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Being a "Bad" Agent Can Be a "Good" Thing

Agents who focus primarily – or solely – on the “selling” part of the insurance sales process are on the wrong path. The lifeblood of lead conversion is demonstrating a true interest in the client as a person and his or her needs. Afterall, insurance is a financial transaction that the insurance customer must commit to many times for long periods.

Do Bad Boys and Bad Girls Really Have More Fun?

We all have felt it – that fascination with the dark horse, the outsider, the bad boy (or girl). Psychology Today describes what drives many bad characters: the “cheaters’ high,” which includes feeling exhilarated after wrongdoing. The high becomes harder to resist in future situations where the individual potentially receives both psychological highs and material gains from being bad. However, acting badly has its price. Even those who are “bad” may have a conscience somewhere inside them and may realize the gravity of what they did – and regret it.

Abhorred Characteristics of Highly Successful but Generally Reviled Salespeople

You probably know the type: those “top agents” who do anything to convert a lead to a sale just to have the best sales figures. For those agents, a client’s best interests are subordinate to their pursuit of sales glory. For the co-workers of such an agent, tips from them on using their methods to sell insurance sound better suited to a nefarious money making scam. The same terms and phrases show up repeatedly in discussions about high achieving yet lousy salespeople:

  • Overly aggressive or pushy
  • Intrusive
  • Sleazy
  • Fake
  • Deceitful
  • Manipulative
  • Self-centered
  • Unresponsive
  • Insincere
  • Unprepared
  • In it for the money only
  • Lacks respect for anyone else
  • Doesn’t know the meaning of ethics

These are not the things to do in order to be a good salesperson, and by “good” we mean in terms of ethics, not just sales figures. Work in a way so that you are never described with one of these terms.

The Top Attributes of Bad Salespeople Who are Good Insurance Agents

It turns out that many of the characteristics of “bad” salespeople – those whose focus is not solely on making the sale – are the things that make someone a great insurance agent.

  1. Caring about a client’s financial situation and actual insurance needs over their own sales quota and earnings. A firm with unreasonable quotas makes this difficult, however.
  2. Always cultivating new relationships while also taking good care of existing clients. Far too many salespeople care little about developing long-term relationships and instead only look to the immediate sale. Once they make a lot of money from a sale, they never again check in on the client.
  3. Dedication to constantly improving their professional skills through further education, reading, and listening to others.
  4. Willingness to work as a team player in the office by sharing knowledge and sales tips. 
  5. Responsiveness to client inquiries.
  6. Recognition of the need to self-assess when things do not work out as planned and ability to make changes accordingly.
  7. Maintaining a professional and friendly demeanor while having enough patience to deal with even the worst behaved customers.
  8. An extensive knowledge of the product sold and how it changes to fit various individuals’ needs.
  9. Honesty about a product and the ability to gracefully let someone know if what they think they want really is not a good fit for them.
  10. 10.  Empathy for potential and existing clients who may need special handling during a difficult period.

Many insurance agencies employ top salespeople who manage to keep the consumers’ needs at the forefront while still achieving amazing insurance sales figures. Agents who provide the right policy, the proper coverage, and the most value may be bad salespeople because they are focusing on their customers rather than focusing solely on making a sale. This type of “badness” as a salesperson makes a better agent, which earns more business and long-term loyalty.

Becoming the Right Kind of Bad Salesperson

The Forbes Leadership Forum includes a stellar method for creating the best bad salespeople. It first recommends taking the time to hire people who truly are interested in doing the job and not just people you like in the interview.

Proper training goes a long way in developing staff, as does properly introducing them to the industry. When they start doing the actual job, support them. Starting out doing sales can be discouraging, but providing guidelines and objectives helps. Be sure to provide positive motivation, and be a good leader. Additionally, make sure they understand what the firm’s structure and targets are. Help them become excited about the product. 

Those new to sales should seek out a mentor. Those in leadership positions must provide positive models for new salespeople to emulate. Demonstrate the importance of delivering not only a valuable product to a client, but also valuable service and attention to the client as a person. Always emphasize the admirable things about the insurance industry and take steps to refute any negative perceptions. Make it evident that gaining a client’s trust is one of the greatest pay-offs available. 

Put aside any ideas of getting rich quick or of accumulating the largest list of lead conversions and always keep the client’s needs paramount. This may not be the stuff of top-ranking salespeople, but you may find that being “bad” never felt so good.

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