1. Quality Sales Managers. Invest in a quality sales manager who knows how to motivate and guide members to their goals.
2. Transcribe with AI. Otter.ai is a platform that allows — through the website or mobile app — automated transcription of audio. I am recommending this to producers to record meetings so they have a transcribed file. A free account allows for 600 minutes per month and a paid account ($100 annual) allows 6,000 minutes a month. — Steve Anderson
3. Right Coverages. Talk clients into buying the coverages they actually need rather than settling for what you think they will buy. That is what a good salesperson does. — Chris Burand, Burand and Associates
4. Tracking Is Vital to the Health of Your Agency. Enhance the tracking of existing marketing to better determine what is and is not effective. Use Contact Us (web forms) and tracked phone lines to monitor the performance of your offline and online marketing. — Mernice Oliver, National Association for Advancement of Women in Insurance
5. Push Content. Content marketing should be one of your key long-term marketing strategies. As the world evolves, more people are looking online instead of going to a local agent. — Jason Marlowe, InsuranceHub
6. Get a Mascot. Decide to have a mascot for your agency. It could be a real pet or made-up cartoon. Hold a contest to name it. Use it in your advertising and marketing.
7. Promote Corporate Citizenship. To attract young talent, your organization must make a stronger commitment to their communities and their employees’ involvement by rolling out voluntary community service initiatives. But just encouraging participation isn’t enough. Companies must make community service part of their culture and carve time out of the workday for employee participation. — Mary Ann Cook, The Institutes
8. Gain Strength in Numbers. Any insurance firm that uses a management system or technology solution has a built-in ally for proactive change: its user group. Collaborating as a group, users can lead improvements to the products they use every day to make them more valuable. — Melissa Bond, NetVU (Network of Vertafore Users)
9. Bed on Wheels. Sponsor an annual bed race where local businesses, nonprofits, fire-police, etc. and other groups form teams to compete. Idea is for them to outfit a “bed on wheels” that can be pushed down a street by the team with one person in the bed with people on sidewalk cheering them on. Two prizes: best costumes/design and fastest time. Winners get cash prizes for donations to their favorite charity. It’s great fun and good publicity for the participating firms and groups.
10. Don’t Fear Rejection. Being young in the insurance industry, I find it important to not get caught up in being afraid of being rejected. The insurance industry has a high percentage of people who have been in the industry for 20-plus years. Selling to brokers can be intimidating. Being able to ask questions and continue to develop yourself by learning the industry helps with that fear. You will find that nearly everyone in this industry is happy and willing to help. — Ryan Smith, The McGowan Companies
11. Make Your Brand Human. So many firms are missing the all-important human element on one of their most-important brand touchpoints: the website. Two decades after the internet became widely available, what do we see at so many corporate sites? Words, not faces. Corporate speak and brochure-ware, not human communication. Buildings, not people. Boring, canned stock art, not photos of real employees, customers, or business partners. Breathe some humanity and personality into your website. Remember, there are living people on the receiving end of all of this. Not bots. — Peter van Aartrijk, author, ThePowersBook.com
12. Distressed Accounts. Many agents shy away from distressed accounts because they feel they are too scary, and they don’t know enough about the exposure. But the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Not only is the premium larger, but your competition is smaller. — J.D. Babuder, All Risks Ltd.
13. Automate Marketing. Focus on automating your tedious marketing processes. When you’ve automated your marketing, you’ll be able to accomplish more with less people, and you’ll free up your team’s time to focus on what’s most important: closing deals and servicing clients. — Cam D. Bob III, Infinity Leads
14. Differentiate. Our agency provides claim advocacy and risk management consultation as a means of differentiation in a crowded sector. Positioning ourselves as a trusted advocate and risk manager promotes the de-commoditization of the insurance product. To maintain relevancy in a rapidly-evolving market, an agency must focus on providing consultative, value-added services to its clients. — Dan Hayden, The Seltzer Group
15. Try Something New. Grow your creative muscle. How? Take time to: Try something new. Play. Ask questions. Be wrong. — Donna M. Gray, American Insurance Marketing & Sales Society
16. Check Your Rep. Monitor your online reputation and what others are saying about you.
17. Take a Poll. Put a pop-up poll on your own and/or the local newspaper’s web site with one simple question about your community. The newspaper may even work with you to publish the results. Examples: What is your favorite local park? How often do you shop downtown rather than at the mall? What is the worst intersection in the city? What is the best outdoor public space for kids to play? What movie(s) or TV shows were filmed here? Which business has the best-looking outdoor sign?
18. Automated Notes. Automating personal handwritten notes with Handwrytten.com. Use the code HANDCARD for a $5 credit on your account. — Steve Anderson
19. Seek and Act on Feedback. It can be difficult to know exactly how your customers feel. Use a third-party source, if possible, to get direct feedback from customers on their experience working with you. Absorb and act on that feedback, good and bad. Their responses will give you a framework on which to build success and stronger relationships. — Ann Myhr, The Institutes
20. Video Marketing. Don’t know where to begin with video marketing? Look at the blogs on your website for your content/script. Approximately 350 words will give you a two-minute video. Shoot it on your cell phone and post it to YouTube. Now you have given new life to older content as well as contributed to your agency’s SEO. — Dshanya Reese, Watkins Insurance Group
21. Sales Training. Invest in sales training for your sales team, including the veterans and high-performers.
22. Target Markets. Invest in education for your sales team into your target markets and specialty accounts.
23. Video Matters. Launch a YouTube channel answering recurring questions from your clients. Double win: you help your clients, and it’s possible that many people have the same questions in their minds. Video matters, plus you could gain more clients in the long run. — Marcos Ortiz Valmaseda, data engineer at Indra
24. Culture Matters. Employees want to feel engaged with their coworkers and enjoy their working environments. Adding teambuilding events, activities and contests for employees, and morale-boosting reward systems will help increase engagement. Along with the greater employee satisfaction these efforts can produce, these additions can even benefit the company’s financials. — Ann Myhr, The Institutes
25. Post with Meaning. Weak social media efforts are useless. Unless you go all in and stay consistent, continually engaging with the audience, it won’t help. Posting just to post is useless. — Jason Marlowe, InsuranceHub
26. Be Prepared. Every time you call your prospect, you are interrupting their day. Make sure that you’re prepared to lead them through a purposeful conversation that focuses on the risks and threats facing their business. — Susan Toussaint, Oceanus Partners, a ReSource Pro Company
27. Write Well. Our clients say the ability to write clearly is the leading skill they look for in job candidates. Good oral communicators often fall apart in writing. And while no one thinks twice about a well-written email, a poorly written one can destroy credibility. There’s help out there! Revisit Rhetoric 101 at the community college. Take an online course. Host a grammar lunch box series. Try Lynda.com. Better communicators bring better business. — Ronimarie Acord, Aartrijk
28. Take 5. There are five fundamentals to consider when making decisions about insurance technology: 1) Know your numbers around growth, retention, productivity and profitability. 2) Leverage strengths and strengthen weaknesses of your organization, so you can be positioned to take advantage of the right technology at the right time for the right reasons. 3) Stay aware of what is going on in our industry and in the world at large. 4) Have a plan, ideally a written one that is communicated across your organization. 5) Execute the plan. — Kitty Ambers, AVSYT.com
29. Making Changes. Employees don’t resist change. They resist change they don’t understand. Overcommunicate the why behind the change and make sure you let them know what you considered in deciding to make the change. Research shows that employees will buy into a change, even if they don’t agree with it, if they believe management paid attention to the right inputs when making the decision to change. — Laurie Branch
30. Password Management. Take up a cause to save your agency or carrier time and money: Learn about a better way to better manage passwords. Ron Berg, executive director of the IIABA Agents Council for Technology, estimates that agencies soon will see their costs to manage passwords skyrocketing to as much as $1,000 to $3,000 per user per year. — Kevin Baker, Westfield Insurance and IDFederation.org member
31. More Than Just ABCs and 123s. As a risk manager, continuously educating your clients about their risks, ways to protect their assets and proactive measures that would help them avoid a claim is just as important as helping them through a claim. Ongoing conversations about your clients’ lifestyle, assets and emerging risks will ensure you have the information you need to provide them with the education they deserve. — Lisa Lindsay, Private Risk Management Association
32. Encourage Mentorship. By instituting structured mentorship programs, companies can create a pathway to prosperity for their younger workers that leaves them satisfied with their careers in the process. — Mary Ann Cook, The Institutes
33. Always Be Recruiting. Hiring for a licensed staff person can be expensive and time consuming. Rather than only hiring when you need staff, consider creating a monthly or quarterly hiring strategy. Look for individuals that have the characteristics and aptitude you are looking for, rather than only considering licensing and experience. Keep a consistent pipeline of qualified candidates. — Mernice Oliver, National Association for Advancement of Women in Insurance
34. Hit Ratio. Measure your marketing success by your hit ratio rather than your clicks. — Chris Burand, Burand and Associates
35. Work It. Speed to contact is vital. People don’t want to wait for anything. As soon as you get the lead, you need to work it.– Jason Marlowe, InsuranceHub
36. Respect. The idea of “respect” goes a long way. Treat your customers with respect, treat your agents with respect and promote a culture of respect at all levels of your organization. It will have direct impact on your bottom line. Guaranteed. — Amyn Rajan
37. Make it About Them. Your prospects don’t want to hear about you. They want to hear about how you can help them. — Eric Bluhm, Zywave
38. Build a Brand. Build a cohesive brand on your emails, social media and other marketing materials. Have an office pet? Make it your mascot. Is it a family-owned agency? Include all members in your marketing pieces. Making your agency memorable could be the bottom line in merely having an audience vs. making sales. — Toshya Leonard, Appalachian Underwriters Inc.
39. Be Authentic and Show Empathy. Whether it’s your clients, prospects or employees, you need to really put yourself in others’ shoes. At the end of the day, we are all working towards the same common goal. — Mike Bulow, The Bulow Group
40. Linked Up. Link your social media accounts to activities that involve your customers. Ask your customers to do something on social media and tag your agency. This can work best around a holiday challenge. For example, if you send a holiday card to your customers, ask them to pose with the holiday card and then have them post it to both your social media accounts and their own. You can even give a small prize for the most creative. — Mitchell Jawitz, Anderson and Murison
41. Agency Management. Understand and properly manage your trust accounting to provide accurate knowledge of your cash available, liabilities for producer commissions and advances, to prevent theft and being out-of-trust.– Henry Bender, Insurance Agency Trust A/C Management Services
42. Contact the News. Reach out to local media outlets and offer story ideas on trending insurance topics. Earning news coverage builds thought leadership and awareness for your agency. — Katie Curvel, We Insure Group
43. Under Promise and Over Deliver. Do not promise what you are not guaranteed to accomplish, so if and when you do, you over deliver! — Ashlee Paieda, All Risks Ltd.
44. Recruiting Is Sales. Brand Identity + A Strategic Plan = Successful Recruiting. What makes your agency unique? What makes your opening different? What is the candidate’s long term opportunity? These answers build your brand identity. — Mary Newgard, Capstone Search Group
45. Stay in Contact with Email. At minimum, you should send a renewal reminder before your client’s policy expires. But don’t stop there. You can also cross-sell, ask for reviews and referrals, and even nurture prospects via email. Plus, a slow and consistent drip of communication from your agency helps to keep your agency top of mind. — Laird Rixford, ITC
46. Develop ’til You Drop. Sending younger workers to industry conferences and providing developmental learning programs will encourage their personal growth and make them feel valued. — Mary Ann Cook, The Institutes
47. Use Video Content to Build More Personal Connection. In the digital marketing space, Video is King! 77% of B2B marketers produce video content. A few ideas to get started: 1. Welcome clients to the agency. 2. Give a tour of your office and introduce your staff. 3. Answer frequently asked questions from clients. 4. Announce your monthly referral rewards winner. 5. Wish clients a happy birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion. — Mernice Oliver, National Association for Advancement of Women in Insurance
48. A-Players. Dedication and discipline beats brilliance and giftedness every day of the week. And, A-Players don’t get lucky, they make lucky. Every time you do that which you know to be right over that which you know to be easy, you facilitate your entry into the Hall of Fame of Epic Achievers. — Robin Sharma, “5 a.m. Club”
49. Ask for the Sale, Then Shut Up. You would be amazed at how often a simple question will lead to a simple answer. If you ask to complete the sale and then keep selling, you have missed an opportunity to hear yes. — Marshall Klontz, Leavitt Group
50. Know How to Pivot. Sales objections, like death and taxes, are something you can anticipate. Preparing for them before you make a call or have a meeting will help you address your prospects’ objections, pivot and keep you in control of the conversation. — Susan Toussaint, Oceanus Partners, a ReSource Pro Company
51. Keep Moving. Automation, when used well, helps to passively keep your pipeline moving. — Jason Marlowe, InsuranceHub
52. Implement a Communication Service Model. It’s a great way to stay on top of the minds of your clients and referral sources. It’s important to communicate to them consistently and with quality content specific to the audience. — Katie Curvel, We Insure Group
53. Refrain from Saying ‘Sell Insurance.’ This is a turn off and insinuates that you are a price peddler, a commodity salesperson. Setting yourself apart from the competition requires the development of true strategic and consultative skills. Developing expertise in certain niche markets and providing value to a customer where you can truly help improve their business and Total Cost of Risk is very different, and it’s valuable. Using the verbiage, “Can I quote your insurance?” brings no value to the table as you align yourself with every other insurance producer out there. — Greg Suman, Leavitt Group
54. Association Participation. No one can join every association, but if you join, commit to participate fully. Attend events, provide giveaways at each event, advertise/patronize/sponsor events, volunteer for committees, evolve into an officer and/or board member. By continuing to give more than you get, it will pay-off with solid clients and referrals. — Warren Wettenstein, Wettenstein Insurance
55. Use Canva. Quite simply the easiest, most user-friendly graphic design program ever. In seconds, you can create all you need for social, whip up a new card and have it printed, make a poster or whatever else you need. No graphic design experience necessary to create professional looking sales and marketing pieces. — Lynn Mason-Small, Rogers & Gray Insurance
56. Ask After the Win. Every time agents have a win, such as a new sale, claim paid, exemplary service performed, a referral should be asked for. That is their hour of need and when clients are most likely to give you a referral or tell others how great you and your agency are. — Catherine Oak, Oak & Associates
57. Gaming. Make a game for prospective and existing clients; BINGO or digital prize wheel when they go your website. Games boost engagement and will also show who your top fans are.
58. Be Charitable. Pick a local charity and donate and volunteer. Feature this on your social media, website and office. Hold a special month-long event where clients can come in and drop off backpacks, basketballs, supplies, etc. This is a win-win for clients and employees.
59. Intend to Be Intentional. Too often, agencies view the race to recruit top talent as a marathon with 10,000 entrants. It’s overwhelming, and you’ll be lost in the shuffle. The best approach is to break down hiring needs into subgroups. Internal and external resources need to be utilized differently to hire an account manager, a producer and a leader. — Mary Newgard, Capstone Search Group
60. Trusted Advisor. Always provide the client with the best coverages for their company, become their trusted advisor, and ultimately change the way they view insurance. — Jonni Gray, The Seltzer Group
61. Engagement, Engagement, Engagement. Establish regular communications with your existing customers. Start a monthly email newsletter with local community news, industry updates, special offers, and new products or services. Use social media to build a fan base. Create a social media strategy to stay top of mind of your clients. — Mernice Oliver, National Association for Advancement of Women in Insurance
62. Referral Rewards. Create a monthly referral rewards strategy and announce/tag the winners in your social media post. — Mernice Oliver, National Association for Advancement of Women in Insurance
63. It’s About Them. Piquing the curiosity of your prospects only happens when you make the message about them, not your products and services. — Susan Toussaint, Oceanus Partners, a ReSource Pro Company
64. Network with Your Neighbors. Curate a “Best Of” list recognizing the top people and businesses in your area. Congratulate the winners personally and distribute the list to your customers. People love to be complimented, and this grassroots marketing tactic is a useful way to build leads. Make it an annual list, and you can even use it to generate social media buzz! — Ann Myhr, The Institutes
65. Automate Your Marketing. Automation is the key to efficiency. Develop an automated, proactive content marketing program to stay in front of your clients, while contributing valuable information with minimal time investment. — Eric Bluhm, Zywave
66. Hands-On Training. Offer opportunities for agents to gain hands-on training in real-world situations. We Insure opened a corporate storefront to train new agents on insurance practices in a real working office. — Katie Curvel, We Insure Group
67. Preparation is the Key to Success. When you walk into an appointment and have compiled all available information and have all the necessary questions ready, it goes a long way when displaying your overall level of work. Preparation leads to confidence; confidence leads to sales. — Marshall Klontz, Leavitt Group
68. Don’t Get Greedy. Consider every association member a Center of Influence (COI). Always put organization and client ahead of greed. — Warren Wettenstein, Wettenstein Insurance
69. Pay Bonuses to CSRs. Account managers/CSRs are on the front line with clients every day. They should be paid for new business account rounding and presenting leads to other departments, if a new coverage is written. In personal lines, we recommend a flat dollar amount per policy. In commercial lines or benefits, a percentage of the new coverage written, such as 10% to 20% of the commission first year only, the amount paid depending on whether they do it alone or get help from a producer. — Catherine Oak, Oak & Associates
70. Know Your Partners. Take the time to build relationships with your carrier partners, beyond the daily grind of accounts. Not only will your accounts have a better shot at priority when needed, but you will benefit in other ways such as hearing what they are seeing in the market on their book and know when to keep pushing back or when it is truly the best they can do. — Ashlee Paieda, All Risks Ltd.
71. Get Instagram. If your business is not on Instagram yet, create one now. It’s a good way to connect with your clients. Everyone loves hearts. In the very least, it’s a growing and active insurance community and will give you all the good insurance feels.
72. Be Available. Always have three easy ways for people to contact you. — Jason Marlowe, InsuranceHub
73. Sales Attributes. Humility, empathy, diplomacy and genuine curiosity are critical attributes for high performance in sales. — Frank Pennachio, Oceanus Partners, a ReSource Pro Company
74. Leverage Data. There’s an incredible amount of data available at our fingertips. Show your clients how you can help them using actual numbers from their business or benchmarks from their industry and your message will become more real. — Eric Bluhm, Zywave
75. Reviews. Ask every customer for an online review. Earning positive reviews takes effort and most customers don’t share feedback unless they’ve had a bad experience. Set up an automatic request via email to make it easy for your customers to review your agency. — Katie Curvel, We Insure Group
76. Love Your Enemy. You should welcome competition. Nothing focuses the mind like being engaged in combat to the death with your mortal enemy. Mac vs. PC. Coke vs. Pepsi. The Allies vs. The Axis Powers. Having a mortal enemy for your brand concentrates the mind and clarifies the values of everyone involved. Articulate to customers and prospects how you are different. That is called positioning. — Peter van Aartrijk, author, ThePowersBook.com
77. Be Visible. Don’t Hide Behind E-mail, Texts and Social Media. In the super connected world that we live in, prospect and client touches are easier than ever, but can have an impersonal feel. Take the extra step to have a client-focused conversation to uncover needs, in person. — Joseph Feitz, All Risks Ltd.
78. Don’t Pitch, Connect. If people don’t like you, they aren’t going to do business with you. Build relationships, be present and available, and follow through on commitments and promises. Show your value by being knowledgeable in your field and maintain your connection with clients well after the deal is closed. — Andrew Caldwell, Smart Choice
79. W.O.M. Marketing Works. Customers buy based on recommendations from trusted sources. Ask your clients to recommend you to their friends and family or post a review online or on social media. The added bonus is that not only is Word of Mouth Marketing proven to be effective, but also it is free. — Jef Morgan, Chief Marketing Officer, Smart Choice
80. Time Management. The best producer and the worst producer have one thing in common — the same amount of time. If you want to be better, utilize your time more effectively. Sometimes small accounts and large accounts require the same amount of time. Sharpen your focus. Be selective. — J.D. Babuder, All Risks Ltd.
81. Track Yourself. If you want more online reviews, measure it. Track how many reviews each agent gets. — Jason Marlowe, InsuranceHub
82. 5 Ws. Always remember the five Ws of consumer engagement: 1) Who do you want to engage? 2) What message does your client expect? 3) Where does your client expect to communicate with you? 4) When does your client want to hear from you? 5) Why does your client want your product? — Donna M. Gray, American Insurance Marketing & Sales Society
83. Ask for Help Reducing Passwords. Emerging cybersecurity risks and regulations make credential management a critical, but costly, task for agencies. The industrywide volunteers of ID Federation developed a secure and free way for every agency user to have just one ID and password for insurance transactions. — Irv Kantar, Business Manager, ID Federation
84. Lead Lists. Hire a freelancer to create a lead list. The cost is extremely cheap (sometimes as low as $3/hour) and the lists are much better and more accurate than anything you can purchase. Run your lead list through an email scrubbing service to make sure the emails are accurate. — Carolyn Bradfield
85. Be STRONG. S: Serve with integrity. T: Have a team with the skills and expertise to exceed client expectations. R: Reliability — be there to solve problems, answer questions, and stand by when clients need guidance and support. O: Our clients’ interest ALWAYS comes first. N: Never Fail to Learn. G: Give your best effort. — Jonni Gray, The Seltzer Group
86. Be Genuine and Forthcoming with Information. If your carriers and clients know they can trust that you are not withholding information, they are more likely to jump on your accounts and do whatever they can to help you get the deal done. — Ashlee Paieda, All Risks Ltd.
87. Be Remembered. Branding is important, especially with so many different agencies out there. They’d best remember you. — Jason Marlowe, InsuranceHub
88. Change Behavior. The primary role of a salesperson is to lead change behavior. People don’t like to change, yet buyers will change when they discover there is greater pain or risk with the status quo than the risk and pain to change. — Frank Pennachio, Oceanus Partners, a ReSource Pro Company
89. Avoid Alphabet Soup. Unless you have an AIG-style bucket of money for global branding, resist the temptation to take the easy way out by relying on initials or acronyms for firms, programs, projects, products or services. Take the extra time to craft a name using words that mean something. A set of initials typically does not; that’s why, for example, the National Association of Realtors isn’t NAR. The organization opted for Realtors. The members are real people, not vague entities from the planet NAR. — Peter van Aartrijk, author, ThePowersBook.com
90. Think About Your Own Customer Experience. Our industry spends a lot of time discussing the customer experience, and rightfully so. But what about our own experiences as users? Think critically about the current user experience with your systems and processes. — Kitty Ambers, AVSYT.com
91. Stay Connected to Your Prospective and Past Clients. Yes, email marketing is still a very viable marketing strategy. Start an email newsletter with updates, products, and safety tips. With email automation, you can stay on the minds of your past clients and future prospects thanks to a continuous and valuable email presence. — Mernice Oliver, National Association for Advancement of Women in Insurance
92. Diversify Your Training. Try these ways to expand your organization’s learning culture: Tuition for business and life-skills training. Paid time off to attend classes. Support for volunteer efforts. Career days and mentorship. Collaborate with colleges and universities. Sabbaticals to pursue deep learning. Lunch-and-learns with in-house and invited speakers. Support attendance at industry conferences. Host networking events and workshops. — Debbie Ivie, NetVU (Network of Vertafore Users)
93. KPIs. Define your marketing success by identifying and measuring Key Performance Indicators. You can’t improve unless you measure your progress. — Katie Curvel, We Insure Group
94. Production Increase. Every year, your manager probably expects more production from you. You have two choices: 1) Work more hours; 2) Change something you did last year to become more efficient. Which will you choose? – J.D. Babuder, All Risks Ltd.
95. Make Progress. What’s the No. 1 motivator for employees? A Harvard study showed that simply the satisfaction of making progress in their work was associated with more positivity and motivation than any other factor. Structure your company culture around that concept. — Donna M. Gray, American Insurance Marketing & Sales Society
96. Solve a Problem. Differentiate yourself by listening to customers, identifying needs, and providing solutions. Many products and services are similar so you need to show your customers how you can solve their business problems. — Mary Ann Cook, The Institutes
97. Foster a Passion for Lifelong Learning. Bring in industry experts to speak during lunch, inspire employees to research an emerging industry topic, encourage them to share what they learned, and honor employees who earn industry designations or certifications. — Ann Myhr, The Institutes
98. Focus on Loss Avoidance. Buyers are far more likely to change to avoid losses or adverse events than they are when offered enhanced features and benefits. — Frank Pennachio, Oceanus Partners, a ReSource Pro Company
99. Rankings. Be familiar with how your business ranks with Google SERPs. — Jason Marlowe, InsuranceHub
100. Decide on Excellence. To be excellent, you must first decide to be. Then you must work yourself through the small things over and over until they are habit, or hard-wired. — Randy Schwantz, The Wedge Group
101. Motivate the Sellers. Encourage, always invest in and help motivate producers and sales support staff to reach new levels of success.