If insurance sales was easy, everyone would do it.

The security of a constant market for a product that everyone needs is something that anyone in any industry would wish for. However, insurance sales is anything but easy. It is a challenging field that requires keeping up with changes in the insurance agency, a strong affinity for connecting with people, and a strong sense of competition. That said, if you are ready to play your A game then you stand to create for yourself an amazing career with great rewards.

One of the challenges of insurance sales is how much experience can play in your success. You can have the best training, read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (You really should read it.) front to back, and have the best resources at your disposal to get the job done, but actual experience is what permits all of that to work best. The problem with experience is that you have to…well…experience it. Can’t be bought or handed to you, you have to get it in the trenches.

As a new insurance agent, the job can be frustrating due to lack of experience, which is absolutely no fault of your own. What you can do, however, is to strategize towards creating the opportunities for the best and most experience possible with every sale. Preparedness leads to right action, right action leads to success, success leads to better preparedness. Following are some tips for selling insurance to help you along the process.

Before the sale

You’re not going to go to a meeting with a new prospect armed with nothing but good intentions and a desire to succeed, you have a strong foundation that you can work from. Do your homework; be comfortable with the knowledge you do have of your product so that you’ll be ready to offer the most benefit to your prospect when you’re discussing what they’re looking for in a policy. Understanding the ins and outs of the policies you have to offer is absolutely necessary because you are selling an intangible. The value you’re providing is something that cannot be seen, smelled or touched. It’s a sense of security that comes from creating a picture of the bases your policy will cover when they need it. The fuller that picture is, the greater confidence and trust your prospect is going to have in you.

Also, focus on putting your most professional self forward. This shouldn’t be confused with being stiff, however. It means to be aware of the image you’re putting forward and making sure it aligns with the experience you’re creating for the prospect to help with the sale. Clean, pressed clothes are a sign of attention to detail and confidence, and one that people take notice of even if it’s only subconsciously. There really is never a second chance to make a good first impression, and this is honestly one of the easiest ways to make yours count.

On top of stream-lining your own personal image, remember that you’re representing your company as well. Be familiar with the essence and values of your company, and be sure to project that to your prospect. They’ll be receptive to your integrity as an individual and a professional, but showing them that you’re part of a great company that has their peace of mind in high regard will reinforce their confidence a hundred-fold. People like having a team on their side, so show them what that team is made of.

You will also want to be ready for objections. Objections are not a “no”, they’re a “not yet”. The prospect will more than likely have some hesitations and reservations. This is a natural reaction. It’s part of your job to be ready for those objections as they arise, and be able to discuss the benefits of the policies you provide to overcome those objections. Talk with experienced agents you work with about objections they’ve received in the past and how they overcame them. The experience of others is an incredible asset to have at your disposal, and should not be overlooked.

During the sales cycle

Talking with your prospect for the first time is an exciting time, and a place where care and understanding need to take top priority. If it was simply a matter of laying out your options and them just picking one they like, once again everyone would be doing this. Listening to the needs and concerns of the prospect, not just waiting to reply, is a crucial skill to develop and use. Show them that empathizing with their concerns and what they want out of a policy is your highest priority, and that receptivity will pay off immeasurably. Remember that their needs define the sale, and not the other way around.

Once they decide on a policy, spare no expense to make sure that all their current questions or concerns are resolved and that you have explained the policy to them as fully as you intended to before they put ink to paper. Statements beginning with “I forgot to mention…” after they’ve signed can be taken as unprofessional at best and bait-and-switch at worst. Be thorough and they will appreciate you for it.

After closing a new sale

You are not finished with your prospect after they’ve signed on the line, not by a long shot. You are only as good as your last sale. By that I mean that your continuing success hinges on what opportunities you create out of your sales. Be sure to ask for referrals afterwards. People love sharing great service experiences with their family and friends. If you did right by them, they’ll probably be more than happy to help connect you with others in their circles looking for insurance. Lead generation being a never-ending challenge, getting a referral from a satisfied client is pure gold.

Be sure to follow up with your clients. Send a thank you card after the sale, letting them know how much you appreciate them and hope you can help them more in the future. About a month after the sale, call the client to see how the policy is working for them, and offer to set up a time to talk with them about any details they may want to discuss. This will let them know that your concern didn’t end with the sale and will keep you at the forefront of their minds for insurance needs, an excellent place to be when policy renewal time comes up.

Another important thing to do after the sale: learn from it. What do you think you did well with it? What could be done better? What unexpected things happened during the sale? These details you should keep a running record of, and contemplate them towards strengthening your sales skills for the future. Success is built upon both success and failure, as long as you use both correctly.

As I mentioned before, insurance sales is a career with never-ending challenges. However, by keeping your eyes on a job, putting your best qualities forward, and putting your client first, the experiences you gain will continue to hone your sales edge and you’ll build on and towards success.