7 Insurance Sales Best Practices I Learned From Professional Speaking

by | Apr 26, 2017

selling insurance

There are many insurance sales best practices to be learned from a professional speaking career.

Last week I visited the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma headquarters, in Oklahoma City, to deliver my How to Sell Insurance to Millennials presentation.

This marks the official start of my 7th year as a professional speaker within the insurance industry.

Without a doubt, speaking is my favorite part of the job.

It never gets old.

Doesn’t matter the size of the group, location in the country (though there is a special place in my heart for the south), the relative age of the audience or the audience’s collective disposition towards digital marketing. Each and every time I stand in front of an audience is electrifying.

I love it.

Good to see Ryan Hanley today! Speaking at Contemporary Risk Conclave at the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma (IIAOK)!

Posted by Ryan Teubner on Thursday, April 20, 2017


Why do I love being a speaker so much?

The rush.

Having played sports my entire life, including four years of college baseball, performing in front of a live audience is the closest thing I can find in the professional world to the rush you get as an athlete.

There is something intoxicating about the surge of adrenaline you get right before stepping on stage as your body unconsciously prepares for the impending battle you will wage against the audience.

Not a battle in the adversarial sense, but in the hard fought give and take a speaker encounters during each and every performance.

There is no guarantee the audience will respond to your material.

Even your most tried and true jokes, stories, statistics, quotes, etc can fall flat for any number of reasons.

To survive as a professional speaker you must be able to overcome these disastrous moments.

You must earn the audience’s respect every time you take the stage.

The best speakers in the world are able to educate, entertain and inspire their audience regardless of the circumstances or obstacles placed in front of them.

insurance sales best practices

7 Insurance Sales Best Practices

Selling insurance is exactly the same.

Each insurance sales opportunity is it’s own mini performance.

Back when I was still selling insurance for The Murray Group, I’d use even the simplest sale, say a stand-alone renters insurance policy, to work on the delivery of my coverage stories.

But just like a great professional speaker, your audience must believe, appreciate and be inspired by the stories you tell in order in order to be effective.

Here are 7 insurance sales best practices I learned from professional speaking:

1) Prepare

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” ~ Arthur Ashe

There is no greater crime a professional speaker can commit than being unprepared. The same is true for selling insurance.

If you show up to a sales appointment unprepared, shame on you. It is nobody’s fault but your own when inevitable “No” or “I’ll think about it,” is dropped in your lap.

Professionals prepare. Shooting from the hip is for amateurs and the unsuccessful.

For speakers the goal is to be so prepared, the performance feels effortless and comfortable.

It is the seeming effortlessness that prepared professionals portray that amateurs mistakenly view as working off-the-cuff.

LESSON: Always prepare. Always.

2) Respect Your Audience

“I respect the audience’s intelligence a lot, and that’s why I don’t try to go for the lowest common denominator.” ~ Spike Lee

You will always have more knowledge on the topic you’re speaking about than the audience you’re speaking to. Never allow this technical imbalance to cloud your respect for their intelligence.

This can be doubly easy to do with a complex subject such as insurance.

The moment a tone of superiority hits your lips the audience is gone.

No one likes to be talked down to. Certainly, no one does business with someone who talks down to them.

Remind yourself, as both a speaker and an insurance agent, you are a teacher first, salesperson second. Those who embrace the “Teacher Mentality” will always remain respectful of their audience and stay focused on serving their needs.

LESSON: Your work selling insurance is in service to the clients which choose to business with you. Maintain respect for them as people regardless of how far you ascend in your career.

3) Own the Material

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Audiences can smell a fraud a mile away.

Never, ever, ever… speak on a topic in which you don’t own the material.

If you do not own the material, everyone will know and you will stink up the joint.

There is no way to get around it. If you want to be a great insurance salesperson you have to know the insurance product cold.

Go get your CIC or your CPCU or read everything Bill Wilson has ever written or read policy forms.

How you do it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you are an insurance master guru. This also speaks to preparedness and respect for your audience.

I used to be able to quote policy form language like scripture and it helped me sell a lot of insurance.

LESSON: Own the material. Become an technical insurance expert.

4) Exude Confidence

“A great figure or physique is nice, but it’s self-confidence that makes someone really sexy.” ~ Vivica A. Fox

Confidence comes with time and experience.

However, preparedness, respect and owning the material will certainly fasttrack you to becoming a confident professional speaker.

There is also something to said for the “Fake it till you make it,” philosophy.

If you lack confidence on stage, there is little chance you’ll ever earn the “professional” tag as a speaker.

In insurance sales, in all sales, confidence is everything.

This isn’t new or groundbreaking advice, but that doesn’t diminish it’s importance.

With clear control and authority of the insurance sales process comes the keys to insurance superstardom.

LESSON: You must develop confidence or you will stink at insurance sales.

boring insurance salesman5) Don’t Be Boring

This one is going to take a little self-awareness.

You can’t be boring and captivate an audience.

Sure, maybe you can be a kinda boring and sell insurance, but you can’t be boring and sell a ton of insurance. Not when so much of the competition, (direct, captive, insurtech and independent agents), are finding their voice in the digital marketplace.

People want to be educated, entertained and inspired, even when they’re buying insurance.

That doesn’t mean you need to do a song and dance routine, but adding a little personality can go a long way to building strong relationships with customers.

LESSON: If you are boring, go get interesting.

6) Deliver a Compelling Product

You can put as much lipstick on your product as you want, if your product isn’t compelling, your results will suffer.

This is true as a professional speaker as much as it’s true for insurance sales.

How do you make insurance compelling?

The same way great professional speakers make their product compelling, through stories.

“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” ~ Hannah Arendt

You must develop a story for every insurance coverage you sell.

This is the only way to make the insurance sales process:

  1. Compelling
  2. Relatable
  3. Tangible

LESSON: Tell stories. Tell stories. Tell stories.

7) Never Sell from the Stage

insurance sales always be closing

Just so we’re clear, never sell from the stage.

One of the best ways to guarantee you’re NOT asked back to speak at next year’s conference is shameless and cowardly act of selling from the stage.

Shameless? Cowardly?

Shameless because the path to building lifelong customers and true believers in your brand is to give without expectation of reciprocation.

Cowardly because it craps on the trust and respect which should exist between speaker and audience.

“Always be closing” may sound completely badass, but it’s no way to grow an insurance book of business.

Instead add value. Add more value. Then pile more value on top of that.

Add so much value your prospect has no choice but to choose you.

Why go through all this hard work of adding value when you could just bludgeon your prospect over the head with strongarm sales tactics?

Because first year insurance sales commissions are nothing.

In the insurance game, we make our money on renewals. Renewals come from relationships.

Hardcore sales tactics may close deals, but they don’t build trust.

Help your audience make the decision on their own, then when the time is right, assume the sale.

LESSON: You will always have to ask for the sale at some point, just don’t ruin a relationship by rushing to the close.

The Rub

I am not a sales coach, nor do I pretend to be one.

You will have your own style and method, just as I did.

That being said, I have sold a lot, of a lot of different things over my career. From my own experience, these are few timeless lessons which transcend product being sold or sales acumen.

Hopefully, at least one of these insurance sales best practices will help you be a more successful insurance salesperson.

Did I miss an insurance sales best practice? Let me know in the comments below…

Thank you,

Ryan Hanley

image credit: giphy

image credit: giphy

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