How to Navigate the Path from Service to Sales

July 29, 2020

Building a career in sales in the insurance industry can be extremely lucrative with the potential to make an excellent living.  And while the producer role is not the right one for everyone, if you have the desire and the grit to take a run at a sales position, the payoff can be very rewarding.  A role in production often affords flexibility, the opportunity to determine your earning potential, and residual income on retained accounts.  

If you have been in a service role for a while and interested in trying your hand in sales, here are four critical items to understand about making that transition.

Test Drive Your Sales Skills – While a sales role can be advantageous, there is also a lot of risk involved. If you are not feeling 100% confident that you are ready to leave the safety of a salaried service role, there are ways to test out the sales water before taking the plunge.  One great way to do this is by upselling and cross-selling with clients in the book you are currently servicing.  Helping them understand the value of additional insurance options that provide better coverage is a critical part of the insurance sales role. 

Practicing executing the sales process with clients you are familiar with can help you better understand your future sales role potential.

The personality traits that it takes to make a great service person are different from those required of a successful salesperson.  Confirming that you have got the right traits ahead of time can be a great way to make sure you do not get in over your head.

Develop a “business plan” – Knowing you have a desire to build a career in sales and having the knack for it is only part of the battle.  Having a plan for how to go about building a book is an entirely different step, but a critical part of the process towards success.   

Explore options with various types of businesses that pique your interest.   Once you have narrowed it down to a few niches, start investigating how many prospects exist within that niche and estimate an income potential based on earning a percentage of that business.   Taking the time to evaluate different niches and the earning potential within will help you laser in on the right path when it’s time to step into a sales role.

Discuss the opportunity with your supervisor – Understanding and then verbalizing goals can be a little bit intimidating, but it is crucial to your ongoing development. Your supervisor isn’t going to assume that you are interested in moving into a sales role.  Demonstrating a willingness to share goals with your manager shows a tremendous amount of initiative.  If you can also back up the request for a new position by showcasing the work you’ve done cross-selling with your existing service book and the sales plan you’ve developed will go a long way in landing the pitch with your manager.

The conversation with your manager is also an essential step in understanding the opportunity that exists within the agency, what a sales role would look like, whether part-time or full time and expectations that are part of that role. All of these points are necessary to make sure both you and your manager are on the same page where you want to go and if the agency you’re at can get you there.   And if they can, identify the next steps to make that happen.

Be prepared to move on – There is a harsh reality that the agency you are currently employed may not be able to facilitate your request to move into a sales position.  The agency may not have an open position for sales, they may not have enough support staff to absorb your work (which would include your current service book and future producer book), or they may not feel you are the right fit for a sales role.   

Regardless of the reason, you will have to decide whether you stick with your current agency, hoping an opportunity will eventually open up or if it is better to move onto another agency willing to meet that need in a shorter time frame.

Stepping into a new role can be exciting and intimidating at the same time.  Using the steps above will allow you to prepare for a successful transition from service to sales.

For more on this topic, check out the full episode of The Independent Agent below: