In my last blog, we talked about the “How” and the “Who” entrepreneurs and what their insurance-buying behavior says about their ability to scale their businesses.
Now, let’s talk about the insurance agent’s role in the equation and how they contribute to the problem.
How the Industry Works
A lot of my insurance agent friends – and admittedly, me too during my first several years in the industry – buy a list of businesses, cold call for meetings, and try to “sell” insurance to anyone who will listen without a lot of focus on a niche or specific training. This “load the shotgun” and ready, fire, aim strategy typically creates a “superficial” focus on 2 client pains: Service and Price. I say “superficial” because the untrained agent is often not equipped with the mindsets, expertise, nor the tools in the toolbox to create long-term solutions to either of these issues or any problem for that matter.
This gap in industry training generally creates 2 types of agents long-term. Let’s call them the “How” agent and the “Who” agent.
The “How” Agent
The “How” agent typically just tries to get enough data to quote and hopes that the price they can quote is enough to win or keep the business. In my opinion, making clients buy insurance based on price is like giving them a Z pack for a recurring infection on a toenail.
Antibiotics won’t solve the infection for the long term if we don’t treat what continuously causes it. And no matter how great the service or bedside manner of the doctor, there are only so many visits we are willing to make for a Z pack before we want to see someone else.
That’s where the “Who” agent comes into play.
The “Who” Agent
The “Who” agent is like the podiatrist who has the expertise and specialized knowledge about the problem that they know how to solve the nail issue without needing the antibiotics again. They don’t just treat that problem as a Z pack type issue. They actually take time to understand the client and that’s really the key. They are a niche expert problem solver for the benefit of the business owner.
How to be the “Who” in the Insurance Agent Equation
Becoming a “Who” agent isn’t easy; you will have to:
1. Commit to focusing on a niche industry.
Pick an industry that you are naturally interested in. Always wanted to be a pilot? Maybe Aviation is for you. Interested in ministry? Maybe specializing in Churches or Non-Profits is your jam. Want a niche that allows you to have consistent variety in the industry? Employee benefits could be a great fit.
The point is to find something you are fascinated and motivated by and becoming an expert will be an easier hill to climb and make you more useful when non-insurance-related issues come up where you can add value through connections, relationships, or other vetted partners you already know serve the industry.
2. Learn the tools of the trade and make sure you have access to them when needed to kick the Z pack.
This can be achieved by making sure you are with an agency that has them or through strategic alliances. Shoutout to AssuredPartners as a source of some of these great tools of the trade!
3. Learn to ask great questions!
If you want to be viewed as a trusted advisor you have to stop “selling” and start solving problems. You cannot solve problems if your level of questions doesn’t take you beyond the surface level infection/issue.
If you went to the doctor for a hangnail and he recited his entire library of medical school knowledge or told you about every drug his drug reps were pushing…you would run! Questions unlock the “permission” to share specific knowledge that is relevant to enrolling the client in a vision or treatment plan for solving a problem long term. The quote or commodity product sale is a byproduct of implementing the greater “blueprint” or treatment plan.
4. You will have to learn to be willing to walk away from “opportunities” when you know that you’re not going to be able to help someone either because they are outside of your niche and could be served by someone better or sometimes because they’re still committed to getting their annual Z pack.
Becoming the “Who” agent in the insurance agent equation will be hard. I’ve been there, I’ve done it, and yet I still have not arrived as I get tempted from time to time to go back to my old ways. It takes real courage to leave the “How” space behind to deliver something better but it’s a worthwhile pursuit.