Insurers don’t need to be liked to be successful

Published: March 25, 2019

Updated: April 1, 2019

Author: Luke Jones



Insurers and brokers are often told that being personable and catering for customers needs are vital tools for success. However, this does not necessarily mean you need to be likeable. Some brokers may worry they will lose clients if they are unlikeable, but a study shows how a customer views you has little bearing on their choices.

Of course, most people naturally want to be liked and going out of your way not to be won’t do your insurance business any good. However, a study of 450,000 salespeople showed 89% of the top salespeople (95-100 percentile) do not need to be liked. However, at the other end of the scale (1-25th percentile) 86% believed they do need to be liked.

In fact, the weaker a salesperson’s record of getting sales over the line, the more they need to be liked, according to the Harvard Business Review.

“Being likeable is not a necessity to succeed in sales,” says Jim Keenan, CEO of Denver-based sales consulting and recruiting firm A Sales Guy Inc., in the blog Salespeople, Stop Worrying About Being Liked. He adds the ones who put a focus on being liked are the most likely to fail.

“People ask things like, ‘But if I do that, won’t the customer dislike me?’” Keenan writes. He says consumers are not looking for a friend but do value a salesperson who can show a high level of expertise in their field.

Three important steps showcase that expertise, according to Keenan. Firstly, insurers should try to problem solve for the customer early. If a salesperson can identify the problem and find a solution, the customer could respond.

Secondly, Keenan says salespeople should stop at the first “yes”. Many salespeople get lulled into false confidence when they have a sale, believing they have reached peak expertise. Keenan points out this attitude can harm credibility as a new challenge is always around the corner.

The final step is to learn about the process.

“Early in my career, I created an online platform for ski resorts to help them advertise and book sessions with instructors. Heads of resorts were enthusiastic. But I wasn’t ready for the intense pushback from their IT departments, which were concerned about how to make the platform work with their unique systems. So quickly, I began suggesting that we bring IT into the discussions early on.

There was another big problem, however. Even after IT approved, we needed HR to sign off. They were concerned that they’d have to pay instructors for the time spent setting up their profiles on the platform, potentially even violating labor laws for hours worked. I wasn’t prepared with a response. That business failed.”