7 Habits of Highly Effective Insurance Agents

by | Jul 26, 2016

7 habits of highly effective insurance agents

Why are some insurance agents successful, while others flounder?

Their habits.

It’s the little idiosyncratic routines, methodology and philosophies which dictate their daily activities which create highly effective insurance agents.

Today we examine 7 habits of highly effective insurance agents.

erin nuttingHaving a habit or routine in its own right, is a success.

I make sure every week I have an assessment meeting with just myself. I lock myself away for a 30 min window and be real about my week. I allow myself emotions, hard truths, and even tears.

But I don’t allow myself time to unpack and live there. My 30 minute self assessments on my business and personal mind is crucial to my agency growth.

– Erin Nutting, Agency Owner, Integrity Insurance Services, Tucson, AZ.

Connect with Erin Nutting on LinkedIn.

Why is it so important to examine the habits of our fellow independent insurance agents?

Boyd McGehee explains:

boyd mcgeheeSurround yourself with a variety of successful insurance friends.

A church leader once told me, “surround yourself with people that are headed in the direction you want to be headed in…” Same goes for the working world as well.

We become better basketball players by associating with better basketball players- we become better insurance agents by associating with better insurance agents.

There is something to be said about being in the same room with people that are of the same age, same industry and are all driven to succeed – it WILL rub off on you.

– Boyd McGehee, President at Talladega Insurance Agency, Anniston, AL

Connect with Boyd McGehee on LinkedIn.

Bestselling author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, is famously quoted as saying:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

The individuals quoted in this article are just a few of the highly effective insurance agents you should want to spend time with. Take heed of their advice, seek out and follow their work, then apply what you can to your own efforts.

Spend time with any five other these agents and you’ll be even more of Rockstar than you already are today.

1) Hungry

First and foremost, highly effective insurance agents are hungry.

When times get tough, the unsuccessful want to circle the wagons and hunker down into safe and cozy, “Way it’s always been.”

Unfortunately, life isn’t designed to be cozy or safe. Times change, people change, the marketplace changes, methodology changes.

Life rewards those who take risks and venture forth in hustle mode. Highly effective insurance agents have a sense of urgency about them. They know how to embrace hustle mode when it is necessary.

nicholas ayersI habitually wake up every day with two equal thoughts.

1) I am the best, and no one can touch me, and nothing can stop me.

2) I am the worst, and I better step my game up in the way I work and think, or I am out of a job.

One gives me confidence without the fear of learning or doing unconventional new things, while the other makes me desperate, humbled and hungry to always learn things in order to be successful. Humbled and hungry to execute in order to be successful.

– Nicholas Ayers, Chief Financial Officer, i80 Insurance Solutions, San Francisco Bay Area

Connect with Nicholas Ayers on LinkedIn.

Being a “Hungry” insurance agent means never looking back at work not done with regret for unachieved goals.

lisa lemanskiI consider myself to be a very passionate and driven person and when I set my mind to something I do it! I have no problem jumping in and giving it my all.

My husband would say I’m a dog with a bone and I totally agree.

I know that if I’m giving something everything I have, I’ll no regrets.  

– Lisa Lemanski, Agent/Owner, Meiers Lombardini Lemanski Insurance, East Lansing, Michigan.

Connect with Lisa Lemanski on LinkedIn.

Highly effective insurance agents are hungry.

Watch this short video from Gary Vaynerchuk for deeper look into what it means to be, “Hungry,” and the two things holding us back.

2) Available

We no longer live in a world where we as insurance agents can dictate the terms of communication with our prospects and clients.

Highly effective insurance agents make themselves available, not when it is most convenient for themselves, but rather those they would meet with.

Being available takes many different shapes. It could mean hiring a call center for after hours or allowing for text message communication. Being available could mean chatting with prospects and clients via Facebook Messenger or Snapchat or Twitter. Maybe being available is as simple as getting rid of your phone tree and having a human being pick up every phone call.

What being available looks like is going to be different for every agency.

But the fact remains, highly effective insurance agents are available.

sharon roblesI will always make time to return an email or a phone call.


Because when someone reaches out to me, it’s because they couldn’t find an answer by themselves.

It gives me an opportunity to add value and my personal touch to that person in an otherwise transactional business.

You want to impress a customer? Return their phone call!

– Sharon Robles, Agency Owner, Sharon Robles Agency, Chicago, IL

Connect with Sharon Robles on LinkedIn.

The simple act of returning a phone call can set you apart.

It’s easy to make excuses and find reasons why you don’t have time to be available for prospects and clients.

Highly effective insurance agents find time to be available.

chris langilleThe most successful agencies are those who understand the importance of how time management impacts their business.

This is an on-demand business now in every way imaginable.

Your agency needs to run a no-huddle offense both internally and externally to survive in the competitive space we all exist in today.

– Chris Langille, Insurance Advisor, Market Street Wealth Management, West Chester, PA

Connect with Chris Langille on LinkedIn.

Highly effective insurance agents have begun to embrace digital communication.

In a 24/7 world, our agencies must have basic function and communication capabilities whenever prospects and clients demand. Digital tools, such as websites and social media key to becoming an available agent.

jeff rootCarve out at least 1 hour, at the same time, every day, to learn/implement/optimize an online marketing strategy to start making your phone ring.

In the history of selling insurance, there hasn’t been a shift this big in where our prospects are researching and buying insurance.

The most successful agents I know make at least 1 hour per day dedicated to online marketing and the trick is carving out that time and making it a routine every working day.

– Jeff Root, Owner at Rootfin, LLC, Austin Texas

Connect with Jeff Root on LinkedIn.

3) Value Driven

Highly effective insurance agents seek to genuinely help and care about their clients and community.

Rather than pushing the hard sell, they sit with clients and understand their needs.

Because of the relentless pressure to drive revenue and close business, insurance agents are very familiar with the temptation to relent on price in exchange for bound policies.

Highly effective insurance agents do reach for the dangling deal carrot. They understand that their success (and that of their agency) relies on a quality brand reputation in the marketplace.

This means, on occasion, deals will be lost to price focused, coverage poor competition.

But highly effective insurance agents know the clients willing to pay for the coverage they need, will return that value tenfold over time.

spencer houldinI have built my business by delivering an exceptional client experience and educating my clients that there is more to the insurance purchase than just the price of the product. 

Showing them the insurance value proposition builds loyalty and creates raving fans. 

Work hard and ALWAYS do what is in the best interest of the client. And, when they have a claim – be there for them.

– Spencer Houldin, President at Ericson Insurance Services, Greater New York City

Connect with Spencer Houldin on LinkedIn.

You can’t fake a desire to add value to other people’s lives.

It’s almost as if prospects and clients can smell authenticity. When you have it, when you believe deep down in delivering value before ever asking for it in return, an entire new world of opportunity opens up.

carlos vargasMy thoughts are; givers gain, it’s a BNI term, but it’s so true.

To be seen and heard amongst all of the others selling insurance, you have to roll up your sleeves, and get involved in your community.

Don’t get me wrong, many organizations want your money, but until you show up, and give of your time, you are just like the rest.

GEICO and the others will never be a part of your community like you can be.

– Carlos Vargas, Found of Vargas & Vargas Insurance, Massachusetts

Connect with Carlos Vargas on LinkedIn.

4) Willing to Fail

Albert Einstein once said, “Failure is success in progress.”

Fear is paralyzing.

When our mistakes stare us in the face, we often find it so upsetting we miss out on the primary benefit of failing: the chance to come back with a bigger, stronger, faster and smarter.

Many of us avoid the prospect of failure. In fact, we’re so focused on not failing, that we don’t aim for success, settling instead for a life of mediocrity.

Highly effective insurance agents believe failure is another step on the road to success. Instead of shying away from failure, they embrace their misses, learn, adapt and try again.

alexander dopazoNothing slows us down more than the fear of failure, but if we look carefully at our greatest successes, it was likely when we decided to act in spite of the fear.

I think as agents we’re trained to be risk averse, but that shouldn’t stop us from taking calculated risks in our own businesses.

Even though failure can be scary when it’s used correctly, it can also teach us how to succeed and in trying different business models or approaches you might just stumble on that idea that takes you to the next level.

– Alexander Dopazo, Partner at Dopazo & Associates, Miami, FL

Connect with Alex Dopazo on LinkedIn.

Highly effective insurance agents are committed to achieving their goals, regardless of how many times they fail along the way.

nathan buntyIf you want to be effective you have to commit and implement.

Things may not go as planned, but that doesn’t mean your strategy isn’t correct.

Bold moves can seem like mistakes in the short term, but if you’re committed, plow through – dividends don’t get paid to the timid.

– Nathan Bunty, Managing Partner at Heritage Insurance Agency, Lancaster, PA

Connect with Nathan Bunty on LinkedIn.

Fortune favors the bold.

Highly effective insurance agents are not afraid of bold moves.

jason cassOne habit for success is to be willing to fail.

What does this mean?

You have to listen to what others who have gone before you tell you and then put it to the test. In my short time in this industry I have found out that most of what I am told is BS. But everyone believes it.

People talk, they don’t do.

So you should do and not talk and when you fail, start again from a different angle.  

– Jason Cass, CEO of The Insurance Alliance, Centralia, IL

Connect with Jason Cass on LinkedIn.

Highly effective insurance agents know the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are going to be days when things aren’t working out.

This is when the best insurance agents shine, just like Rocky:

5) Measured

Highly effective insurance agents have a sales pipeline fueled by activity, not hope.

These agents define their activities within the larger lead generation process. They know the metrics required to achieve their sales goals.

Not enough of the right kind of business in the top of the sales funnel, guarantees there will not be enough of the right kind of business coming out the bottom.

The average insurance agent can‘t handle the truth.

They are uncomfortable with sales pipeline reviews and evaluation sessions because results are sporadic and unpredictable. Highly effective insurance agents understand that the secret to success is in the numbers – good or bad – because those numbers always have something to teach us.

Highly effective insurance agents measure everything, not just the value of the closed business at the end of the month. Quantifying and evaluating every sales activity with every customer will help uncover the truth and point the way to more success in a way that simply counting the money can never do.

eric narciscoFocus on the results. 

Insurance agents are flooded with opportunities to become better marketers, provide better customer service, and improve the operational efficiency. 

At Effective Coverage we are a firm believer in evaluating and testing those opportunities, but then measuring the impact of those opportunities on the agencies results.

– Eric Narcisco, CEO of Effective Coverage, Albany, NY

Connect with Eric Narcisco on LinkedIn.

6) Focus

The most successful independent insurance agents on this planet are highly focused.

They pay attention to the present moment and present tasks. They do not allow distractions to become excuses for low productivity.

This habit ensures they are fully engaged in activities, get more done and deal with challenges efficiently. Highly focused people are simply mindful.

They don’t stray from the tasks that will grow their agency.

chris huntleyIt’s easier than ever to get distracted. Smartphones and social media have made it harder to find time to work on projects without distraction. 

But not for me.  Every day, I set aside two one-hour slots to do what I call a “jam session.” 

This is time when I put my phone on sleep mode, close my email, close the door to my office, and work on projects that are most crucial for my business’ success.  I find that as long as I do my jam sessions, the most important work of the day gets completed. 

It doesn’t matter if I spend the rest of the day putting out fires, answering emails, or caught up reading some marketing post online… Because of my jam sessions, my business still moves forward.

– Chris Huntley, Agency Owner, Huntley Wealth and Insurance Services, San Diego, CA

Connect with Chris Huntley on LinkedIn.

Focus takes work. Highly effective insurance agents don’t make excuses for the distractions they’ll inevitably be faced with every single day.

Instead, they create processes to create distraction-free time to get important work done.

jill rothMy one great habit is also my greatest piece of advice. Live in the moment-while at work, work hard.

When with a client, listen to their needs. When home with your family-enjoy them.

My greatest success comes when I stay focused on the moment.

– Jill Roth, Executive Vice President Marketing at Ahart, Frinzi & Smith, Washington, DC

Connect with Jill Roth on LinkedIn.

Highly effective insurance agents are focused on the task at hand.

They do not allow distractions to undermine productivity.

carrie reynoldsMy secret to success is delegation.

I’ve discovered that my job is to be the vision of my agency and I can’t do that if I’m mired down in the day to day service tasks.

So by delegating those smaller tasks, I’m able to focus on the bigger picture and the execution of that bigger picture.

– Carrie Reynolds, Agency Owner, Alan Galvez Insurance, Bellefontaine, OH

Connect with Carrie Reynolds on LinkedIn.

Highly effective insurance agents know how to prioritize their tasks each day.

They delegate work to support staff in order to stay focused on relationship and revenue generating activities.

linda reyI’m ridiculously relentless with follow up status reports with clients even when there is no status.

We actually won a piece of business because a now client, called a different agency first, they didn’t follow-up when they said they would, so she then contacted us.

People want to feel important. And some don’t just want to feel important, they expect to feel important.

– Linda Rey, Agency Owner, The Rey Insurance Agency, Sleepy Hollow, NY

Connect with Linda Rey on LinkedIn.

7) Persistence

Building a successful insurance career isn’t always easy.

Sometimes–like when you lose a big sale or a big customer–it can be downright depressing. But, even in the worst of times, success is often right around the corner.

Rather than give up, highly effective insurance agents concentrate on all the reasons they can succeed.

And they find a way to win.

chris paradisoYou can’t get lucky without hard work but a key ingredient is persistence. 

And always willing to ask until someone says no at least 5 times that’s not quitting.

– Chris Paradiso, Owner of Paradiso Financial & Insurance Services, Stafford Springs, CT

Connect with Chris Paradiso on LinkedIn.

Luck has a funny way of shining on those who persist through the hard times.
Business coach and international speaker, Brian Tracy, has this to say about luck:

“I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.”

Show up more.

Be more persistent in pursuit of your goals.

Ryan TeubnerOne thing I have started doing that has been successful is getting out of the office and going out to prospect.

When I first started, I did the old “dial for dollars,” but found I was more successful and had a lot more traction when I’d actually go out and knock on doors.

To me, it’s a lot easier to build a relationship when you are face to face. While I am still in the office some, I will get out of the office to go see people at least 3 days a week.

Ryan Teubner, Producer at Rich & Cartmill Inc, Oklahoma City, OK

Connect with Ryan Teubner on LinkedIn.

Sitting in the office, making phone calls and excuses is the easy way to get through another day as an insurance agent.

Highly effective insurance agents go beyond what is expected, forming new success producing habits in order to reach their goals.

joey giangolaThe habit that’s been at the core of everything I do is the habit of being able to create new habits.

It started when I was 26 years old and dedicated myself to working out everyday. From then on I had the confidence to know I could challenge myself to find the best way do to anything.

If that is at the core of every action, you’ve created a self-sustaining habit engine that is always compatible with the latest fuel source.

Sticking with a habit because it’s a habit is good, sometimes, other times not so much. You’re never done learning and habits are just things we’ve learned on repeat.

– Joey Giangola, Broker at Giangola Insurance, Cleveland, OH

Connect with Joey Giangola on LinkedIn.

Steve Jobs has a little something to say on the importance of persistence and perseverance:

The Highly Effective Insurance Agency

The habits listed above are great, but what about habits for the agency as a whole?

For good measure, I asked Tom Minkler, one my all-time favorite independent insurance agents, about the habits of a highly effective insurance agency.

Tom’s answers set the foundation for every well run agency in our industry.

Think your agency is capable of more production? Dial in on Tom’s advice below:

tom minklerI can come up with dozens of things that an highly effective agencies should do to make is successful, but by far, the number one topic is the people in the agency.  Every agency should devote volumes of  time in the following areas;
  • Hire Well – find people that match you corporate culture and who want a career vs. a job. Take time to insure their personal goals line up with the agency goals. Use personality profiles (Predictive Index, Omnia, Caliper, etc) to supplement your interviews and have multiple people within the agency do separate interviews.
  • Train and Mentor With Passion – Too often agencies hire someone, give them a week or two of basic training and then throw them in the deep end. Everyone learns at a different pace and with different styles of learning. The agency needs to devote many hours over weeks, months and years to help their staff develop the tools, confidence and knowledge.  Continuously mentor.  Don’t be afraid to go outside the agency for training and education. Some of the best ideas are born away from the office
  • Inspire and Encourage Personal Growth – Don’t pigeon hole people into one position. Encourage them to grow and seek new opportunities within the agency. Encouraging your staff to think bigger and challenging them to become more rounded is motivating. Almost all of our management team started in entry-level positions. Today they lead our agency and pass on their stories of personal growth.

– Tom Minkler, Insurance and Risk Analysis Authority at Clark-Mortenson Agency, Keene, NH

Connect with Tom Minkler on LinkedIn.

The Rub

These are just 7 habits of highly effective insurance agents.

There are many.

And there is no perfect combination of habits that will work for all agents. You must go out into the world and find the habits that lead to your success.

The 7 habits listed above are a great place to start.

My hope is, hearing the words of fellow agents, highly effective and successful agents, will motivate you to seek out your habits.

But if hearing from other insurance agents doesn’t get you jacked up, I’ll leave you with the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Now go find the habits that make you a highly effective insurance agent.

Thank you,

Ryan Hanley

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