One of the greatest challenges for independent insurance agents, for both established agents and those who are just starting out, is generating leads. Agents who want to grow their business and establish a client base may first look to family, friends, classmates and acquaintances. Once you have exhausted your list of friends and family for potential leads, you will need to learn the importance of networking. Aunt Edna can only buy so many auto insurance policies! Aside from increased sales, here are just some of the benefits of networking.
- You establish yourself as part of your community.
You have chosen to start your business in the community you’re in for a reason. You must feel a pull towards it’s citizens or a potential for community improvement. Creating positive relationships with community members and fellow business owners in your community will not only establish your good reputation as a business owner, but it will create potential for organic growth, referrals and business leads.
- You create business to business relationships.
Creating relationships with business owners in other industries will broaden the scope of potential customers you interact with. There are some professions that naturally complement the insurance industry: mortgage brokers, bankers, real estate agents. These professionals are constantly working with a pool of people who are, or will be, actively looking for insurance. These are the types of relationships to leverage when you are building your network of business to business relationships.
- Marketing isn’t cheap!
If you were to put the budget of an independent insurance agent up against that of a direct insurance writer, there is no competition. Direct writers have, what seems like, an endless budget to market their products and services. However, what they may lack is a person who lives in the community, knows its residents and knows what is important in the lives of its residents. If you can create and maintain genuine relationships in your community, that will out-market a 30 second commercial any day of the week.
- Referrals are the very best lead source.
Your network of friends, customers, colleagues, acquaintances, family members and fellow alumni represent what is likely your most lucrative lead source: referrals. Without a doubt, referrals have the highest close rate compared to any other type of lead.
Networking is not always easy. You must step outside of your comfort zone at times. You may need to attend industry functions and events that you wouldn’t ordinarily have at the top of your priority list. However, if you establish yourself in the right networks, the pay off is immeasurable. Aside from increased leads and sales, you will establish yourself as a respected member of your community for many years to come.