While most advisors like people, want to be helpful, respond to problems and requests, and have a good work ethic, there are exceptional agents who push the bar higher, some much higher.
Experience suggests that top-tier life insurance producers exhibit behaviors that separate them from their peers. Here they are:
1. Self discipline. Not easily distracted, they’re methodical in the way they approach their work. They don’t depend on their memory as when to contact current and prospective clients. They take advantage of tracking systems to analyze productivity and monitor day-to-day activities.
Much of their success comes from their persistence. They follow up and they provide better service, while uncovering sales opportunities by systematically keeping in touch with clients and prospects.
2. Interest in learning. Gaining new knowledge of the products they offer is a trait of the best agents. Today’s insurance policies are complicated and top agents make an effort to know them inside and out, so they can summarize the finer points and discuss them with complete confidence. Coupled with an understanding of a client’s business or personal needs and budget, they’re positioned to offer the right kind of insurance protection and coverage. They answer their clients’ questions before they can even ask them.
This also involves knowledge of the factors that determine a client’s eligibility and ultimately will impact the prospect’s final decision. For example, an advisor who sells long-term care insurance must pre-qualify clients through comprehensive knowledge of Medicare, healthcare laws, and field underwriting.
Additionally, premier advisors have a good working understanding of tax laws and financial planning so they can direct qualified clients toward policies that best serve them financially.
Lastly, the most successful life insurance agents recognize the immense value of serving as a trusted resource for clients. They’ve broadened their knowledge base so they can discuss with confidence questions about such related coverages as long-term care, critical illness, and disability income.
3. Competence. Successful agents are deeply committed to what they’re doing, and clients perceive them as true professionals. They like helping others prepare for the unexpected, believe in what they are selling, and see their mission as making a difference in their clients’ lives.
One of their skills is in fostering a sense of trust so clients are comfortable divulging pertinent and often highly personal information. That takes advisors who are both competent and passionate about their work.
4. Service motivated. While this is the last characteristic of the successful life insurance agent, it is also the most important. Unfortunately, both for their clients and their practice, far too many advisors are so totally focused on their sales role that they lose contact with their customers.
When this happens, the client relationship transfers to the insurance company — or to other advisors. When this happens all the work and effort in building a relationship with a customer is lost. And so are the future opportunities for additional business and referrals.
Agents who stay in touch with their clients are making it clear that they not only value professional relationships but also want to maintain them. This helps overcome one of the major complaints of those who buy life insurance policies that there is no one around to answer their questions. Staying in contact lets them know that the agent really cares.
While most advisors have traits and skills that will help them experience success in the financial services business, sustaining a level of excellence requires more than competency. There’s nothing complicated or overwhelming with this four-point formula. Successful agents put them into practice every day.
Gregory E. Schwabe, FLMI, is National Marketing Director for First American Insurance Underwriters, a Needham, Mass.-based insurance brokerage firm specializing in coaching successful producers. During his 25 years in the life insurance brokerage business, Schwabe has been a presenter at national meetings and has spoken at life association events and career agency offices about working in the brokerage marketplace. Contact him at 800-444-8715 or [email protected].