Success in the Insurance Industry

Being successful as an insurance agent is the hope of many entering this industry but there is a reason why there is almost 100% turnover in the insurance business. Why is it that there is approximately the same number of people leaving this business every year as there are new people entering it? The very allure of independence and self employment that the Life Insurance Sales industry seems to offer those coming from an overworked and underpaid traditional corporate America, is also the very thing that causes much of the high failure rate in this business. Have you ever heard that the best thing about being in business for yourself is that you are the boss? Well, the flip side of that is the very worst thing about being in business for you oftentimes is that You Are The Boss!! If you have decided to make a career of this business called Life Insurance Sales, how do you give yourself the highest probability of success? Trying to wade through all the insurance sales opportunities, understanding the myriad of products and how to sell them and then developing a system for success as an independent contractor with you as an inexperienced boss of “You, Inc.” is sometimes the very kiss of death in what was an optimistic start to your new career.

What does it really take for someone to be highly successful as an insurance agent or an eventual agency manager or owner? Well, here’s what I believe and it’s only because I tried to figure things out for myself and I don’t always recommend that course of action. It can be very costly. Someone once said “Experience is the Best Teacher”. While I do believe there is truth in that statement I believe it could be more accurately stated that “Someone Else’s Experience is the Best Teacher”. When one considers and learns from the experience of others it allows them to advance without the time or money wasted in making mistakes in the learning experience. Even though I had significant success in other ventures prior to this one, this was a whole new ball game. I made a lot of early mistakes but I am grateful for my previous experience in startups and as a result I quickly knew some of the fundamentals I had to have and implement to have success.

Are you ready for the answer as to what it really takes to be highly successful in this business, as it is in any other business? It takes finding a niche in a given marketplace, a system to support that niche, a group with moral character and integrity that has developed a successful system and a lot of hard work, dedication, focus and commitment on your part. That’s what it takes.

So let’s talk about the Final Expense insurance industry and how to become successful in this corner of the marketplace.

You have a great opportunity to provide a much needed service to your clients as you work with them to set up a financial plan to cover end of life costs and to make their wishes known to their loved ones. Can you think of anything better than giving your clients peace of mind? Today we hope to communicate that the final expense market is a great market to be in, and additionally provide some fundamental components on how you can become a successful growing agent with the right approach, organization and hard work.

Why Final Expenses?

We trust you know that this type of insurance is for the sole purpose of helping your clients cover expenses that occur around the time of their death. This often includes more than just funeral and burial costs. Depending upon each family’s situation this could mean there may be additional expenses including things such as:

  • Doctor’s visits
  • Hospital costs
  • Extended care
  • Probate court
  • Transportation of remains
  • Other related expenses

Retirement age for seniors means that they are facing a whole new set of challenges, and planning for the end of their life can be very daunting for them and their adult children. The average cost of a funeral today is somewhere between $10,000 to $12,500, if not more. In some areas of the country and in some communities it can be a little less but in other areas it can be significantly more. Additionally, this cost is rising to the tune of about 50% every 10 years. The need for final expense products and services is definitely there, but why choose this particular market?

  • This is a huge market with millions of households identified as having the need for this insurance to help them cover their final expenses.
  • Over 10,000 baby boomers a day are entering our market and over 80% of them have yet to take care of this specific need.
  • There is a high and growing number of prospects in this targeted demographic that respond weekly to marketing efforts. Thousands of respondents weekly are looking for more information.
  • Selling final expense insurance is relatively simple, and the sale’s process is straightforward and quite simple if you have a system.
  • Final expense insurance is relatively affordable and attractive to most seniors and low-income families.
  • Most seniors feel a moral obligation to take care of these future costs for their families.
  • There is a quick turnaround time from application to policy issue for final expense insurance, which means that once the policy is approved and issued, you are paid, unlike others types of insurance products which can take weeks and even months sometimes to get the policies issued and for you to get paid.

If this all this clearly outlines why it is such a great market to be in, what are the things you need to know in order to become a successful final expense insurance agent and eventual agency manager or owner?

1. Connect with an organization that has a system, a full-scale successful sales and marketing system. Many groups or so called IMOs out there tout to have a complete system when really all they have are a few contracts to offer with carriers they do business with, a way for you to do your own mail or marketing, a weekly phone call they refer to as training support and a recruiting machine that churns and churns. This is not a complete success system. These groups may provide a brief stopping ground for some but sustained long-term success here is very limited and only the few strong survive. For the highest probability for success look to be connected with a team that provides high quality leads to their agents without the Team Successfinancial liability for the generation of those leads being on the agent. Too many companies recruit life agents offering them the so-called best and highest contracts only to leave the agent with the full financial responsibility of marketing and lead returns. If returns are bad or the financial obligation of the marketing cannot be sustained, the high contract is meaningless and you are out of business before you even really had the opportunity to figure it out.

Consistency of lead flow, robust and effective training, ongoing field support, profitability of the agent and clearly defined advancement opportunities are what denotes a complete success system. And one more thing, the main thing; look for an organization of servant leaders, team members that serve one another and understand that everyone wins when the team wins.

2. Understand that you are a trust builder, an educator and a service provider. If you can help someone solve a problem, then you are in business. This process is all about people. Identify their needs, their wishes and who and what is important to them. Pay close attention to the information you gather and help them meet their wishes.  This is an emotional sale. Very rarely is it a logical one. Remember this and things will generally go better for you. If you are not a person with empathy or you are truly a not connecter, this corner of the insurance market may not be for you.

3. Develop or adopt a plan to ensure maximum time in front of potential clients. Getting in front of the client and making your week efficient and productive is one of the biggest challenges in this business. Many people spend way too much time working on their marketing and generating leads at their own expense. Remember you make money when you are in front of clients. Spend most of your time doing what makes you the most money. So what is the best way to see the highest number of potential clients and how do you become effective at doing so? This goes back to number 1 and an already proven system.

4. Understand what a Lead is. Don’t assume that because someone inquired about final expense insurance and replied to a mailer or marketing initiative that they are going to buy. Leads are simply a viable opportunity to have a conversation about final expense planning and insurance. That’s all they are. There are no guarantees, just opportunities. You still have the responsibility to get in front of the potential client, educate the consumer and make the sale. There are no shortcuts to hard work and continually improving your skill set with regular training.

5. Be organized. Organize leads that you receive by geographic location. Who is the closest to you? Plan your week by working with those the farthest from you and work your way back home or to your hotel area for that week. Know this information and you’ll be able to stay more organized and efficient. Organize your mobile office (your car) so that you have all the supplies and materials you might need when you are in the field. Lack of advance preparation in this area can cause missed opportunity windows on sales and significant time lost gathering the items necessary to return and complete the application on a second appointment. Have everything you might possibly need to complete your application on the first appointment.

6. Set realistic expectations. If you get a specific number of leads each week, you’ll be able to break down the amount of time in your week spent on making contacts, and seeing people. If you have certain production obligations or personal goals then structure your week to allow you the best opportunity to meet them. Ensure that you are the best employee that you have in “You, Inc.” and hold yourself accountable to those expectations. If the organization you are working with has a work schedule that is most commonly practiced by their top earners then emulate that schedule. It probably works well for a reason.

7. Know your numbers. Know the average close ratios of the organization you are working with and the numbers of the top earners. Know all of their numbers, not just their production numbers but also the numbers of actual meeting attempts, home visits, phone calls and actual appointments, etc. These tell the true story of the production and what your numbers should be and what your expectations should be based on.

8. Put in the work. This last one should be a given but sometimes as the boss of “You, Inc.” its easy to get sidetracked with the freedom of the being the 1099 compensated individual you are. Just remember RGA.

A good friend of mine, mentor and successful entrepreneur reminded me of this recently. He said “For you to be successful in any business you must focus on RGA: Revenue Generating Activities. This is what determines the profitability of the company and long-term sustainable success. You must focus on RGA and as business builder create a system to allow your people to focus on RGA. Without it the business will fail!”

If you find yourself reorganizing your office, ordering supplies, studying up on policy provisions and other non revenue generating activities during prime time then you are already working yourself out of business. You may feel like you are working and you may have others convinced you had a busy day, when in fact the reality is all you are doing is busy work. Structure your week to allow for maximum RGA and keep yourself accountable to others on your team who also value maximizing RGA.

Where you choose to land in this crazy business is a choice. How you approach your work is a choice. Who you choose to associate with is a choice and how far you go or how big you grow is a choice. Just please remember that the highest probability for success in the Life Insurance Industry and as a Final Expense Life Agent or Agency Manager is with a proven system and organization allowing and compelling you to focus on RGA while they focus on the rest. 


Here at the ADVANCE Team, our mission is to provide the best system, resources, training, and ongoing support to ensure that you have the highest probability for success in the industry. Our goal is not only to assist you in making a successful career in the Final Expense marketplace, but to create a home where you will connect with and develop lifelong relationships with others like yourself and provide you the platform on which you can grow to your maximum potential and advance your career as far as you desire to take it.

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