How Independent Insurance Agents Become More Successful

Updated on May 12, 2020
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Robin is a successful insurance marketing director, specializing in senior market products and helping independent agents succeed.

Independent Insurance Agents Can Be Successful

"Fortune Cookie - Success" by Flazingo Photos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
"Fortune Cookie - Success" by Flazingo Photos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Do Independent Insurance Agents Really Need to Buy Leads?

Independent insurance agents I talk to every day ask whether we have a lead program, and the simple answer to that is no. Many lead programs are bogus, providing outdated or regurgitated leads in exchange for a chunk of the agent’s commission. Then there are the plethora of lead vendors on the internet, and it is hard to tell which ones will be worth the money. Usually, our company will negotiate a discount with certain lead vendors in order to help agents out. Sometimes a good list can be enough, and there are good sources for these as well.

However, there are less expensive ways for independent insurance agents to get their own leads. One method is good old-fashioned door knocking—but with a twist, which we will start with. The second is having a solid work ethic, and finally, there is the education of prospects model.

Starting a Successful Door Knocking Campaign

open door
open door | Source

Door-Knocking Isn't What It Used to Be

For successful door knocking in the modern age, the first thing to remember is choice of customer. What does that mean? Back in the day, people used to go out to any neighborhood, but now independent insurance agents must choose carefully which neighborhoods they go into. For our purposes, choice of customer means selection of an even more specific demographic, not just a neighborhood. I have talked to some very successful older agents who had a trick of the trade or two to share.

One agent started with ministers. He would go to churches or call on ministers in his area and talk with them about life insurance because he thought, “no one else is reaching out to these people.” He would sell one minister a policy and ask for referrals. Soon he was selling to their friends, then to their congregations, schools, and even connected colleges. Subsequent to that, he targeted hairdressers, then auto mechanics. Most importantly, for every policy he sold, he sought at least two referrals. The rest of the story? He retired very comfortably.

Also, in the door-knock model, learn to gauge your success by taking notes and keeping track of every aspect of what you are doing. Did you start too early? Too late? What skills do you need to work on most? What habits do you need to break and what new habits do you need to implement? Are you too slow? Too fast? Did you say “um” too much? How well is your presentation received by your prospects? What kind of questions do people ask? Are you including critical product information and helping prospects understand why they need what you have? Are you able to overcome objections well? Did you get references and plan to go back or make another try if you flubbed it? Check your notes when you get home and make decisions about what you need to do to improve. Track your successes too, and pat yourself on the back when you do a good job.

A Strong Work Ethic Supports Success

Work, Work, Work
Work, Work, Work | Source

Independent Agents Need to Work to Succeed

The second success tip for independent agents is to have a strong work ethic, and this is critical. You may want to work your own hours, but you must set a schedule and stick to it as closely as possible. For a full week, plan to get in the traditional 40 hours. This means eight hours a day, five days a week. (If you choose part-time, decide how many hours per day or week you can dedicate, and set a schedule that you plan to stick to.) Then do the math on what you will need to accomplish.

For example, you can start with two to three “doors” per hour. If you did that faithfully for an 8-hour day, you would give yourself a minimum of 24 opportunities per day. Out of that, shoot for five presentations per day. Do that five days per week and you are at close to 100 opportunities and 25 presentations per week. By sticking to five presentations per day, you will not only gain skill and confidence, you are bound to make at least one sale per day. As you get better, that number will go up. Zig Ziglar, sales guru, used to go street by street. Once, at the beginning of his career, he was about to give up, and it was at the last house on the street that he made two sales and decided keep going.

Also, remember that an important aspect of a good work ethic for independent insurance agents is persistence. Persistence means that even if you fail, you learn to overcome problems, and gain knowledge from your mistakes. Learn more about your products and become more adept at your selling process. Read books, watch videos, and listen to presentations. Persist at improving your methods for getting motivated before you start each day, learn more about your target demographic, and become more solution oriented rather than making excuses for yourself. Hang in there even when it all seems lost because you never know when your best customer is waiting on the other side of the next door!

Generate Leads For the Price of a Cup of Coffee


The Educational Model of Prospecting for Independent Insurance Agents

Finally, another model for independent agents is the educational model. Many seniors are not even aware of why they need Final Expense Insurance, Medicare Supplement Insurance, or Medicare Advantage plans. They may not be aware of the way the Medicare system works. Seniors are especially vulnerable and this need creates the perfect opportunity for a caring agent.

I have heard from both experienced agents and from carrier representatives that there are just not enough people out there educating senior clients on their needs and options. If you genuinely care about your senior clients—and you should—you can do very well with the educational model of prospecting. Educational events are not hard to host, and you can hold educational events at many free venues.

For example, you could plan a small, informal educational event to review the types of life insurance available to seniors, and provide basic information on Medicare. You would need to send out invitations to a mailing list of seniors in your area, and advertise on Facebook. Be sure to get R.S.V.P.s so you can plan. Hold the event at a coffee shop or a library conference room, and provide simple drinks and snacks. Pass out brochures, lecture notes, and a business card. In the end, for only a modest amount of money, you could easily book at least a couple of appointments. Some agents even host regular events on certain days of the week, and advertise in the community calendar portion of the local paper—for free!

How Can Independent Insurance Agents Become Wildly Successful?

Independent Insurance agents do not have to be the ‘starving artists’ of the insurance industry. With a little creativity and effort, you can create your own opportunities, work harder—and smarter, and end up becoming as wildly successful as you have always wanted to be.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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