Record-Keeping Tips and Tricks

record keeping for insurance agentsRecord-keeping is an important task in an insurance sales career. Most agents are independent contractors and therefore are responsible for all of their tax information and paperwork. And even those who work for an employer must file required paperwork each time a sale is made. So it is important to make sure that your processes are efficient. Below are some ideas.

1) Choose a day to do all your paperwork and stick to it. Many agents use Monday through Thursday as their selling days, then reserve Friday to catch up on paperwork, do follow ups, and call current customers to see if they need anything. Sticking to a particular day of the week to turn in paperwork will keep you on a set schedule.

2) Keep your office organized. Knowing where everything is and how to find it is a challenge. Have a specific file cabinet or filing system you use for the most important paperwork. Sort files according to the type of action they involve, such as SALES, DOCUMENTATION, CLIENT INFORMATION, REQUIRED PAPERWORK, and others. Using different color folders also sometimes works to separate types of tasks and documentation.

3) Use software such as QuickBooks to organize financial statements and transactions.

4) Use a handheld scanner (such as The Magic Wand) to scan important documents at your client’s location, at your office, or any time. The portability of this neat tool and others like it allows you to scan whatever and whenever you need to without having to remove the documents from the original location. Tools like this will save much time and keep you organized in the long run.

5) Use TurboTax or other tax reporting software at tax time. This will save valuable time and energy when you are trying to keep up with your earnings. As long as you keep your 1099 forms and other important documents, you can enter this information into the software and send it to the IRS and to the state with minimal fuss.

Having some handy tools at your disposal will save time and money in the long run by allowing you to input information or do what you need to do “on the go.” There is a world of technology that is designed specifically to help busy insurance agents as well. Do a search on the internet for insurance sales tools and you are likely to find a number of items to help you make the day-to-day tasks of your job easier.

Using the above tips on getting and staying organized will help you focus less on the organizational tasks and more on making sales and serving your customers.

Marketing Your Insurance Agency Using Pinterest

Business professionals have turned to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote significant events and immediately attend to customer problems. But these aren’t your only marketing possibilities when it comes to social media. You have a wide range of tools to choose from, and one of the most interesting is Pinterest.

If you’ve somehow managed not to come across all the news and attention Pinterest has gotten in the past year, here’s a quick primer. Pinterest is an online “bulletin board” where users choose images to “pin” to their boards, along with a brief description. Just as with Facebook and Twitter, people can “follow” the boards of others.

How Can Pinterest be Used to Brand My Insurance Company?

Pinterest is known for content that relates to highly visual topics like crafts, decorating, and cooking and food. People post gorgeous pictures of the things that they love. At first glance, it may seem to be useless for insurance agents. Agents don’t sell something that’s visible, and most people consider insurance to be a boring necessity that doesn’t merit much enthusiasm. But like all salespeople, insurance agents need to build relationships. When used strategically and with sensitivity to what users of the site find appealing, Pinterest can be one more way for you to connect with potential clients and create positive PR for your business.

A few ideas for using Pinterest effectively:

Create original content. If you have an artistic streak or access to someone who does, think about what images might appeal to your target audience and create them. You can also create images that creatively display the title of an article on your company’s blog that would be of interest to potential customers. Find a way to subtly add your company’s name and website to the image, so that you can be sure people can still find you as your image gets shared.

Make it personal. To help establish your brand you’ll want to use your business logo as your user icon, but beyond that forget selling policies and be human. If there are a few people who work at your agency, assign just one person to manage Pinterest, and make it clear that there’s a real person behind your account. This will help your business build relationships on the site, as people are less likely to feel that they’re dealing with some faceless company.

Consider Pinterest’s demographic. This is not a site where you’re likely to find older baby boomer males looking to purchase long term care insurance. More than 70% of Pinterest users are in the 25-34 age range and female. This means that you want to make sure that your board targets these clients and their particular insurance needs. For example, you may select wedding-related photos that link to a page on your website about your life and home insurance offerings.

Repinned Images Build Upon Your Company’s Brand

One of the biggest advantages offered by Pinterest is the ability to repin an image. If someone sees an image on your board that they like, that image can be repinned on another board of their choice. The more your images are repinned the better. The effect this can have on building a stronger brand is much the same as a YouTube video. The more viewers watch and comment on that video, the more it spreads and becomes viral. The process works similarly on Pinterest.

A Word of Caution About Using Images on Pinterest

A potential problem that anyone pinning images on Pinterest must be made aware of is that legally, you need to obtain permission from the owner of that image before you use it. Of course, many casual, personal users ignore this formality, but businesses are more likely to come under scrutiny and should abide by the law so as to not leave the company vulnerable. Either make sure an image is in the public domain or reach out to obtain permission.

 

Social Media: Reinforce Learning and Get Noticed

By Shelley A. Gable

You just completed an insurance continuing education course and you learned loads of new information. Now what?

If you can apply that newly learned knowledge on the job right away, you’re more likely to remember it long-term. But sometimes that’s not feasible. But all is not lost – social media can help!

A previous article on this blog recommends talking about what you’ve learned to help you remember it (If You Wanna Remember It, Talk About It). While there are memory benefits that come with physically talking about what you’ve learned, some of those same benefits can be reaped by using social media to participate in online discussions.

Contributing to online discussion forums is not only an effective way to reinforce your learning, but it can also help you get noticed by colleagues and potential clients!

How will this help you learn?

Here are a few of the reasons using social media can help you learn:

  • Applying new information in a practical way. When discussing newly learned information in an online discussion, you’ll probably present that information in your own words. You may even offer personal examples to enrich the discussion. This can help solidify that information in your memory.
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  • Exploring knowledge from a different perspective. Online discussions tend to attract a variety of perspectives. A comment from another participant might prompt you to view an issue in a different light, thus deepening (or perhaps broadening) your insight into the topic.
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  • Repeating what you’ve learned. In order to discuss newly learned information in an online forum, you must recall it again. If you visit that forum more than once and leave multiple comments, the repeated exposure can help to gradually make the topic feel more familiar.

How do I join one of these discussions?

Personally, I think that LinkedIn is probably the easiest outlet to join or initiate an informative, professional online discussion.

Suppose you’re interested in discussing an “ah ha” from an insurance continuing education course. First, you should join a LinkedIn group or two for insurance professionals (such as Global Insurance Professionals or Insurance Professionals of America). Then, browse through the discussion forums for a relevant topic. Or, better yet, start a new discussion thread on your topic.

If you opt to take advantage of social media to enhance your learning, put thought into what you say. Every comment you post should offer an informative perspective (in other words, avoid simply saying “I agree with Shelley” or “Good point”). If you initiate a new discussion thread, visit it regularly. Comment on what others say and act as a moderator for the discussion. This type of behavior might even prompt others to view you as an expert in the field.

If you’re not a fan of LinkedIn, you can apply these suggestions to other social media outlets too. Consider Twitter, industry blogs, and other social networking sites.

Are you new to social media? Don’t be shy…give all this a try by posting a comment on this blog!

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If you appreciate these ideas, it’d be swell for you would share them (button below) or subscribe via the feed.

Click here for 5 reasons why you should subscribe!

Interested in sales?  Perhaps Insurance, Real Estate, or Finance is your calling.  Click here to get licensed.

Need your Insurance Continuing Education?  Click here to take your continuing education classes online.

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Shelley A. Gable is an instructional designer and freelance writer. She has developed training for functions such as financial services, call centers, and engineering education. Shelley has written articles on topics related to training and management for print and online publications. Visit Shelley’s website at http://shelleygable.webs.com.

InternetCE Affiliate Program Now Available

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

InternetCE Affiliate Program Now Available.

Companies and organizations are now able to provide exclusive offers to their members and clients, while earning referral fees for the same.

Raleigh, North Carolina — February 4, 2010 — InternetCE, a nationally approved provider of continuing education (CE) for insurance professionals, announced the immediate availability of its online CE courses for affiliate members.

“We are excited!  For a long time, solid organizations and reputable companies have asked us for a way to offer tangible value and benefits to their members, via our insurance continuing education products, while earning a referral for the new business.  It’s really a win-win!  I’m really excited to partner with groups, far and wide, to learn, grow, and become the best we can be.”, said Aaron Loring Davis, InternetCE.com CTO.

Becoming an affialite is easy. InternetCE handles all customer support, filing, and regulations while you can concentrate on what you do best.

The referral fee is 15% of net profit. Affiliates can view their accumulated referrals via their control panel at any time.  No contracts are needed.

Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Fill out the application to be considered for the program.
  2. Your application is reviewed by InternetCE staff.
  3. Upon approval, a unique ID and link set are provided to you as an affiliate.
  4. Share the link via email, blog, website, social media,  etc. with those you wish to benefit from the offer.
  5. A referral fee for every person that signs up is credited to your affiliate account.
  6. InternetCE pays referral fees, once at least $50 has been accumulated, monthly via corporate check.

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If you would like more information, please call 800-835-5314, email InternetCE at info@internetce.com or visit the website at internetce.com.


About InternetCE


Founded in 1991 by Cliff Davis, MBA, CLU, InternetCE has grown to be one of the top providers of Insurance Continuing Education in the United States. InternetCE’s clients include prestigious associations, groups and companies looking for steadfast professionalism and top-level expertise. Thousands of students and professionals have benefited from InternetCE’s convenient course offerings, including a wide variety of public and private training classes. More information is available at the company’s website,www.internetce.com

An agent website, a must have!

By Aaron Loring Davis

When we get our license, there are suggestions for all kinds of tools – a cell phone, business cards, a nice pen..the list goes on and on.  However, as the world looks toward the Internet for everything from wacky cat videos to yes, insurance, it is now essential to have a website.  Read that again – Essential!  The good news for the technically-challenged, it can be had in under 20 minutes and there is tons of support when you get stuck.  A self-managed site is yours for as little as $10 a year or for a bit more, you can have it built for you…seamless!

With staggering rates of websites and blogs created every day, the programmers of said technologies have made it nearly dummy proof.  Plus, when the relatively intuitive systems do not jive with our thinking, there are hosts of free resources to figure things out.  Support forums host a wealth of community knowledge and their members always seem to be willing to lend a hand.

Where does one start? There are two ways to go -

Self-hosted – You will manage your website and configure it yourself.  Don’t worry, it’s less daunting than it sounds.

1.     Register a domain name – Visit godaddy.com or register.com to reserve your address on the web.  Cost – $10 or less

2.     Pick a host – AFMU.com provides free websites and your registrar may as well. Cost – Free

3.     Install a template or blog software. I like to use WordPress to manage all of my sites, because they are so dang easy, but you may opt for Joomla or Typepad.  Cost – Free

Hosted - Tthe site will be hosted and managed by a third party

1.     Register with a hosting site – WordPress.com or Blogger.com. Cost – Free

- Or -

2.     Register with a premium agent website hosting company – Agent Methods has a superior product! Cost – $39 and up

What should it include?

1.     Welcome page with your message and instructions to find other resources

2.     Contact page with all of your contact details.  A lot of folks like to include phone numbers, mailing and office address, email addresses, links to other profiles such as Facebook and Twitter, and perhaps a contact form

3.     Information page(s) – This should include information about you, your company, and the products you provide.  It can be as brief or robust as you choose.

That just about sums it up.  Not so bad, huh?  Remember, it can be as simple as a business card or incredibly complex with calculators and multimedia.  The point is that as a professional salesperson, it is essential to reserve a place for you and your business on the web.

If you need a hand setting yours up, please do not hesitate to ask.  I am happy to help.

Onward and upward!

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If you appreciate these ideas, it’d be swell for you would share them (button below) or subscribe via the feed.

Click here for 5 reasons why you should subscribe!

Interested in sales?  Perhaps Insurance, Real Estate, or Finance is your calling..  Click here to get licensed.

Need your Insurance Continuing Education?..Click here to take your continuing education classes online.

Aaron Loring Davis is the CTO of InternetCE.com , provider of insurance continuing education, and Editor of this blog.  He holds a Bachelor or Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and enjoys just about anything that can be done outdoors. Visit Aaron’s personal website at www.aaronloringdavis.com.

Mobile users now able to view blog.internetce.com

By Aaron Loring Davis

I recently added the ability to print our blog posts in a format that is suitable for printers and while I was at it, I added a mobile edition as well.

Simply point your mobile phone browser to blog.internetce.com and you’ll get all the goods, in a format designed for your phone.  Don’t worry, it’s set to detect your phone to display correctly.

Perhaps sooner than later, InternetCE will offer insurance continuing education via a mobile interface as well

If you have a suggestion on how we might be able to improve our business, please do drop us a line.  We take advice very seriously.

Onward and upward!

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If you appreciate these ideas, it’d be swell for you would share them (button below) or subscribe via the feed.

Click here for 5 reasons why you should subscribe!

Interested in sales?  Perhaps Insurance, Real Estate, or Finance is your calling..  Click here to get licensed.

Need your Insurance Continuing Education?..Click here to take your continuing education classes online.

Aaron Loring Davis is the CTO of InternetCE.com , provider of insurance continuing education, and Editor of this blog.  He holds a Bachelor or Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and enjoys just about anything that can be done outdoors. Visit Aaron’s personal website atwww.aaronloringdavis.com.

blog.internetce.com now able to be printed

It’s the little things, right?  We take suggestions and feedback seriously, so if you haven’t already, drop us a line on how we might be able to be the best.

Click here to send me an email.

Big thanks to Charles W., of Cary, North Carolina for suggesting to us that it would be nice to be able to print posts, without all the formatting issues associated with clicking ‘Print’ in your browser.

Done and done!

At the bottom of each post, you’ll find a ‘Print This Post’ link and
icon.  Remember though, be nice to the trees and only print when you really have to.

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If you appreciate these ideas, it’d be swell for you would share them (button below) or subscribe via the feed.

Click here for 5 reasons why you should subscribe!

Interested in sales?  Perhaps Insurance, Real Estate, or Finance is your calling..  Click here to get licensed.

Need your Insurance Continuing Education?..Click here to take your continuing education classes online.

Aaron Loring Davis is the CTO of InternetCE.com , provider of insurance continuing education, and Editor of this blog.  He holds a Bachelor or Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and enjoys just about anything that can be done outdoors. Visit Aaron’s personal website atwww.aaronloringdavis.com.

Video Coming On Friday :)

videoJust a quick note that video is coming to this blog.

Friday will be the kickoff, and while I hope you’ll be able to join me, have no fear, all of the good stuff will archived so that you can come back any time you like.

I plan on reviewing books that I’ve read and get a kick out of, in addition to reviewing courses that we offer, in summary form of course, such that folks will be able to better choose which ones are best for them.

I’ll also be offering some tips and tools that I find helpful as a sales associate and as a business owner.

Expect to laugh a bit and learn a lot.

Keep the dial locked ;)

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If you appreciate these ideas, I’d appreciate it if you would share them (button below) or perhaps subscribe to my feed.  Many thanks!

LearnTrends 2009 – The Corporate Learning Trends and Innovations Conference

learntrends 2009I am excited to attend this year’s LearnTrends 2009 Conference.  Tony Karrer, George Siemens, and Jay Cross are putting on the 3rd annual event and their should be plenty of good stuff shared…and learned.

You may find more information about the event here and you can register for the event here.  It is free.

Topics covered will include:

  • Enterprise 2.0
  • Communities and Networks
  • Knowledge Management
  • Corporate Libraries
  • Talent ManagementI’ll be back with goodies that I picked up from the conference when it’s over.

    Onward and upward!

  • Will E-Learning Become Even More Better Than Classroom Study?

    online vs classroomI wrote an article a few weeks ago for a colleague on the pros and cons or online vs classroom study.  I also have just found a compelling NY Times article on a statistical study of online vs classroom learning environments, whereas the results state that the web wins.   Both systems of learning have merit, but where do they merge and how will technology and its catching up to the way people actually live and communicate aid in this convergence?

    When in a classroom, I have an opportunity to ask real time questions and lean over to ask my fellow student what the teacher just said…perhaps an extra explanation.  I also have an opportunity to stay after class to meet in study groups and debate on what will be on the next test.  Now, get wired..How does twitter and facebook allow for the same?  Do white boards and chat rooms provide this dialog?  If these tools were fundamentally integrated into an e-learning platform, would it accelerate our ability to absorb and retain?  I have explained the importance of having and using a facebook/twitter/linkedin account if one is in sales, given the sheer number of people that use these tools, so if most folks are already dialed in, will having these resources a part of the mix continue to evolve e-learning?

    I believe the answer is a resounding, yes!