How to Motivate Insurance Agents

by: Mark Herbert May 4, 2021

A motivated insurance agent is engaged with customers, colleagues, and insurance carriers alike. They ask questions, challenge outdated modes of thought, are open to new approaches, follow industry regulations and trends, are present in their interactions and, most importantly, actively strive to be better today than yesterday. Sound like a dream? It doesn't have to be! Insurance companies can learn how to motivate insurance agents, retaining top talent and building an engaged, educated sales force. Here are four ways to accomplish that:

Focus rewards and recognition on goal steps.

It’s long been conventional wisdom that announcing and visualizing goals helps you achieve them. Makes sense, right? Not so fast. A psychological study suggested that announcing your goal makes you less likely to achieve it. Why is that? Announcing a goal can create a sense of gratification similar to completing the goal, which may reduce willingness to work toward goal outcome.

You can and should still rally insurance sales agents around a sales goal. But instead of emphasizing the goal outcome, break the goal down into processes or steps needed to achieve the goal. Encourage and reward those steps—sometimes called leading indicators—that lead to your ultimate desired outcome, or lagging indicators.

Here’s an example of what I mean: let’s say your goal is a 20% increase of policy sales by the end of the quarter. Rather than just recognizing and tracking the amount of sold policies, recognize salespeople for completing training courses and passing quizzes that help them prepare them to sell more. Offer sales agents rewards and recognition for completing steps toward your ultimate goal. Don’t risk deflating insurance sales motivation by focusing on goal outcome too frequently or too early—save that energy for a big celebration after the goal is reached.

non-cash incentives

Offer non-cash sales incentives.

Studies show that non-cash incentives are more effective motivators than cash. In fact, you can expect to spend 3XS as much on cash rewards to get the same outcome. This is because cash is intangible and unsentimental. Sales agents mentally lump it in with their salary or commission, and spend it on necessities like bills and gas. In other words, things that don't feel very reward-like.

The most effective sales incentives are tangible. The three commonly used tangible incentives are debit/gift card rewards, merchandise (i.e. a points-based program with an online rewards catalog), and group incentive travel. Each of these reward types has its own unique set of benefits. Debit and gift card rewards, for example, are great for short-term sales promotions. Incentive travel rewards are best reserved for your top performers.

Familiarize yourself with the different qualities and advantages of each reward type before strategically selecting the rewards that best suit your sales goals.

Use a flexible online learning platform.

Knowledge retention requires repetition. Insurance sales reps, like most humans, forget most of they learn after one day, and their memory decays over time unless they practice that learning at intervals. So: how to motivate insurance agents when today’s fast-paced, competitive insurance industry isn’t exactly built for constant learning reinforcement? Use an online learning platform that can help you quickly and consistently deliver easily-updated, rewarding training experiences.

You should be able to update your sales learning module on the fly, keeping it current with the latest changes in regulations, buying trends, technology, and your policy offerings.

The platform should offer instant feedback so sales agents can immediately identify knowledge gaps on their own and train up.

Lastly, use a learning platform that continuously reinforces necessary knowledge but doesn’t feel repetitive. It helps to present knowledge in different contexts and test that knowledge in different ways. A training incentives program that can deliver full training courses, as well as smaller quizzes and even bite-sized daily trivia, is ideal.

gamification sales incentivesUse the power of gamification.

Try adding gamification, or game-like elements for non-game purposes, to your insurance sales motivation strategy. The more you do this, the better. Studies show that gamification is especially useful in training or learning situations, since it creates an emotional connection and positive associations, promotes the release of serotonin and endorphins, reduces stress, and improves brain functions by up to 30%.

Gamification elements could include the use of points-scoring, leaderboards, friendly sales competitions, badges, or virtual games of chance like Spin to Win or Scratch Off.

When you’re stuck wondering how to motivate insurance agents, gamification is one of the easiest and most effective places to start. Using gamificiation technology will definitely help boost the performance of your sales promotions or incentive programs, but you can start implementing gamification theory right way with old-fashioned whiteboard leaderboards or impromptu “quiz shows” to promote learning and engagement. The possibilities are wide open, so get creative!

There’s no one, true answer to the question of how to motivation insurance agents. Motivation is a complex, personal thing. But you have lots of sales and incentive technology at your disposal to help deploy, speed up, and experiment with your sales motivation strategy. However you choose to motivate your sales agents, make sure you’re getting plenty of their feedback to create the sales culture that’s most successful for you.


About Mark Herbert

Mark Herbert is President and CEO of Incentive Solutions. He has more than 30 years of experience overseeing business operations within the incentives industry, helping companies increase channel sales, build customer loyalty, motivate employees, and grow their business.