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July 11, 2022

How to Become a Successful Insurance Agency: 15 Growth Strategies and Tips

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There are several reasons the insurance industry offers an attractive career choice for motivated individuals. Insurance products and services affect nearly everyone. From business coverage to protection for individual assets, or health and life insurance, most adults rely on some form of insurance. Agents who sell insurance products and services benefit from providing essential products to a variety of people and can anticipate a wealth of job opportunities in a stable industry. While it's true that selling insurance can make you a millionaire, getting to the top takes hard work, attention to detail, and perseverance. If you're interested in becoming a successful insurance agent or growing your insurance agency, this guide can help you learn more about the industry and important growth strategies for increased success.

What Does an Insurance Agent Do Daily?

The answer to this question depends on the size of the agency and its focus. For example, some agents work for large companies that provide many different insurance products, such as health, life, auto, and homeowners insurance. In contrast, other agents may work for smaller agencies specializing in one type of insurance, like long-term care insurance.

Some agents work directly with customers, while others may focus on building relationships with businesses. Others may work exclusively with other insurance agents to help them place coverage for their clients. No matter what type of insurance agent you are, some basic activities are common to all successful insurance agents. These activities include:

  • Working with Existing Clients: This can include promoting new policies, explaining coverage details, or renewing policies. Many insurance agents meet with clients yearly to discuss life changes and how their existing coverage correlates with their lifestyle.
  • Working with Potential Clients: Speed is essential when responding to potential customers in the insurance industry. Agents respond to questions and offer quotes for prospective clients each day. Wooing potential customers can require phone conversations, personalized quotes, importing data, and meetings. 
  • Inspecting Assets: When selling property and casualty (P&C) insurance, agents are responsible for determining the value of property or vehicles. This involves looking for signs of existing damage, assessing risks, and determining the best policy for your client. Gather this information using the consumers current declaration page. Having the dec page upfront prevents quoting in the dark
  • Generating and Following Up on Leads: Insurance marketing isn't only for new insurance agents. Successful agents work to increase their reach daily to find new customers and follow up on leads. Lead generation can mean attending in-person events, creating online advertising campaigns, requesting referrals, print advertising, and even door-to-door sales. Follow-up can be completed through calls, email, online correspondence, or in-person meetings.

So, what does this mean an insurance agent's day might look like? Responding to the needs and queries of new and existing clients will take top priority for daily tasks. Other daily duties may include:

  • Properly filling out and filing paperwork
  • Conducting meetings with new and existing clients
  • Maintain bookkeeping, databases, and management systems
  • Perform continuing education hours to maintain licensing and learn about new products and services
  • Process insurance claims
  • Attend meetings, seminars, or programs given by insurance providers 
  • Calculate premiums and establish payment methods
  • Work on advertising campaigns

Skills and Habits of Successful Insurance Agents

Making a career choice to work in the insurance industry can be a simple decision. However, there is no guarantee of success. Getting started can be challenging and quickly lead to burnout. 83% of agents quit within the first three years, 30% of whom quit within three months. Without learning specific strategies to get started in the industry, many agents fail to achieve the success needed to stay in business. By learning the skills and habits of successful insurance agents, you can increase your chances of developing a lucrative career.

Hold People Accountable for Goals Set

To succeed, an insurance agency must have goals. To reach goals, it's essential to hold yourself and your staff accountable daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. By tracking production numbers, agents can see how their actions result in greater sales. 

Know your agency's numbers, including:

  • Average premium per policy and term
  • Call volume reports
  • Weekly sales staff productivity reports
  • ROI and acquisition cost

Insights that can be accessed in between reporting periods and those that identify individual contributors can help guide strategic moves for improvement. You can determine which strategies work best by defining the weight of specific methods like calls, emails, and texts. Sharing sales goals and progress with your team is a great idea to build motivation. Post sales goals and achievement levels. Conduct meetings to discuss success or obstacles that keep your agency from reaching its goals. Keeping track of your metrics is the best way to improve them.

Persistence and Honesty

Two of the most important traits of a successful insurance agent are persistence and honesty. To build a successful business, transparency is essential. Consumers talk about the services they receive. As a result, honest insurance agents are likely to generate referrals while dishonest ones will lose customers and end up with criminal charges. When insurance agents supply customers with thorough information about the coverage and lack of coverage offered by a given policy, customers understand how to avoid insurance gaps and get the coverage they need.

When it comes to selling insurance, rejection comes along with the territory. Successful agents learn how to weather rejection and maintain contact with potential customers to reassess the situation in the future. Persistence is key. In many cases, it takes time to land an account.

Availability and Communication

Insurance is not an impulse buy. People search for insurance because they need it. As an insurance agent, you need to be top of mind when potential customers seek the policies you sell. For more than half of consumers, the search for insurance begins online. In fact, 69% of insurance consumers ran a search before scheduling an appointment. More importantly, 68% of them didn't have one company in mind before they started searching. Successful insurance agents position themselves to be readily accessible online so people can find their services quickly.

Extending your communication methods provides consumers with a convenient and simple way to get the insurance coverage they need. To make yourself available in today's digital world, it's key to utilize digital tools like websites, social profiles, and chatbots. These steps help you improve your online availability.

  • Create a business website that clearly describes your services and includes multiple ways to contact you.
  • Set up a professional profile on platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Learn about and test online marketing strategies like blogging, paid advertising, and email marketing. Use measurable data to compare the success of different methods so you can learn what types of marketing yield the best ROI.

Humility and a Willingness to Learn

Increasing your knowledge of new products, industry techniques, and even knowledge outside the industry will help you understand the needs of your customers better so you can provide them with tailored suggestions.

For captive agents, ongoing education can mean looking for resources and educational tools outside of the company you work for. As an independent agent, it can mean reaching out to other industry professionals for guidance and assistance. All insurance agents can benefit from increased knowledge in different areas of the industry.

Be Proactive

While it's true that an insurance agent's job is to sell insurance policies, great agents separate themselves by selling the services that insurance products provide. As an insurance agent, you provide customers with critical products that help them when needed most. However, insureds hope to never be in a position to need to file a claim. 

Great insurance agents educate themselves about risk management and the ways their customers are most likely to prevent risks. With this knowledge, agents can spot potential problems for their customers before they arise. The benefits for customers are two-fold since safety precautions can lead to insurance discounts as well as help them avoid facing avoidable expenses. A proactive agent takes the guesswork out of insurance and provides the most complete coverage possible.

Selling and Training Keeps You Sharp

To describe success as a destination suggests there is a point at which your company should stop seeking improvement. Instead, it's best to think of success as an ongoing journey where continual improvement is the goal. As a company owner, you should always ensure that you and your staff have the resources to strive toward new goals.

Invest in Your Staff

For your company to prosper, you must invest in your most valuable asset--your employees. They make your organization a vital resource and their importance cannot be overemphasized. Your employees are your company's first and most important audience. By creating an environment that boosts their morale in the services they provide and rewards them for the impact they have on the company's success, your employees will become your best advocates. 

While monetary investments work to motivate employees, investing in your employees doesn't necessarily mean offering cash rewards. Give them the resources to succeed in their respective fields. Continued education and training can help your staff members increase their knowledge in the industry, improve their career path, and ultimately, provide better services for customers. 

Invest in Yourself

All successful insurance agencies depend on high-performing business owners. In order to lead your company to success, you must be willing to invest in yourself. Self-improvement can come in many forms, but one of the most important is education. By increasing your knowledge in the insurance industry, you can make better decisions for your company and provide more value to your customers.

How to Build an Insurance Agency

Many insurance agents choose to work independently. This choice means they can offer customers different policies from various companies to meet a wider range of customer needs and budgets. Still, starting an insurance agency of your own requires plenty of hard work and some critical legal obligations. These important tasks must be taken care of to get your agency started.

Licenses

Even as a licensed agent, your business needs to be licensed. Requirements vary by location, so first step is to visit your municipal web page to find instructions for applying for your business license. You can use your own name for your business, create another name for your company, or set up an organization with a different name that your business will be under. You'll also register your business address with your local government. After applying, you'll need to register your business with the state government and get a Tax ID number to file your business taxes. Once you have a federal tax ID, you'll be required to register with your state insurance department. This step is how federal county taxes are paid.

Legal Structuring (LLC, INC, sole proprietorship)

Choosing the legal structure for your business depends heavily on the personal risk you can bear as a company. All types of businesses have advantages as well as risks. For example, a sole proprietorship is the easiest structure but includes the disadvantage of containing the greatest individual liability. If your firm cannot pay back business debt, you're forced to use a personal liability to collect them. Before determining which legal structure is right for your agency, it's a good idea to speak with a business attorney to get a full understanding of your options.

Capital or Funding Needed (or recommended)

Any startup business requires funds to get off the ground. This can come from a business loan or personal savings you've accrued to launch your business. Many successful agents start with as little as $5,000. To grow a business with minimal funds, it's important to treat your business expenses the same as your personal expenses. You wouldn't buy an expensive sports car if you don't have the income to make the payments.

When starting, it's important to consider everything contributing to your costs. By starting modestly, an insurance agency can grow and thrive without racking up significant debt. A frugal beginning could be your ticket to running a leading insurance agency in the future.

Insurance Protection Needed (E&O) General Liability

All businesses need insurance coverage. This means insurers must be covered as well. Adequate business owner's coverage is particularly essential for agencies based on sole proprietorships, In some states, a business registration must have professional liability insurance. Most insurance agents will consider these policies.

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Errors and Omissions Insurance (or professional liability)
  • Business Owner's Policy
  • Workers' Compensation Insurance

Many states also require a surety bond to sell insurance. Even if your state doesn't require it, it's good to invest in one. Depending on your state requirements, the entire brokerage may be required to have a surety bond for the company and its agents, or each broker is required to be individually bonded. Surety bonds are designed to protect your customers in the event you're unable to fulfill your legal obligations.

Insurance Designations

As a requirement to open an insurance agency, you must be a licensed agent. Generally, you'll be expected to hold a license as an expert in insurance enrollment administration and regulation. This program provides insurance professionals with in-depth training in areas like market management and underwriting.

Technology-Software, Agency Management Systems, and Quoting Systems

In many cases, agents need to provide clients with the policies they need immediately. To accomplish this, an agency needs tools that simplify and shorten cumbersome processes. Traditional insurance procedures were largely manual and required a time commitment from both customers and insurance agents. With the use of digital tools and software, agents can improve performance and spend more productive time with customers. 

Top-performing agents typically depend on a few key types of agency software and tools that improve performance and speed.

CRM Software

Customer relationship management (CRM) is vital to successfully securing and retaining loyal customers. CRM software helps business owners build and nurture successful relationships with customers. A CRM system allows agents to store customer and prospect contact information, recognize sales opportunities, record customer service issues, and manage marketing campaigns in one central location. A good CRM platform can be aligned with insurance workflows to increase efficiency across many daily tasks. Some of the most popular CRM platforms for insurance agents include Better Agency, Vertafore, and ZyWave.

Data Collection and Quoting Software

Two of the most time-consuming insurance agency processes are collecting data from clients and providing quotes. Data collection and quoting software eliminates vast amounts of paperwork and reduces the risk of human error. The software works to increase productivity and speed up the purchase process. 

For example, InsurGrid gives agents a personalized platform to collect client information. Instead of spending hours handling paperwork and trying to collect client information over the phone, InsurGrid allows clients to upload dec pages, date of birth and driver's license information. Agents can compile all client information in one spot. More importantly, agents can collect dec pages by text, email, or scanning a QR code. InsurGrid uses automation to collect 95% of everything you need to prepare a quote, making buying insurance effortless for your clients. 

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Email Marketing Tools

Email marketing is an effective way to reach out to prospects and current customers. An email marketing tool has extensive features to send specific emails targeted by user actions or segment groups to send targeted emails to different groups of people. The right email marketing tool can automate sending of various mailers like a newsletter, retargeting emails, reminders, sales announcements, feedback requests, and customer engagement emails.

When Can I Expect to Be Profitable?

It takes time to start generating enough income to become self-sustaining. You can expect to live and work on your start-up capital for at least a few months. Set aside cash for rent, salaries, utilities, marketing, and other expenses. By setting aside money for expenses, you can eliminate stress and concentrate on the requirements of running your business. 

While a new insurance agency might not generate income right away, insurance agencies can be profitable. There's no limit to how much you can make selling insurance if you have the passion and commitment to succeed. Most industry experts report making between $1,000 to $20,000 per month before rapidly scaling up to six figures per month. 

Set Goals

It's impossible to get anywhere if you don't have a set destination. Goal setting is the first step toward taking your company's growth in the right direction. Goal setting will assist you with your personal and agency growth goals. Take five minutes daily to write down your daily objectives and check on your long-term goals. Evaluate your progress routinely, so you can alter your course as needed. By marking your progress at the 90-day mark, after six months, and yearly, you can determine how your goal-setting methods are working for your new business.

How Do I Start from Scratch? Understanding Insurance Clusters

Insurance clusters are formally grouped associations whose objective includes providing group benefits and mutual aid. Joining an insurance cluster can help a small agency access more products and improve its standing with insurance carriers. Clusters also have more leverage to negotiate with insurance companies. When groups of insurance agents put their books together, they increase business and lower expenses through shared costs. 

Membership requirements and fees vary from one cluster to the next. Some groups charge a startup fee, while others charge a percentage of commissions or a monthly fee. Not all clusters accept new agents, so finding an available cluster can be difficult for new agencies in some locations. Limits are imposed on new agents until different performance levels are achieved. Exit fees may be required if you choose to leave a cluster.

Insurance Agency Growth Strategies

Starting an insurance agency is no easy task. It takes a variety of different strategies and an innovative spirit. By testing different strategies to grow your agency and increase your customer base, you can determine the best methods for your location and unique situation. These methods have proven effective for successful agencies.

Sell Multiple Products

Several successful insurance agencies' offerings contain varying insurance types to choose from. The ability to offer a wide variety of insurance products allows agents to serve more customers and avoid sending customers to another industry. When agents expand their knowledge beyond selling insurance, the agency can grow and broaden the customer base. Some additional services include financial services such as tax preparation and budget planning. These services complement insurance products and can be used to bring in new prospects and cross-sell to existing customers.

Network with Other Insurance Agents

Connecting with insurance agents from other agencies can help you grow your agency. The most effective way to connect with agents is to join a professional network group. You can connect with agents on LinkedIn, social media platforms, or industry events. These connections can lead to referrals and increased recognition. 

Understanding Chargebacks - How Chargebacks Work?

It's common for customers to purchase an insurance policy with a term of 12 months. At the time of the sale, the insured receives the requested coverage and the agent receives the commission for the sale. However, if the customer cancels the policy before the term is complete, the agency is required to give the customer a prorated refund. Since the agent commission was based on the full policy term, the agency must recoup the funds by taking the agent's unearned commission. When a policy is canceled the chargeback will typically be reflected on the agent's next paycheck.

Failing to take care of chargebacks will create a poor financial situation and ruin your relationship with the insurance companies you work for. Maintaining your financials and business relationships is critical to your company's growth. There is no way to completely avoid chargebacks in the insurance industry. Preparing for the potential generally requires putting back funds and developing customer relationships that help you retain clients. While a hit to your paycheck stings, keeping your business on track means you can continue to earn money as an agent and train many new agents in the future.

Make a Marketing Plan

Starting a new business rarely leads to immediate success. The insurance industry's competitive nature makes marketing a vital part of growing your business. To find the marketing strategies that will work best in your location, you'll likely face some trial and error before reaching an overflowing sales funnel. Although insurance products are necessary for many individuals, your products won't sell themselves. Marketing comes with a cost, but it's the strategy that will attract your target audience to increase your sales and drive agency growth. When creating your marketing plan, consider tried and true advertising methods in the industry, and don't be afraid to try new things. 

Tips for Owning Your Market

To succeed in your niche and local marketplace, you'll need to find your target audience. Who is your ideal customer? What is their preferred communication method? Once you have a clear answer to these questions, it's time to meet your ideal customers where they are to generate leads. In today's digital-driven market, it's essential to establish a physical presence in your local community and an online business presence. Try local marketing tactics like sponsoring community events and print marketing—target customers online with personalized mailers and consistent social media activity. As you develop your space in the market, pay attention to the methods with the best ROI and prioritize them for the highest levels of success.

Tips for Driving Fresh Leads

Continually driving fresh leads is essential in the insurance industry. Insurance lead generation takes preparation, patience, and several different tactics to keep the mouth of your sales funnel full. Many agents combine lead generation tactics, buying leads, and organically generating leads. Consider lead generation tactics that highlight the satisfaction of your current customers, like referrals and reviews. Use your website and social media presence to generate leads online. 

By embedding InsurGrid on your website, you can attract new leads, collect dec pages in seconds and provide an accurate quote to turn prospects into customers without any back and forth. By practicing different lead generation methods, you can determine which works best for you and improve your strategies along the way.

Understanding the Importance of Following Up with Prospects

Lead generation is futile if you don't have effective follow-up methods. You will find it harder to achieve success without scalable methods of tracking prospects. When following up with prospective customers, prioritization and speed are key. Insurance software can be a pivotal part of improving your follow-up process. Our article on lead management software provides agents with a great place to start. When you understand how lead management software differs from CRM software and how each product works together, you can design a repeatable follow-up method that brings continued success.

Go Above and Beyond for all Your Clients

In the insurance industry, you're likely to serve customers from all walks of life. Some might be commercial customers with multi-tiered accounts and significant premiums, while others are single residents with only the minimum auto insurance policy required by the state. When comparing the premiums of these different customers, it's easy to wonder if one customer deserves the same exceptional service as your highest paying accounts. It's critical not to fall into this way of thinking. Insurance is very much a word-of-mouth business. If you provide exceptional service to all of your customers, they'll repay you with referrals and five-star reviews. 

Finding New Clients and Keeping Current Clients Happy

Ongoing marketing is one of the most important tasks you can maintain as an insurance agent. Finding new clients and keeping your current customers happy are the activities that fuel your business' growth. 

Tactics for finding new clients may include:

  • Attending local events
  • Creating a business website
  • Send emails targeting potential customers
  • Offer to submit guest blogs for related industries
  • Building a social media presence
  • Cold calls
  • Buying leads
  • Referrals

Retaining current customers can be even more beneficial than bringing in new customers. Methods for keeping current customers happy may include:

  • Savings opportunities that target specific groups
  • Sending customer engagement emails
  • Offering additional products to complement the products your customers already use
  • Multipolicy discounts
  • Transparent services that provide your customers with important information about their coverage
  • Safety suggestions that can help your customers avoid potential risks they may be unaware of

Getting Referrals from Clients

If asking customers for referrals makes you uncomfortable, you might never recognize the best method for generating quality leads. Customer referrals offer new prospects a completely unbiased view of your agency and the services you provide. This is why consumers trust them. There are a few different ways to get referrals. You can start a referral program that rewards customers when referrals purchase a policy. Including a referral request on correspondence like emails and business cards will offer a pressure-free way to request referrals. Perhaps the most effective way to get referrals is simply asking for them. Ask a customer immediately after they purchase a policy or complete a renewal. This is when your customer has formed an impression about your business and is most likely to share their experience with a friend.

Cross-Selling Opportunities

Cross-selling products provide a way for insurance agents to sell more policies and for individuals to get coverage that could benefit them in the future. The most common reason customers don't purchase more than one policy from their carrier is that they were never asked. Create packages, discounts, and incentives for clients. Design these packages in a way that helps make asking clients about their needs for other policies feel natural. You're there to provide your customers with all the policies they need to avoid insurance coverage gaps.

Joining the insurance industry is a great way to start a lucrative career. Yet building a successful insurance agency can take a considerable amount of work. By paying attention to the strategies used by successful agents, you can find what methods work best for you and help your insurance agency grow. New technology continually helps to improve the way that insurance agents work with customers. 

Create a streamlined experience to improve your customer's buying process with InsurGrid. The platform allows you to collect dec pages in minutes with a text, email, or even a QR code to have all the information you need to offer a quote. Get started using InsurGrid for free today!