The first 6 tips from three industry veterans
Anyone who’s been around long enough knows that real life is often the most effective teacher. Working in the insurance industry is no exception; the job has a lot to teach us over time.
We asked three veteran agents – both life and health and property and casualty specialists – what they’ve learned over the years about customer service, family, risk and planning ahead. Combined, they have well over 60 years of experience and they were willing to share some of their hard-won knowledge to help shorten the learning curve for those who want to make their businesses better.
Meet Lorne Marr, Senthooran Punithavel and Stephen MacEachern. Marr is director of business development for LSM Insurance. Punithavel is an agent and owner with the Cooperators Group, and MacEachern is head of Stephen MacEachern Insurance & Financial Services.
All three were willing to share the lessons they think have made them the most successful over the years. The following are the first six insurance industry tips they’ve learned over time.
1. Client communication and quality advice: Treat every client the same way you would treat your own mother. “Whatever advice you would give your mom, that’s the advice you always give to your clients,” says Punithavel.
2. Become a really good listener. “You need to listen for hot buttons. What’s important to the consumer, the prospect, is probably a lot different than what’s important to you, and it might be different than what’s important to someone else,” says Marr.
“As long as you can keep your mouth shut long enough, the answers will present themselves,” Punithavel agrees. “Don’t try to fix every problem. Don’t try to solve all of the world’s problems, just be quiet, listen, and the answer will present itself.”
3. Do all you can to become a trustworthy figure. Practice your pitch, create a nice impression for people, volunteer if the spirit moves you. Use a great pen. Collect client testimonials. Do what you can to build trust at every opportunity. “Even you uncover a need that is important to your client or prospect, if there’s not an adequate level of trust, there’s a good chance they’re not going to buy from you,” says Marr. “You have to know what people want and you have to build that level of trust.”
Bonus tip: Smile when you’re on the phone. People can actually hear the change in your voice.
4. Be patient, but persistent. “You need a lot of patience and persistence is the key to survival in this industry,” says MacEachern.
“Put people first. If you do what’s right, if you keep doing what’s right continuously and persistently, the other stuff falls into place over time,” Punithavel agrees. “Over time you realize as long as you keep doing the right things consistently, you will be okay.”
5. Other agents are not your competition. “I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that there’s so much business out there, there could be 10,000 more of us and there would still be enough business for everybody,” says MacEachern. “The market is huge. Client apathy is your biggest competitor.”
6. Play to your own strengths. (Your natural market exists – go find it.) “Whatever your strengths are, you can use them to your advantage,” he adds. “Some people just sell life insurance for kids or grandkids. Some people sell a bunch of different things. Some people are extroverts, some people are introverts. Some people just go on the family market. Some people just work in the business market. You can be or do whatever you want.”
Next Up: The final 6 tips to perfect your craft, set goals, get your family involved and more.