstacles for new agents — the former having a dramatic impact on the latter. Being an insurance agent offers a great deal of freedom, and the income potential is simply amazing. What many new agents don’t understand is that with the newfound freedom comes a great deal of responsibility. When new agents aren’t making enough sales, it’s very hard to generate the income needed to stay afloat. Then they start thinking: “This insurance business is much too unpredictable. I can work at XYZ and earn more money each week.” I have had those same thoughts.
However, what I’ve learned in the last two years is that discipline and consistency pay dividends. For those who treat their insurance business with the same commitment that they give their jobs, the sales will come.