By Candace McAfee on Feb 29, 2016 12:32:32 PM
Working for a large insurance brokerage can be a rewarding and challenging stepping stone in your career. While employment with a large firm may ensure you have consistent leads and steady business, it also means learning to thrive in a more competitive environment. Beat the “little fish-big pond” problem and climb the ranks at your broker insurance agency with these five steps.
Know Your Company’s Mission Statement and Goals
Your firm’s mission statement will tell you what’s most important to its management. Some firms thrive on being the biggest and fastest growing, which means that new sales might take up the lion’s share of staff meetings. Another firm’s strategy might focus on winning awards for exemplary customer service. Exceptional firms have learned to combine the two strategies, but it’s up to you to decide how to align your personal goals with the firm’s. That not only improves your chances of financial success, but also increases the likelihood that you will be happy to work there every day.
Become a Sales and Service Superstar
The two most important components of being a successful broker are sales and customer service. If you have basic interpersonal skills, you can learn to be a great salesperson through hard work and determination. There are numerous books and articles published on excelling in this field, from the very basics for beginners up through expert level. Regardless of your present expertise, you should make a habit of continuing your education, whether via reading or taking courses, to improve your job skills.
Keep in mind that you have internal customers as well as external customers. External customers are the businesses and individual subscribers who participate in the health plans that your firm offers. Internal customers are your management team and coworkers. These people depend on you to do your assigned tasks in a timely, professional manner so that they can do theirs. Having a reputation for responding quickly and accurately to requests, as well as meeting deadlines, makes it easier to move up the ranks.
Become an Expert Problem Solver
Selling insurance requires consultative sales skills, which means taking the time to understand a problem the customer is having and then offering solutions that will specifically address that problem. Your chances of closing the sale depend on how well you can solve the conflicts that are revealed to you.
Brokers must be magicians, because they are often faced with situations for which there are no perfect solutions. But, it’s still the agents’ responsibility to make customers feel that their needs will be met by the best firm in the business. For instance, imagine telling a distraught mother that her children’s pediatric dentist has retired and no longer participates in the network. In that case, empathy is the first step in dealing with the situation. When expertly applied, it works like a charm.
Are you the kind of person that colleagues and associates think of when they have a problem no one else seems to be able to solve? Even if you don’t have the solution at your fingertips, do you know where to go to find the answer? Being an expert in your field is sure to get you noticed by your coworkers, and more importantly, by upper management.
In addition to being able to answer questions and solve problems, you should also make it a point to keep up with any new policies or developments in your field. Being among the first to know about new products, services, regulations, or any news that affects your business and its customers demonstrates your commitment to your job. That’s why it’s a good idea to read and understand relevant publications before filing them away. Never keep a piece of important news to yourself. When you come across something exciting, scan your address book for the names of prospects or customers who would benefit from having that information. Even if they’ve already read it, chances are they will be pleased that you were thinking of them and their businesses.Share Your Skills
When in public, you are the face of your company. Whether you are addressing a single person or a room filled with hundreds of customers, they will judge your entire company based on their perception of you. All things considered, it is paramount to dress and speak like a professional. That means, in addition to being an insurance expert, you also must be skilled at explaining information to people, whether individually or in groups. Fortunately, public speaking is a skill that can be learned, so it wouldn’t hurt to join a local chapter of Toastmasters International to hone your skills. Once you have mastered the skills and competencies that place you among the best sales and customer services representatives in your firm, the next step is management. One of the advantages of working for a large brokerage is that they are always looking for talented employees who can train and supervise other people.
In order to display your management prowess, be willing to participate in or lead groups within your organization. Volunteering to take a leadership role in ad hoc projects provides opportunities to get noticed. For example, does your firm have an out-of-date media kit or PowerPoint presentation that could use your input?
Know Your Business Community
Successful brokers know the ins and outs of the communities where they do business. That means reading local publications, especially business journals, to learn who recently landed a big promotion or a large construction contract. It also means regularly attending networking events with local businesses. If getting away from your desk is not an option, keeping in contact by phone or email is a great way to touch base with your clients. Either way, it’s up to you to make sure that your name, reputation and professional skills are well known.
Take the time to shine at your brokerage, and don’t be shy! Being a career-minded person is a positive thing, and can improve your chances of obtaining a management or senior level position. Show your company what an asset you are, and keep looking ahead for new opportunities to conquer.