5 Ways to Increase Agency Sales

Your agents have all earned their licenses, you’ve told them which books to read, and your sales meetings look like pep rallies. Still, the new agents are barely holding on. Other agents make a living, but could be doing much better, and some of your best agents are just coasting.

Addressing two important aspects of your agents’ continuing education will build their confidence and increase sales: insurance continuing education and sales continuing education.

1. Teach Agents to Teach

Veteran agents know that those who are less swaggering salesman and more educator inspire trust. And according to Bob Kimball, author of “AMA Handbook for Successful Selling,” people buy from salespeople they trust. To inspire trust, agents must know every product inside and out and learn to cast their knowledge into lay terms to teach prospects what they don’t already know. For example, many consumers don’t know that life insurance can build retirement income. It’s an important financial instrument and part of any solid financial plan.

As part of insurance continuing education, ask for volunteers to present one topic per sales meeting, covering a recap of the product, consumer misconceptions, and the questions prospects often have, especially those they don’t ask.

2. Humanize the Product

Insurance is an intangible, abstract asset. When agents use real-life anecdotes and analogies, they humanize it. Challenge agents to come up with one real life anecdote or humanizing analogy that they can pass along when they make their presentations. Those little stories are powerful tools.

3.  Teach Active Listening

Teach agents to think in terms of conversation more than sales pitch. Conversations may involve elements of presentation, but they are two-way street. Simply saying, “you look like you have questions,” can turn a presentation into a conversation. Then knowing that the client always has knowledge gaps, the agent should listen for them and fill them in. They may include misinformation, misunderstandings, hidden assumptions and just plain topic ignorance.

4. Teach Social Media

As part of twenty-first century continuing education, agents must learn to be social media gurus as much as insurance gurus. Social media is probably now as important to an agent’s success as a car is. As part of sales continuing education, agents should learn not only what social media is, but how to fully leverage it. For example, most agents know that a website is important, but a dynamic website that consumers will visit numerous times needs a blog. In addition, agents should post blog entries on their Facebook page, which links back to the website, and then also tweet each new blog entry and repost it with the “share” and “like” buttons — today’s word of mouth.

Jason Cass, owner of JDC Insurance Group in an interview on “Insurance Journal” podcast, calls using social media a “churning method.” He also points out that advertising on social media sites will give agents more bang for their buck.

5. Reward

People work for money, but motivation comes from recognition more than anything else, according to psychologist and respected management expert Frederick Herzberg. Though bonuses and trips are no small thing, praise and acknowledgment are huge. In fact, Herzberg points out, the six factors that most affect job satisfaction are achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, growth and work itself. To keep agents motivated, verbally reward them based on results, innovation and efforts that you know will pay off.

Finally, praise agents who pursue both insurance continuing education and sales continuing education, rather than one at the expense of the other. Acknowledge that the role of insurance professionals is more complex than simply selling.

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