14 Qualities of Successful Insurance Agents
By Tara Seboldt—
How do you measure success in your insurance business? Do you look at quarterly and annual earnings?
Perhaps, you measure success by how many policies you’ve written or the number of new clients. No matter how you measure your accomplishments, there are certain qualities successful insurance agents share.
To be a successful agent, you need to have a combination of sales talent and customer service skills. This expertise bridges the gap between making a sale and keeping your customers happy. Let’s learn about the top qualities of successful insurance agents.
Skills of Successful Insurance Agents
To be successful in the insurance industry, you must match great service with great products. Level up your business and improve your client's satisfaction with these traits.
The average business owner doesn’t know a lot about insurance. As an agent, you need to explain complex insurance ideas to clients in a simple way. Good communication skills help potential customers understand their insurance needs and coverage options.
Being a good communicator also means taking the initiative to start conversations with prospects. You’ll need to have both verbal and nonverbal communication skills to move a prospect through the sales funnel.
Nonverbal communication includes your posture, gestures, and even the pace of your speech. Good nonverbal communication helps you appear confident when talking to clients.
Finally, good communication includes listening skills. You should listen to your client's concerns to understand their needs. That way, you can give them honest answers.
2. Customer Service
Your work isn’t done after a prospect becomes a client. You still must provide a great customer experience. Clients should feel happy and satisfied with your service.
How can you make sure the client experience is a good one? Start by investing in your customer service skills. Good customer service means being available when your clients need you and promptly meeting those needs. For example, you might answer a client’s question or help them make critical changes to their policy.
Customer service isn’t always hands-on. You can use insurance automation to set up a client self-service portal. Your clients can easily log into accounts and make changes, such as updating an address or paying their premiums. Clients love the convenience of self-service portals.
As an insurance agent, you know things don’t always go smoothly. You may face rejection from a prospect or difficulty getting a client to commit to a policy. However, being a successful agent doesn’t come from getting lucky. More often than not, you’ll have to be persistent to make a sale.
Let’s say you contact a carpenter. At first, they’re unsure if they need insurance but are open to learning more. You follow up several times to help address their concerns and eventually they buy a policy. You need persistence to nurture leads.
Persistence doesn’t mean being overly pushy or demanding. Reaching out too often with a sales pitch can drive prospects away. The key to being persistent is learning about each prospect and coming back with an approach that will help turn a “no” into a “yes.”
4. Product Knowledge
Successful agents know their products. You can answer multiple questions from your clients. And if you don’t have an answer at a specific moment, you can get the answer and follow up with the client later.
Product knowledge also gives you the ability to recommend the right products. For instance, you have a janitorial client who needs general liability coverage. You know that they rely heavily on a mobile app to collect customer information and payments — and that the policy they want to buy doesn’t include cyber coverage. You explain that a policy that includes this coverage would offer better protection for their business.
Extensive knowledge of insurance products is especially helpful when writing non-traditional policies. While your clients may have some basic insurance knowledge, it’s unlikely that they understand the complexities of E&S insurance policies. Your product knowledge helps you be a trusted resource for your clients.
A big part of an agent’s success is tied to their sales skills. Honing your sales techniques helps you close more sales.
Consider your recent successful sales. What did you do that helped make the sale easier? Were you quick to follow up with a lead? Did you nail a perfect cold call pitch? Looking at your past successes — and failures — can help you improve.
Say you have a meeting with a prospect who you know is shopping between agents. Getting a quote fast will be important for this client. You can use software like Pathpoint to help get a quote in minutes.
Insurance agents wear a lot of different hats. It can be tempting to try to do all of the work. However, overloading yourself leads to mistakes.
You’ll want to rely on your team and partner agents to be successful. Delegating tasks to your team helps lower your burden. It also gives your team members a chance to grow their skills. As your team takes on more tasks, you can focus on bringing in more business.
Delegating also helps raise morale at your office. By letting your employees handle things on their own, they’ll feel more valuable to the insurance agency. This opportunity can improve overall productivity and make for a happier workplace.
Setting and meeting goals will help you succeed as an insurance agent. Having a specific goal, such as a quarterly sales number, helps you stay on task. Goal deadlines can improve your motivation and, in turn, make your business more successful.
Without a set of goals, you’re less likely to be driven to succeed. Your business may suffer as a result. For example, you might not seek out as many prospects. At the end of the quarter, you end up making significantly fewer sales.
8. Relationship Building
The job of an insurance agent is more than selling policies. When you bring on a client, you agree to be their go-to resource for insurance questions. A good agent puts in the work to understand their client's goals and needs.
Relationship building includes getting to know your prospects. Showing a prospect that you’re more than a salesperson helps them feel comfortable with you. They’re more likely to ask questions or share concerns.
Strong client-agent relationships also often help your business grow. Satisfied clients are more likely to provide referrals when you ask for them.
Every day brings a new challenge as an insurance agent. Some days you might be making sales calls, while other days you’re helping a client through the claims process. That’s why being flexible is one of the most important traits of successful insurance agents. You need to pivot your skills to match specific tasks.
Let’s say you planned to spend a day reaching out to prospects. You’re in a sales mindset and ready to make a great pitch. You get a phone call from an accounting firm. They need to file a cyber insurance claim after an employee accidentally clicked on a phishing email, and now the business is worried about being sued for a data breach. Flexibility will help you switch from your sales hat to a customer service hat.
10. Manage Stress
Long-term exposure to stress can have serious negative effects on your health. It can lead to increased risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
However, not all stress is bad. Mild stress can help motivate you to reach your goals. Successful agents learn how to manage stress by harnessing good stress and cutting out bad stress.
For example, good stress could include an influx of new clients. You’ll likely feel the stress of getting new policies together. This stress motivates you to provide a great service for your new customers and often goes away.
On the other hand, bad stress tends to continue to cause issues. For instance, you continually have new customers coming in, but not enough agents to handle the workload. To manage the stress, you may have to hire new agents.
11. Sense of Urgency
A quick response to a prospect can make or break your ability to land a new client. Today’s world moves fast, and most consumers want answers as soon as possible.
Having a sense of urgency can set apart a successful insurance agent from an unsuccessful one. A sense of urgency most often looks like fast responses to inquiries. This urgency could include getting an instant quote for a new E&S insurance client or returning a customer’s phone call within a two-hour window.
But a sense of urgency doesn’t mean you should be pushy. Urgency can help encourage a prospect or client to act, but being pushy could cause them to get a policy elsewhere
For example, you can create urgency by explaining that an insurance quote has an expiration and encourage the client to make a decision before the quote expires.
Many insurance agents work independently. So, you have to stay motivated on your own. Self-motivation is a form of discipline that successful insurance agents use to grow their businesses.
Without motivation, it’s easy to get caught up in a routine. You may find yourself making fewer sales calls or spending less time prospecting. At first, these activities probably won’t affect your business. Over time, this lack of motivation could cause your sales to decrease.
The best insurance agents explore what motivates them and use techniques and tools to help them get their work done. A common motivation tool is to use time blocking to stay motivated and reach daily goals.
Start by listing your goals or tasks for the day and break them into bite-sized tasks. Then, set a timer for how long you want to work on a project, such as half an hour. When the timer goes off, you can take a short break to decompress before starting another half-hour work session.
A mentor is someone who acts as an advisor to a less-experienced colleague. In insurance, a more experienced agent trains a newer agent as their mentee. The experienced agent offers support and feedback.
But most successful insurance agents don’t stop seeking advice once they reach a certain number of years in the industry. A successful agent knows there’s always something new to learn and seeks out a mentor who can provide this knowledge.
As new insurance technology emerges, an experienced agent might look for mentorship from another agent who knows more. Or, a successful mid-level agent might work with one of the agency’s founding partners as a form of continued learning. Agents with similar experiences can even work together as peer mentors to swap sales tips or practice pitches.
14. Extensive Network
Most insurance agents understand the value of having a large pool of referral partners. Referrals are an easy way to keep your sales funnel full. One of the easiest ways to build a big referral list is by having a large network.
While getting lots of new referrals is one of the most obvious benefits of an extensive network, it’s not the only one. A large professional network gives you access to valuable information from other agents, professional service providers, carrier representatives, and insurtech company employees.
For example, your network includes a lot of people who work for insurance technology companies. One of these companies introduces a new tool that will greatly decrease the time it takes to process new clients. Your contact at the company reaches out to you directly, so you’re one of the first to know and even offer you a discount to try it out.
Are You a Successful Insurance Agent?
Every agent can benefit from improving their skills. Use this list of successful qualities to analyze your performance.