Welcome to the insurance industry

You studied hard in school, took on various internships, passed your license exam and now you received your full-time job as a broker! Now you get to navigate and learn all the ins and outs of the insurance industry.

It might seem intimidating at first but know that you’re about to embark on an exciting and rewarding career opportunity!  

How to present yourself to new clients

First impressions are very important, especially when you’re just starting out in the field. Being a broker requires meeting with many different clients and forming meaningful, lasting relationships.

When going to a client meeting, the first thing you should do is ask yourself who your clients are and what image their company projects. Once you have a better idea, you will then be able to accommodate your wardrobe and appearance to adapt to their standards.

Being new to the industry, a good rule of thumb is to always dress as professionally as possible. There may be times when business professional is more appropriate than business casual and vice versa.  However, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed – use your best judgement.

For business casual looks:

  • Wear one accessory that stands out. For men, a leather wristwatch signals assertiveness and taste. Women should seek a statement piece that adds a nice touch to their outfit, such as a nice necklace or pair of earrings.
  • Stay away from loud, abstract prints. Instead, aim for pinstripe patterns and polka dots in neutral colors.
  • Skirts shouldn't rise above the knee.
  • A low-heeled shoe for both sexes guarantees professional radiance.

For business professional looks:

  • A classic, tailored suit is always fitting.
  • Longing to break away from average argyle and plaid prints? Try floral patterns in dark, neutral tones. Floral is a unisex pattern and translates well with solid color combinations.
  • Tailor your outfits as soon as you purchase them – professional dress does not have to break the bank.

Remember your style represents you and your brand!

Attracting Clients

Now that you look the part, you need to get more business. Want to attract more clients? Here are a few steps you can take!

  1. Become a community leader

No, you don't need to run for town council – but you do want to become a recognized name in your community. Think of an activity that you’re passionate about, are there ways you can get involved?  Whether it’s volunteering at an animal shelter, sponsoring a local club or organization or getting involved in a trade association such as the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), find out how you can contribute and invest some time. It’s easier for people to call an insurance broker who they feel as if they know because they can put a face to your name. Getting involved in your community gives people a chance to get to know you outside of your business, making it more likely that they will opt to call you when they want to get or change insurance plans.

  1. Sweeten the referral pot

While many clients will voluntarily refer you to friends and family, even more will do so if you offer them some type of reward for doing so. People are more willing to sign on to an insurance broker that comes recommended from someone they trust, and clients are more likely to offer that referral when they are treated well. For example, taking them out to dinner when you meet with them

  1. Try marketing

Marketing is more than just posting here and there on social media. It’s the opportunity to create quality content that pulls potential clients towards your services. Some ways you can market yourself are by blogging about content that your clients would find helpful and optimize your website to attract your ideal buyers. To have a larger online presence, you need to consistently use and choose keywords, create content and build links around the terms you think your clients will search for in search engines. Utilize your social media accounts to share the valuable information you’re creating.

Getting new clients can be a full-time job, so take these steps to attract and keep more clients.

Build and maintain client relationships

Options, options, options. Whether it’s having over 30 different brands of toothpaste to choose from, or hundreds of cable channels, consumers have choices. This also applies to employer groups. They have a lot of options when it comes to choosing which broker they partner with; so, why should they choose you? Being a great talker or giving a great pitch isn’t going to cut it. The key is knowing how to successfully build and maintain relationships with clients, where they know that their needs are your priority.  

It cannot be overstated that how you handle these relationships can make or break you. If handled well, you will inspire loyalty from your employer groups; and once you have won their loyalty, there’s a great chance they will refer other people to you. Here are a few things you can do to help you keep the focus on your customers.

  1. Communication. Whether it's by in person meeting, phone, text or social media, staying in touch with your clients is key to building and maintaining relationships. Let customers know about changes to your business and in the industry, discounts and advantages you can provide and how your business can help them. Start a blog or email newsletter and use it as a central place to communicate with your clients. Be sure to keep all communication professional yet friendly.
  2. Authenticity. Clients expect authenticity when it comes the people with whom they do business. By maintaining an open and honest relationship with your clients, you are showing them that you value them. Building a customer base through lies or false information and promises will only backfire on you and hurt your business. Cultivate trusted relationships with your clients and watch your client satisfaction - and their loyalty to you - grow.
  3. Be an Invaluable Resource. By becoming a trusted resource on all topics relevant to your industry, you can build trust and loyalty with your clients. Perhaps you share information on benefits, or updates in the industry that your groups need to know, or even information on wellness tools and tips to keep their employees healthier and happier. Doing these simple things and sharing relevant information with your clients, you become their go-to resource and trusted expert. Quick tip: Target the information you share to particular client groups. Try not to overwhelm your clients with information that is not useful or relevant to the services you provide.
  4. Reward Loyalty. Clients love to be rewarded, and a rewarded client is often a loyal client. Loyalty keeps your business strong and encourages positive word-of-mouth – which is the most effective form of marketing. Referrals from your current client base can help you grow your business further. Consider sending your loyal customers a thank you gift or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, or even writing a hand-written note. This special treatment will keep your clients coming back. You should encourage your clients to share the positive treatment they receive within their influential circle.

With stiff competition in the insurance industry, being able to build and maintain relationships with clients is more important than ever. A little effort goes a very long way!


Making that sale and closing the deal!

The ways we communicate are constantly evolving. The internet is the most-used medium by every demographic for research and purchasing. With social media, blogging, videos and emails – there are many different outlets to get in touch with your clients and attract new potential clients. However, with all this innovation, one thing remains the same: People still buy from people. The internet may help your reach, but it still takes a person to close the deal – not a mobile app or a computer screen.

How can you capitalize on the "people" factor?

Remember the old saying, “there’s a time for everything?” It’s a truth that applies to your business. Have you ever wondered what’s the best time and day of the week for brokers to call prospects? There is. There are optimum times to make your first contact and days to follow up that will increase your chances of getting a sale. Bump up your chances for success by being the first to call and call on the right day.

Why be the first to call?  

35 to 50 percent of all buyers buy from the first person to contact them

Studies say that you should follow-up with a potential client who left their contact details within five minutes. When you do that, you maximize the likelihood that your office will be the first one to call. A sobering stat is that the chance of connecting if you call in 10 minutes drops your connection rate by 400 percent.

Chances of connecting with leads drop significantly if you wait 60 minutes

If you get caught up in other things and wait 60 minutes to call that contact, your chances for making a sale drops. In fact, those who contact the lead within the hour are seven times more likely to have a promising conversation than those who wait 60 minutes.

Follow up fast, so you are the first person they speak with. By having the qualifying conversation within the hour, you shut out your competition.

What are the best days to call sales leads?

Not only is there an ideal timeframe in which to call, there’s an ideal day to call. If you are doing general follow-ups to people who were not available:

  • Skip Mondays and Tuesdays. These are the worst days to make your first contact.
  • Definitely Wednesdays and Thursday. These are the best days to call.
  • Morning and Evening Hours. Between 8.00 a.m. and 9.00 a.m., and 4.00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m.

Why you shouldn’t give up if you don’t reach your prospect the first or second time

Another saying you may recall is, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” Research shows that on average, it takes about eight cold calls to reach a prospective client. Once you make contact, 80 percent of sales that are made require at least five follow-up calls to close the deal. Yet, 44 percent of individuals trying to make a sale stop calling after one call. Be persistent and don’t give up!

Technology has changed the world we live in and has affected many aspects of how everyone – including those in your industry – do business. Yet, people are still people that prefer to do business with other people. Despite our advances, nothing can replace you.

You bring a personal, human touch that inspires trust and helps to make the sale. 

Email etiquette

“Sincerely” “Thanks” “Best.”

One of these email sign-offs is most preferred, one is considered old-fashioned and the other is a big no-no … Can you guess which they are?

If you said “Best” was the most preferred – you’d be right! According to business experts, “Best” is agreed to be the safest email sign-off choice for it is inoffensive and universally appropriate.

As for the others, “Sincerely” is considered very old-fashioned – unless you’re using it in a cover letter or following a “Dear ___” opening. “Thanks” is a major no-no, as it comes off as ingenuine.

Your email etiquette is an important aspect in your relationship with your clients. It can determine whether you keep their business or if they’re looking for a new broker to replace you.

Some things to keep in mind when emailing your clients:

Use a professional opening – Don’t use “Hey,” “Yo,” “Aye” – anything of that sort. Hi or Hello will do.

Include a clear, concise subject line – Address what you will be discussing in the email, such as “Schedule an appointment,” “Agenda for our meeting on [date]” or “Follow up for [date] meeting.”

Include a signature – Put your name, title, company and your contact information such as your email and phone number.

Proofread – This cannot be stressed enough! You do not want to send a message with spelling errors. It will undermine your credibility with your clients and potential clients. Even if it’s minor, if you couldn’t take a few minutes to make sure things were correct -- it begs the question what else are you not paying attention to?

Know your audience – Remember that everyone has a different sense of humor, set of values and cultures. Keep in mind who your clients are and foster each relationship.

Scheduling appointments

Once you connect with your client and schedule an appointment via phone or email, here are four steps you can follow to have a stronger sales appointment:

Step 1 - Plan and Prepare

If your appointment is with a new client:

  • Learn as much as you can about them before the meeting. Were they referred by someone who can tell you more?
  • What did you learn during your initial telephone conversation that you can use for research?
  • What can you learn from their website, their LinkedIn or Facebook posts, their own marketing, the Chamber of Commerce, etc.?

You must decide how much time and effort it's worth putting into the first meeting, but it's better to learn before you go than it is to spend time asking what your prospect may think are pretty obvious questions.

If your appointment is with a current client:

  • Review the previous meeting(s) and be clear about all items.
  • Check that anything you agreed to do/have a colleague do has been done, and you know the results.
  • Review long-term goals and how well you and they believe they are being met.

Your initial sales appointment goal is to go in as an expert on their account.

Step 2 - Set Specific Goals for the Appointment

In selling there really isn't any such thing as a “courtesy” call. Yes, you are going to have follow-up meetings, check on a few things or remind them of something, but all those types of meetings can and should have a specific intention and specific outcome tied to a current project or a past decision.

You must, therefore, know your goals. It also helps if your client knows your goals. You can, for example, email them and make sure they know what the appointment is for (what you want to achieve), so they can also prepare properly.

Step 3 - Follow an Effective Meeting Plan or Structure

You may have a preferred way to structure your sales appointments. You may have more than one, because each client has her or his own preferred way of working. If so, that's fine, but review it every so often to make sure your plan or structure is still serving you and your clients well.

If you do not, or are thinking about reworking it, one of the most effective and time-tested sales appointment structures is called SPIN. Your goal as a broker is to win new business and to keep existing business. Clients make purchase decisions when they know or believe that they, their business operation or their staff will benefit from it.

SPIN helps clients make effective decisions.

S - Situation

What is happening now as far as the purpose of the appointment is concerned? What is working? What could be working better? What is missing? When you know that, you can focus on what matters to your client.

P - Problem

When you and your client have the situation clear in your minds, and you know what could be improved or what is needed but doesn't exist, you can focus on the next step.

I - Implication

Just having a problem might not be motivating enough to want to do anything about it. This is where SPIN is so powerful.

Ask what the implications will be of not fixing the problem. If the effects of not fixing the problem get worse, how will that affect your client's staff, their clients, profits, operations, etc.?

When you and your client are clear about the ultimate result of not fixing the problem, you can discuss solutions.

N- Need Pay-Off

When you link the need to solve the problem with the pay-off of using your product, deciding to buy it is a simple, logical choice. It may be that your client has to think about it, discuss it with colleagues or do some internal research before he or she can make a final decision. You may have to refine your offering so the policy you are selling really will solve the problem. What matters is that the outcome of the sales appointment is clear, and that it’ll move you both closer to a signature.

Step 4 - Follow up and Reinforce Decisions

If your client has not bought yet, reinforce the work you both agreed to do, so that decisions can be made. You know your client, so you know how to communicate best with them.

If your client did buy, complete your follow-up actions to reinforce the purchase decisions.

A best practice for follow-up communication would be to send an email. This way you are able to have your could-be agreement or actual agreement in written communication, be able to discuss further actions or thank them for their time.

Meeting in-person

However, as great as online communication is – don’t forget the importance of face-to-face meetings.

When meeting with a client face-to-face, there are different skills you can use and practice to become a more successful broker. One of those skills is showing empathy. It’s something that most people are born with, but learning how to properly use it to provide excellent customer service and close sales takes practice.

Eventually, it becomes a habit that will help increase satisfaction in all your client interactions. Here are five steps on how to incorporate it into your meetings.

Listen actively
Effective listening must be active. It begins with focusing on the client. That entails removing distractions and facing the client to listen not only with your ears, but also your eyes. It’s estimated that only 15 percent of communication is verbal, which means that critical bits of information are being conveyed through body language or facial expressions.

If your client interaction requires taking notes, then active listening dictates that you have a pen and paper ready. It’s not possible to focus on the client while searching through your briefcase for something to write with.

Active listening also involves giving the client appropriate feedback. Providing feedback encourages the client to continue talking and reveal everything that’s on their mind. Feedback might be in the form of:

• A smile that encourages them to continue
• A nod that indicates, “I get it”
• Eye contact, but you must be careful not to stare, which can be intimidating or awkward
• Posture – sometimes leaning forward shows intensity

Recognize their emotions
Emotions are important signs along the way to solving problems. They tell us when we are on the right course. They also warn us when there is danger ahead and to proceed with caution. Therefore, learning to recognize and respond appropriately to all kinds of emotions is critical.

Skillful customer service people know that you must heal the person before you can fix the situation. Sometimes the client simply needs to let off steam. In those situations, trying to fix the situation before he is receptive is like throwing fuel on a fire.

Accept their interpretations
Accepting someone’s interpretation of an event or situation is not the same as agreeing with them. It allows you to change your perspective and make a better assessment of the client’s situation. That better assessment will enable you to come up with solutions that you might miss otherwise.

Restate the problem
Before trying to solve a problem, it’s wise to restate it. It’s okay to paraphrase if you don’t change the meaning. For instance, you can say, “Let me see if I understand you correctly. You agree that dental insurance will make your employees happy and be a great recruiting tool, but you don’t feel that it will fit your current budget. Is this accurate?”

Restating the problem is a powerful tool because it demonstrates that you have been listening to the client and that you respect and care about their needs. It also ensures that you accurately understand what the client said. After all, you don’t want to waste time offering solutions that don’t address the situation.

Ask permission to move forward
Asking permission to move forward is about more than being polite. It determines whether you and the client are at the same place in the discussion. If you ask permission to move forward, but the client still needs or wants to talk about the situation, then you obviously should go back to the beginning and go through the previous steps.

Asking permission to move forward doesn’t have to be a question. You can use a statement like, “I have a few solutions that might help.” If you pause after the statement, the client might ask you to proceed. Or if you are actively listening, the permission might be unspoken. Either way, you’ve affirmed that you and the client are at the same place in the discussion and ready to move forward to discussing solutions.

You can use the above five steps in every interaction with a client, no matter how brief or how long. The only difference is the amount of time you spend on each step. You can even hit all five steps during a one-minute phone call! Everyone has some degree of empathy. However, showing empathy for your clients in every interaction will make you outshine the competition.

Just as you saw with showing empathy for clients, closing sales requires engaging with clients in ways that are meaningful to them. But what is the best way to do that?

It’s all about identifying what you and each client have in common, connecting on that level and being approachable. Entertaining your clients accomplishes all of that and more.

Entertaining lowers barriers

Let’s face it: there is a natural barrier that clients raise when they know a sales pitch is coming, especially from someone with whom they don’t yet have a relationship.

Additionally, maybe your client just had a difficult interaction with an employee or another salesperson. Or, maybe the client has personal stresses. There are a whole host of challenges that may cause your client to raise a barrier on the day of your meeting, including:

  • Limits and challenges with health insurance
  • Employees needing handholding and a steady stream of questions
  • The reality of piles of paperwork and deadlines

Everyone has her or his unique challenges on any given day. Entertaining your client is a great way to lower those barriers and connect or reconnect. Here’s why:

  • It helps clients swing from a negative mood to a more positive one.
  • It helps clients pivot from whatever else they are immersed in to a willingness to listen to your pitch.
  • It reminds clients that you are interested in them on a personal level.
  • It establishes a common connection of humor and rapport.
  • It gives clients a much-needed break from routine.

Preparing to entertain

For entertainment to work as intended, it needs be appropriate to each client. It requires that you do some background research and learn what you can about each client.

Now it’s time to make that research time pay off. Ask yourself:

  • Who is this client as a person? Where is this client in terms of career?
  • Is this client family-oriented or a workaholic?
  • What is this client’s favorite food? Music? Sport? Book? Movie?

The answers to those questions will help lead you to understand and develop ideas for the type of entertainment that this client might enjoy.

Creating your entertainment plan

Now you are ready to create your entertainment plan. Note that entertaining does not mean doing a stand-up routine or telling a string of jokes. In fact, those probably would have an effect opposite to the one you are looking for.

Here are two great ways to entertain your clients, tear down barriers and build up connections:

  • Tell a (short) story. If this client loves animals, have a heartwarming animal story— perhaps a recent one from the news. If the client loves the arts, share an experience you’ve had that is relevant. The same goes for their favorite sport. You get the idea. Make a connection around a topic that is near and dear to this client’s heart. That goes a long way toward establishing a shared trust.
  • Get the client out of the office. Take the client out for coffee or tea, lunch or even just a snack. Often, corporate employees feel chained to their desks. Getting them out, even just temporarily, shows them that you understand and want to support their need for a break.

Entertaining your clients does much more than open doors—it opens ears, too. You will discover that even simple entertainment goes a long way toward establishing that all-important connection between you and your clients. This, in turn, helps them trust that you have a way to help them— and their employees—with their insurance needs.

Expand in your industry

Working for a large insurance brokerage can be a rewarding and challenging steppingstone in your career. While employment with a large firm may ensure you have consistent leads and steady business, it also means learning to thrive in a more competitive environment. Beat the “little fish-big pond” problem and climb the ranks at your broker insurance agency with these five steps.

Know Your Company’s Mission Statement and Goals

Your firm’s mission statement will tell you what’s most important to its management. Some firms thrive on being the biggest and fastest growing, which means that new sales might take up the lion’s share of staff meetings. Another firm’s strategy might focus on winning awards for exemplary customer service. Exceptional firms have learned to combine the two strategies, but it’s up to you to decide how to align your personal goals with the firm’s. That not only improves your chances of financial success, but also increases the likelihood that you will be happy to work there every day.

Become a Sales and Service Superstar

The two most important components of being a successful broker are sales and customer service. If you have basic interpersonal skills, you can learn to be a great salesperson through hard work and determination. There are numerous books and articles published on excelling in this field, from the very basics for beginners up through expert level. Regardless of your present expertise, you should make a habit of continuing your education, whether via reading or taking courses, to improve your job skills.

Keep in mind that you have internal customers as well as external customers. External customers are the businesses and individual subscribers who participate in the health plans that your firm offers. Internal customers are your management team and co-workers. These people depend on you to do your assigned tasks in a timely, professional manner so that they can do theirs. Having a reputation for responding quickly and accurately to requests, as well as meeting deadlines, makes it easier to move up the ranks.

Become an Expert Problem Solver

Selling insurance requires consultative sales skills, which means taking the time to understand a problem the customer is having and then offering solutions that will specifically address that problem. Your chances of closing the sale depend on how well you can solve the conflicts that are revealed to you.

Brokers must be magicians because they are often faced with situations for which there are no perfect solutions. But, it’s still the agents’ responsibility to make customers feel that their needs will be met by the best firm in the business. For instance, imagine telling a distraught mother that her children’s pediatric dentist has retired. In that case, empathy is the first step in dealing with the situation. When expertly applied, it works like a charm.

Are you the kind of person that colleagues and associates think of when they have a problem no one else seems to be able to solve? Even if you don’t have the solution at your fingertips, do you know where to go to find the answer? Being an expert in your field is sure to get you noticed by your co-workers, and more importantly, by upper management.

In addition to being able to answer questions and solve problems, you should also make it a point to keep up with any new policies or developments in your field. Being among the first to know about new products, services, regulations or any news that affects your business and its customers demonstrates your commitment to your job. That’s why it’s a good idea to read and understand relevant publications before filing them away. Never keep a piece of important news to yourself. When you come across something exciting, scan your address book for the names of prospects or customers who would benefit from having that information. Even if they’ve already read it, chances are they will be pleased that you were thinking of them and their businesses.

Share Your Skills

When in public, you are the face of your company. Whether you are addressing a single person or a room filled with hundreds of customers, they will judge your entire company based on their perception of you. All things considered, it is paramount to dress and speak like a professional. That means, in addition to being an insurance expert, you also must be skilled at explaining information to people, whether individually or in groups. Fortunately, public speaking is a skill that can be learned, so it wouldn’t hurt to join a local chapter of Toastmasters International to hone your skills. Once you have mastered the skills and competencies that place you among the best sales and customer services representatives in your firm, the next step is management. One of the advantages of working for a large brokerage is that they are always looking for talented employees who can train and supervise other people.

In order to display your management prowess, be willing to participate in or lead groups within your organization. Volunteering to take a leadership role in ad hoc projects provides opportunities to get noticed. For example, does your firm have an out-of-date media kit or PowerPoint presentation that could use your input?

Know Your Business Community

Successful brokers know the ins and outs of the communities where they do business. That means reading local publications, especially business journals, to learn who recently landed a big promotion or a large construction contract. It also means regularly attending networking events with local businesses. If getting away from your desk is not an option, keeping in contact by phone or email is a great way to touch base with your clients. Either way, it’s up to you to make sure that your name, reputation and professional skills are well-known.

Take the time to shine at your brokerage, and don’t be shy! Being a career-minded person is a positive thing, and can improve your chances of obtaining a management or senior level position. Show your company what an asset you are and keep looking ahead for new opportunities to conquer.

As you continue to climb your industry ranks, don’t forget the most important aspect – networking!

A few good tips to remember when networking:

Be an equal opportunity networker – Approach everyone as a networking opportunity. You never know where your next great lead will come from! Don’t just focus on the higher-ups in an organization, while that’s someone you will eventually want to connect with remember that anyone can be a lead generator.

Don’t forget to network after hoursYour days are filled with meetings, phone calls and responding to numerous emails -- it’s hard to find the time for new business. However, that’s why networking after hours is the perfect solution! Learn of the different opportunities offered and see what events are going on in your area!

First impressions last – Just as we discussed earlier, your first impressions are most important – both in your appearance and your attitude toward others! Put your best foot forward when meeting others and doors will open.

Be yourself! – If you take one thing away from this, it’s to always be yourself! As stated previously people buy from people and want genuine experiences. If you try to copy other people and take the ideas as your own, the truth will eventually come out. Start off your broker experience the right way and bring your fresh new perspectives to the table!


Congratulations, you’re officially a broker!

Both a challenging and rewarding career, you’re given the opportunity to meet with a lot of people and forge many great connections. Learning the importance of face-to-face interactions, building an effective online presence and how to make great first impressions are just the beginning. Remember to constantly network with others in your community and in your industry, as well as enjoy all the other exciting aspects your new career has to offer!

Want to take your networking skills to a whole new level?

Download our LinkedIn social media guide and learn how to utilize LinkedIn to connect with your clients and potential new clients!