Whether you call yourself “rookie,” “newbie,” or “noob” (the youngsters’ version of this word), we’ve all found ourselves in a new job at one time or another. We may have had peers or coworkers joke with us by saying words like these as terms of endearment … or, better, had them take us under their wings and teach us about our new environment.
The truth is that any advice is helpful when you’re entering a new field. New insurance agents understandably feel overwhelmed as they begin navigating the complex world of insurance, sales, customer service and even agency management.
But have no fear! Here at LifeHealthPro, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best advice for your first day at schoo — er work. It’s advice that will apply for years to come, in fact. Down the road, you can use this list as a starting point for your own list of best advice for new (or even seasoned) insurance agents.
If you’re a more experienced agent, what are some tips that you would give to those just entering or even thinking about working in this field? Leave them in the comments section below.
1. Brush up on your customer service skills.
If you thought that that job as a waiter or at a retail store was a waste of time, think again. Remember how your performance was being evaluated every second by your restaurant guests? There are some very interesting parallels between serving clients in the food industry and in the insurance industry; in both cases you’re dealing with a client who expects the best customer service, and as fast as possible.
America’s Professor, a company that provides insurance pre-licensing courses in 26 states via online learning programs, says on their website, “Customer service often sets competitors apart from one another in highly competitive businesses like insurance. Good insurance agents understand that when their quote isn’t the lowest, their ability to make customers feel valued and important can tip the scales back in their favor with clients.”
So take note: Interpersonal skills are a must.
2. You are in sales; never forget that.
As a sales professional, your job is to find the product that is best for your client’s needs, and educate your prospect about that product. It’s not a one-and-done deal. Selling insurance means starting a lifelong relationship with your client.
If you’re new to sales, observation is key: Look, read, listen and watch what the top salespeople are doing. How do they dress? What do they say and what do they never say? What are some of their success stories (and horror stories), and what can you learn from that?
Learn from the experts, but also figure out what works best for your individual selling style, and what sets you apart from your competitors, recommends Next Wave Marketing.
3. Find a full team of people to support you.
No, you’re not the only person in the world that has been rejected by a prospect … but you might not know it if you don’t talk to other people and share your experiences, while listening and learning from theirs. If you’re an independent insurance agent or just joined an agency, look for tools such as trainings, support and encouragement from your support team.
If you’re working independently, you don’t need to be in a silo. Reach out to insurance agent associations and educational institutions for support, for example: the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, the Association of Insurance Compliance Professionals (AICP), the Compliance & Ethics Forum for Life Insurers (CEFLI), LIMRA, the Life Insurance Settlement Association (LISA), LOMA, the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA), the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and many more.
4. Dress for success.
First impressions count. Stacy London, a stylist who stars in TV shows like “What Not to Wear” and “Love, Lust, or Run,” knows this. Her job is to help people dress appropriately for work, for going out, and for the life stage that they are in. She tells them what looks good on their bodies, what doesn’t work, and what is appropriate for a range of situations, all while helping them maintain their personality and sense of self.
The TV shows ultimately reveal the reactions of family, friends and strangers to the old and the new looks. It’s an interesting social experiment on how first impressions shape what we think of people. The strangers might say, “I want that person to be my friend” or “Oh no, I would never take that person to meet my parents.”
It might sound harsh, but we do form a perception of who a person is based on how they look. So, keep it clean and classy, and learn what styles work best for you. If you need help, department stores have personal shoppers that might assist you. Or, ask a fashionable friend.
5. Relate to your prospect or client.
More than small talk, asking about a prospect’s family, work and interests will help jump-start the conversation and make you both feel at ease. Remember to focus on your client: after all, you’re here for them (not the other way around).
Maribeth Kuzmeski, a regular contributor here on LifeHealthPro.com, has written a lot about the importance of client relationships and how “conversation is the bedrock of relationships. Without them, our relationships are devoid of substance,” she writes.
Kuzmeski believes that conversation is an art that can lead to many more opportunities, including cross-selling or getting referrals. “(Conversation) is a great way to invest in others. The act of listening — the other half of having a great conversation — shows people you care. Have you ever been around someone who just wants to listen, wants to hear all about your day or a recent trip? You might not encounter these people very often, but when you do, they really stand out. When you speak with prospects and listen to what they have to say, you’re showing you value them,” she says.
This is good advice, but remember that a conversation should go both ways. Take time to also share a little of yourself, your hobbies and other points that will help position you as an authentic person who is genuinely interested in helping out your clients.