Five Tips for Becoming a Successful Insurance Broker
There is so much more to becoming a broker than simply learning the industry jargon and understanding the basics of policies.
If you’re new to the insurance business, or just thinking about becoming a broker, the beginning can be a rocky period. There is so much more to becoming a broker than simply learning the industry jargon and understanding the basics of policies. It can be easy for newcomers to feel a bit overwhelmed, so here are five tips to help you get started.
1. Find a Mentor
Many new insurance brokers begin their careers thinking they can get by exclusively on their licensing education. However, although your education might give you a decent grasp on the fundamentals, it won’t always help you where it really counts.
Knowing the nuts and bolts is one thing, but learning the ins and outs of the industry and how to truly engage with your clients is another. This requires mentorship from someone with real experience in the business. In fact, a 2014 survey by Insurance Journal found that nearly 80 percent of young brokers felt their careers had benefited from them being mentored by another agent.
There are several different ways to find a mentor, including independent mentorship programs and social media searches. However, the best way to find a mentor is to look within your agency — some agencies will actually offer to pair you with a mentor when they hire you. Either way, find someone successful in the business, someone you respect, and reach out to that person. After that, be sure to stay vigilant. Don’t let the mentor drive the relationship — it’s up to you to be proactive when seeking guidance.
2. Find a Good Brokerage General Agent
At first glance, it might seem that all brokerage general agents (BGAs) are created equal. And while it’s true that they all essentially perform the same basic functions, the levels of service and expertise can vary greatly from one BGA to another, and that can have a serious impact on your business. So what should you look for?
First, you want a BGA that represents a number of the top insurance companies. This will instantly expand your portfolio of carriers so you can provide your clients with a number of flexible options. It will also cut down on the amount of separate contacts you need and the number of separate phone calls you need to make in order to make your clients happy. Then determine whether the BGA employs people with a lot of high-level experience. How long have they been working in the industry? Do they do it all, or do they specialize? How do their specialties fit in with mine? All of these questions will help you build a strong checklist and ensure that this is the right BGA for you.
3. Get Tech Savvy
As insurance-buying demographics continue to shift, being tech savvy will help you get and stay ahead of the pack. Many of today’s clients prefer text and email over phone calls, and if you aren’t willing to engage on their level they’ll simply move on to a broker who is a better fit.
It’s also crucial that you refresh or create an online presence on every platform out there. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great places to start. Build profiles and stay active on the platforms. Clients no longer settle for stiff one-way communication. They want online interactions and conversations. It is best to stay active on social platforms by tweeting and posting regularly. When relevant, reach out to clients on social media and be sure to monitor engagement and respond accordingly — you never know what connections you can make.
4. Consultative vs. Traditional Selling
Just as your clients want to feel like they are part of a two-way conversation online, they also want to feel that way in person, and that’s what consultative selling is all about. Traditional selling essentially involves you giving a rehearsed pitch that directly addresses what you already know the client wants or needs. This can work and has worked since the beginning of sales, but consultative selling has proven to be far more effective, because it’s far more personal.
With consultative selling, it’s not only you doing the talking. Rather, you act as a consultant instead of just a pitchman. You ask your potential clients questions and really listen to their responses to build a relationship and develop a rapport with them. And as you delve deeper into your conversation, you’ll often discover needs that you and your client might not have recognized at first. This means your client is happy because you’ve just helped them identify a previously overlooked blind spot, and you’re happy because you might have been able to close additional sales.
5. Get Referrals
Referrals are a crucial part of building a reliable base of clients and growing your business, and getting good referrals is all about networking. If you’re good at consultative selling, getting good referrals should be no problem. After all, the art of consultative sales is the art of building relationships, and this transitions naturally into getting referrals.
Identify connections that could be beneficial to you and pursue them. If you specialize in a certain industry, reach out to an accountant who works in that market and start building a relationship. Once you establish some connections, be sure to stay in touch. Even if it has nothing to do with business, following up will keep you fresh in their minds and in their good graces. By staying in frequent contact, your name is much more likely to come up when someone asks them if they know any good brokers.
Richard Reich is a nationally licensed broker of life and disability insurance and president of Intramark Insurance. He has more than 25 years of experience helping individuals with their insurance needs. You can learn more at www.lifeinsure.com.