8 Common Mistakes Insurance Agents Make and How to Fix Them

February 23, 2015

Mistakes Insurance Agents MakeNobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes. In fact, sometimes the hardest thing about screwing up isn’t admitting our mistakes—it’s knowing what to do next. We may have a tendency to shrug little mistakes off, but if your sales game is suffering, these common mistakes insurance agents make could be affecting your bottom line.

Here are eight common mistakes agents make early in their careers and how to fix them. If you catch yourself falling into any of these bad habits, read on. We’ll show you how to improve your sales game and your business success.

Jumping into the Sale

You don’t go up to the girl in the coffee shop and ask her to marry you. I didn’t start this post without an introduction. And you shouldn’t begin your sales conversation with your prospect without some ice breaker conversation. Yes, both you and your prospect know this is a sales conversation, but to communicate effectively, to ask the right questions, seek the right answers, and build trust, you must first build a rapport with your prospect.

You can make this an enjoyable part of the sales process. Try to discover shared hobbies, whether you both have children of the same age or grew up in the same part of the country. There are always things that bind strangers together. Your sales will improve when you find such a topic for each prospect, make a note of it, and open every sales conversation with it.

Neglecting the Follow-Up

Get in the habit of following up on leads as soon as you can. Remember voicemails and emails are an acceptable first contact where you can introduce yourself and share your contact info.

If you have a solid system in place, you’ll be less likely to neglect following up with your prospects. That’s all the more reason to have a good prospect/client management system.

If you say you’ll get back to a client first thing Monday morning, make sure you follow through. One broken promise will give the prospect reason to doubt other things you’ve said and damage that hard-won trust permanently.

Following up also means keeping in touch with your current clients. Consider having calendar reminders lined up for policy renewal windows, holidays, and even birthdays. Letting the client know you still value their business after the sale can do wonders the next time you contact them to renew their coverage.

Talking Too Much

Many agents talk too much. It’s an understandable fault. You’ve trained extensively in your product details. You’ve got a script in front of you. You want to convince your prospect to order and are relying on your words to do so. And silences are uncomfortable.

To improve though, you’re going to have to do more listening and less talking. Some industry experts say you should spend 70 to 80% of your sales conversation listening. So what happens when you listen?

Even though it appears that the prospect is leading the sales discussion, you’re still in control. Interject questions as your prospect describes their needs, priorities, and concerns, then let your prospect answer. Your prospect’s trust for you grows. Their concerns feel validated, their problem becomes better defined and the best solutions easier to pick out. Don’t rely so much on your knowledge or pitch to close the sale. When the prospect trusts you to lead them in the right direction with a good product and service, that trust will close your sale.

Failing to Ask the Right Questions

In order for the listening sales approach to work, you have to learn how to ask a question that tells you more about the prospect’s needs, priorities, and sales objections. Open-ended questions that start with “who”, “what”, “why”, “when”, “where”, and “how” work well. You also need to know how to interject a new question, either to clarify a point, dig down another layer or redirect the conversation should it go off topic. 

This is a difficult skill to master, but an absolute must to work on if you want to see improvement in your sales and client satisfaction.

Putting Time into Non-Customers 

We all window shop from time to time. It’s natural to be curious about what’s available, even when we have no intention to order. Some of your prospects are doing the same. Avoid pouring too much time and energy into these so-called “tire-kickers” who aren’t ready to order.

Learn how to qualify your prospects early in the sales conversation. You want some sort of buy-in from them in the sales discussion. A potential customer wants to know how they can get coverage or solve a problem unique to them. If a prospect is unwilling to commit to solving a problem, they may not be ready to order. “No” is a perfectly acceptable answer to the sales ask. Remember this is a numbers game and not everyone will say yes.

Aggressive Sales Tactics 

That being said, pushy, aggressive sales tactics can often have a negative impact on your bottom line. Let the prospect do most of the talking. Continue to ask questions about any objections you hear or sense. Acknowledge them and sell the benefits and value of the solution that matter to the customer. Try to adjust your vocabulary and approach to match the way the prospect is expressing themselves. You’re still building that rapport and common ground that lead to the prospect trusting the agent.  

Worrying Too Much About Price

Price can often feel like the top concern for your prospects. It’s often one of the first things your prospective clients will ask you. Talking about money is a necessity, but don’t let the prospect pull you into a race-to-the-bottom price conversation. Remember your process and stick to your script. You need to have an honest discussion with the prospect about their budget and their insurance needs. You can offer suggestions that might meet their budget, but be upfront if you’d recommend a more expensive yet better-fit solution. Don’t assume your prospect doesn’t have the means to buy the right product. Solving a problem is often worth the cost of the solution for a customer. If you’ve done your job building initial rapport with your prospect, this won’t come off as up-selling either. You’re more likely to be seen as the trusted professional you are, giving your best advice tailored to the prospect’s situation.

Not Keeping Up with Business 

It’s easy to get into a routine, especially if it’s a sustaining, comfortable routine. But never stop looking for opportunities to improve your business. The market may shift and you might need to as well. If you’re an independent agent, diversify your product offerings. Opportunities to meet new needs for current clients in other areas will come up. Once you spent the time building a rapport and trust and following up with them regularly, cross-selling becomes a natural next step for your business. If you’re not an independent agent, network with other professionals. You may be able to take turns trading referrals when you can’t supply the product the prospect needs.

Seek out opportunities to sharpen and maintain your skills. Workshops and conferences can be a great way to reenergize yourself, meet new colleagues, and learn new tricks. Even if you’ve been at it for years, there are likely new technologies that could make you more productive or new research on markets that could improve your approach.

Conclusion

Whatever mistakes you might make, forgive yourself and move on. We’re only human. Keep a positive outlook. You can continually improve your sales game and your business itself. The important thing is to learn from your first missteps and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.