Selling insurance is not for everyone. Not by a long shot. It is one of the most challenging positions, requiring not only product knowledge and sales-specific skills but personal attributes such as self-motivation and unswerving persistence. For the right person, though, insurance sales is the ideal career. So what is the ideal personality for success?
A sense of independence is essential.
Insurance producers typically work on their own. They prefer to work alone, because they want to control their own schedule and their own destiny. That requires strong organizational and time management skills. Less obvious but equally important, it requires the drive to achieve and confidence in achieving goals. Those attributes must come from within, not from a supervisor or co-workers.
But ability to work smoothly with others is also essential.
Insurance producers make sales by relating well to prospects and clients, not by pushing products. They have to be client-focused – finding solutions that are best for them. Therefore, they must be good listeners. Even more important, they must be perceptive – able to “hear” below the surface so as to understand what matters most for each client. Producers who really listen, and who can empathize with clients, earn the kind of trust that fosters long-term relationships.
Working smoothly with others also involves willingness to accept feedback. Producers with the ideal personality know that mentoring and coaching can help the producer achieve even greater.
One of the toughest aspects of any sales job is moving past the “no’s” to pursue more “yeses.” Rejection is a fact of life, but persistence drives successful producers to keep working. Persistent personalities don’t give up, they follow up – patiently and appropriately — until they close sales. Then they continue to follow up, because making a sale might mark a short-term achievement, but their real goal is turning that sale into a portfolio of business.
Persistent insurance producers retain clients by staying in touch, and by being there when clients need them. They follow up by responding quickly to answer questions or resolve problems. Client retention not only benefits the producer, it directly benefits the insurance company’s revenue and profitability.
Honesty and reliability are among the most important aspects of the ideal personality for insurance producers. Conscientious sales people are passionate about the insurance products they sell. But they present policy options in a straight-forward manner, candidly explaining the pros and cons of each option to help clients make sound decisions. They don’t overstate or mislead to make a sale, because they know this is short-sighted.
Technology can help identify personality traits — to some extent.
Hiring managers are well aware of the numerous software-based personality assessments designed to help them learn more about prospective candidates. These tests aim to reduce the subjectivity inherent in the interview process and reveal traits that may not be readily apparent. However, industry experts warn there are two potential problems with this approach:
- Many personality assessment tests are not sales-specific, but are instead designed for general hiring purposes. Sales is very different from other jobs, so the test may not provide the most meaningful results.
- Candidates familiar with these tests can “game” them, giving you the answers they know you want to hear rather than revealing the truth about themselves.
If you get skewed results, you won’t be able to make a well-informed hiring decision after all. A well-chosen and administered test can help, but it cannot replace one-on-one interviews.
Finally, there is another personality-related trait insurance producers must possess – the ability to identify personality types among their prospects and clients. With that knowledge, they can “listen between the lines” more effectively and engage each individual in the style that makes them most comfortable.