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Surprising Advice for 22-Year-Old Young Agent

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Today, I want to talk about a phone call that I actually got yesterday.

I was on the road yesterday, just kind of had to run some errands or whatever and had kind of a long drive in front of me and got a semi-random call from a young producer.

We had scheduled it, but I had forgotten, and he kind of called me out of the blue. His name’s Matt, 22 years old, been in the business for one month, and he had some questions.

He just wanted to kind of pick my brain on what he should be doing as a young producer, and he caught me at the perfect time. I had plenty of time to give him, and we chatted for about 35 minutes.

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I wanted to break down for you the advice that I gave him and kind of take this for what it’s worth, but this is my best advice for a 22-year-old young agent.

You Don’t Know Shit

First, here’s my very first thing I told him.

You’re 22 years old.

You don’t know shit.

It’s going to take three years before you know anything about insurance.

No one’s going to take you seriously, and you’re going to get a lot of nos for a long time simply because you look young, and people know there’s no way you actually know what you’re talking about.

So you’re going to get a ton of nos.

I said, “You have to own that.”

You have to own that you are going to eat shit for a long time, and you have to be okay with that. Accept that, that’s going to happen. Accept that you’re going to hear an endless stream of nos, and it’s going to suck, and you’re going to get frustrated, and that’s just part of growing up in this business.

Matt’s feedback to me was, “Thank you. That’s very honest. That’s very candid, but I’m kind of an impatient guy.”

I said, “Be impatient.”

My response to him was that impatience is a good thing. You’re 22. You should be impatient. You should be impatient with not having another meeting. You should go get every meeting you can get.

You’re not married.

You don’t have kids, right?

You don’t have a ton of responsibilities.

You shouldn’t have a ton of bills.

Go out and get appointments.

Grind every networking event, cold call, ask for referrals, hound your family, hound your friends, work Facebook, create videos.

Do that work.

Go get that business. Just hear no a thousand times, hear it a thousand times because if you’re getting a thousand nos, then mixed in there, you’re getting some yeses, and those yeses are going to start to add up, and that seemed to make sense to him.

I then told him stay away from digital marketing.

Stay Away from Social Media

Don’t get overly caught up in Instagram and LinkedIn and Twitter and all these kind of things. I said, “I do believe you should be doing videos.”

Short videos, 90 to 120 seconds, answering very basic, very simple questions about insurance, right?

What is personal auto protection? What is at-fault liability? Why do you need comp? When is glass coverage a good idea? All this simple stuff …

He primarily writes personal lines right now.

All this simple stuff, answer that, put it one YouTube, upload it to Facebook, just do those videos, but don’t get caught up in tweeting and always being on social because that’ll eat away at what you need to be doing, which is grinding out appointments, just grind appointments.

Get as many appointments as you can because at 22, you need to hear no.

That’s what you need to hear.

You need to hear people say, “No, I don’t want to do business with you. No, I’m not willing to take that appointment. No, I’m not interested in getting a quote from you,” because what that does is it forces you.

If you have the persistence and the intestinal fortitude, the guts to keep pushing forward, it forces you to learn the stories, to develop the confidence necessary to get past those nos, and that was the next piece of advice I gave him.

You’ve got to learn the stories.

You’ve got to have a story for every single coverage.

Why should you have 500 single limit on your at-fault auto insurance and not 5100? Here’s a story for that.

Why should you max out your personal injury protection? Why should your underinsured motorist coverage always match your at-fault liability?

Story, story, story, story, story, I said, “Your not going to have the stories. You’re 22. You don’t know anything. You don’t have any stories.”

So go shadow the best producers in your office and just listen to their stories, have them give you stories, or just make stories up.

The stories don’t have to be real.

The stories are about teaching your clients about the coverages that they need to have that are important to them to protect them, to provide a good quality program.

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So I said, “Just learn stories. You need the stories. Go get those stories.”

Learn to tell stories because stories are the only way someone’s going to believe you, and then be transparent in those stories because you’re 22.

You don’t know shit.

Everyone knows you don’t know shit.

So be transparent, “Hey, I’ve never actually seen this happen, but I have heard one of our principals tell this story 100 times, and I want to share that story with you because I think it’s so powerful, and if you want, I’ll bring him down here. He can tell that story to you,” stuff like that.

Be transparent and authentic. Y

You’re 22, right? You’re not going to have all these stories already built in, but you got to go get them, and you have to be able to tell them, and telling those stories over and over again, you get smoother.

You get more confident.

You can work through the obvious objections, right?

You start to learn where do people object to the stories.

Where do they push back on the things that you’re saying, and how can you adjust those stories to account for that feedback that you know is coming?

Become an Insurance Expert

And the last piece of advice I gave him, the last thing I said, was, “Go become an expert in insurance,”

The hacks of this industry don’t understand policy forms.

They don’t read policy forms, and if you don’t read policy forms, if you don’t understand how to translate a policy form into what that coverage actually means for your clients, then you are a hack if you’re watching this.

Go learn that shit. This is important stuff. This is what we do for a living. We protect people’s lives. Go learn policy forms. Go be able to read them.

You don’t have to know them verbatim, but know that if someone hands you their policy forms, you can read through them, decipher what they mean, and help translate that into actual real language that your customers will understand, and it will allow you to provide better service to them. So go become an expert.

I did that through Travelers Producer School. I did that through the CIC.

I did that through just producing video, and producing the video, I had to learn the coverages so that I could give that information to the camera, and then I just read policies.

I just read them. I literally just had them in stacks next to my desk, and when I’d have a couple minutes, I’d just read through like, what are the exclusions on an HO-3? What are the exclusions on a personal umbrella policy? When does … Whatever, all this stuff.

So I think what was surprising to Matt is I wasn’t just like, “Go become a Facebook ads expert,” because that’s not the answer at 22.

Being a Facebook ads expert isn’t the answer at 22.

It’s not because you can be the best Facebook ads guru in the world.

If you’re not building trust and respect and loyalty and putting good quality programs together for your clients, it doesn’t mean anything.

So go learn that hard, grind-out, crappy work that most people don’t actually want to do.

Take these first three years of your career and grind it out, and learn all that stuff, and become epic, and at 25, you’ll be so far ahead of people in their 40s, in their 50s who never actually did that work and are still kind of hacking their way through, but the next five years, your 25 to 30-year-old years, you’ll be cranking business and making money and just making it rain, and that’s what it’s all about.

And the last thing I told him was:

“Dude, you made a really good decision joining the insurance industry.”

All your buddies who went and became financial advisors, they’re A-holes.

They don’t get it.

They’re going to be grinding on no renewals and trying to pick the market for the rest of their life.

That’s terrible.

That sucks.

You have the ultimate lifestyle business ahead of you, and by starting so early and if you really kind of dive in and take ownership of this business, of this product that you’re selling and build real relationships and learn how to tell those stories and build that loyalty, you’re going to be set for life.

You literally just grabbed your winning lottery ticket at 22.

He seemed to enjoy that, whether that was what he wanted to hear or not.

He was a super good kid. Matt, if you’re watching this, dude, I wish you the absolute best of luck.

If you ever need anything, you know how to get ahold of me, bro. I’m happy you’re part of your industry.

If you are young in this industry, I hope you will listen to this advice.

Don’t get caught up in the sexy stuff.

That comes later.

Once you own the business, once you own the product, then you throw that Facebook ad stuff, YouTube, all the tips and tactics and marketing stuff, then you throw all that stuff on because if not, as fast as you’re bringing in the front end, it’s going to be leaving on the back, and that’s a worst case scenario.

Then, your at the top-level look sexy, but your profitability, your retention is terrible, and no one wants that.

So this was the advice that I gave to Matt.

It’s the advice I’d give to any, any young professional who’s starting out in this business.

You made a great decision by becoming an insurance agent, but now, you need to do the hard work.

That’s going to take three years.

It’s going to be a lot of analog stuff, but if you do that, I promise you, the rest of your career is just going to be a bonanza.

The Rub

So this is my best advice for those young agents out there who are grinding, who have just come into this industry.

You made a great decision by becoming an insurance agent. For all the vets out there, for everyone who’s made it, who got past those first three years, and is killing it right now, leave your best advice in the comments below.

I’d love for this to become a resource for young professionals to use.

So please share with the young agent in your life!

Thank you,

Ryan Hanley

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