Adapting to changes brought on by the hard market and other factors
As an agent, your genuine focus should be
on making your clients’ lives easier. If your heart really
isn’t in it for them, they will know.
By Michael Wayne
Looking ahead to 2024, it’s impossible for me not to take stock of 2023. Consolidation via mergers and acquisitions continued—including the sales of a rash of bank-owned agencies that were moved off the books. The market continued to harden for certain lines, and my personal search for auto insurance with several children to add as drivers makes me wonder if becoming a one-car family is in my future.
We know that the market has been in this condition for about five years now. While natural disasters have played a part in the recipe, man-made components, including our inability to maintain peace with one another, have become a main ingredient.
History indicates that our business is cyclical. But no one knows for sure when the pendulum will swing back. In the meantime, we get to deal with the uncertainty of ignorance and the anxiety it elicits.
What will happen and when it will happen is anyone’s guess. For instance, who a hundred years ago would have foreseen the first presidential radio address from the White House, the election of the first female governor in the United States, or the inaugural Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
Who in 1924 would have predicted any of those three events? Today, you’re more likely to listen to the President of the United States on your smartphone than a radio. As of last January, 49 women have served or are serving as the governor of a U.S. state (12 currently). More than 20 million people watch the live telecast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade annually, and millions more attend in-person.
In short, we make advances and we persevere when we continue to try and when we continue to adapt.
There are a multitude of reasons why insurance agents give up. Whether you are contemplating joining the ranks of those who have left the industry or you’re someone who is fighting to retain good individuals who you think may be on the fence, here are the top five reasons why agents quit and how to counter them.
Expectation vs. reality
Agents enter the industry with visions of million-dollar books and large commissions dancing in their heads. When that doesn’t come to fruition immediately, or even after several years, frustration can rear its ugly head.
A lack of pay may not be the only frustration for an agent. They may have thought other colleagues would be handling tedious responsibilities that they have to take care of personally. If this sounds like you, a few possibilities exist: You didn’t pay close enough attention to what you were getting yourself into, you were purposefully misled, or circumstances changed after you jumped aboard.
All is not lost. Now may be the time to switch agencies or to have a serious discussion with your agency’s owner about what’s going on.
All about the Benjamins
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make lots of money. There’s nothing wrong with making lots of money. There’s something wrong with wanting to be an insurance agent solely because you want to make lots of money.
If you are simply in it for the money, if that is the only goalpost you have, being an agent is not likely for you.
As an agent, your genuine focus should be on making your clients’ lives easier. If your heart really isn’t in it for them, they will know. That’s going to lead to clients leaving you over time and, ultimately, to you not making the money you thought you would, disappointment, and quitting. Put the needs of the client first to help ensure you’re on track. Agency leaders need to ensure their core values focus on putting clients first.
Ignorance is not bliss
Socrates stated that the true measure of wisdom is for a person to know everything about themselves. Only then could they know what they didn’t know. When it comes to being an insurance agent, you have to know your client. You have to be aware of their needs and understand what motivates them—personally and professionally. This is a relationship business. Relationships only last when trust and understanding exist. This means that in addition to you understanding you client, everyone on you team needs to as well. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for a competitor to build a better relationship.
Being a successful insurance agent requires top-notch organizational skills or the ability to surround oneself with a highly organized team. There’s a lot to keep track of, and one slip could potentially damage the world of a client who has already had a crisis shatter or severely blindside their life. If you are unprepared to help make a client as whole as possible, if you are responsible for a client’s claim being denied because of a missed detail, or if you make it impossible for your team to keep things running like a well-oiled machine and instead have them chugging along more like a rusty bucket, it won’t take long for word of mouth to do irreputable harm. Agency owners need to provide agents every tool possible to help them remain on top of things. Insurance agents need to take advantage of what they are given.
Lack of a guiding hand
Hearing “no” is hard, especially when it means not being able to pay for necessities and luxuries. Prospect meetings are job interviews, and no one gets every job that they interview for, regardless of how good they are. As an insurance agent, you have to be prepared to hear “no.” In all of its forms—unanswered phone calls, ignored emails, ghosted text messages, in a meeting or out of the office messages when paying personal visits. Highly successful agents tend to have been taken under the wing of someone who showed them the way and explained to them what to do in various scenarios. If your agency does not have a mentorship program, start one. Feedback from multiple agents about topics is invaluable and can help a newer agent find their way.
This holiday season, and beyond, I wish you and yours only the best. Whatever life is throwing at you, good or not so good, catch it and keep going.
Michael Wayne is an insurance freelance writer.