When you hear the term “insurance sales,” what do you think of? Pushy people calling you non-stop, just trying to get you to sign a contract? Crazy TV commercials with over-the-top characters? Boredom?
Insurance doesn’t have to be (and isn’t) any of those things. It’s a role in a growing industry — a growth rate of 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the U.S. average — and one that isn’t about sales. It’s about relationships. And, for many positions in the industry, it offers that extra bonus of being able to work from home: after all, sales are made during those face-to-face meetings, the ones that come after developing relationships.
Interested in the field? We have a lot of great resources to help you find the perfect position for your talents and skills. But this blog post isn’t just about what you can find at Hastings Mutual; it’s about the abilities you need to develop a long-term career, and thousands of friends in your neighborhood.
Social media posts and email are common ways to stay in touch, but to make that first connection, pick up the phone and make a call. Sure, emails are easy (and text messages are an even faster and more popular way to reach people), but there are still good reasons to pick up the phone: when you need to ask or answer a lot of questions, when you need to discuss something private, or when you want to make a personal connection — like the connection between a sales agent and his or her clients. It takes more effort to schedule a time to call or even meet face-to-face than it does to send out a quick email, but the back-and-forth you get while talking with someone is often worth the effort.
Businesses know it, too; companies looking to work with Hastings Mutual have a sales representative make a phone call first, then send a follow-up email with details on what was discussed during the call. Relationships aren’t built as easily via email as they are verbally.
If you’re taking our earlier advice and considering a move into a telecommuting role, don’t forget to check in with the office. Phone calls are a good way to talk with someone, but it’s often part of the job description to stop in the office at least once a week or once a month to say hello to everyone there, and have more in-depth, in-person meetings with managers and co-workers.
No matter what part of the insurance industry you want to be in — or even if you want to be in an entirely different field — knowing how to make personal connections is key. The reverse is true also: know when to stop. As the old cliché goes, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” That’s true in any business. Once you’ve presented the skills and talents you have to offer, take a step back. If a recruiter doesn’t call you right away, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve forgotten about you. You might be the right person for a position, just not at the moment.
Showing interest is one thing; being overbearing, and constantly checking in, makes you less likely to be a recruiter’s first choice when it is time to fill a job opening. We suggest making a “gentle follow up” in the form of an email or phone call if you’ve been waiting a few weeks for a response. Remind the recruiter who you were, and ask if there’s been an update on the position for which you were applying. Companies are constantly changing, and what was true one day may be completely inaccurate the next. Give the interview your best, and you’ll probably hear from someone very soon.
Finally, remember that even if you’re working from home, you’re representing the company. Your attitude and the way you act with customers is a reflection of everyone at the business. It’s something that isn’t as easy to learn as the types of policies you sell, or the requirements to process a claim. It requires patience and compassion, and a willingness to empathize with others.A customer-facing position, like many of the positions at Hastings Mutual, is one that likely comes with a lot of perks: good pay, a somewhat flexible schedule, the opportunity to work from home, and other benefits. Other jobs in the insurance field, like underwriting and IT, also interact with policyholders, and call for the same degree of empathy (maybe even more, if you’re explaining something for someone who doesn’t want to hear it!).