The hardest part of business for a life insurance agent is finding good leads. No matter if you know life insurance inside and out and can explain the nuances of your product with impeccable clarity, you cannot survive as an agent without leads. Additionally, if finding leads was not challenging enough, there is the fact the life insurance market is notoriously saturated. Hundreds upon hundreds of agents compete for the attention of precious few qualified prospects. Getting in front of these prospects before your competition finds them is vital if you want a lucrative, long-term career in this business.

The good news is numerous methods exist for finding life insurance leads. As for which of these methods is best, the answer depends on the individual agent. Different lead generation methods are going to work better for you than others based on your local market, level of competition, sales style and the niche you are targeting. The following methods represent the best ideas to consider for finding life insurance leads. Below each method is a description of how it works, along with its pros and cons.

Company Life Insurance Leads

Perhaps the easiest way to assure yourself of a steady lead flow as an agent is to work for a company that provides its reps with leads. Many life insurance agencies use the promise of leads to entice prospective agents during the recruiting process. While the idea of not having to prospect for business on your own is alluring, the pictures companies paint about their lead programs are almost always more attractive than the reality.

Working for a company that provides sales leads offers several benefits. First, you do not have to risk your own money on leads that might not convert to sales. Companies that offer leads typically do so without charging agents up-front fees. Second, not having to compare lead providers and lead costs frees up more of your day to do what actually makes you money: contacting prospects and selling them life insurance. Lastly, because your employer is the one spending money on these leads, it has a vested interest in you closing as many of them as possible. This means the company is much more likely to provide support and assistance if you encounter difficulty in the sales process.

However, the fact that company leads have no up-front charges does not mean you do not pay for them. When you receive leads from your employer, the company almost always lowers your commission in exchange. If you are just starting out and you have shaky sales skills, this might be a good deal for you; paying for leads on your own could cause you to burn through your money quickly before earning any significant commissions. For good salespeople, however, company leads tend to cost more in forfeited commissions than what they would pay up front for third-party leads.

Company leads also have a reputation for being old and worked to death. The turnover rate at most life insurance agencies is astronomical. The average new agent lasts less than 90 days. When an agent quits, the company reclaims his leads and often redistributes them to the next batch of new agents. By the time you get your hands on a company lead, it is possible that it has been called already by a half-dozen or more ex-agents.

Third-Party Leads

If your company does not provide leads, or if it does but you are not happy with the quality, third-party companies exist whose sole business is selling leads to life insurance agents. The way it usually works is you give the company your zip code, how far you are willing to travel to meet with prospects and how many leads you want to order. You pay up front, and the company gives you a stack of leads within your specified geographic boundaries.

The biggest benefit of buying third-party leads is the lead provider, unlike an employer that provides leads, does not take a hefty chunk of your commissions in exchange. For a salesperson with a high closing rate, the lead cost becomes a small fraction of the commissions he earns. Another benefit offered by most lead generation companies is the ability to specify lead attributes such as age, income and desired benefit amount. Some companies offer the choice between exclusive leads, which means they are only sold to you, and nonexclusive leads, which means they also get sold to other agents. Exclusive leads are much more expensive, but you have less competition for their business. (For related reading, see: Want to Sell Life Insurance? Read This First.)

The main drawback with third-party leads is the risk. You pay for them up front, which means if you do not sell any of them, you effectively have a negative paycheck for the week. New agents who have not yet honed their sales skills are particularly susceptible to this risk.

Finding Prospects on LinkedIn

To acquire new customers from LinkedIn, you have to know how to use the site to its full capabilities. 

Make Your Profile Robust

You want your profile to stand out. By the time a person is done reading it, he should feel like he knows you as a person and a professional, even if he has never met you. First, upload a picture that exemplifies you as a professional. This means no beach pictures, no pictures with friends and certainly no selfies. While you do not need a glamour shot or a top-dollar photographer, you should pay the small fee to have a professional headshot from a reputable studio.

Next, take the time to write a thoughtful summary. Your summary section should provide rich details about your professional background. This is where you tell visitors who you are, why you got into life insurance sales and what you have accomplished in the field. Without a thoughtful summary, many visitors do not continue scrolling to read the specifics of your job history. (For related reading, see: 7 Top Ways to Enhance Your LinkedIn Profile.)

Speaking of job history, do not simply list job titles and dates of employment. This section should read like a resume, with bullet points highlighting your accomplishments in each position, but make your writing more casual and conversational. This does not mean devolve into text-speak, but you want your visitors to feel like they are having a conversation with you over coffee, not reading a boring rundown of your professional accomplishments.

Do Not Simply Join Groups, Engage

The site's group search function allows you to find groups related to your industry, your college and even your hobbies. Simply joining these groups is not going to build your network or get you leads. By joining the discussion and contributing thoughtful comments, you gain the trust of others in the group and establish yourself as an industry expert. When you are considered an expert, professionals in related fields feel confident sending business your way; having someone like you in their network makes them look good by extension.

Offer Your Knowledge for Free

The LinkedIn forums provide a place where you can offer industry advice to those searching for it. Make use of this function, but do not come across like a pushy salesman. As you answer more questions and contribute more knowledge, you can expect people to contact you for help based on the expertise you have shown.

Maintain Relationships With Your Contact List

If the only time you contact the people on your list is when specifically asking for leads or referrals, you are doing LinkedIn wrong. Reach out to those on your list when they need help with something, or simply to say hello, wish a happy birthday or congratulate on a recent promotion. When these contacts have life insurance business to refer, they are most likely to send it to the agent with whom they enjoy the most active and meaningful relationship.

Watch for Important Life Changes

Sometimes a seemingly trivial social media post can provide an important cue that a person needs your services as a life insurance agent. Take the ever-present sonogram picture, for example. A new arrival signals a huge increase in a person's financial burden over the next 18 years. This is an ideal time to reach out to this contact, once again in a non-pushy tone, congratulate him on the big news and let him know you are there for anything he needs. (For related reading, see: Implementing a Small Business Social Media Strategy.)

Networking With Other Professionals

Networking with other professionals provides a great way to procure life insurance leads without cold calling, relying on overworked company leads or spending your own money. Most cities have networking groups where professionals from different industries meet on a weekly or monthly basis to socialize, trade marketing strategies and refer business to each other. These groups are often diverse. Your networking group might feature a personal injury lawyer, a tax accountant, a chiropractor, a personal trainer, a plumber, a physical therapist and you, a life insurance agent.

Suppose the personal trainer in your networking group is guiding a client through a set of bicep curls when the client makes an offhanded comment about a recent medical scare, and then says his kids would not be able to afford college if he were gone. The tax accountant might be helping a client with retirement budgeting when the client casually mentions his savings are insufficient for a proper burial. If the networking group functions like it is supposed to, both of these professionals have your business card on hand and use the opportunity to recommend your services to their clients who obviously need them. In exchange, when one of your clients comments about needing a plumber or wanting to get in shape, you return the favor by recommending a group member. (For related reading, see: 10 Tips for Strategic Networking.)

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