Brent Kelly, an agent with Clemens Insurance in Bloomington, IL, discusses the "youth factor" as it relates to building client relationships and proving your street cred. He also writes about sales, marketing, and business issues at www.brentmkelly.com.
Being an insurance agent is both a tough and rewarding career.
Being a young insurance agent can seem downright overwhelming at times.
I started in the insurance business right out of college at the ripe old age of 22. I had superb initial training, wonderful mentors, learned as much as I could quickly as possible, and then was sent straight to the wolves. I was ready to take on the world, but scared to death all at the same time. If you are new in this business, you may know the feeling.
My first boss made a true and important statement to me in my first year. He said, "This business is really tough until you start getting some gray hairs, but it will be worth it in the long run."
Looking back at this statement 13 years later, I have realized several important truths.
1. This business is very tough
2. If you persevere, it is also worth it
3. I didn't expect to get gray hairs so quickly
If you are young agent (or maybe just look young), I have some great news. Although you may still get turned down for having a baby face, there are ways to help overcome the "too young" objection.
Here are ten tips you can use to help fight the stigma of being too young.
1. Acknowledge You are Young
Don't hide the elephant in the room. Why? If you are new and look young you will not be fooling anyone trying to use big terms are grow a cool mustache. Believe me, I have tried both. The best thing to do is just acknowledge the fact that you are young in the industry and see if that is a deal breaker. Why wait? One of my favorite lines from my early sales training years was a question the instructor asked over and over again: "When would you like to know they won't buy from you?" The answer every time, "Now is good."
Why put all your time and energy in talking about your agency, your products, your service, or anything else if the prospect will never buy from you because they think you are too young to handle their insurance? You will have plenty of time to practice your selling skills with other prospects. Don't waste your timewith this objection.
Surprisingly, I have often found that the "too young" objection was more in my head than in my prospect's head. If I brought this issue the table right away I found that many prospects would reply, "I don't care about that, just take care of me." Once you realize that this will not be a stumbling block, you can move forward.
2. Use Youth as a Strength
Now that you know that youth is no longer a deal breaker, you still have much work to do to build trust and credibility with your prospect. You are still probably competing against an incumbent agent and other agents with more experience and knowledge than you.
One of my favorite methods when I was new and in my 20s was to use my youth as strength. Let's face it. When you are new you most likely have a smaller book of business, you're hungry, and most importantly you can and should do anything to make your prospects and clients believe they are your most important clients. Guess what, they are!
Let the prospect understand how important they are to you and how you can focus a great deal of time and attention just to their needs. There is a good chance they are receiving little to no attention from their agent now so this can be a huge selling tool.
Over deliver. Call back right away. Follow-up immediately. Be proactive to their needs. These are traits that should be used by agents and their staff all the time, but make sure your prospects understand and believe your commitment to them.
3. Find a Niche
Most successful salespeople will tell you that finding a niche where you can become a known, trusted advisor was a key to their success. This should be especially true for young insurance agents. Insurance is a complicated and expensive product. Prospects want to know you are credible. Finding a niche where you can make your presence known is a great way to build credibility quickly. It also allows you to understand your niches culture and language. Prospects want to know that you understand their business as much as your own.
Niches don't have to be just industry related. Yes, you can become an expert in restaurants, technology companies, or manufacturers, but don't forget about product or relational niches. You could become an expert on professional liability or workers compensation. You could become the go to person at your local of chamber of commerce. The key is to find a niche that you love and where you can gain visibility and expertise quickly. Developing these niches can dramatically decrease the "too young" objection.
4. Leverage Enthusiasm
If you are new and you are young, you should have abundant enthusiasm. The world is yours. Take this enthusiasm and let your products know how excited you are. Let them know you dreams and passions. If you are excited, they will be excited too.
[Tweet "I would much rather talk to a young excited optimist than a worn-out pessimist any day."]
Leverage your enthusiasm. Be excited. You have a great opportunity to shine in this industry. Show it.
5. Get Educated
Now that you are excited, it's time to get educated. Attend as many educational classes as possible. Start working on your CIC or another designation as fast as possible. Attend sales classes. Log on to online webinars from insurance companies. The more you can fill you mind, the quicker you will feel confident addressing confusing insurance questions you will face.
One of the great things about group seminars and workshops is not only the education, but the networking it provides with other insurance professionals. This is where I often receive some of the best education. Real advice and stories from others going through similar situations. Educate, educate, educate.
6. Attend Networking Events
Speaking of networking, there is nothing better than personal networking for getting out there in the public eye and rubbing elbows with other professionals. Understandably, I know people who are turned off by networking events at it can seem like a schmooze fest. The problem is that some people think that you are supposed to "sell" at these events.
Networking events are not about immediate sales, but introductions, rapport, and connections. Find places where you can provide value. Use the connections you create from networking events to create important opportunities to become a resource to others. Some of the clients I have obtained started with a friendly chat with a stranger years ago. Don't pass up the chance to attend networking events.
7. Make Time for Personal Development
One of my greatest regrets in first several years in the insurance industry was not spending time on my own personal development. As a busy salesperson, it feels like making time to improve personally takes away from sales related activities.
The reality is that personal development is vital to both short and long-term success. Become a better listener, speaker, thinker, or anything you desire to be. Read books, listen to podcasts, and attend seminars. Spend time on your personal development so you can pass on your new skills and confidence to your prospects and customers.
8. Use Your Resources
You don't have do everything yourself. In fact, I strongly advise against it. Use those in your industry as valuable resources. You have insurance company representatives, underwriters, owners, managers, other agents, and my personal favorite, Google, at your disposal.
Lean on these resources as your trusted ally. I often told prospects in my early days that although I may not have the answer, I have a huge team of people who will help me provide an accurate and prompt response. Insurance is definitely a team sport. Use your team for support.
9. Find Common Interests
Just because you may be younger than you prospect doesn't meant you don't have common interests. Sports, pets, or the college you attended may just be a few of the things that may be common interests.
This may be sales 101, but it is extremely important for young agents to build solid rapport with savvy prospects. Use any type of common interests to help prospects know, like, and trust you. People do business with people they like.
Knowledge is power, but likeability makes sales.
10. Harness the power of social media
If you are under the age of 30, computers have always been part of your world. In the past several years, the Internet and social media has made online connections not only easier, but a way of life.
Using the power of social media and digital marketing can set you apart from those agents (often older) who have not embraced the online world. Use social media to help connect, build a brand, and share value that can help others. This not only can increase your profile, but also help build relationships that give you an edge.
This is one category where you may actually have more experience than more experience agents. Use digital communication as a powerful too you can leverage.
The Bottom Line
Being a young insurance agent is tough business. You will be knocked down, beat up, and spit out. It is at the same time extremely rewarding and fulfilling. You control your own destiny. You get to meet incredible people. You get to learn, grow, and learn how to become a true professional.
These ten tips can help shorten your learning curve and help you get on the right track for success. The insurance industry is looking for intelligent and hard-working young talent. I am not saying it will be easy, but I can tell you it will definitely be worth it.
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