by: Remie Longbrake | published: March 29, 2021
Starting out can be a challenge. Not just those newly pinned agents in insurance, but all around, any new career is going to a bit complicated getting started. For those now in insurance there is huge potential and opportunities ahead for those who go about it correctly.
Insurance is an information-rich industry, and being an agent requires you to continue to learn and grow throughout your career. While there’s a lot to be said for getting out there and putting boots on the ground to learn about your local area, you’ll probably find that you need more instruction than your licensure classes provided. When that happens, you may find that your agency doesn’t place much of an emphasis on providing you with training opportunities. The good news? There are plenty of ways to develop your skills and knowledge base outside of your agencies conference room.
The first thing to understand that whether you are considered an agent or a broker, so much is done online now. That doesn't mean you should stay in your office however! It's still very much a relationship business. Secondly, don't be afraid to ask questions. Your place in the community is to be the expect, but you can't be the expert till you put in the hours and your diligence.
Contrary to popular belief, not all agencies are set up to support new agents or those who are looking for additional training. Many experienced agents are focused on getting the best possible commission split, so some agencies offer higher commissions in exchange for less hands-on support. One of the first things to do in these agencies is training, which can be expensive to provide, so always reach out to leadership, fellow staff, and any online resources from vendors and those in underwriting sort of positions who may be more probable to answer questions.
For many agencies, training is just not a main priority, either because there has been little demand for it historically or the corporate training platform that picks up the slack. If you are just starting out as an agent, one of your first questions should be about training opportunities offered at the agency level so that you can get an idea of what will be available to support you in your first days, weeks and months ahead.
There are other avenues you can go for training opportunities as you develop your career. Fortunately, there are many ways to take advantage of training opportunities, both in-person and online, outside of your agency. Whether you are looking to improve your overall everyday performance, supercharge your marketing capabilities, or focus on a narrow niche, you will find plenty of avenues for learning beyond those provided in the office.
Here are some of the better resources available
Local Sponsored Trainings
In many areas, there will be regional trainings, whether in person or remote. This is a great go-to when it comes to training and continuing education. This is where you’ll go for much of your post-licensure, continuing education, and updates on new options, such as with healthcare insurance. In addition, some vendors may host a specialized training, so you may find them hosting events for your CRM, transaction management, and quoting platforms.
Certifications and Designations
There's many routes to go with insurance in you want to specialize. You'll find many agents end up being generalist, however many will still focus or prefer a certain line of business, such as life and health insurance or some may prefer farms and churches. In time, you may find your own preference, however which ever route you decide you choose to get a designation. Some of the more common include, Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), or Associate in Risk Management (ARM)
Blogs, Videos, and Podcasts
As you continue to learn, you’ll no doubt find bloggers, video creators, and podcast hosts with whom you identify and whose work you enjoy. Many of these individuals and organizations create content on a regular basis that can be both entertaining and informative. In addition, many also organize events so you may be able to connect with them in real life as well. Any way to keep learning and expanding your horizons is the way to go.
Social Media Groups
There are social media groups for just about everyone. From marketing to sales and closing, and some are just focused on networking and referrals. Success and like-minded individuals who can help you grow your book of business and possibly you can both learn and help others out in the process.
Mentoring and Coaching
Even if your agency doesn’t do much formal training, they may have a program that will pair you with a more experienced agent getting started. Alternatively, you may be able to request or hire a sales coach or accountability coach who could help you get started. No matter where you are at in your career, we can all use guidance and encouragement from time to time.
Networking and Meetups
Insurance agents, and sales professionals in general tend to be an outgoing group of individuals. There's are often networking events, meetups, masterminds, and other opportunities to get together, socialize, and talk about business and chit-chat. You’ll find both general-interest events and more specialized groups. Usually the local Chamber of Commerce will hold events as will Young Professional group and other more local agencies where you can connect with potential clients and colleagues in your area who specialize and want to help support each other.
Use these tips to get prepared and make sure you keep learning and placing yourself in areas where you can continue to learn and grow. Sales can be challenging but also very rewarding. The best things is supporting your community and helping to keep them properly protected. Now get to work!
Thanks for reading!