Does Referral Marketing Work for Insurance Agents?

Congrats on your new insurance business! Now that you’ve hung your shingle and unboxed your business cards, you’ve likely turned your attention to the next logical step: Selling some policies. That sounds simple enough, but practically speaking, it can feel overwhelming.

Half the battle is getting your name out there so you have a steady stream of leads. I’ll pass along some proven marketing strategies next month—but today I want to talk about what to do with those leads once you have them.

Sales Tips to Help Insurance Agents Close More Deals

It doesn’t matter if your phone’s ringing off the hook if no one’s saying, “Yes.” These sales tips will help you grow your confidence, wow your prospects, and close more deals.

  1. Put yourself in your prospects’ place.
    Let’s be honest: Insurance just isn’t any fun to purchase. We buy it just in case something awful happens—a house fire, a car accident, a loved one dying prematurely. And although we’re pretty sure those things won’t happen, what if they do?

    So, when you’re working with prospects, keep in mind that you’re talking about tough stuff that no one wants to imagine. Doing so will help you avoid the mistake of pushing too hard and turning people off. Soften your tone. Express empathy.

  2. Listen.
    Many salespeople talk way, way too much. When we yammer on and on and on, here’s what happens:
    • Our prospects get bored and tune out—which means they miss vital information they need to make a good decision and/or
    • Our prospects get so overwhelmed that they shut down and leave without buying anything and/or
    • Our prospects get annoyed because we’re trying to sell them something they don’t want or don’t know they need… and they feel like we’re wasting their time.

      As they say, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Ask good questions and listen to your insurance prospects’ responses. That’s the best way I know to turn them into actual customers.

  3. Stop pitching and start helping.
    Here’s why listening is so critical in the sales process: When you listen, you’ll come to understand the problem your prospect is experiencing—and then you can help solve it. That’s a completely different mindset from “selling” or “pitching.” When you stop worrying about how to pitch prospects on a product you want to sell them—and instead you match what you offer to their pain points—you’ll start setting sales records.

    Remember that when people feel pushed into a purchase they aren’t sure they need, they feel taken advantage of. But when you listen, answer questions thoughtfully, and seek to truly understand what your prospects need, they’ll trust you. Which means they’ll buy from you.

  4. Talk like a normal person
    New insurance agents often make the mistake of trying to compensate for their lack of experience by showing off how much they know. Big mistake. Using jargon and insider language might make you feel smart, but it makes your insurance prospects feel stupid. No one wants to buy something from an arrogant know-it-all.

    Of course, sometimes you have to use insurance industry jargon to introduce different types of policies and benefits. The key is to never, ever assume your prospects know what you’re talking about. Simply ask: “Do you know the difference between term life insurance and whole life insurance?” or “Many people get confused by the difference between comprehensive and collision on their auto policies. Are you clear on that, or would a refresher help?”

    Yes, it takes more time to explain things. But it also builds relationships—which builds business

  5. Know your stuff.
    You might’ve just passed your licensing exam, but that doesn’t mean your insurance education is over. Keep studying. Keep learning. Make sure you thoroughly understand the products you’re selling—every nuance and asterisk. Practice describing the products and answering common questions about them—out loud in a mirror. The better we understand something, the easier it is to explain it to others.

    And when you don’t know something, don’t make up an answer. It’s completely fine to admit when you’re unsure! Confidently respond with something like, “Hmm. That’s a great question. I want to make sure I give you a totally accurate answer, so let me check in with a colleague and get back to you on that.” And then actually check in with a colleague and get back to them.

  6. Build a team.
    Speaking of colleagues: Have them. It doesn’t matter if you’ve opened your own office; build a network of folks in other offices who have more experience and expertise than you have. (You’ll be surprised by how non-competitive insurance agents are! They’re generally helpful people who know there’s plenty of business to go around.)

    Not only does a network benefit you, but it also builds trust with prospects. How? Because you can say things like, “I have a close circle of agents whom I trust. Together we have a combined 43 years of experience, and we agree that for people your age, X policy is a great option.”

  7. Dress the part.
    There’s no question people will take you more seriously if you dress professionally, which translates to increased sales. But here’s a surprising, bonus benefit: Wearing formal business attire improves abstract thinking, which boosts creative problem solving. Since you’re in the problem-solving business (see #3), that’s good news.

    Some insurance agents worry about business attire making them seem too stuffy or unrelatable. That’s a reasonable concern, but it’s not an excuse to wear lawn-mowing clothes to work. Maybe it’ll help to remember that you’re asking people to give you money. Are they going to feel better giving it to someone wearing a clean, pressed shirt or to someone wearing a 1992 tour tshirt that’s a bit too small? (I’ve seen “professionals” try to get away with that. It’s not pretty.)

    Here’s the bottom line: Know your target audience—or your aspirational target audience—and dress to match.

  8. Sweat the small stuff.
    Here’s what I mean by that: Details matter. Make sure every word on your website is spelled correctly. Personalize your marketing emails; “Dear friend” just doesn’t cut it these days. Proofread every correspondence and proposal to make sure there are zero errors. When prospects see you making mistakes—particularly easily avoidable ones—it’ll damage your credibility
  9. Be honest.
    Don’t try to be someone you’re not, and never, ever overpromise. While you may win a customer that way, you won’t win a loyal customer that way—and you certainly won’t earn referrals if you aren’t 100% above board in your business practices. Of course, anyone can say they’re honest; back it up by inviting prospects to check out your Google reviews and Better Business Bureau rating. (Don’t have any Google reviews? I’ll give you some tips for getting them as part of next month’s post on marketing.)
  10. Practice, practice, practice.
    I hinted at this earlier, but it’s worth saying again. Practice selling. Develop some simple scripts to describe the various products you sell, video tape yourself talking about them, and then watch yourself talk. While you’re at it, hit record the next time you’re on the phone with a prospect or customer.

    Yep, it’s uncomfortable. But how else will you ever know if you subconsciously play with your hair while you’re talking? How else will you figure out which words or phrases trip you up? The more you rehearse, the more your confidence will grow and, ironically, the less rehearsed you’ll sound.

  11. Care. For real.
    Lots of insurance agents send out Christmas cards and ask about their clients’ kids. That’s great—but only if you’re sincere about it and aren’t doing those things as part of a “strategy.” Many customers expect salespeople to be slimy schmoozers. So be the opposite of that: authentic, real, and compassionate. Shifting your mindset from “I sell insurance” to “I help people protect the people and things they care about,” will bring you a better result every time.
  12. Set some goals.
    You’ve probably heard this old business adage: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. As you’re trying to grow your business, set some reasonable sales goals so you have something to work toward and something to measure. If you don’t hit your goals, it might be that your goals aren’t realistic and need to be adjusted—or it could be that you have adjustments to make on your sales strategy. If you’re not sure which it is, tap into your network, buy someone coffee, and get some advice from a successful agent with a few more years of experience.
  13. Ask for the sale.
    As Zig Ziglar put it, “We miss 100 percent of the sales we don’t ask for.” It’s astounding how many people invest in training, spend time and money getting their marketing right, talk to loads of prospects, and never bother to say, “So, how does that sound? Ready for me to get the application process going?” As an insurance agent, you offer a valuable and critical service—something everyone needs. Be confident. Ask for the sale!
  14. Request referrals.
    The best time to ask your current clients for a referral is immediately after you’ve successfully solved their problem. Plus, warm leads that come through referrals are much more likely to buy from you. Need some referral tips? Check out this post.

Sales Starts with Marketing

Next month’s post will have loads of marketing tips for you. But if you’re struggling right this minute to get in front of the right leads at the right time, RECAMP can help. Register for our free, 30-minute webinar today.

“I’ve tried every marketing program the company has to offer. RECAMP® has generated more business than all the others combined.”

“The first year I used RECAMP®, it paid for its self in just a few months.”

“By consistently working RECAMP® my production is up 147% over last year.”

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Lance Groenewold


Lance wants your insurance business to grow and he understands that you've wasted a lot of money, time and hard work on marketing with not much a return on your investment. As the business manager for RECAMP, he's worked with insurance agents across the country to help them build their own automated referral network that consistently generates high value leads.

Ready to join thousands of insurance agents who have discovered the magic of RECAMP?

We specialize in marketing for P&C insurance agents and insurance agency marketing.

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