“I am a young person in my 20’s and have no insurance experience. Will it be difficult to gain the trust and credibility to get people to buy from me?”
This is a question that we often hear at 360training.com from young people who are considering a career in insurance. It is a valid question because advice provided—or not provided—to an insurance customer can spell success or financial disaster. Here are three tips to help budding insurance professionals take advantage of their youthful age.
Tip #1: Know Your Stuff!!
No one wants people to give advice on important financial issues, like insurance, if they don’t “know their stuff.” Your youth can be an advantage when earning the right to serve customers. A big part of earning the trust and respect of the client happens before you even meet the prospect. If you “know your stuff,” you can meet the client with confidence, knowing you have earned the right to be there and are prepared to serve.
• Example: The current Affordable Care Act has made it possible for many people to obtain health insurance with better coverage and lower rates than before, especially those with modest income and serious pre-existing conditions. The average insurance agency owner is a white male who is 58 years old and may not have embraced the new health care environment. Being set in your ways or political views can get in the way of understanding and adapting to change or new financial realities. Backed by technology, many younger people with an open mind and ability to learn have quickly established their credentials in understanding and producing results in the health insurance arena.
• Example: Medicare, annuities, disability income, securities, earthquake, and flood insurance are examples of important products that require special certification. These are opportunities for a young agent who wants to “out serve” and “out learn” his or her competitors. Online courses make it easy to obtain these certifications and stay current with new changes. Many people may not know if they live in a flood plain or how to obtain flood insurance if so. Earthquakes can happen anywhere—take the recent outbreaks in Oklahoma and Texas for example. Some of the most severe earthquakes in the Northern Hemisphere, which struck New Madrid, TN in 1811 and 1812, have been predicted to happen again.
• Example: Certifications and designations from established and credible programs speak to the professionalism of an agent, regardless of age. There are a number of designations available—showing that the agent has met established professional standards and has stayed current in his or her field. With work, some of these certifications and can be earned in a matter of weeks.
Tip #2: Be a “World Class” Listener and Ask the Right Questions
What do you think a person with lots of experience and knowledge likes to do? Often, the person talks about how much he or she knows and what he or she has done. If a customer does not see a direct connection to how this narrative pertains to them, then the knowledgeable and experienced agent just talked himself/herself right out the door. The highest compliment we can pay another person is to listen carefully to what he/she is saying.
• Example: As they say, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Understanding starts before the first meeting. This can be accomplished by checking the website of a business, the prospect’s membership in social media such as Facebook, Linked-In, etc. Be careful not to give the impression of being an internet stalker—use this information as a way to recognize accomplishments or business history instead. Likewise, if you have a website or a corporate Facebook account, consider sending a message that you are looking forward to meeting them and include a link to our own information. This is a way to let the prospect see your training background, membership in volunteer organizations, or other special highlights without coming off as arrogant.
• Example: Some sales training programs teach agents to try and find what is wrong with their present insurance agent, program or company. Do the opposite by asking what they like best about their present insurance program, agent or carrier. After listening carefully, try and find at least three “pain points” where the prospect has expressed a desire for improvement. Now you are ready for the next step.
Tip #3: Meet the Elephant
If for some reason, the prospect would not do business with you (no matter how qualified you are), would you like to know that information sooner or later? The answer, of course, is sooner—before investing more time in obtaining quotes, preparing a presentation, and doing all the work involved in closing the case. Maybe the prospect just thinks you are too young. Maybe the potential client just wants to make sure that he or she is getting a good deal by consulting another insurance professional. Regardless of the reason, now is the time to meet the elephant in the room—if there is one.
• Example: “Ms. Prospect, it is obvious that you have put some time and thought into your present insurance program. Congratulations on your effort. You have identified several areas that you would like to see improved, such as [list items]. If I am able to make these improvements to your satisfaction at an acceptable price, is there any reason you can think of that we cannot be able to do business together?”
This is an important trial close. If the person will not do business with you, now is the time to find out. Do not say another word. Be quiet and listen until the person says that he or she will (or will not) be willing to do business with you. Age might be more of a factor in the mind of the agent than it is in the mind of the prospect. But now is the time to find out, before moving forward.
Summary: The difficulty of being young and new in the business can be overcome and used to your advantage by:
• Knowing your stuff and being prepared to serve the client
• Being a world class listener and being able to ask good questions
• Summarizing what the client would like to improve—and asking if there is any reason you could not do business together if you can deliver a solution.
We hope these steps will guide an agent from an activity-oriented to a results-oriented action that will lead to the prospect’s satisfaction and the agent’s success.
*The author may be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.