One of the major reasons insurance agents struggle is because not enough people know about them. It is sad but true, practically every day a struggling insurance agent hears from a friend, “I just bought insurance a couple of months ago. If only I knew you sold insurance, I would have bought from you.”
Personally, I am not convinced that is not an excuse similar to the girl in high school who really wanted to go out with you but you always seemed to ask her out on the night she was washing her hair.
If it is true and the friend actually did not know you sold insurance, you have no one to blame but yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Learn from your mistakes so you won’t repeat them.
You are not paid to fill out papers. That is the function of a salaried clerk. You are paid commissions to persuade people to choose you over your competition. Before they can make that choice, however, they have to know you exist and what you do. In other words, you have to market yourself.
Your friends and family make up your “natural market.” They will buy policies from you because they love you, whether or not you have your sales speech polished. Many insurance managers knowingly recruit people with the expectations that they will only sell within their natural market and then wither and die on the proverbial vocational vine. Their low expectations are one of the reasons they are constantly recruiting. They know they do not have the skills to train agents to find long term success.
Other managers recruit with a vision for long term success for both you and themselves. They know that if you learn to successfully prospect and sell outside of your natural market life will be good for both you and them.
Before you are able to impress stranger with the sales speech you were taught by your insurance company, you have to intrigue enough people in your community to listen to you. As a rookie agent I was taught, “You do not have a genuine prospect unless they are willing to meet with you on a favorable basis.”
As a general rule, the public is a little skeptical of telemarketers. For years telemarketers have been viewed as interruptions. Cold calling, while it may work in some circumstances, is less effective in 2010 than it was when I started in 1987.
Cold calling may be just as successful as it used to be when you are calling businesses during regular work hours. They expect a certain number of marketing calls. Individuals, on the other hand, are not as receptive to telemarketers when they get home from work. Caller ID, the Do Not Solicit lists and insurance company guidelines for cold calling have put serious restrictions on what you can say and who you can call.
Fortunately, corresponding with the growth of Social Media marketing there are options. As an insurance agent, rather than relying on chance to direct you to call someone who is actually in the market for insurance when you call, there are several free ways for you to practice “inbound marketing.”
The idea behind inbound marketing is to persuade people who are already in the market for what you sell to call you. That guarantees that any leads you get from inbound marketing are already hot. As long as you have the product they need at the price they can afford, your closing ratio should go through the roof.
There are many free methods to promote inbound marketing. Using just one of them is not sufficient. It takes many vehicles to get your marketing message out. At the minimum I advise my clients to have a website, blog and email newsletter. They are relatively easy and inexpensive to set up.
In addition to those 3 things I encourage my clients to have 3-7 additional marketing activities going on. In most states, coupons and rebates are frowned upon by insurance codes. Oh well, don’t complain about what you can’t do. Find something you can do.
One free marketing area that you may consider is the Press Release. If you are a natural writer, you may find them fun as well as profitable. Earlier this month, Tim Donnelly of Inc. wrote an article, “How to Write a Press Release.”
If you are looking for a new way to market your business and personal brand, I encourage you to click on the link above and read it.
As always, if you have a suggestion or anecdote about a free or inexpensive marketing method that insurance agents can use, please share it in the Comments area below.