Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Four Skills that Every Insurance Account Manager or Account Executive needs to Prosper in their Career

Sorry for the delay in getting this article out.  I  typically try to get these done on Monday mornings but I was indisposed yesterday morning.  My oldest girl started her first day of four year old preschool and I had to see her off.  If any of you have any suggestions on how to halt this growing up thing I would really appreciate it.

Isn't she lovely?

Now that I’ve had a good cry for the morning let’s get down to business.  As many of you know I work exclusively in insurance and focus most of my efforts working with producers and account managers/account executives.  My first couple of articles have centered on producers but I thought today I would switch gears towards the service side of the agency world.  Throughout the years I’ve noticed that there are several traits that employers look for in account managers and below are the top ones that seem to be almost universal.

1.  Client Facing Experience

I realize that this is something that you either have or don’t but it is one of the things that my clients continually ask for.  Great account managers have experience meeting directly with clients to present renewals, gather information, conduct enrollments or just to follow up.  The reason agencies and producers like these skills is because it takes the load off of the producer and allows them to go out and focus on new business.  If you don’t have this experience you should start asking for it.  Not only will it make you marketable but it will also make you indispensible. 

2.  Marketing Skills

Having great marketing skills goes much farther than knowing how to put a submission together and getting it out.  Great marketers know that not all risks are created equal and that some risks are better suited for better carriers and underwriters.  I always imagine this to be like in those legal shows in TV where the lawyers do whatever they can to get in front of the judge that is most sympathetic to their cause.  When conducting references with underwriters I’ve noticed two key things that seem to make someone successful with them.  The first is that they always send in completed submissions and never have to be chased down.  The second is that when additional information is needed they are responsive and get it back quickly.  Off the record many of the underwriters I’ve spoken with recognize these traits and will give preferential treatment.  So remember – treat your underwriters well!

3.  Strong Organizational Skills

It should go without saying that a good account manager should be well organized.  A great account manager is better than organized.  You know how your mom used to have everything ready to go for you so that you could walk out of the door to school on time.  Lunches were ready, bags were packed, clothes were washed… you get the picture.  A great account manager is the same way.  They know what the producer needs before they ask and have it ready. Typically these people create their own systems and can produce results almost immediately.  More than this they always meet and even exceed deadlines.  Probably the most important in this realm is the ability to shift priorities based on current needs while being able to get everything accomplished.

4.  Great Customer Service Skills

I saved this one for last but it is probably the most important.  I’m sure that you know some really good service people that do everything we discussed above right – they run their book efficiently and there are never problems.  BUT – they are lifeless, unenjoyable people to talk to or even worse they just aren’t nice.  Truly great account managers are extensions of the sales producer in that they continue to make the experience terrific for the client.  Some of the key traits are:
  • A great phone presence – you don’t need to sound like you are on the radio but you should sound like you are smiling.  Believe me, if you roll your eyes on the phone it comes through in your voice.
  • Responsive to the client or producer – it doesn’t matter what the request a good account manager gets back to people in a timely manner – most of them anticipate these questions as well
  • Patience – most great people in these roles realize that their clients are not skilled insurance professionals like themselves and have patience.
  • Builds a personal relationship with clients – you don’t need to be your client’s best friend.  But the good ones get to know their clients well.  How many kids?  Married?  Hobbies? Vacation?  Learning these things creates a bond.

So what say you?  Are there any skills that I left out?  Feel free to discuss in the comments section below or you can email me at sthompson@insurance-csg.com

Check out some of my recent articles on the blog here:

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