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3 reasons many new insurance agents fail

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The insurance industry offers amazing career opportunities for those who seize it. This is especially true for insurance agents/producers. I spent 15 years as a property & casualty agent and have had many ups and downs. There were moments of great success and days where I simply wanted to throw in the towel.

The insurance industry needs some new young talent. Unfortunately, young people aren’t flocking to become insurance agents. For those new agents that do take on the challenge of becoming a new insurance agent, many fail. Why?

I think there are three main reasons why new insurance agents fail.

1. Expecting too much too soon

Let’s face it, most of us live in the see it, want it, have it generation. We see something we like, we want it, and then we must have it right away. We look at successful people and think, “That must be nice. I sure wish I was that successful.”

Wake up call; successful people work their tails off. Typically 20-30 years of hard work looks like an overnight success.

This is thought process of many young agents. Been there, done that. We start off in the first year or two of our careers and expect to be driving the nice car, have the nice house, and play golf about 100 days a year (ok maybe the last one was just mine). There is nothing wrong with those things, but first you must pay a price. You must sacrifice to win. You must put in the time and effort.

The insurance business is tough and like every profession, it takes time, effort, and FAILURE to become a master. You must get kicked in teeth, make mistakes, have bad days, and maybe even question your sanity before you achieve a high level of success.

This doesn’t mean the first few years have to be awful, but young agents often expect too much too soon. Learn and master your craft. Read, practice, grow, and before you know it success will find you.

Understand that the insurance business should be looked at as a slow cooker vs. a microwave. This doesn’t mean you can’t have positive results quickly, but young agent’s must understand that a huge book of business comes from developing relationships and expertise, not a sales gimmick.


Training, development and mentorship can set new agents up for success. (Photo: iStock) 

2. Lack of quality training/education

I often speak with young insurance agents who are frustrated with their job. That can’t understand why this business is so tough. After a few minutes, I realize that this young agent was given a phone and computer, and maybe a lead sheet with no training or mentorship.

Of course they are going to fail. That’s like taking a person who has never golfed, walking them out to the golf course, giving them a club, and questioning why they can’t break 100.

Young agents need training and mentoring. They need quality education. There are some great programs out there to help agents get a start. There are insurance association groups, formal classwork programs or training from insurance companies.

Most importantly, I think every young agent needs to find a mentor. Better yet, two or three mentors. Someone who has had success in the industry and is willing to help new agents find their way. This could be someone from your office if you are fortunate.

You can also find people across the country through social media. Find successful people and learn from them.

I have been extremely fortunate to attend The National Alliance Producer School, worked with agencies who supported my CIC designation, and had many great mentors along the way. New insurance agents must also realize that they must put in the time.

Without quality education, training and mentoring, young agents are much more likely to fail.


Focusing on financial success can actually be a stumbling block to achieving it. (Photo: iStock)

3. Focusing on the wrong thing (money vs. people)

If you are in the insurance agent business just to make money, leave. Let me repeat that. If you are in the insurance business simply to make money, you will not succeed. Maybe in the short-term, but over time prospects and customers will see right through you. They will know you don’t care about them, you only care about you.

This is a people business. This is a relationship business. This is a service business.

If you do not understand those three principles, you will fail. Period. If you focus on the people, money will come. If you focus on money, people will go. Get it?

You can make a terrific income as an insurance agent. There no doubt about that. Great agents do and should make a terrific living. They work hard and help many people and businesses. They did not earn this great income by focusing just on money.

Yes, they set financial goals, but they also understand that those goals are only achieved by focusing on helping people.

Bottom Line

I firmly believe that an insurance agent is a highly noble and critical profession. It is vital that the industry not only find new and young talent, but provide the necessary tools to help new and young agents succeed.

For new agents, understanding these three areas of why many agents fail will be critically important to ensure talented agents will be there in the future to serve others with passion, knowledge, and integrity.

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