To succeed in the insurance industry, one thing is for certain—you have to know how to sell. Not only are you selling insurance, but you’re also selling your personal brand. So how can you be the type of agent people can trust and want to work with? Learn from the people who have gone (and succeeded) before you.
In this article, we’ll cover the top ten must-read books to improve your productivity and your bottom line in the insurance industry. These books include the secrets of successful insurance sales, practical tips, and inspiring tales of entrepreneurship.
10 Books That Will Make You a Better Insurance Agent
1. Go for No! by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz
Dealing with rejection and customer objections is hands down one of the most challenging aspects of a career in insurance sales.
Or is it?
Salesman Richard Fenton and professional speaker Andrea Waltz teach readers how to adopt a mindset that embraces the “nos” and the failures along the road to success.
Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There is a short informational book written more like a novel that reviewers claim has been a true game-changer (even a life changer) in their careers.
Of all the salespeople who are capable of failing, Fenton claims that less than 20 percent of them move past a willingness to fail and learn to develop a “wantingness to fail” that ultimately leads to success.
It’s a short but highly motivational work that can lift up anyone feeling discouraged in the insurance business.
The book offers practical tips, but more importantly, it helps you shift your mindset so you can approach cold calling and ask for the close without fear.
2. Power Position Your Agency by Troy Korsgaden
Troy Korsgaden was named All Lines Agent of the Year by Farmers Insurance Group twice—an impressive feat considering he was selected from over 14,000 insurance agents in the country.
Korsgaden has trained tens of thousands of agents, brokers, and insurance agency staff to use his common sense approach to selling.
His book Power Position Your Agency: A Guide to Insurance Agency Success digs deep into the mindset that made him one of the nation’s most successful insurance agents.
Korsgaden doesn’t beat around the bush but instead presents the truth about what it takes to succeed in the insurance industry.
He’s a firm believer that focusing on personal growth in yourself and your agency staff naturally leads to business growth. He believes agency owners should work towards “replacing themselves” in most areas of their agency so they can scale up.
Power Position Your Agency covers what you need to be a successful insurance agent, and it’s a great book for anyone entering the industry.
3. The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
Josh Kaufman’s book The Personal MBA is a #1 international bestseller and #1 in business training and business management on Amazon.
Kaufman offers a lifetime of valuable business insights in one book, and it’s even recommended by people who already have an MBA.
However, Kaufman believes you don’t need to go to business school to learn the fundamentals of modern business. His book teaches you how to make sound business decisions, optimize your productivity, manage uncertainty, and conduct experiments to verify your ideas.
The Personal MBA is full of practical business tools and concepts, including “10 Ways to Evaluate a Market” and “The Pricing Uncertainty Principle.”
For anyone ready to jump in and start their own business, The Personal MBA can help you get there without the hefty investment of going to business school.
4. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.
Communication and persuasion are essential skills for anyone working in sales. It’s your job to build relationships with clients, and ultimately move enough of them to “yes” so your business can thrive.
But what if you’re not a natural persuader? The good news is that you don’t need to be. Robert Cialdini is a psychology expert who’s spent years studying how people get to “yes.” His findings are all wrapped up in his New York Times bestselling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
In his book, Cialdini teaches you the six principles of persuasion (or “weapons of influence,” as he calls them), which are backed by over 30 years of evidence-based research. His book is filled with examples in business as well as other real-life relationships.
And, as a bonus, Cialdini also shows you how to avoid being persuaded by others who might seek to manipulate you in a business relationship. His book is a must-read for anyone in insurance who wants to improve their sales call close rates.
5. The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy
If you’ve been in the industry for a while—or even if you’re just starting out—you probably know that sales training doesn’t end once you start working.
International bestselling author Brian Tracy’s The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible can help take your sales to the next level.
Tracy’s successful career includes his time as the COO of a $265 million development company, after which he founded Brian Tracy International, a company that specializes in developing individuals and organizations.
Tracy shares that the top 20 percent in any field usually started in the bottom 80 percent (even Babe Ruth), but they used failure and obstacles to develop strategies that launched them to the top.
The Psychology of Selling is one of the best books for gaining insights you can immediately put to work in your business, like the value of open-ended questions (who doesn’t love an open-ended question?) and getting to know your “non-customer.”
Tracy’s strategies are rooted in psychology, but he also gives you actual sales tips to help you turn his insights into profits.
6. Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland
Is running a successful business more of a dark art than a science? Perhaps. But that doesn’t mean Rory Sutherland’s book Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life lacks a scientific basis.
Rory Sutherland is the legendary Vice Chairman of Ogilvy and has been called the “don of modern advertising” by The New York Times. In his hilarious and wildly entertaining book, Alchemy, he uses scientific research and case studies from some of the most successful businesses in the world to help you become a marketing and sales whiz.
Sutherland’s unconventional approach to branding and delightful storytelling will have you forgetting you’re reading a business book. But you’ll still learn valuable insights on human decision-making and what influences it.
Alchemy is a must-read for anyone in business, especially if you’re looking to level up your marketing and establish a brand for yourself.
7. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
People skills are key for salespeople and those in customer service, no matter what you’re selling.
First published in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s bestselling How to Win Friends and Influence People continues to resonate with millions of readers today.
Included in this comprehensive guide to interacting with others, are six ways to make people like you, nine ways to change people without creating resentment, and 12 ways to win people over to your perspective.
Carnegie argues there’s no way to actually win an argument, and that honest, sincere appreciation gets you much further than criticizing and being right.
This book has sold over 30 million copies and genuinely stood the test of time, such as landing at number 19 on Time Magazine’s most influential books of 2011. It’s one of the bestselling books of all time and still holds a number of gems for anyone looking to improve their relationship-building and sales skills today.
8. Top of Mind by John Hall
Success in any industry, including the insurance business, means staying top of mind with your customers.
John Hall, co-founder of Influence & Co., shares his noteworthy content strategy in Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter to You.
You've probably learned by now that the insurance industry is highly competitive. It’s not enough to go through your cold call list every day. In fact, Hall mentions that it takes seven to 13 touches to convert and close customers now.
Business is about relationships, and in Top of Mind, Hall shows you how to establish yourself as a valuable, trustworthy partner to your clients. His process of attract, convert, close, and delight will help you create an authentic brand image and connect with customers.
While this book talks about personal brands and online influence, insurance agents can learn from Hall’s example of turning trust, consistency, and content into a profitable lead generation strategy.
9. What Money Can’t Buy by Michael J. Sandel
Michael J. Sandel is a political philosophy professor at Harvard University. He’s also known as one of the most influential modern philosophers. So why is he useful to you, the insurance agent?
Sandel cracks the psychology of human decisions, and how they’re affected by incentives, penalties, and advertising In his New York Times bestselling book, What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets.
Let’s say you’re trying to predict how a customer might react to bundling other services (like Hourly payroll) with insurance. Learning more about how people typically react to these types of offers can shed some light on whether this sales strategy would benefit your company (hint: it will!).
Sandel’s findings are sometimes surprising. For example, a study discovered that fining parents for picking up their preschool kids late actually increased late pickups.
For the philosophical insurance agent, this is a highly recommended and thought-provoking read.
10. Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
Harry Beckwith is a Stanford University grad who formed Beckwith Advertising and Marketing in 1988. His book, Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing, offers a complete guide to marketing any service type.
In his New York Times Business bestseller, Beckwith offers a brief but thorough look at the nuances involved in making sales.
With chapters like “Let Your Clients Set Your Standards” and “Brands in a Microwave World,” the book is chock-full of incredible insights and sales strategies for anyone speaking with customers.
Beckwith teaches marketers how to use psychology to improve their ability to sell their services. He claims, “Services are human. Their successes depend on the relationships of people… But you can spot some patterns in people.”
Selling the Invisible will help you craft a compelling value proposition and learn to identify your customers’ actual needs so you can close more deals.
Get Out There and Succeed in the Insurance Industry
Insurance sales agents make $52,180 per year on average according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the top ten percent of earners made more than $125,500 annually, with the best-selling insurance products including auto insurance, home insurance, and life insurance. But, succeeding in the industry requires deep product knowledge and a particular skill set. For those that genuinely want to build a successful business, it also requires a mindset shift—one primed for sales success that understands how people think and is tough enough to persevere through rejection.
To reach your goals in the industry, aim to develop these skills:
- Sales-oriented mindset
- Excellent customer service
- Product expertise
- Emotional intelligence
- People skills
In short, you need to know sales, people, and your products.
Reading the stories of people who have walked the insurance path before you can teach you how to build a thriving book of business and even open up an agency and develop your team. Now all that's left to do? Get out there and grow your business!