Selling insurance products is a highly-competitive field and salespeople working in, or thinking about entering the sector need to possess certain skills to get by and enjoy success. In this article, we explore the talents required to succeed, so that businesses can better equip their sales teams.
1. Professional Selling Skills
One of the most important skills needed in the field of insurance sales is, not only the ability to sell, but also to quickly grasp clients’ needs and concerns in order to find the right solution for them. This may sound like a standard sales ability requirement, but insurances often represent a multi-criteria, complex solution for clients and conveying the pros and cons corresponding to a client needs quickly is not for everybody. Although some people are naturally more equipped to tackle tasks like sales prospecting or closing deals, actually selling products and prioritising opportunities is a skill which can be learned through training.
The importance of this type of employee development was highlighted by HUB International Limited’s decision to implement the Professional Selling Skills programme offered by Miller Heiman Group. By investing in this particular type of sales training, the insurance brokerage attracted over $4 million worth of new business, while close rates also increased and attrition was reduced by 22%. This final element contributed to major savings by the firm.
2. Customer Service Skills
Some businesses have a tendency to view customer service purely as a post-sale offering, but the reality is that anyone in an insurance firm who has contact with customers at any point during the buying cycle is providing customer service, or more appropriately, adding to the customer experience. This includes the sales team.
“Every interaction prospects and clients have with you and your agency is part of the customer experience,” says Ryan Hanley, in an article written for Agency Nation. “The way you are dressed. The way you speak. Your business card. The way you answer the phone. The timeliness of response. The quality of response. The list goes on.”
3. Communication Skills
Another vital skill for anyone involved in sales is the ability to communicate effectively, and this is now a more complex skill than ever before, because there are so many different communication channels, from face-to-face and the phone, to social media and email, all requiring slightly different skills.
In particular, verbal communication skills are a must, because unlike with digital channels, sales staff can be judged on everything from tone and body language, to the content of what they say. They may also be pressed and need to think on their feet, because they will not have much time to think about their responses to questions. The use of role-playing within sales training programmes is often effective for improving this aspect.
4. Emotional Intelligence
Lastly, selling insurance also requires a degree of emotional intelligence. Indeed, a person’s Emotional Quotient can go a long way towards deciding whether they are successful, as this governs their ability to recognise and understand their emotions, other people’s emotions, and how emotional information can guide behaviour.
Another reason why emotional intelligence is important is because people tend to make decisions based on their emotions. As M. Baba Sam points out, neuroscience has found that purchasing decisions and brand preferences are formed first in the part of the brain responsible for emotions and feelings, then rationalised later.
Success within insurance sales requires a variety of different skills, in addition to the very basic ability to sell products. Sales reps need to be able to communicate effectively, contribute positively to the overall customer experience and demonstrate a degree of emotional intelligence.
This year’s Miller Heiman Group Sales and Service Summit will focus more on the importance of delivering both sales and service in conjunction with one another. More information about the event can be found here.