Cover Your Bases: How to Increase Insurance Agent Productivity
February 6, 2024

As an insurance agency owner, you want to make sure your agents are being as productive as possible. The money coming in the door directly reflects how well they're using their time.

There's so much information – including research and helpful statistics – that can teach us about maximizing productivity in our insurance agencies.

While statistics can point us all in the right direction, John and I also want to share what we've done in our own agency to increase agent productivity.

We're very excited to share more in this "Cover Your Bases" series where we tackle common concerns of agency owners. Feel free to jump ahead to different topics in this article focused on agent productivity:

This article was originally published on June 15, 2020. It was updated on February 5, 2024.

Check out the full blog series, Cover Your Bases, which explores topics for agency owners.

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Production Goals In Small Groups

A production goal is to insurance agent as a deadline is to newspaper publishers.

Production goals will nudge your agents to work harder, and one way to do that is by holding sales contests in your agency.

A 2009 study out of University of Michigan found that when you're competing, a smaller group makes you more productive. Those who thought they were competing against 10 other people did much better than those who thought they were competing against 100 other people.

In sum, when there are more people competing, you feel less motivated.

Also, when you win a competition, your brain produces dopamine – the feel-good hormone – and you're motivated to experience that rush again. It produces a motivational, productive cycle.

how to increase agent productivity

Create a Sales Contest

With that in mind, you might consider creating a sales contest with teams rather than every agent for himself. That'll motivate your agents as suggested by that University of Michigan study.

The way we do this in our local agency is by dividing up the agency into 4-5 teams and having them compete against each other for a reward.

For example, when the coronavirus pandemic started to sweep our nation, our local agency started the Corona Challenge.

This sales contest was 3 weeks long and the prizes were $500 for first place, $350 for second place, and $150 for third place. You can read more about the point system we used for that contest here, but you get the idea.

In a time when business should have really slow, it motivated many of the agents to go the extra mile, and their productivity was boosted because of it.

Personalized Rewards

A quick note on prizes: trips and cash bonuses are nice, but a personal reward is more motivating.

If you can find out what your agents are really interested in, it might encourage better productivity.

For example, a few years ago, one of our agents set a goal of hitting $1 million in new sales. If he could reach that goal, the agency would buy him a $5,000 horse saddle.

personal reward for agency sales contests

Guess what? He hit the $1 million mark for the first time. That saddle meant a great deal to him and helped motivate him to meet his goals.

Further Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Setting Meaningful Goals for Your Insurance Agency

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Share Your Agency's Numbers

If your agents can see the financial health of the agency, it might give them the extra motivation they need to pull their weight.

At our local agency, we tell the agents where the agency is at volume-wise, and we show how we're trending based on prior years. Agents are generally sales-oriented – there's something about seeing the numbers and trends that makes them want to compete.

The way you share this information might be a simple report – maybe it's weekly, monthly, or quarterly – or perhaps you have a dashboard that's on a monitor in your office at all times.

Here's an example of a visual dashboard in AgencyBloc, an Agency Management System (we'll talk more about that later).

AgencyBloc Dashboard All Policies Example

Use Dashboards to Motivate

A dashboard is a visual representation of your sales data.

You might display your sales goals, the agency revenue, number of customers – whatever data is relevant to your agency.

You can use dashboarding to show your agents how they're tracking towards their goals and revenue targets.

As an agency owner, you can use these metrics to make decisions, award bonuses, and identify potential issues before they spiral out of control.

Even if the dashboard is only visible on your agent's computers – in other words, it's not publicly displayed at all times – a dashboard can be extremely motivating.

MedicareCENTER has a dashboard that can show your agents a policy snapshot, task list, and recent activity. It's a great way to keep a pulse on how they're doing.

Screenshot 2024-02-05 at 2.27.43 PM

And again, motivation drives us all to be more productive with our time.

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Implement the Right Agency Tools

If your agency is still using file cabinets and scattered Excel sheets to organize information, your agents probably aren't that productive with their time.

Thanks to technology, there are a variety of Agency Management Systems that will have a dramatic impact on your team's productivity.

An Agency Management System (AMS) allows insurance agencies to organize their book of business to more effectively run their operation.

AgencyBloc is what our agency uses, but there are definitely others out there.


We use AgencyBloc in our local agency to store our client's information, run reports, and send targeted emails.

AgencyBloc replaces the need for file cabinets and cluttered spreadsheets by consolidating all of the important client information in one place.


AgencyBloc also makes AEP much more manageable.

A few key features of AgencyBloc:

  • It's specific to health and life, so it solves our problems pretty directly (generic CRMs require a LOT of customization and workarounds)
  • It's cloud-based, so any agent can access it from anywhere
  • It's contact-based, so our book of business is organized
  • Tasks can be automated, which saves everyone time and keeps things from falling through the cracks
  • Dashboards are available in real-time to help everyone stay on track with their goals
  • Custom reporting makes it easy to get a quick list of upcoming renewals, for example

There's more, but these are some of the key features that make a big difference for our agency.

AgencyBloc pricing starts at $105/month and scales based on how many agents are on your team.


MedicareCENTER is a fantastic solution for insurance agents who sell Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans.

It's free for agents who are contracted with us and boasts the following features:

  • Call recording
  • Dashboards and reporting
  • Mobile app
  • Lead management
  • Side-by-side plan comparisons
  • Integrated quoting and enrollment
  • Universal login
  • Easy to use
  • Follows all CMS guidelines


With MedicareCENTER, you can quote, enroll, and take care of your clients after the sale. And did I mention it's free?

Learn More About MedicareCENTER


We haven't personally used Vertafore, but it's another option made specifically for insurance agencies. 

vertafore dashboard example

A few highlights:

  • Increase staff productivity
  • Streamline workflows
  • Improve renewals and retention
  • Drive new business
  • Enhance your client experience
  • Designed to integrate

When it comes to productivity, specifically, Vertafore has the following features:

  • Document management
  • Import/Export
  • Quick navs
  • My Agency Home, a dashboard that gives you a complete task of today's work
  • Compare, a feature that lets you compare a policy renewal to a prior term
  • So much more, like form letter distribution, lead list import, text/customer communications, mobile-productive on the go, and scheduled reports

There's more technology you might consider implementing to increase the productivity of your agents, but it's really another subject, so check out this article for more details: Insurance Technology: What Modern Insurance Agents Need to Run Their Businesses

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Train Your Agents to Cross-Sell

One of the best investments you can make in your team is proper training.

Your agents might be able to sell a Medicare Supplement to every person that walks into their office. But if they learn how to cross-sell, they can double – or triple – their sales without needing any additional prospects or time.

Training your agents to cross-sell is arguably the fastest way to double your agency's production. Talk about productivity!


That's exactly what our local agency did when we started implementing new processes and ways to help our agents cross-sell effectively. Change is difficult, but when one agent started following the system, other agents saw his success.

Then, it was a trickle effect. One-by-one, other agents started to get on board, and before you knew it, one of our best agents saw her sales increase by 88% in just one year.

She'll tell you to this day that old dogs can learn new tricks.

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Healthy Employees Are More Productive

A variety of surveys and reports have shown healthier employees are more productive, happier in their jobs, and save their employers money over time.

Physical and mental health both play a role here, so let's take a look at both.

Improving Mental Health of Agents

Northeast Business Group on Health shares that the two most common mental health conditions – depression and anxiety – result in an estimated $1 trillion in lost economic productivity.

An employee can be physically present at work, but not really present at all (called presenteeism). And sometimes, those are who depressed or are suffering from anxiety don't show up to work at all. The report from NEBGH shares that mental health conditions is the leading cause of lost work days.

Furthermore, several studies report that for every dollar spent on creating a mentally healthy workplace, the return on investment is between $2-$4 (Heads Up, PsyberGuide)

For agents suffering from depression or anxiety, this simply means they're not out prospecting, and they're probably not going above and beyond in the areas that really count:

  • Cross-selling
  • Providing stellar customer service
  • Asking for referrals

This is an obvious problem, and the next question is: what can I do as agency owner?

Supporting Agent Health

The Bowman Family Foundation, Aetna, and Johnson & Johnson funded a guide that has some recommendations for tackling mental health concerns in your workplace.

Some of these recommendations are obviously for large companies, but the concept can be scaled down for smaller agencies.

Instead of creating a full-on workplace stress management program, consider a 10-minute meditation time after lunch or an agency-wide FitBit tracking competition. Both meditation and physical activity have been directly linked to stress reduction.

FitBit workweek hustle challenge for insurance agencies

FitBit has pre-built challenges, including a Daily Showdown, Goal Day, Weekend Warrior, and Workweek Hustle.

There are also a number of digital programs available to employers that can help your team overcome stress, anxiety, burnout, and similar mental health concerns.

The best program we found in our research that's not only proven to be effective, but is affordable for small teams is Headspace for Work. It costs $69.99 per year per employee, with a minimum of 10 employees.

Companies like LinkedIn, Adobe, and General Electric use Headspace for Work to help employees deal with stress, sleep, focus, and anxiety.

This digital program shows that after 30 days, workers get 3+ more productive days. In fact, 85% of members with moderate to severe depression and 83% with anxiety see symptom improvement after 6-16 weeks (*members who engaged in coaching or clinical care).

Headspace for Work - the Wake Up

"The Wake Up" includes inspiring stories and mini-meditations delivered daily to help you start your morning right. Getting off on the right foot can set the precedent for the rest of your day!

Improving Physical Health of Agents

No one is asking agency owners to pounce when they see an agent eating a donut.

Everyone's responsible for their own well-being, but many companies have found ways to support the physical health of their staff.

Just like mental health, physical health is directly tied to your staff's productivity.

A 2008 review conducted by the Department of Health and Productivity Research at Thomson Healthcare found that promoting healthy choices in pretty simple ways can have a "substantial" impact on the productivity of your employees.

Some examples of things you can do in your office:

  • Offering healthy food choices in cafeterias
  • Stocking vending machines with nutritious snacks

Healthy You Vending MachineHealthy YOU Vending machines feature healthy snacks like CLIF bars, peanuts, and popchips. There are over 2,500 healthy vending options to choose from.

  • Allowing company-sponsored meals to be healthy
  • Providing opportunities for physical activity
  • Having a campus-wide no-smoking policy
  • Making staircases attractive
  • Providing benefit coverage for recommended preventive screenings

Making It Work For Your Agency

Again, much of this research is geared towards large companies, but you can take the concept and make it work for a smaller agency.

For example, require everyone to get out of their desk every hour on the hour and do a few laps around the office.

A few more ideas:

  • Start a fitness contest: whether it's a Biggest Loser challenge, using an app like WalkMyMind (steps, distance, and listening challenges), or using a wearable step tracker to set goals for your staff
  • Implement walking meetings: if you need to have a meeting with an agent, consider doing it while you walk! Walking meetings have been reported to be the most effective when you're brainstorming ideas or need to be creative (CDC).

walking meeting example for insurance agencies

  • Subsidize gym memberships: OK, so we may be stealing this idea from MA plans, but there's a reason they offer it as a benefit design – consider doing the same thing in your agency
  • Talk about it!: A guide created by Workplace Health Research Network and Johns Hopkins advises employers to be "active supporters" of physical activity and to focus on building a culture of health

These ideas can feel a little foreign and far-fetched, but remember that aside from sleeping, most people in the workforce spend the majority of their day-to-day life working.

There's an opportunity here to make a real difference, and when your agents are physically healthier, you'll reap the benefits of higher productivity.

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Arm Your Agents With Simple Productivity Hacks

There are a ton of little habits that can help your agents increase their productivity. If you meet with your team on a regular basis, consider sharing a productivity hack at the beginning of each meeting.

Whether it's your own tip or a hack we'll share here, it's bound to get everyone thinking about how they can best use their time.

1. The Two-Minute Rule

Have you ever been completely overwhelmed by an onslaught of emails, voicemails, or paperwork? It can be paralyzing. But if you can keep up with it all steadily, it's manageable.

The idea behind the two-minute rule is if a task can be done in two minutes or less, do it. Don't save it for later.

Email Productivity for Insurance Agents

Steve Olenski, Forbes contributor and Author, came up with this idea and says it takes less time to do it right now than it does to come back to it later on.

Sometimes, productivity is all about shaving seconds off here and there, and this is one of those simple hacks.

2. Have Intentional Meetings

Meetings are a subject all on their own, but to get to the point, meetings account for 31 hours of wasted time each month for the average worker in an office (Inc.).

Take a hard look at the meetings you currently have, and make sure they have a purpose. Don't meet just to meet – that's one of the biggest productivity pitfalls in business across the globe.

3. Restructure the Workday

The traditional 8-hour workday started during the industrial revolution, but several studies in the last decade have shown it may be sucking away all our productivity.

A famous productivity study by the Draugiem Group found that the length of the workday wasn't that important – taking short breaks throughout is what mattered.

The study found the ideal work-to-break ratio is 52 minutes of work followed by 17 minutes of rest.

Researchers found those who followed this pattern were entirely focused during the nearly 1-hour stretch and were not distracted by things like Facebook pings or email notifications.

When they started to get tired, they took a short break where they completely separated themselves from work. Rinse and repeat.

Scientists point to the way our brains work to explain this finding: "the brain naturally functions in spurts of high energy (roughly an hour) followed by spurts of low energy (15–20 minutes)" (Heleo).

To put this information to use, help your agents structure their appointments in 1-hour intervals so natural breaks are built in to recharge and refocus. Kill two birds with one stone by promoting a 15-minute walk during this short break.

4. Clean Your Desk

When you have a messy desk or office, it spills over into your mood, your behavior, and even your decision-making processes.

A cluttered space also has a significant negative effect on your stress and anxiety levels. It's harder to focus, you make poorer eating choices, and it even impacts your sleep.

Scientists at Princeton University Neuroscience Institute used fMRI to show that visual reminders of a disorganized space reduces our ability to focus.

When the clutter was cleared from the work environment, participants of the study were able to focus and process information, and "their productivity increased" (Harvard Business Review). 

As an agency owner, you can encourage your agents to keep a tidy office by having regularly-scheduled "spring cleaning" days.


Cater in some food or snacks and let the whole team enjoy this normally mundane (and not fun!) task together.

5. Batching Work

Batching work together is a productivity hack that has garnered a lot of attention, especially for those of us with cluttered email inboxes.

One study found that batching emails, or doing them all at once, made people feel more productive. They also felt more productive if they turned email notifications off.

Dr. Sahar Yousef, cognitive neuroscientist and lecturer at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, says, "The human brain works best when it focuses on one thing at a time. We have a certain amount of cognitive capacity and a certain amount of attention.”

Bring up this idea to your agents and see if they have any ideas on tasks they can batch together.

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Use Productivity Technology

These days, there seems to be an app for just about everything, and productivity in the workplace is no exception.

Here are a few popular options:

  • Todoist: a sophisticated to-do list app so you don't forget anything
  • Engross: a customized timer inspired from the Pomodoro technique to help you manage your time better


  • Pocket: a place to save articles you're interested in so you can read them all later (batching!)
  • Online scheduling system (Calendly is a popular choice): encourage clients to schedule their own appointments so you don't have to take the time do that
  • Freedom: an app that helps you manage your screen time by blocking certain apps and websites so you stay on track
  • an app that plays music designed to focus your brain (backed by scientific research)
  • Forest: an app where you plant a tree, which grows for as long as you are focused and not touching your phone

forest app


Having productive agents that pull their weight is key to having a successful insurance agency.

To recap, here are some ways you can help your team increase productivity:

  • Set production goals and create sales contests
  • Brainstorm some personal rewards you could offer with your sales contests
  • Share your sales volume and how you're trending each year
  • Use sales dashboards to motivate agents to reach their goals
  • Go digital with an Agency Management System
  • Consider what you can do to improve the mental and physical health of your team
  • Encourage simple habits like the two-minute rule, intentional meetings, batching work together, and keeping a clean desk
  • Think about restructuring the workday in 1-hour intervals
  • Use smartphone apps designed to help you improve your productivity

As an agency owner, you're the coach! Your team is looking to you for guidance and leadership.

I sincerely hope this gives you some ideas in how you can coach up your agents and encourage more productivity in your organization.

What have you done in your agency to encourage agent productivity?

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