In our modern workforce, there are still a few positions that give inexperienced or young employees the chance to make a lot of money in their first year. A life insurance agent or sales representative is one of those job titles that can earn you over $100,000 a year if you’re good.
However, success as an agent doesn’t come without its costs. Burnout is high, and even the best salespeople will hear “no” much more than “yes.” But if you can handle the high amount of potential rejection and have the skills to be great, you’ll excel in life insurance sales.
What is a life insurance sales representative?
A life insurance sales representative sells life insurance to potential customers, typically through phone or email correspondence. Life insurance is a contract between the policy owner and insurer that guarantees money will be paid out to a beneficiary after the policy owner’s death.
To ensure the sales representative provides the customer with the right policy, they’ll ask questions about their age, gender, medical history, lifestyle, and driving record. After inputting this information into their company’s program, the agent will determine the cost of the policy.
How to Become a Life Insurance Sales Agent
Becoming a life insurance sales agent isn’t difficult in comparison to other sales or marketing jobs, but you’ll need the right personality and set of soft skills to be a top seller in your field.
Step 1: Get a High School Diploma
A high school diploma is the only requirement needed to become a life insurance sales representative (besides a life insurance license). But, you should take public-speaking classes and economics, finance, and business courses to improve your sales technique.
Step 2: Get Your Life Insurance License
Taking the life insurance exam and getting your state license is necessary to work as an agent. If you plan to move out of your current state, you’ll need a different state-specific license. In most states, licenses are issued to applicants who complete courses from qualified schools.
Once you receive your license, you must take continuing education courses that focus on consumer protection, insurance laws, insurance policies, and sales ethics. You may have to renew your license every few years to stay employed as a life insurance sales agent.
Step 3: Improve Sales-Based Soft Skills
In insurance sales, knowing your product is essential. However, since you’re working in a customer-facing, relationship-driven business, you also have to improve on the following:
- Problem Solving
- Critical Thinking
Most employers will issue a mock sales test during your interview. If you want to impress your future employers, you need to already have basic sales, customer service, and objection handling skills. If you are knowledgeable in the product you’re selling, even better.
Step 4: Get Trained by Your Employer
Once you ace your interview and get your first job, your employer will ask new agents to job shadow under experienced representatives. This practice will help you understand how the agency interacts with clients. After you’re trained, you’ll be placed on your own sales calls.
Step 5: Consider Your Career Trajectory
Life insurance agents can branch out into two categories: property and casualty insurance and health and long-term care insurance. All three positions are typically compensated via a percentage-based commission, which can hold new sellers back from making a decent wage.
Let’s look at the two categories more in-depth:
- Property and Casualty Insurance: Agents who sell this insurance help customers protect their property, including their homes, jewelry, vehicles, and valuables.
- Health and Long-Term Care Insurance: Agents who sell this insurance help their customers enroll in health-related products and services or plans.
The median yearly salary for insurance agents is $50,170 dollars per year. Low-level agents may make $27,500 a year, whereas top-tier professionals can make $125,000 or more.
Agents specializing in property and casualty or health and long-term care insurance tend to make more than their life insurance team members. That’s because people are less likely to purchase life insurance due to their low opinion of agents (i.e., “they’re scammers”).
Insurance agents can work for an independent insurance agency or direct writer. Independent agents sell policies from multiple different companies, while direct writer agents work for a single major insurance company. Agents in both categories require the same set of skills.