So you have decided on a life insurance career? While it is understandable that you may want to rush straight to the next career seminar held by the next available agency or company, our advice is don’t. Why? Because you will likely be better off doing your homework first.
While an insurance career can be both meaningful and extremely rewarding for those who are successful, you will first need to be successful to have even the slightest taste of the rewards. And success will not come naturally for most of us simply because it takes more than just pure hard work, to make it in the field of life insurance selling.
What You Will Need to Be Successful
First and foremost, you will need skills. Unfortunately, not all of us are natural born salespeople. We need to be trained in the skills of selling and the training provided by the life insurers themselves, while likely adequate to impart product knowledge and ensure compliance with relevant regulations, may or may not be good enough especially when soft skills are concerned. Why? Because not all trainers and training department HODs have the field experience, insurance sales track record or sales skills to impart to their trainees. While this may change in the future, sales training today are often done by the agency themselves, over and above whatever the company provides. The problem is that not all agencies have got a training system in place and for those who have, an effective one.
Next, you will need a customer acquisition strategy. Again, some agencies are very good at this. They are able to tie up with business partners, ensuring a steady stream of leads for their insurance advisors. Others may splurge on roadshows or a call centre to set up appointments for their agents. Yet others may excel in the referral and repeat business area and have very good scripts to help you get enough referred leads to base your prospecting on. The worst are of course are those who have nothing and there are many such agencies where you are left on your own to figure out everything, so do be careful.
Then there is the agency environment factor. The better run agencies tend to have lots of agents and hence a more vibrant agency environment. On the flip side, there are those barely surviving agencies, with offices that remind us of a ghost town. In a business where it is important to stay motivated all the time, having an agency with a vibrant presence and lots or young energetic fellow agents is definitely an advantage; if nothing else, their energy and enthusiasm will rub off on you on days when you are feeling down and need motivation.
Important too is the agency’s current production level and the number of successful agents (as a percentage of total agents) they have. The production board found hanging in many agencies is often a good indicator of this; if it is still almost bare mid-way through the month, our advise is – don’t join this agency. Why? Because if they do not have the ability to make their current batch successful, what makes you think they can mold you into a success?
Another important factor is the agency’s culture and philosophy, especially when it comes to the subject of promotion. Many join with the goal of becoming agency leaders themselves someday. That road is never always smooth and even if eventually appointed, many new agency leaders fail. Hence the support of their original agency is very important. It thus pays to find out, from those who were previously promoted, how and what level of support they were given in their first year as tier 2 and tier 3 leaders. Stronger tier 3 agency leaders will help plan your career for you and with you. The weaker ones may secretly hope you never seek promotion; why because with your promotion, their agency weakens further.
Our Final Thoughts
While there may be many other factors to look out for, the above we feel is sufficient to bring across our point, which is that it pays to do your homework. Get to know the agency you are thinking of joining better. Know the agents there, the culture, the dropout rate and their systems and training procedures.
Finally, don’t be discourage by this blog post; we are still of the opinion that the insurance career can be extremely rewarding. We know too that there are many good agencies around. You will just need to sieve them out rather than join the first one you come across.
(Image Courtesy of: Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)