Before she launched an impressive sales career, Amelia Dobson (pictured below) worked as a receptionist and in service for one of the top State Farm agents in the country. This diversity of roles has given her a broad view of an industry that she has grown to love for its opportunity, its potential to help others and its flexibility. Here, she shares about her personal mission as an advisor, what millennials want from agents and how to stick it out if your sales funnel is slow to start.
LHP: Why did you choose a career in insurance or financial services?
AD: I was offered a full-time receptionist position right out of college, and felt that was a superior alternative to the three part-time jobs I held at the time. I soon found out the agent that hired me was ranked top 20 out of 14,000 or so State Farm agents in the country. He paid for me to get my license, transitioned me into service and then sales shortly after. The impact I made on people’s lives by being someone who was knowledgeable, friendly, trustworthy and dedicated hooked me instantly. I’m a natural people person. My clients became loyal to me because I was loyal to them. They say once you start in insurance, you’ll never get out. So far, I’ve found that to be true.
LHP: Describe what you do.
AD: My job is to help people navigate the world of personal insurance. I listen to them and learn about their lives and with that information I build an insurance package to fit their specific needs and budget.
As an independent agent, I work with multiple carriers, which allows me to bring many options to the table. I am all about education. I don’t sell you things you don’t need; I don’t cut coverage to beat your current rate. I tell you what’s available, how it covers you, how much it costs, but most importantly, I listen. I give people the tools necessary to build the levels of protection they want. My job is to change people’s perception of the insurance industry, one client at a time.
LHP: Share an achievement you are especially proud of.
AD: A lot of people in our community hear the word “insurance” and think of me. I’ve proven, over time, that I can be relied upon and trusted. This has allowed me to write a relatively high volume and it continues to increase. The first couple of years definitely were slower. I wasn’t struggling, but I chose to invest my time into activities that would pay off in the long run, not the short run. It was hard to stick it out at times, but the last year or two, it has really paid off.
The greatest thing that comes from this isn’t the numbers; it’s my community. Success in sales depends on what type of professional you are, and this directly relates to who you are as a person. I’ve learned so much about people, about life and about myself. I can honestly say my career in insurance has made me a better me. That is something I am not only proud of, I’m extremely thankful for.
LHP: What is the biggest challenge that you see in the industry or what is the one thing you would change?
AD: The biggest challenge I see in our industry goes back to what I’m actively trying to change: the perception. Too many agents out there don’t take the time to really explain how policies do and don’t work. People are busy, and learning about their coverage doesn’t take high priority, especially when they think their agent is taking proper care of them.
LHP: What is the biggest opportunity that you see in the industry?
AD: The biggest opportunity in insurance is the fact that you have the flexibility to steer your own ship. You choose how you get referrals. You choose how much time you put in each day. It’s up to you to decide what type of agent you want to be.
Do you focus on volume or service, or a combination of both? Are you going after a niche market? You have to differentiate yourself, that’s a fact. But how you differentiate yourself is entirely up to you. There’s a lot of power and opportunity in that. You need the support of your company, but ultimately your success rides on your shoulders. I love the accountability aspect of it. When you feel accomplished, you can thank yourself for that.
LHP: What do you think millennials are looking for in an insurance advisor? How can advisors best serve this market?
AD: I find millennials are much more interested in learning the details of their policies. They’re smart, intuitive, innovative and invest in themselves. They not only want to trust the person they’re working with, they want to get along with them. Maintaining a professional demeanor is key, but at the same time you have to let personalities guide the relationship. Think outside of the box. Use technology to your advantage. Save them time.
Each year that passes, our lives transition farther away from the simplicity of what was our childhood and head deeper into the chaotic reality of today. Hash out the details over email or phone for convenience, and then take them out for coffee or happy hour to thank them for their business. Work first, play later! At least, that’s my motto.
LHP: What is the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to a young person looking to enter this industry?
AD: Sales can be a daunting profession and if you don’t see results immediately, a lot of people can’t handle it. Figure out your personal brand. Everything you do is a reflection of who you are and where you’re going. Treat every person you encounter with respect and appreciation. If you always give, you’ll always have. All this to say, go above and beyond for your clients, prospects, referral partners and everyone in between.
Sales is about earning trust and respect, it’s about being consistent and having integrity. It’s hard work and your efforts should be focused on the small activities you can complete every day. Reach out to people. Stay top of mind. Provide value without expecting something in return. If you’re spending your time wisely and prioritizing your integrity, there is nothing anyone can do to stop you.
Editor’s Note: Amelia Dobson was featured on LifeHealthPro’s list, 30 under 30: Meet the millennials who are transforming the industry. View the full list here.