Monday, June 29, 2020

The "Why" of Insurance Sales

Last week I was listening to an life insurance selling podcast (yes, I'm a nerd) and the topic was on why people get into selling insurance and the motivation to stay in the business. In other words, if someone were to ask me why I sold insurance, what would my response be?

Naturally, the correct answer was that agents want to help people protect their families' financial security. They gave examples of handing claims checks to grieving widows who asked, "Am I going to be okay?" while small children played in the background. Knowing that this family could stay in their home while making a commission was their calling and these agents felt like they had accomplished something when they convinced the client to buy a policy.

On the other hand, agents who were in the business just for the money were the ones who never lasted long. Their intentions were short-sighted and self-centered. I began to ask myself questions. Was this me? Am I making this all about me? Am I a bad person?

I thought back to 1985 when I first got into the insurance business. At 23 years old I really didn't know what to do with my business degree from North Carolina State University. No one was beating down my door asking me to come work for them and my savings was starting to shrivel, so I answered a classified ad in the local newspaper. "Make $20k a year, no experience necessary". 

Not being jaded enough at the time, I believed everything that the recruiter said. The great pay and working for a top-notch company was going to be the answer to all of my dreams. Looking back though, he never mentioned anything about helping families out when their time of need came. And the accident plan we sold paid a whopping $37.50 each day someone was confined to the hospital. The plan was a loser and my co-workers and I probably knew it. 

I left that job and moved on. Eventually I worked for companies that I had actually heard of. Some of those companies had training programs and from time to time I would hear the old "why are you selling insurance" question posed again. 

My position had changed though. Now I had become a student of the game. I did enjoy helping families and the proof was in my first claim check delivery. The carrier I was working with would ask us to deliver smaller claims (under $10,000) in person. This was to accomplish two things: 1) We could express our sympathies in person for the loss of a loved one and 2) to get referrals. In regard to the latter, I could usually get a few names after handing someone a check for a few thousand dollars, so that was easy. 

My first claim check delivery was too an elderly gentleman in a small town. At first I thought he was the deceased and was a bit confused. The house was old and there was a wooden wheelchair ramp which had seen better days. When the gentleman came to the door he acknowledged who he was and clarified that his son had been the one that died. He told me how his son, a truck driver, had been found dead in the cab of his semi, which was now parked in front of the house. Apparently a heart attack was the cause.

At that moment I realized that this man was in emotional pain and I was doing something good by bringing him this check. He beamed as he mentioned that this was the first good news he had received in a while. On top of it all, I learned that I was his first visitor in a few days as well, and since he was wheelchair bound, he didn't get out much. We talked for over an hour as he told me about his son and his own career. I found my "why". That short amount of time with him had brightened his day as well as my own. 

Over the years my "why" changed for the better. Over the years I've delivered several checks (most companies mail them out nowadays) but I still think back to that gentleman who helped me understand that my real job isn't selling a policy, but convincing someone to let me help them secure their finances at a time of loss and sadness. 

If you need help finding a policy for you or your loved ones, let us know. You can book an appointment on our calendar and we'll help you over the phone. And as always, stay healthy.

Chris Castanes is the president of Surf Financial Brokers, as well as a professional speaker helping sales people be more productive and efficient.

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