Insurance Thought Leadership: 6 Ways to Motivate Your Team
By Nick Gallo—
Insurance agents are responsible for closing deals and driving their agency’s revenue. However, they need encouragement and guidance from their leaders to reach their full sales potential.
Agency leaders must find ways to create productive team cultures and actively motivate their agents to achieve the best results.
Let’s explore the importance of building a sales-driven culture for insurance agencies along with six effective tactics you can use to motivate a team of agents.
Building a Sales-Driven Culture
An insurance agency's culture refers to its shared attitudes, values, and beliefs. Because that culture influences how individuals in the company interact and make decisions, it directly impacts your agency's ability to produce sales.
If leadership fails to build a positive team culture, counterproductive dynamics may naturally develop. As a result, you must intentionally shape your company environment to support your long-term goals.
You’ll want to build a sales-driven culture to promote job satisfaction, a willingness to collaborate, and the desire to contribute. These positive changes can mitigate the turnover issues that plague the insurance industry.
Retaining your high-producing agents means they'll continue to contribute to your bottom line and become culture carriers who can mentor new team members. That way, you can create a long-standing culture that reinforces itself.
6 Ways to Motivate Your Insurance Team
Motivating your insurance team requires much more than the implicit promise of better commissions for high producers. Here are six sophisticated ways to inspire your insurance team that yield better results.
1. Invest in Technology for the Team
It’s much easier to rationalize making half-hearted attempts when you can blame your failures on ineffective equipment. For example, a logger would be more motivated to cut down trees with a working chainsaw than a blunt ax.
Similarly, investing in technology for your agents and giving them the tools and websites necessary for success is empowering. They’re much more likely to feel motivated and appreciated if they have the proper equipment.
That investment also creates a positive feedback loop. Agents equipped with the right tools and productive attitudes are more likely to be successful, and good results are their own form of motivation.
2. Offer Rewards Beyond Cash
Contrary to what you might expect, non-cash incentives are often more effective motivators than monetary rewards. Though people might say they prefer cash rewards, their actions indicate that this isn’t necessarily the case.
Despite its utility, money doesn’t usually inspire us in the same way that tangible rewards can. After all, cash often goes toward mundane, uninspiring obligations, such as paying for rent or student loan debts.
Meanwhile, the idea of a vacation to a tropical destination is exciting. The promise of it makes you imagine things you enjoy, like sandy beaches and lazy mornings in a comfortable hotel bed, rather than the hazy satisfaction of putting more money into a bank or retirement account.
3. Emphasize Collaboration Before Competition
One of the most significant dangers to a sales-driven culture is the concept of competition superseding collaboration. Insurance professionals primarily work alone, which facilitates the illusion that an agency is a group of separate interests rather than a team.
While that might motivate some individuals to work harder in the short term, it sabotages the agency’s long-term growth by encouraging selfishness. As a result, agents become less inclined to share their knowledge with others and more likely to leave the company if it benefits them.
A slight competitive edge can be healthy, but team decision makers must be careful not to let it become the prevailing attitude. Build systems to encourage collaboration over competition, such as pairing experienced agents with new hires to provide mentorship.
4. Offer Growth Opportunities
Invest in each agent’s growth and development. Employees who believe their insurance companies care about their careers are more likely to feel motivated and remain loyal.
One of the best ways to offer growth opportunities is to incentivize continuing education. For example, you could provide annual stipends that agents can use for grad school or bonuses for completing relevant courses, like risk management or cyber risk.
Investments in your team’s ongoing development help agents acquire valuable skills and increase their contribution to the company. For example, paying for sales training programs can help your agents become higher producers or provide an opportunity to publish a bylined white paper.
5. Create a Culture of Recognition
The 2022 Gallup-Workhuman study found that employees who believe they've received appropriate recognition are four times as likely to feel engaged and three times as likely to feel loyal to their organization.
Unfortunately, recognition is underutilized as a tool for motivating employees. Only one in three workers in the United States strongly agree that they received praise for doing good work in the past seven days.
If you can build a culture of recognition, your agency will better attract and retain top talent. Consider establishing systems that acknowledge incremental progress toward your company’s larger goals.
For instance, leaders should provide positive feedback weekly or even daily for small wins rather than waiting to acknowledge accomplishments at quarterly or annual reviews.
6. Offer Feedback for Improvement
If individuals feel they’re doing their job well enough already, they have little reason to strive for improvement. Therefore, critical feedback is just as important for employee motivation as recognition.
Team leaders must find a balance between the two. Your agents should understand what areas they need to work on, while feeling like you've acknowledged their efforts and successes.
Because every agent has unique management needs, one of the best ways to find the right balance is to give them the ability to provide feedback, too. You could ask them for comments on your management style at the end of one-on-one sessions.
Practice Motivating Your Agents
Insurance agency leaders must cultivate a productive workplace culture and motivate their agents to bring out their full potential. Practice multiple motivation tactics to improve your leadership skills.