5/9 10:21 AM Hey, bud, I posted this on your insurance guys thread the other day. Jumped in on it a little late, though, so I'm not sure you ever got to read it. Good luck in whatever you decide to do!
You can make a helluva lot of money selling insurance if you pick a niche and work the crap of it. Decide what it is that you want to do and stick to it. A lot of folks, when they're first getting into the business, end up chasing everything and trying to write any type of insurance they can get their hands on. I get why, most of the time there is little or no base salary and folks are just trying to earn a buck anywhere they can find it. Long-term, though, you end up screwing yourself if you take this approach. You become too fragmented and you'll have too much maintenance work on business that won't really be all that profitable for you. You hear about the 80/20 rule in every industry; believe me, it holds true with insurance sales, too.
If you are going to do personal lines, the key is rounding out an account. Your foot-in-the-door is going to be auto insurance. Sell it with the understanding that you'll be picking up their homeowners insurance, too. Sell coverages and educate your client, don't just do apples to apples quoting. Always offer an umbrella policy as well. They are inexpensive, an easy sale and something anybody with a decent job and decent income needs but is rarely offered. Most importantly from your perspective, they help retain clients. Persistency is the name of the game in P&C sales. The more policies you have for a client, the less likely they'll be to shop around. You don't want to have to be constantly replacing clients.
The key to earning big money in personal lines is life insurance and other financial products. You want to become your clients' trusted advisor as it relates to protecting and growing wealth. Don't just be a policy peddler, get your securities licenses and work toward industry designations. Sell individual health policies as needed, but don't ever let them become the focus of what you are to your client. Being the man responsible for delivering double-digit rate increases every year ain't a way to endear yourself to your customers. Finally, you may turn away some business, but don't waste your time working with people who don't fit your customer profile. If someone comes to you wanting a high-risk auto quote, unless there are extenuating circumstances, politely send them somewhere else. That type of business just doesn't stay on the books for very long and there is little or no potential for account rounding.
If you are going to do commercial lines, pick a handful of industries and become an expert about those fields. Obviously it helps to do this with industries for which your carrier(s) have competitive programs. You may get a bite on a large account from time to time, but if you don't have the resources or knowledge basis necessary to land it, don't waste your time. Let the other guys chase the rainmaker, you spend your time going after the mid-sized accounts where you have a competitive advantage. Again, your closing rate will be a lot higher and your persistency a lot better, too. Bottom line, that means more money and less stress for you.
Assuming you are going to work for an independent agency, long-term that means more money and more control, you'll get little or no in-housing training. That's why 90% of the people leave this business within their first year. If you are going to sell commercial lines for an independent agency, check out the producer school linked below. It isn't cheap on the front end, but it'll help you get through that first year and lay the ground work for a very successful career.
If you are going to do personal lines for an independent agency, start with the contacts you have in your current field. They are prime prospects for you. You can dabble in commercial by writing BOPs on the smaller offices, but, again, don't allow yourself to go beyond what your expertise will allow you to do. Work the hell out of them and always, always ask for referrals. Unless you are working for State Farm or another established captive agency brand, people just aren't going to call you out of the blue. You've got to go to them. Join the local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, etc. Make sure as many people as possible know who you are, what you do and that you want to write their business.
You're coming into this business at a perfect age. I started working for my family's agency within a few months of graduating college. It was a very slow process the first few years because I didn't have any real prospects in my peer group and I was a little too young to be taken seriously by others. As I got a little older, my peers started becoming viable prospects and I started being taken seriously by the folks I called upon. I'm 30 now and, while the past couple of years have been good, this year and the foreseeable future look to be simply amazing. If you decide to make the jump, you are doing so at the perfect time.