Top 3 Soft Skills For Life Insurance Agents

Posted by Bill Bruce on Sep 22, 2022 11:00:00 AM

Insurance agent talking with client 329301742These days, in business, there’s a lot of focus on professional development. Much of the focus, however, is on business courses and the skills that will help you build your business. However, a lot of building your business, especially as an individual insurance agent is about relationship building. We tend to have a blind spot when it comes to building those skills, assuming that they’re innate rather than something we can improve. For insurance agents, and anyone in sales really, building soft skills can be more beneficial to your business than any other training. 

Quick Links

What Are Soft Skills?

“Soft skills” refers to essential skills for relationship building and interpersonal interactions. They are non-technical and focus on how you relate to and connect with others. Further, they often help demonstrate self-awareness and consideration for others. Soft skills can include:

  • Communication and active listening
  • Time-management 
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Self-regulation
  • Creative problem solving 
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Demonstrated leadership
  • Conflict resolution 
  • Personal responsibility

These skills are vital to both sales and customer service positions. Individuals who find themselves working directly with clients should work on honing these skills and, potentially, finding mentors who  model or demonstrate those skills. 

life insurance agent speak with client 300885942Why are Soft Skills Essential in Life Insurance Sales?

When it comes to sales, in any industry, the ability to listen is invaluable. Customers and clients will often, even if not explicitly, tell you what they want. Active listening, rather than waiting to respond, means you can meet those needs with your product or service and, if you can’t, you can provide information or advice and still build a relationship. As with anything, the sales funnel can be long and building connections early on is an important step.

While every person in a sales role needs to demonstrate listening skills, given the nature of life insurance sales, other soft skills are equally important. Not only do you need the flexibility and creative thinking to help your clients find the products and services they need, but you’re also dealing with some sensitive information and situations. As a result, being able to manage difficult conversations and ask probing questions in a way that makes your clients feel comfortable relies on soft skills as well.

Finally, as noted, a good part of sales is about relationship building. Whether or not you have an immediate answer for a client or they’re just starting to explore their options, your ability to demonstrate a sensitivity to their needs and a desire to help is just as important as closing the deal.

Top 3 Soft Skills for Life Insurance Agents

Salespeople often get a bad rap. Often customers or clients feel like there’s a hard sell and that sales people are more focused on their own goals than on helping. For that reason, soft skills for insurance sales are essential. In many ways you’re providing guidance and expertise in an area that many are unfamiliar with and many more don’t ever discuss. As a result, focusing on a few key soft skills can make all the difference in the world. As an insurance agent, consider focusing on:

1. Communication- Much of what you do hinges on an ability to communicate with your clients regarding their needs, goals, and fears. Further, you also need to be able to communicate to them how the products you’re pitching will help meet those needs, alleviate fears, and prepare them for the future.

Additionally, communication involves your ability to maintain and schedule regular touchpoints with clients and others in your sales funnel. It also requires a keen understanding of how you balance communication that builds relationships and communication that drives sales and builds your network. 

2. Emotional intelligence and self-regulation- As you discuss sometimes difficult topics, your clients are looking for you to demonstrate sensitivity. You have to balance that with the desire to make a sale. Sure they want someone who has a solution, but being diplomatic during difficult conversations is a strength. Being able to read someone else’s emotions and respond appropriately builds trust and allows clients to put their faith in you, especially when it comes to their best interests.

3. Personal responsibility and integrity- Being upfront and honest as well as following through on promises (including showing up and returning calls on time) demonstrates integrity. That means, in short, your clients are more likely to trust you and even if you don’t have the product or service they need, either they’ll come back to you at another time or refer friends and family. Sometimes the relationship you build is just as important as the actual sale and transparency and honesty are your biggest tools in creating the foundations for future success.

Life insurance agent volunteering in community84148913How Life Insurance Agents Can Build Soft Skills

Given how important soft skills can be to your business growth, ensuring that you are seeking and finding opportunities to build these skills is vital. In fact, businesses that provide soft skills training, specifically related to communication, problem-solving, decision making, and more get a huge return on that training investment. In fact, a Harvard University study found that soft skills training boasted an ROI of 256%! 

As an insurance agent, knowing where to start is a fundamental piece of your professional development and that includes honing your soft skills. First, identify your skill gaps. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is a strength in itself and it lets you know where you need to build.

Once you’ve identified the gaps, it’s time to explore the opportunities available to you to build the skills you need. Consider some of the following training resources:

  • Online courses- While your local colleges likely offer courses in communication and interpersonal skills you can find even more opportunities online. Whether you want to study basic psychology and even empathy to sharpen the skills that inform emotional intelligence or leadership training to build your confidence, the options are out there, from Coursera to Skillshare.

  • Mentor programs- Many people erroneously assume that any mentorship or mentoring program needs to come from their employer. Not true. While finding a mentor in your network may be more complicated, it is possible. Whether it’s identifying someone in your network whose business skills or success you admire or seeking out an online mentoring program, connect with someone who can work with you, one-on-one, to develop your soft skills.

  • Community organizations and volunteering- Talk about a win-win situation! Community organizations and volunteer opportunities can not only help you build your skills, but they also provide a chance to build your network. Community organizations like Toastmasters are perfect for building communication skills. Similarly, volunteering with senior groups can help you hone your listening skills and connect you with other individuals who are interested in ensuring others have positive experiences late in life. This may mean they’re interested in helping friends and family prepare for their futures as well.

  • Activity groups- Recreational activities from sports leagues to social groups, like those you can find on, provide space to work on communication as well as teamwork and leadership skills. The added bonus here is that, much like community organizations and volunteering, you also have a chance to build your network as well and find potential clients or referrals. And, you might just find something you love to do to relieve some stress. 

While building your own soft skills is vital, as an independent agent or IMO leader, you want to find insurance providers who can meet you and match those skills. While the clients you're hoping for are looking for help to plan their future, you want a partner to help you provide that. That means choosing an insurance company that has your back. That’s ELCO.

Time and again, our insurance agents comment on our commitment to service and our commitment to them. Much like the insurance plans you provide for your clients, we’re here when you need us most. If you’re ready to talk about how we can help you help your clients, reach out to our team today and let’s talk!  
ELCO support CTA