12 Small Life Changes that Will Make You a Better Insurance Salesperson

by | Jan 18, 2017

Do you want to become a better insurance salesperson?

Insurance sales is a competitive and demanding profession.

To get the best results, you have to be at your personal best.

After all, in many cases you aren’t simply selling insurance – you’re selling yourself as an insurance agent.

It makes sense then, that to become a better insurance salesperson, we must work on ourselves, as much as we work on our sales skills.

I’m not talking about making dramatic life changes.

There’s a reason just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

Most New Year’s resolutions contain life changes that are too big. We become overwhelmed and fall back into old patterns.

However, over time, we can see substantial improvements in our personal and professional lives from seemingly small life changes.

It’s often the small changes that make all the difference.

Here is a list of 12 small life changes that will make you a better insurance salesperson in 2017 and beyond:

1) More Patience

Telling an insurance salesperson to be patient is like telling my three-year-old, Duke, to be still.

This is #theduke.

A photo posted by Ryan Hanley (@ryan_hanley) on

As much as you probably hate it, patience is crucial for sales.

“The average person, after asking a question, waits no more than 2 to 3 seconds before rephrasing it, answering it themselves, or moving on to another topic,” says Jill Konrath, sales strategist and author. But according to Konrath, “Research shows people need 8 to 10 seconds to formulate the start of their answer. Once they get talking, they come up with more ideas, firm up their thinking, and gain additional clarity.”

While you definitely need a sense of urgency to drive you to close more clients, you also need the patience to identify when leads are and aren’t ready for closing.

In the age of digital marketing, having patience means nurturing your leads with great content until the timing is right.

Email marketing is a great place to start. Check out Mailchimp for inexpensive email marketing option.

2) Improve Your Consistency

Consistency is one of the most important traits of great salespeople in all fields.

You can’t expect results when your work ethic starts to fizzle out by Wednesday.

According to Eric Holtzclaw, author of Laddering, there are 5 powerful results from consistency:

  1. Consistency allows for measurement.
  2. Consistency creates accountability.
  3. Consistency establishes your reputation.
  4. Consistency makes you relevant.
  5. Consistency maintains your message.

In short, consistency allows trust to be built.

As we all know, no trust, no sale.

3) Avoid Snacking Throughout the Day

If your insurance agency has snacks around the office, it can be tempting to munch on them between meals.

The problem with light snacks is that they cause your energy levels to spike and crash throughout the day – especially in the afternoon hours when most people get an energy slump.

Not only do those snacks add up to a lot of excess calories, those lulls in energy also hurt your performance.

I work from home. With easy access to my fridge and cupboard, snacking can become a problem.

In order to curb mid-day snacking, (and dial in my diet), I’ve started using an app called MyFitnessPal to track daily macronutrient intake.

Having to log the food you eat creates an internal pressure and responsibility. Helping you to think twice before shoving down that jumbo cookie your favorite carrier rep left in the kitchen.

Stick to less frequent, more filling meals, and avoid the snacks to maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day.

SEE ALSO: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Insurance Agents

4) Develop Your First Impression

First impressions matter.

A lot.

Why?

Because first impressions set the mental image with which another person categorizes you.

[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]It takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and make a first impression.[/tweet_box]

A prospect’s first impression of you (and your agency) sets the baseline for their desire to do business with you.

If a prospect has met with several agents and all of you are offering the relatively same coverage and competitive price – who stands out?

Often it’s going to be the agent who made the best first impression.

In those first moments of coming in contact with you and/or your agency, (which can happen online, via phone, in person, etc., where doesn’t matter), the prospect is making determinations on professionalism, trustworthiness, reliability, and other vital personality and brand traits.

To set a good first impression, consider:

  • Dressing sharp and appropriate,
  • Being genuine, open and honest,
  • Listening,
  • Being positive and attentive, and
  • Being on time.

These are just a start and will work to differing degrees with different people.

You get back what you put out into the world.

Prioritize the first impressions you make.

5) Start Exercising Daily

Want to put more quality hours in at work?

Want to be more focused on the job?

Want to be a better insurance salesperson?

You have to workout.

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins reduce pain, improve self-esteem and trigger a general positive feeling in the body.

Exercising has many benefits aside from improving health and helping you stay fit.

Exercising regularly also relieves stress, boosts mental performance, and gives your body more energy – all things that make you a better insurance salesperson!

If you need help coming up with a program that will match your business schedule, try Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body.

6) Set Aside Time to Study Your Craft

Insurance is a dynamic and complicated area of expertise.

As independent agents we take pride in our depth of insurance knowledge and expertise. It’s one of the defining characteristics of our channel.

For this reason, I think it’s fair to assume that most insurance salespeople are better at insurance than sales. This is a good thing, because our business is providing financial protection for what matters most to our clients.

Our business is NOT simply selling stuff.

Yet…

[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]Selling is mission critical to the growth and longevity of an insurance agency.[/tweet_box]

Agency Nation UniversityWe have to be good at both insurance and sales/marketing.

My recommendation, spend 50% of your self-improvement time on getting better at the craft of insurance. This could be getting a designation like CIC or CPCU.

Spend the other 50% of your self-improvement time becoming a better insurance salesperson.

Read books on sales techniques and listen podcasts like In The Arena with Anthony Iannarino.

You can elevate your digital marketing skills with Agency Nation University.

7) Keep a Daily Planner

Whether you use a physical planner or an app on your phone, a daily planner keeps you organized and on-task.

This might surprise you, but I carry a full-sized calendar around with me in my bag to keep track of travel and speaking events.

I also travel with a physical notebook that serves as my ever evolving “To-do” list. I’ve personally never had success with a virtual planner or notebook.

Although many people find it tedious or unnecessary, insurance sales requires too much multitasking to not be organized at all times.

If you prefer an online option, I recommend Todoist. This app brought me the closest I’ve ever come to shutting down my physical planner and task management system.

Alas, I relapsed on the physical notebook and haven’t tried again.

Regardless of the system, daily planners allow you to stay accountable by planning out your days in advance and ensuring you get everything done that you need to.

This will help reduce stress and improve performance.

SEE ALSO: 13 Productivity Apps to Make 2017 a More Productive Sales Year

8) Make Listening a Habit

How good are you at listening?

Not hearing.

Listening.

Active listening.

Most insurance salespeople are extroverted and love talking – that’s part of what makes them great at sales.

However, you don’t want your gift for gab to get in the way of missing sales opportunities because you aren’t listening to what your prospect is saying.

The process of active listening provides prospects verification that you have not only heard, but absorbed what they have said.

Outline by Hubspot, Active Listening is a four-step process:

  1. Truly listen to the prospect. 
  2. Feed back the content and feeling of the prospect’s words. 
  3. Confirm you heard the prospect correctly. 
  4. Ask a relevant follow up question to further clarify your understanding of their situation.

Active listening works.

9) Drink More Water

75% of American are chronically dehydrated (source).

There is no doubt, many insurance professionals, (myself included), fall into this category. I love coffee and often will drink an entire pot over the course of a day.

Unfortunately, replacing coffee for water is a bad idea.

When you have a busy schedule and work long hours, it’s easy to go hours without taking a sip of water.

As simple as it sounds, drinking more water makes you look and feel significantly better.

Dehydration, even slight dehydration causes:

  • Fatigue,
  • Irritability, and
  • a foggy memory.

An easy way to get a jumpstart on your water intake is to drink glass of water immediately after waking up.

In total, try to get a half gallon of water every day.

Properly hydrated, you’ll attack your day with a clearer head and more energy to go out there and put premium on the books.

10) Do the Worst Task First

Procrastination. I hate procrastination.

I hate procrastination, because if I’m not mindful of it, I fall victim to it easily.

It’s also why I rewrite my to-do list, prioritized, everyday on new sheet of paper. In the morning I see what needs to be done first and attack.

I will admit, that tackling my worst, (think least favorite or most difficult), task first is tough.

These types of tasks are different for everyone. For some it might be responding to certain types emails or handling a particular client who likes to ask tough questions.

For me, it’s things like expense reports and other mind-numbing repetitive work that the more selfish parts of my brain deem having minimal value (which expense reports fall squarely under).

All procrastination does is give you more anxiety and make you less productive.

The weight of the task uncompleted hangs off your shoulders like an anchor, filling up brain space and reducing productivity.

The easiest way to beat procrastination is to handle the worst tasks first thing in the morning when your willpower is at its highest level. You’ll usually find that those annoying tasks aren’t near as bad as you’ve made them out to be in your mind.

11) Get Sleep

It doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep it takes you to feel refreshed. What’s important is that you maintain a consistent sleep pattern and wake up ready to attack the day.

A consistent sleep schedule keeps your circadian rhythm in the same daily pattern, which maximizes your energy throughout the day.

You might not always have control of when you go to sleep, so the easiest way to maintain a regular sleep schedule is waking up at the same time each day.

Getting regular sleep is easier said than done. This is especially true if you have younger children.

That being said, walking around like a zombie because you didn’t get enough sleep will drastically reduce production.

We have to get enough sleep.

Turn off the TV and go to bed.

Take naps.

Do whatever you need to do to get enough sleep, because sleep deprivation has some nasty side effects, including:

  • Weight gain,
  • Moodiness,
  • Depression,
  • Impaired brain activity, and
  • Weakened immune system.

None of which will help you become a better insurance salesperson.

12) Use Mindfulness Meditation to Stay Optimistic

As an insurance salesperson, you’re going to hear “No” a lot!

In fact, my father-in-law and principle of The Murray Group, used to randomly ask us how many “No’s” we got that day. If your answer was ever zero, his response was a disapproving look and short lesson on the activity necessary to grow a serious book of business.

Why was his producer’s “No” count important to my father-in-law?

Because “No’s” happen when you’re prospecting new business.

No “Nos” meant you weren’t working hard enough.

So, if getting “No’s” is a key to driving growth, why would we ever have a day we didn’t receive a “No?”

Because negativity is the worst. Even negativity we purposefully seek out.

Negativity drains our energy, creates irritability and makes us less productive.

Enter mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

For the last year, I’ve been practicing mindfulness meditation, 10 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week.

I use an app called, Headspace.

When I’m feeling frustrated, angry, confused, overwhelmed, etc… I open up Headspace and “restart my brain.”

A little bit of mindfulness meditation goes a long way to dealing with all the “No’s” you face each day.

The Rub

No one is an overnight success.

No one.

Maybe 5% of the people reading this article will make the effort to change themselves for the better this year. Whether it’s one of the changes suggested above or something else.

I can’t stress enough the positive impact mindfulness meditation has had on my personal and work life over the last year (But if you’re subscribed to our newsletter you already know. [leadpages_leadbox leadbox_id=142edee46639c5] [/leadpages_leadbox]).

If you do decide to own your future and make a positive change to something you’re currently unhappy with about yourself, please understand, success takes time.

Success is going to take more time then you will mentally prepare yourself for once you begin.

Focus on small incremental changes and celebrate the small incremental wins that compound with time.

A happier YOU will lead to a more successful YOU in aspects of your life.

I promise.

With that, I’ll leave you with a little Gary Vaynerchuk on “Overnight Success:”

Thank you,

Ryan Hanley

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