Do you have what it takes to become a successful insurance agent? In the auto insurance industry, the most successful professionals are highly driven and self-motivated. Often responsible for maintaining long-term professional relationships, prospecting of new clients, and industry know-how, independent agents rely on a myriad of skills to maintain successful operations. Innovative entrepreneur and insurance consultant Peter Vitale, based in Michigan, provides 10 tips for new agents who want to be successful in their business ventures.
The Role of the Auto Insurance Agent
Auto insurance agents shed light on policies that protect their customers if an accident or theft occurs. Traditionally, these agents earn commission for sales, motivating them to pursue more efficient sales tactics. With so many online options emerging that minimize the face-to-face role of the insurance agent, it can be a difficult industry to succeed in without the right mindset.
Many agents cold call new leads and cultivate their prospects to land sales. Great agents are often able to get referrals that are highly qualified leads and take less work. Beyond the ability to garner referrals, however, successful agents understand how to forge a professional reputation. They can leverage that positive “first impression” reputation to become trusted sources of knowledge in the industry. Thus, they can provide services and attention that generic online questionnaires simply cannot compete with. Peter Vitale knows that determination and hard work are just the first steps toward success as an insurance agent.
10 Tips for New Agents
Peter Vitale offers advice to those seeking a career in insurance. He entered the industry in 2012 as an agent and launched his own agency in 2014. As an industry leader, Peter Vitale knows what it takes to succeed in the auto insurance business.
1. Build a Powerhouse Team
You need to surround yourself with people who want a similar level of success. “As an entrepreneur building a business from the ground up,” says Peter Vitale. “I have come to recognize that surrounding yourself with dedicated, motivated, and committed team members is quite possibly the most important factor for success.”
Your team might start out as peers or connections. As you grow, this team can either hold you back or power you forward. Thus, ensuring that you are surrounded by driven professionals will help to set the tone for your own success. By engaging with other professionals committed to the industry, you will benefit from a collective source of inspiration.
2. Be Authentic and Less Generic
Don’t get stuck on a generic sales pitch—be yourself. Let your individual edge help you win the clients and not the script you think you should follow. By bringing your authentic voice and experiences to the table, your transparency will likely be met with open conversation. It will be met with trust, and a willingness for the consumer to ask important questions. In a field where consumer education is vital to maintaining long-term satisfaction, being comfortable enough to ask those questions in the first place is pivotal. Customers will be less likely to engage in meaningful conversation when they don’t recognize an investment in the interaction.
“I would love to influence people to be their authentic selves, and to pursue ventures that speak to them,” says Peter. “Too often, people try to be what they think others want them to be. They engage in things that they don’t feel passion toward. They waste time concerned with what they think they should do, based on societal norms, expectations, and self-perceived ideals.”
What sets you apart? Whether it’s typically perceived as a weakness or a strength, find a way to use it. Find a way to get the edge and form a connection.
3. Keep Learning
You should always be reading about industry trends and things that matter to your customers. By learning about various parts of the business, or even unrelated topics, you have a chance at forming a connection.
For Michigan-based Peter Vitale, now an insurance thought leader, insurance was a true passion. “I rapidly gained practical experience in the realm of insurance, and realized that I was good at my job,” recalls Peter. “Not only that, but I was genuinely interested in it, and fulfilled by it. I didn’t need to explore hobbies during weekends, as I was busy reading about business development strategies and insurance.”
4. Work Smarter, Not Longer
Some professionals think they just need to “put in the time.” Being busy is not always the same thing as being productive. Work toward efficiency.
“Each day, I dedicate about an hour to quiet introspection,” says Peter. “I close the door, turn out the lights, and turn off all electronics. I sit still, and think about the day ahead, about long-term goals, and about finding purpose in all of my actions. This has helped me to focus on tasks at hand, and to lead with purpose.”
Consider taking a similar approach to mindful exploration of tasks at hand. To figure out the best methods that work throughout your day, create a hierarchy of tasks. Include to-do list items, and long-term projects that will require your attention. Break those items down by importance, and pay particular attention to whether or not your actions reflect those items.
5. Provide Incredible Customer Service
A lot of professionals get caught up in building their account numbers. They miss out on the opportunity to build meaningful long-term client relationships. “I believe in engaging with a smaller number of clients, and ensuring that those clients receive unprecedented attention, access, and support,” admits Peter.
With fewer accounts, you can focus your efforts on providing top-notch service. This often leads to referrals and long-time customer accounts.
6. Listen to Your Clients
You should proverbially (and often literally) listen more than you talk. “Instead of focusing only on immediate concerns and in-your-face problems, I try to discover why those problems arose in the first place, what types of systems allowed such issues to grow, and how to best move forward to ensure a different outcome on a long-term basis,” says Peter.
Understand that the needs of clients may evolve over time, or abruptly change, based on current events. For example, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a need for a varied customer experience. Peter Vitale proactively altered customer service protocols to ensure that clients felt heard during these changing and trying times. Actively listening to client needs during these times is more important than ever. It serves as a great example of why it is important to proactively check-in with clients on a regular basis.
7. Educate Your Clients
The most valuable service an insurance agent can offer is time-saving, authentic advice.
“As someone who delves deeply into auto insurance for a living, I can comfortably say that I am well-versed in the ins and outs of various policies,” claims Peter Vitale. “When individuals shop for auto insurance coverage, understanding their coverage, and being able to actively imagine the benefits of various coverage options in ‘real-life scenarios’ is very helpful in crafting the most appropriate policies.”
8. Build Long-Term Relationships
Your goal isn’t to just get off the sales pitch. “Building relationships with businesses as members of the same industry, instead of just ‘soliciting,’ is a great way to build trust amongst industry professionals,” recommends Peter. “Even if a business may not seek my help today, that doesn’t mean they won’t need [me] when undertaking a growth phase in the future.”
9. Prepare for Rejection
Peter Vitale notes that it takes an “autonomous drive to succeed” in the insurance industry. “I remained motivated to excel, grow, and perfect the skills needed to become a leader in the field.” The rejections can’t stay at the forefront of your mind.
In order to become a top insurance agent, you need to realize that every “no” is helping you move toward another “yes.” Rejection helps you change your approach or stop wasting time on an uninterested lead—letting you spend more time on other leads.
10. Believe in Your Value
Peter wants insurance agents to understand they offer an incredible value—especially in today’s world of digital migration:
“The best user and customer experiences are heralded by the concept of attention and care. In today’s fast-paced world, where everything seemingly relies on shortcuts, it’s easy to feel as though you’re left out on your own to do research. You can feel pressured to choose a product, purchase a product or service, and then be stuck with that decision. Thus, it’s easy for people to feel overwhelmed without support and guidance from an expert.”
Vitale continues, “That’s why it’s so important to talk to people, to understand their needs, and to answer their questions. Sure, customers can now receive an auto insurance policy online in a matter of seconds. That may suffice. They may be happy. However, they may also not truly recognize the difference between basic and comprehensive coverage. As an industry professional, it is our job to maximize the customer experience by lending this information in a cohesive, easy to understand, and convenient fashion.”
The insurance agent that has confidence in the value offered, the plans available and the pitch is going to be the most successful. This is a business of connection and trust.
About Peter Vitale
Owner of Bloomfield Insurance Group and Michigan-based entrepreneur, Peter Vitale offers consulting services to insurance companies. His success can be attributed to high customer satisfaction, and a continued focus on constant evolution.
For more professional stories from Michigan-based insurance pro Peter Vitale, visit his Medium page.