Opting to be an insurance entrepreneur?

SkillingIndia on August 23, 2012 Comments
Dr Sriharsha Achar, Chief People Officer, Apollo Munich Health Insurance Co. Ltd.

 

An insurance entrepreneur needs excellent market knowledge, apt skills & certain musts to develop a profitable entrepreneurial foray!

There are a handful of industries outside the financial services industry that offer the potential for relatively inexperienced professionals to make significant income at a fast pace. Within the financial services industry itself, few careers match the opportunity for a quick and large paycheck as it does being an insurance agent.

But, success as an insurance agent doesn’t come without a cost. Insurance agents hear a “no” far more than they hear a “yes”. It’s not uncommon for the “no” to come mixed with a fair amount of animosity. Additionally, many people hold insurance agents in low regard, with some people equating them to glorified con men. But, for those who can stomach the potential rejection, the paycheck and flexibility are worth the effort.

Agents focusing on the insurance market help families, businesses, employers, and other parties to protect against a financial loss.

However, insurance agents selling such coverage are either “captive” agents, which means they only sell insurance from one company, or “non-captive”, meaning they represent multiple insurance carriers. Either way, the typical insurance agent is going to spend the bulk of his or her time engaging in some marketing activities to identify people who might be in need of new or additional insurance coverage, providing them with quotes from the companies they represent and then persuading them to sign the new insurance contract and receive commissions on premiums.

Insurance is not a profession for the thin-skinned or faint-at-heart. In fact, more than any other factor, including education and experience, insurance agents must possess a fighting spirit. They must be people who love the thrill of the hunt, the rush of a sale and see rejection as a stepping-stone to eventual success. A career in insurance sales is not ideal for those who view themselves as introverts, soft-spoken, or afraid of conflict.

The vast majority of insurance companies have no formal education requirements for becoming an agent. While many prefer college graduates, this general rule is constantly overlooked in favor of the “right” candidates. Previous experience in the insurance industry is not required because most medium and large insurance carriers have internal programs to train their salespeople about the products they are going to sell.

While it may prove easy for a tenacious go-getter to get hired at a reputable insurance company, there is one non-negotiable hurdle that stands between a potential insurance agent and his or her commissions: licensing. Insurance agents are currently licensed by the individual company for which they will be selling insurance. This generally requires passing a licensing exam as well as taking a licensing class that typically runs between 25-50 hours.

Also, expect to struggle financially for the first few months until your first sales and its commissions start rolling in.

While the insurance industry promises great rewards for those who are willing to work hard and put up with a good amount of rejection, there is a pitfall you need to be aware of. You will be most likely expected to market to your friends and family. While that might be tempting and seem like a great idea to get you started, it can also burn a lot of bridges with people you care about.

Regardless of your definition of success, there are oddly enough a great number of common characteristics that are shared by successful businesspeople. Even if you don’t have all of these characteristics, most can be learned with practice and by developing a winning attitude, especially if you set goals and apply yourself, through strategic planning, to reach those goals in incremental and measurable stages.

Like any activity you pursue, there are certain musts that are required to be successful in that activity. Those ‘musts’ have to be fully developed, implemented and managed for your business to succeed. Some of the more important musts that are required to start, run and grow a profitable entrepreneurial foray include:

  1. Do what you enjoy and take what you do seriously.
  2. Plan everything and stay organized.
  3. Remember it’s all about the customer. Get to know your customers and become known as an expert.
  4. Become a shameless self-promoter, but project a positive business image.
  5. Level the playing field with technology and create a competitive advantage.
  6. Build a rock-solid reputation, be accessible and follow-up constantly.
  7. Sell benefits not just products.
  8. Get involved in the business and master the art of negotiations.
  9. Manage money wisely and limit the number of things you have to juggle with.
  10. Continuously invest in yourself.
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