As successful agents strive to expand their business and maximize their reach, a necessary next step is building a team of successful downline agents. These downline agents play a pivotal role in driving growth, increasing sales, and fostering client relationships. However, the effectiveness of these downline agents goes beyond the ability to sell.
We asked two agency principals, Ryan Beamon with Armor Insurance and Senior Solutions and Jerod Coe with CSM and Coastal Carolina Insurance, for their advice on the best ways to develop successful downline agents and they left us with some incredible perspective! Here’s what they have to say.
Instilling a Client-Centric Focus
dA primary component of good salesmanship in the insurance industry is putting the needs of the client first and being an advocate for them. Successful downline agents must maintain a client-centered mindset throughout their sales processes. This is critical to not only make relationships and the sale, but also to garner customer loyalty.
- …” Selling without selling” is a big part of my business. I try to train my agents to sell by simply being there to help. Don’t come across as someone who’s just here for the sale. I hammer home that “genuine agents write sticky business”. Walk away from the sale if you aren’t improving their situation…. you’ll get more referrals by simply being honest than forcing your hand for a sale. Basically, just ALWAYS DO RIGHT BY THE CLIENT!” – Ryan Beamon
- “Listen first, ask questions, then listen some more. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll look into that and get back to you.” – Jerod Coe
Another important piece to developing successful downline agents is to incorporate community partnerships into the sales process. Though it does take a little extra effort, making relationships with businesses with similar values and goals can help you not only make connections, but it can significantly increase an agent’s referrals. A customer looking for Medicare may be more willing to partner with an agent who was recommended by another trusted business in the community they are already shopping.
- “One thing I always stress is to get out into your local community and identify places that you could be of service to. For instance, I have them search for Property and Casualty insurance agencies to stop by and introduce themselves to. I tell them to maybe even drop off donuts or coffee. These agencies are looking for credible agents to refer their clients to on the health/Medicare side of things that aren’t going to try and steal the Property and Casualty business from them. I also have them identify and get in touch with group home owners/administrators. So many of these have no clue about the DSNP plans available to their residents. Things like this can be a huge boost when you’re getting started. It takes one good connection to be the difference in a new agent making it in this business and not making it.” – Ryan Beamon
Be (or Become) an Educator
Being an advocate for the client, also means that your downline agents must be trained to be an educator in their specific industry. Having in-depth knowledge about the products is critical, but it’s also important to help the client know exactly what they’re signing up for and feel confident in their choice.
- “This is a business that’s really more about educating. I’ve never thought of it as a ‘sales’ job. Our best agents are the ones that are able to explain how Medicare works, the difference between A & B, and the difference between MAPD and Med Supp. They get to know their clients, what is most important to them, understand their situation, who their doctors are, their prescriptions, etc. Then, they get into the actual plan or plans that might make the most sense based on the client’s situation. So go at the job first as a teacher.” – Jerod Coe
- “I also ask folks to tell me why they are choosing the plan they have signed up for before I leave or get off the phone with them. My thinking is that if I’ve done a good job understanding their situation, educating them on their options and then they ultimately choose the plan, that when they get the telemarketer call, hear Joe Namath on TV, get the mailer, talk to their neighbor or whoever, about some amazing plan, my client will be able to remember why they chose the plan they’re on and not get ‘sold’ on something else.” – Jerod Coe
Increasing Drive and Gaining Expertise
Helping your downline agents build their drive and industry expertise is another invaluable component to incorporate at your agency. Not only does being an insurance agent require a high amount of self-initiative, but as previously mentioned, it’s important for any agent to own their growth and work towards being an expert in their segment before taking on too much. Principals have a unique position to mentor downline agents and connect them to resources to become industry experts and help hungry agents move forward with purpose.
- “Lastly, I think tons of agents enter this business wanting to conquer the world and offer Medicare, Health Insurance, Life Insurance, etc. immediately. Those “Jack of all trades, but master of none” agents just simply don’t make it in this business. You have to master a segment of the business (typically Medicare for us) before you move on to offer all of the other lines of business.”– Ryan Beamon
- “Don’t try and do everything at once. Start with Medicare, know it inside and out. Learn the top 2-3 plans in your area, inside and out, and build off of that. – Jerod Coe
- “I don’t know that you can train or teach an agent to be ‘hungry’ or a self-starter BUT, I think it’s probably THE #1 characteristic any 1099 employee has to have, regardless of the industry.”– Jerod Coe
Successful downline agents build intentional relationships and sale. Implementing these best practices can foster growth, achieve outstanding results, and build a collaborative team. It’s important for principals to stay current with industry trends, embrace technology, and continually refine their training methods. Empower your downline agents to excel, build lasting client relationships, and contribute to your insurance business’s success. Embrace the power of effective mentoring and propel your insurance business to new heights!
As your North Carolina Medicare FMO, Carolina Senior Marketing is committed to serving you, the Independent Insurance Agent. If you’re not an agent with us, we’re still glad to meet a new face and answer any of your questions you may have. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to reach out.