You are at the train station. You’re in a rush to the office. Someone stops you in your tracks and seeks your help with filling up a survey. Out of the goodness of your heart, you agree to spare a few minutes of your time. Strangely, you are brought to another location where a lady dressed in formal attire awaits you. You start filling up the survey and she starts asking personal questions. The more she asks, the more you feel annoyed. By the time you are done, you realise that she is an insurance agent and it was all a ploy for her to get your contact details. Worst of all, you’ve just wasted thirty minutes of your time. Sounds familiar? 

Time to get real

[Deceptive] Tactics like these reflect badly on an industry that thrives on trust.

Let’s be honest. A lot of insurance agents these days don’t seem to get it. Instead of building long-term relationships, they’re relying on short-term underhand tactics to grab their prospect’s attention. As a young adult, I understand the importance of insurance but I also know that this is definitely not the way to convince me to buy insurance. Tactics like these reflect badly on an industry that thrives on trust. Insurance is an important part of everyone’s lives and it should always remain that way. It is a safety net that protects us financially in times of an unexpected crisis but yet, people would do all they can to avoid these supposed guardians of our lives. Why? Well, it’s all thanks to some aggressive, commission-minded bunch of insurance agents that have tarnished the reputation of the insurance industry. They have successfully allowed the term “insurance agent” to have such a negative connotation to the extent where agents have to start calling themselves “financial advisors” or “financial consultants” in hopes that people will no longer instinctively avoid them.

It’s sad, really.

Big fat lies.

But it’s easier said than done

Millennials are discerning individuals who can smell bullshit from a mile away.

I am not trying to undermine the challenges of insurance agents. I understand that an insurance agent’s income ultimately depends on the number of clients they get on board. But, there is an ethical line that should not be crossed and these bait-and-switch tactics don’t work anymore. Millennials are discerning individuals who can smell bullshit from a mile away. Agents who know how to truly build strong genuine relationships with their clients in such a sceptical climate will be the ones who will thrive in the future. 

Recently, I met a young insurance agent who shared with me a booklet she authored called “The Easy Game – The Art Of Growing Up”. The booklet contained lots of helpful life tips regarding topics young adults would need to know as they start adulting (i.e. insurance, HDB loans, job seeking etc). I knew that she was an insurance agent but I agreed to meet her anyway because I wanted the booklet.

When I met her, I was anticipating the moment she would begin hard-selling her insurance plans. But that didn’t happen at all. She was more concerned about building a relationship with me than anything else. She allowed me to ask questions related to the contents of the booklet and gave me advice beyond the scope of insurance. It was definitely a fruitful exchange and I will never forget how genuine she was. 

Given how interested she was in my life, and how much heart and mind she actually put in understanding me, I know can definitely trust her with planning my life. So, if I ever want to buy insurance, she’ll definitely come to mind. 

Insurance agents, here’s what we want

So what made that young insurance agent stand out from the rest? Her sincerity. Plain and simple. 

Sincerity is one of the fundamental building blocks of establishing a high-trust relationship.

Sincerity is one of the fundamental building blocks of establishing a high-trust relationship. But it is, however, the hardest to establish. However, as a millennial myself, I can safely say that if you are an insurance agent and you want to win the hearts of my generation, this is what you should keep in mind:

1. To give is to receive but don’t gift what is not needed

Stop giving out free gifts with the intention of relying on reciprocation to bait people in. It is scheming and it paints you as someone who always has a hidden agenda. As a prospect, I find it hard to trust someone like that.

If you feel the need to gift, I’d rather receive something that could help me with my issues. It could be a referral to someone who can help or a piece of advice and that itself is a lot more valuable than a cheap power bank. By doing so, you are sending me a message that you care about me as a client.

2. Don’t hard-sell

No one likes an insurance agent who is pushy and aggressive.

I dare say this on behalf of all prospects out there: No one likes an insurance agent who is pushy and aggressive. I’d rather have some time to evaluate my options before making any decision. Better yet, you could guide me and help me understand what my options are. If you can show that you’re not putting your needs first before your client’s, you’ve already won half the battle.

3. Focus on quality, not quantity

It’s really easy to tell if someone is genuinely interested to help you. I’d say treat every client interaction as if it were you talking to an important friend. Have the patience to listen with your heart and the mind of helping them grow. Treat them as very important individuals (VIPs) and not merely numbers on a spreadsheet. 

As a prospect, those are what I expect of insurance agents and I believe other prospects are with me on this. I signed up for 2 insurance plans recently but never once have I ever reached out to an insurance agent who gave me their name card after tricking me into filling up a survey. If you really want to get ahead in the insurance game, I urge you to put yourself in our shoes and understand why we feel so negatively about you.

Always remember what Maya Angelou once said; “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Featured image by Chupa Chups.


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