An insurance sales career can be a huge gamble even for a person with previous sales experience. The most highly successful insurance agents in this country make over $1 million per year, but most who sign up to hock insurance don’t make it past a year. It is truly a game of survival of the fittest.
Life insurance has a reputation for being an easy sell, but that is simply not the way it always works out. The South Florida office of the New York Life Insurance Company, the managing partner—Mr. Greg Jensen—looked over new applications from over 1,300 people recently. At the end of the day, he brought on just 45 sales associates.
Jensen explained that many companies will try to persuade job applicants that theirs is the greatest company and everybody there will make $100,000. So he asks you this: Is this the right career for the applicant? There are extensive interviews for the job to help make sure the applicants know this is the correct career decision for them.
Those most likely to succeed are mortgage loan officers, real estate agents, copier sales reps, teachers, auto sales specialists—these are the people Jensen says are the best suited to insurance sales. Those who can position themselves and network, those who have figured out they need a career that is recession-proof. Also, those with deep-rooted relationships in their communities—those are the ones who have the best chances at making this work.
A New York Life agent—Sonia Montana—in Miami, fits perfectly into the description. Having left her job as a realtor in 2005, she had a big database of people who trusted and liked her. She felt she could successfully offer them a different product.
Hours worked in the industry of for instance track day insurance can often be more favorable than hours worked in real estate, car sales, and mortgage lending, most of which normally require their salespeople to work evenings and also weekends. When realtors get more into their own families, they like the flexibility that Jensen has to offer.
The best agency reps are from outside the arena of sales too, according to Dan Strubberg, the agency director of recruiting and development at State Farm Insurance, located in Bloomington, Illinois. These are people going for that extra bit of recognition—the competitive ones. These are the people who love the risk of a venture in which they are successful based on the connection of hard work, success, and desiring to be of help to people in solving the risks of everyday life.
Other pros who quite often make a good transition into selling insurance include bank branch managers and nurses. Also some educators take to the job well. They have plans to work in the agency for 12-18 month, then continue to become career-development instructors. Then you have the bank managers who desire a close executive insurance position. They start their careers in insurance as agents, followed by a move up the ladder into the management track. Where Jensen works, a manager or a partner may earn anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000 per year after being successful agents. The first salary reflects the prior year’s commissions.
Still, not all sales are the same or equal in nature. When people move into a new sales position, they believe that since they sold in one , they can still sell in another the same way. But that’s not usually how it works. Different markets require different tactics. If you were able to go out there and be a lone wolf in your prior insurance job, you probably can’t expect to do the same in this career field. There are some lone wolves out there in insurance, but that is very rare. It usually comes down to team effort, even if an agent eventually starts making most of their sales on their own. Much of the time experienced agents will sell with other newer agents, teaching them to develop their chops. With experience comes rewards, like being to set your schedule for family life, but it often results in more work too, as salaries inflate so do individuals’ work schedules.
To succeed, one needs a certain amount of sales generated in their first 12 months. The bottom at New York Life $18,000. That’s not including the subsidies New York Life pays to new agents. Usually around 40% of the newbies hit that target each year. Insurance is a tough game, more suited to those who can take rejection with a grain of salt and have an entrepreneurial spirit.