As an insurance agency owner, you have to lead your staff with the growth mindset that you will be expanding your agency’s size or possibly opening more than one agency. There are several things you need to do to be able to grow efficiently, and it’s most important to hone your leadership skills. Keep reading to see what shifts you can make to grow the business effectively and efficiently.
Promote Diversity as a Leader
Not only should you tune into how your producers are feeling and whether or not they are as driven and efficient as possible, you must become self aware. This is very important as you aim to make your staff as diverse as possible, so you can tap into as many communities as you can.
You may be more comfortable or chummy with people who are exactly like you. But for your long-term goals, consider how detrimental it would be to only hire agents from the same background and community.
Your agents are your tentacles into the world. Hire from as many different demographics as you can so you can grow in many locations.
Foster Relationships With Your Agents
It takes time to get to know people, and it’s a requirement for an efficiently running insurance agency, especially if you don’t want tremendous turnover. Training new agents is expensive so you want to keep hold of your strongest producers for as long as you can. Here are some ways to build upon your work relationships with producers.
Build Trust and Rapport
You need to build trust with your agents and understand their goals and lifestyles so you can compensate them in a way they will truly appreciate. Hear what they have to say about working with you. Allow them to speak as openly as possible without getting defensive if they critique you. This is the only way to strengthen your organization, by building trust and improving upon weaknesses so that you can grow more quickly. Be open to new ideas that your agents present because that is how you build a team, not just run an office.
Offer Paid Training
Working on commission is tough but to avoid wasting your agents’ time as well as your own, make sure to give your agents insurance leads as often as possible. Train agents on shared leads. Cold calls are tough and you’re making their jobs tougher if this is the route you take. Inexpensive shared leads can actually end in sales, so both you and the new agent win.
Shared leads are competitive. SmartFinancial shares leads with only three agents while other vendors share with up to five agents. Shared leads are a good opportunity to teach your agents about using a CRM effectively and following up as often as necessary to deliver a quote. A rejection, remind them, is not a “no” but a “maybe later.”
Prioritize Work-Life Balance at the Agency
People shop for insurance at all hours of the day and even during holidays, but if you begin to expect your agents to work around the clock and not take a fair number of days off to do nothing, you won’t retain the best sales force. You’ll also have a team of exhausted and uninspired sales people who won’t be able to connect with their customers.
Encourage your employees to use their paid time off. Close up shop during the holidays. Avoid sending emails during the evenings, weekends and holidays. Do yourself a favor and practice what you preach, too. While selling insurance is not a 9 to 5pm affair, you need time to replenish your energy so make sure to take time off for yourself.
Communicate Clearly and Set Goals
Giving your team an idea of what’s expected of them is important. If the goals are too high, an insurance agent may not meet those goals right away and lose confidence. If the goals are too low, your top performers will be coasting without feeling challenged. Set your quarterly goals just a pinch higher than what you know they can achieve without a tremendous amount of effort.
Industry knowledge is important when it comes to insurance. When hiring, find the most knowledgeable people who went above and beyond certification test prep. Also, equip yourself with as much industry knowledge as you can and update the team along the way as you stay abreast of new developments in insurance. While most products will not change, you should be ready to say, however, why prices are high when the country is experiencing inflation.
Commercial insurance also requires some work on the part of agents, who need to thoroughly understand the client’s industry to best serve them and encourage them to buy the right products. You must communicate this point with your commercial agents.
Clearly communicate that retention is each agents’ responsibility and that it’s as important as finding new clients.
Hire Other Insurance Leaders
Create small teams when your agency gets too large for you to manage everyone. See which of your agents profess a desire to lead a team and which have the communication skills and charisma to pull it off. If you tend to micromanage and not trust in your people, you’ll need to learn to take a step back and give your team leads a chance to flourish. Instill all the leadership skills you know to be effective in your insurance leaders, and you’ll have fewer people to manage and more time to sell insurance yourself.
Hiring team leads also creates opportunities for advancement for those who surpass their goals and wish to be in a leadership position. It’s important, however, for you to decide whether or not you want the leaders to have a hands on or fairly lax management style. There is no right or wrong way to do it, but whatever you do, do not let your agents drift into their own worlds. Provide some amount of support and structure with clear goals.
Reward the Best Producers With Live Transfers
Live transfers, also called warm leads, are shoppers actively looking to bind a policy right away. The chances of closing live transfers is higher than regular data leads or shared leads. While they are more expensive, live-transfers are a great way to grow your agency and, if you buy in bulk, they will pay for themselves as long as you retain clients over the next couple of years.
Insurance Agency Leadership Skills FAQs
Isn’t it a waste of money to buy leads for new agents?
Shared leads are inexpensive and great for building confidence and seeing which approaches work with that particular agent. You can even listen to calls to help mold the agent to be more successful. Besides, you hired that producer for a reason, so it’s best to get behind them as soon as possible to get them up and running. If they fail, then you know right away that it’s not going to work out!
What if my agency teams don’t all meet goals?
You have to consider whether you set the goals too high or find out why your agents aren’t performing to the standards you’ve set. You have to consider what you are doing right and wrong as well as what your insurance leaders are doing right and wrong in leading their respective teams. If you’re being reasonable with goals, you have to find out what the problem is and fix it. Tap the leaders of the failing groups and put your heads together.
Should I be more focused on management than sales now that my agency has grown?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this, but as an insurance agent, you should always be looking to close a deal. While you may have hired some great talent who can sell more than you can, don’t try to manage many agents if you do grow at a quick pace. As noted earlier, it’s best to create small groups with team leads so you can only manage the leads and continue selling.