Wednesday, July 11, 2012

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

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.

Scott Thompson, CPC | Senior Search Consultant
Capstone Search Group

Email Etiquette for job seekers

I recall a few years ago composing an email and sending it off without much thought. The sender unfortunately misinterpreted the message I wanted to convey, and what should have been a pleasant exchange went horribly wrong. I learned a lot from that experience. You see, I get hit once with a rolled up newspaper and that’s all it takes for me to learn a lesson for life. I must have been a very easy child to raise. Not that my parents used rolled up newspaper on me.

From that day on I read and re-read every email I send out regardless of the message. And I will now sit on emails that could be more prone to be misinterpreted due to the subject to be certain I take a step back. Sometimes I will have another person in my office review to get another eye on it as well.

Now there are times, naturally, where no matter how careful you try to be your message will just not be interpreted correctly. Or the person literally reads something there, that simply isn’t there. But you can reduce the risk of email damage by composing your messages with great care. In addition, it never fails to amaze me at the emails that go out with improper spelling, grammar or punctuation. Especially these days with spell check. And I’d recommend not over using punctuation that creates emotion such as the exclamation mark. And the silly little cute icons are best left for personal email. So no smiley faces doing jumping jacks in your business messages.

In some instances text messages are even being used more for business interactions related to job opportunities. While texting has an entire different language, still the same basic principles apply to texting a business contact. I just got myself in the dog house with my wife two nights ago. I sent her a text that I thought was clear and funny. She didn’t read it the same way and I got in hot water.

Here is an article from Business Insider that goes into more detail regarding emails. Good information. So, what are some of your email horror stories?

E-Mail 101: 8 Etiquette Rules for Job Seekers

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President
Capstone Search Group