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Agent to Agent: How Training Your Agents Can Increase Your Book of Business

By Kenneth F. Petersen
Encharter Insurance

I think it is safe to say, that the last several years have been a difficult time for personal lines insurance agents. We have been under siege from the direct writers who seem to have an endless advertising budget and a simple message – “You can save hundreds by buying from us!”

What then is the local independent insurance agent to do? Is it possible to grow your home insurance and auto insurance business in the face of such heavy competition? The simple answer is “YES YOU CAN!” However, to do it is anything but simple.

It requires a culture change, a willingness to ask your service staff to do what they are not comfortable doing (selling), and lastly a commitment to training. After all, how can you get your staff to do something they have not done in the past (or at least not done well), without an extensive commitment to training?

At Encharter Insurance, our commitment to training has helped us grow our Mass home insurance new book of business 67% in one year. By offering advanced training our staff is better equipped to sell to the modern consumer. We also now have the capability to monitor our sales calls which has helped us understand the need to "Ask for the business” on every call, and helped us better prepare our staff to handle the most common objections (i.e. “This all looks great, let me get back to you” or “Your price is high”).

What is your strategy for growth in the coming year? Are you confident in your staff’s ability to round out your personal insurance clients? Do you know what your staff is saying to your clients? How is your staff responding to objections? (Are they throwing in the towel or have you given them the tools to fight back and close the business?) If your answer to any of these items is, “I don’t know.” Then it is time to get serious about your business and invest in your staff and in training. Do it now. The direct writers are just hoping that we can’t get it done!

Encharter Insurance was the recipient of the inaugural Excellence in Social Media Award presented by the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents on October 2, 2010 during a ceremony in Traverse City, Michigan.

March 18, 2011