Many elements go into having a successful insurance business. Product knowledge is essential, as is an ambitious sales strategy. You’ll also need proper financing to help your business get off the ground. However, you shouldn’t overlook what is perhaps the most critical aspect to the success of any business — hiring and retaining good employees. Talented insurance agents are out there; you just have to find them.
Your agents are the face of your business and represent your agency to the public. You want to be confident that any insurance agent you hire is representing you well. Hiring the right insurance agent for your business can be challenging, but it's essential to your success.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 50,400 projected job openings for insurance sales agents each year. Most of these openings result from the need to replace agents that retire or transfer to different occupations. Therefore, the long-term success of your insurance business depends on hiring insurance agents who want to stay with you for the long haul.
What exactly makes a good hire, though. If you were to describe some of the best agents, you'd likely use some of the following terms.
The most successful insurance agents know how to nurture and grow client relationships. Any potential agent you hire should be able to cultivate strong relationships with your customers. Building strong customer relationships with your clients will help you retain these customers for a lifetime.
Most people don’t understand much about insurance, and it's easy to see why. Insurance can be complicated, full of confusing terms and industry jargon. Explaining insurance coverage straightforwardly and simply so that anyone can understand is an admirable and necessary trait for an insurance agent.
When looking for the ideal job candidate, you want to recruit agents who are team players. The agent needs to be an employee interested in collaboration and teamwork and not someone who acts as a “lone wolf.”
Team players create a sense of inclusiveness within the organization. They can work together with other employees within the agency to improve the company’s overall productivity. A group of team players within the company can bounce ideas off of one another, share feedback, and find ways to help everyone within the agency become more productive.
You may need to look at past employment history, talking to prior employers, or perhaps just look for clues in your conversations with prospective employees to gauge an applicant’s work ethic. However, a good work ethic is too important to be overlooked.
If you hire a self-motivated worker with a strong work ethic, you will have an agent who possesses these types of employee traits: dependability, honesty, punctuality, discipline, teamwork, professionalism, integrity, dedication, and respect, to name a few.
Although it may seem obvious the best job applicant to hire as an insurance agent would be extraverted and outgoing, that may not be the essential quality to look for in an ideal candidate. A research study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania shows the most successful salespeople have moderate temperaments, meaning an agent needs to be willing to listen closely to determine how he or she can best meet the client’s insurance needs.
Here are a few tips to help you get started in finding insurance agents with the most potential to help your company grow.
Put the word out there that your company is hiring an insurance agent on as many outlets as possible, including your company’s Facebook page and other social media channels. LinkedIn is an excellent resource to use that's free. It's where many young insurance professionals go to find employment opportunities. Many universities also have job placement services for recent graduates, which is a great place to look for job candidates. Networking with other agents can also help you find qualified applicants.
The best candidate for an insurance agent may not necessarily be one who already has an insurance license. The most talented candidate for the job may not even have an insurance background. However, if you are willing to train an enthusiastic new employee from the ground up and offer pre-licensing training, you can grow your own insurance superstars.
While you don’t want to hire an insurance agent who is only in it for the money, you must be willing to pay an agent what they are worth. In addition, young agents may have a growing family to support and look for the best opportunity to gain financial stability. Before you decide on a starting salary, research the median pay for an entry-level insurance agent. If a job applicant has more experience, you can adjust the salary accordingly.
No one wants to be in a dead-end job with no opportunities for advancement. Incorporate job advancement opportunities into the job descriptions for agents that meet and exceed job expectations.
You may not be able to recruit the best new hires in your local area, but this is where you should begin your search. First, homegrown job candidates already rooted in the community will likely stay in the area. Second, local agents already have a network of friends and family who could end up being potential clients. Finally, a local agent that doesn’t have to commute for work will likely be more willing to participate in any local agency-sponsored events you are planning.
Not all job applicants who look good on paper will actually make a good agent. That's why interviewing is a critical part of the hiring process. Here are a few interview tips to ensure the best agents rise to the top of your applicant pool.
The best way to start the interview is to have the applicant relax. Ask questions about where they are from and about their family. You don’t want to get too personal, but getting to know prospective employees will help them feel confident and open to answering your questions.
No hiring process should leave out an introduction to your company’s values. It would be best to let job applicants know the importance of hiring ethical employees who will represent your company well early during the interview process. Ask questions that will invite them to demonstrate their commitment to your values.
The ideal insurance agent candidate will be comfortable with answering questions about how they handle difficult situations. For example, a common problem an insurance agent will have to face is figuring out how to overcome objections. Find out how the applicant would persuade clients to purchase your insurance products and overcome objections to pricing, policy options, etc.
When talking with a job applicant, you can gauge their sales ability and any ideas they may have for improving your agency’s sales process. You want an insurance agent who isn’t afraid to take the lead on improving the way you do business. While you need team players, you also need agents who aren’t scared of working independently.
Hiring quality employees is only half the battle — you also need a plan for retaining your top agents. Here are a few suggestions:
Let your agents know your door is always open to them to discuss any questions or concerns they may have and any suggestions for improvements. Letting your employees know you are there for them will keep morale high and employee turnover low.
Recognize your best insurance agents with the pay and promotions they deserve. Insurance producers who perform exceptionally and consistently should be formally recognized, whether it's in a company newsletter, an award, or through some other method. Employees who know they are valued will be motivated to work hard and remain productive.
You never know what type of family or home situation an employee may have. Being supportive and offering flexible work schedules will have a positive impact on employee morale. According to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a flexible work schedule has many benefits to you and the employee, including fewer days missed, less turnover, and increased employee productivity.
Your best employees should not have to ask you for a raise. If a raise is merited, it’s expedient for you to offer it to retain your most talented and productive insurance agents. Offering incentives is also a way to motivate employees to be more productive. Incentives give new agents a goal to work toward and a sense of accomplishment once they reach a goal or hit a targeted sales goal.
Your top agents will need a steady stream of insurance leads to write new policies and generate new income for your agency. You can use Nectar as a resource to generate quality leads so your agents will always have new prospects ready and willing to talk to them about buying an insurance policy.
Finding motivated and enthusiastic insurance agents is an essential step in growing your insurance business to its fullest potential — but it’s not the only one. You need qualified leads to help jumpstart your sales. Let Nectar do the hard work of getting you leads so you can focus on hiring great agents to close more deals.
This article reflects the features of Nectar as of the date of publication. Features are subject to change at any time. This article is meant for informational purposes only, it is not a guarantee that using Nectar will help you achieve specific business or financial results and is not intended to serve as the sole recommendation for any business financial decisions.