If you have ever contemplated becoming an insurance agent or wondered whether this career path could be right for you, there are several qualities that you will need to possess, at least to some degree. Selling insurance can be a lucrative proposition, with relatively high-paying commissions and a high degree of autonomy with flexible work hours.
However, it is not an easy job. You can expect a high rate of customer rejection, stress, and attrition rate. Still, all good insurance agents share some of the following skills and knowledge, plus core qualities in one way or another.
- Becoming an insurance agent can mean job independence and flexibility with potentially a high salary.
- Insurance sales jobs are highly stressful with little pay guarantee and is an industry with a high quit rate.
- To be successful in the industry, new agents should understand the skills and attributes that are common among top producers.
1. Puts the needs of the client first. An agent who is only out to earn a commission, regardless of the needs of the client, is not likely to last long in the business. Agents and brokers who listen carefully to what their clients and prospects say will be able to earn their trust, which is the hardest part of their job.
When learning how to be a successful insurance agent, it's critical to know that agents who are willing to put their clients into a product that pays a lower commission because it better fits their needs are much more likely to retain customers.
2. Good customer service. Customers who are able to get a hold of their agents when they need them are much more likely to stay happy and reassured. A timely response to inquiries and phone calls is a must, and you must be able to do what you say you will do when you say you will do it, or at least have a good reason as to why you can't.
One of the major complaints of those who buy life insurance policies is that there is no one around to answer their questions after they have purchased the policy.
3. Emotional intelligence. This includes the ability to listen and empathize with clients on a deeper level in order to discern what they really want and need. A good agent is tactful and knows how to help a client see financial reality clearly, even when the client is dead set against it.
Personality and Reliance
4. High energy level. One of the most important traits of a good insurance agent is that they appear to be excited and eager at all times. A worn-down or dreary disposition will immediately rub off on clients and discourage them from buying anything.
5. Persistence. This is perhaps the most vital quality of any good insurance agent. Those who work in this field absolutely must be able to handle rejection on a daily basis over the course of their careers and do it with a smile. Good insurance agents understand that each "no" only brings them closer to someone who will say "yes."
6. Honesty. Insurance agents who use deception to close business seldom stay with the same company for very long—and can end up behind bars in some cases. A good agent knows that telling the truth upfront will win them clients' respect and trust and is likely to lead to repeat business over time.
7. A wide array of products. As the old saying goes, if all you have to work with is a hammer, then everything in the world looks like a nail. A good insurance agent will be able to offer a comprehensive selection of products and services that can meet any reasonable need a client might have.
8. Technical know-how. A good insurance agent knows much more than how to sell a policy. The agent must understand the tax and legal aspects of the products he or she sells and how they are designed to fit into a client's overall financial situation. Many agents earn financial planning designations such as the Certified Financial Planner®, Chartered Financial Counselor, or other credentials. Some agents practice financial planning, income tax preparation, or some other avenue of financial service as their primary profession, and then add-in insurance business when it becomes necessary.
The Bottom Line
These items above are just some of the qualities that life insurance agents must possess in order to be successful. The life insurance business can be very challenging and immensely rewarding for those who are willing to learn the necessary skills to build their business.
For more information on how to become a successful insurance agent, contact the recruiting offices of a few different agencies or a headhunter who works with insurance agents.