Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hard Lesson Learned

This week I lost $1700 worth of sales I made last week. Long story short, both clients have pending applications and have not returned my phone calls in over a week. That is never a good sign. BOTH of them were internet leads from VA. I don't like to assume anything without getting the facts, but here is what I think happened.

Mr. Slick Agent came in and found out what plans I put them in and used whatever methods he or she utilized to sell them a plan with a lower premium. I ONLY sell the best of the best plans based on some specific criteria. I will only sell the bottom of the barrel plans when all options have been exhausted. It is a shame that people sign up for plans simply because the premium is 10%-25% lower. Most of the plans these people sign up for that are cheaper have more holes in them then swiss cheese. The savvy person would ask themselves, "why is this plan so much cheaper and what am I giving up?" The less than savvy client will say, "WOW, I get the same benefits but the premium is that much lower, sign me up..." Yep, a smooth talking agent triumphs. You cannot fix stupid!!!

I was only able to put together one deal this week so that put my AV in right at $2000. I had a few appts. lined up for this week that would have netted me about $15,000 AV, but they both did not show up for the appt., nor did they return my message or e-mails. One of those clients would have been able to save about $10,000+ per year based on some of my ideas. Do you think if I was able to save YOU $10,000 you might take 10 minutes to hear what I have to say????????? 99% of intelligent people I think would be glad to give me 10 minutes. The other 10% are the X factor.....These normally include engineers and accountants. Here is something to think about. Imagine somebody came up to me or you and asked what I do for a living. Which response below to do you think is the best, worst, etc.????????

1) I'm an insurance agent.
2) I own a life and health insurance agency.
3) I specialize in helping small business owners increase their bottom line by paying for their medical expenses with pre-tax dollars, while increasing their net worth in a tax-free account.
4) I will sell you the largest commisioned plan available because I want to purchase an Austin Martin DB9 and I need the money....
5) I sell value and can lease anything you want. Would you like to lease an insurance plan? You can trade it in when you're ready to get a different one!

The upcoming week is going to be awesome....Until next time.........

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Turn Back the Clock

Last week produced some GREAT results but alas, it is Monday. Unfortunately, I did not hit my mark of $20,000 AV, but if it was easy that wouldn't be as fun. After some tricky underwriting issues with one of my clients and an insurance carrier I ended the week with $8500 AV, so I should be seeing $1700 for my work that week once everything is approved. If I kept that pace going every week I would gross $88,400 for the year. Not a bad income by normal standards.

This week I really have to ramp up production if I'm going to hit my goals in the next year. As I stated in an earlier post I am no longer buying internet leads. My short term goal is to commit to telemarketing at least 5 hours a day generating 8-10 leads. That will yield me approximately 48-60 leads. Using conservative numbers I expect 3-4 deals a week at an average $3000 AV that should gross me $15000 AV or $3000 a week in gross income. Now we're talking. Just $5000 short of my weekly goal. Hmmmm, can I work on Sunday as well :).

I have designed a new script and will be implementing that just as soon as I get up tomorrow morning. I am now officially back in Maryland so I look forward to competing with a few friends. Usually it takes about 20 or so hours to ascertain if a script is working so I should know enough by weeks end to find out what needs to be tweaked. The script will strictly be used by me until it no longer viable.

This past weekend I contemplated the direction of the agency within the next year and 5 years down the road. I thought about hiring agents, fine-tuning the focus of the agency to include other avenues besides health insurance (estate planning, retirement planning, etc.), try to figure out what the hell happened to Alf and MacGyver, how far away is universal health care and how will that impact me.....yadda, yadda, yadda, have a another drink!

Then I had an epiphany. "STOP worrying about the what-if's and focus on personal production for the time being. Who really gives a shit about Alf except people like me who are obesessed with the 80's." If I can reach me goal of $20,000 AV a week and gross $4000-$5000 per week, why the hell should I teach somebody to do the same but only net about 1/4 of the money and have 3 times as many headaches? I did the standard Ben Franklin Close on myself and put all the pros and cons together on one sheet of paper. The results..........I'm simply not prepared right now to take on agents without sacrificing my personal production and other goals. I will hire agents down the road, but it will not be until I get some things done first.

Here's to a good week.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Achieving Success

Thus far this week has been going very well for me. I have put in $9500 AV this week and it is only Wednesday! $500 AV more and I reach my minimum production goal, another $10,500 and I will reach my top goal for the week.

Right now I am in the process of developing my website. I thought about hiring somebody to design my website for me until I came to the conclusion that I like to be in control, and it is also a nice break from the insurance business. I am currently using Blue Voda and expect the site to be completed within 2-3 weeks.

The last few days have been spent revamping my marketing campaigns and deciding which avenues I will pursue. Thus far I have been working internet leads for the past 3 months and that has stopped recently due to a variety of reasons. In case you don't know, internet leads are primarily comprised of people who either went online searching for quotes for health insurance, or they were solicited via a banner or e-mail and they they filled out a form to receive more information. Here is what I have learned thus far from that working with those types of leads. Internet leads are profitable, but they are a pain in the ass for the following reasons.

1) Approximately 70% of the leads I received failed to produce any form of verbal communication. In other words, out of 100 people I was only able to talk to 30 people.

2) Of those 30 people, 28 were either broke or uninsurable due to health conditions.

3) On every call that I was successful in talking with a prospective client I was competing against 3-6 other agents from various parts of the country. Normally I could care less about the competition because I know how to put the ball in my court. However, when you dealing with agents who will lie and cheat people to get a deal because their car payment is due, it kinda puts a damper on your approach to business if you are ethical.

4) It could take weeks to get in contact with somebody and that does sap your energy as the weeks continue.

This is not to say that internet leads are bad because they do produce a profit. It is just the mental energy you have to continually produce to put up with it is quite taxing. For the time being, I will not work any more internet leads and have decided to get back to the basics of producing my own leads via cold calling. I aim start to hire a few girls to increase my telemarketing efforts in September. Here are my conservative numbers based on my production alone.

I WILL get a minimum of 10 leads a day cold calling in a few areas I have targeted on the east coast.

I WILL work my way up to getting 3 appointments a day.

I WILL get work my way up to getting one sale a day for 6 days a week (Monday-Saturday).

I estimate that it will take 20 leads to get one deal. At an average $3500 AV that will yield me $10,500 AV for the week netting me between $2100 - $2625. At a standard 40 hour work I will gross $52.50 - $65.62 p/hour.

If I can produce 10 leads a day for 6 days a week I should produce approximately 60 leads getting me halfway to my goal. Taking that number and multiplying by 2.5 (built in BS factor) tells me that I need to find a way to get 150 leads a week. I have a few ideas how to get there but it's going to take some time.

I'm off........

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

Before I explain where I'm at now I think it is important for all of you to know where I came from.

I lived in Frederick, MD from 1990-1999 and enjoyed a great upbringing. Although you might say I was a late bloomer, when the bloom did occur it surprised me, as well as most of people who knew me back then. If there was something stupid to be done, I was there with an eager face. During my junior-senior year in high school I made a myriad of bad decisions and I did not have many short and long term goals. Many of my friends at the time were going down a road that I did not want to continue on. After much debate I decided that it would be best for me to get off my ass and do something with my life, so I stunned everybody who knew me when I decided to enlist in the USAF. My grandfather was in the Army, my close uncle is an Army Lt. Col (retired) and my father served in the USAF back during Vietnam. I figured if the service helped to mold their character to become strong, dependable guys, perhaps it would so the same for me. Learn a new career field, do some traveling, protect the country…….the fun stuff!

I joined the USAF and shipped out for basic training on September 1, 1999. To truly understand the environment I was entering and how it might impact me, I’d like you consider the following. Prior to joining the service, I was a punk-rocker, complete with multiple Mohawk haircuts and then I let the hair grow out and I transitioned into the Techno sub-culture. I have always had an issue with authority, although I view it now as being strong-willed and independent. Being quiet was never one of my strong points.

Needless to say, I quickly learned to shut the hell up and do what was necessary to make it in the military. I served on active duty from 1999-2003 as a videographer. I had the pleasure of working with the USAF, NASA, as well as a host of other organizations in which I performed a variety of duties that resulted in numerous national and international awards given to me for my role in the instructional and educational videos I help produce. I started to pursue my AA in Liberal Arts in the fall of 2000 and my goal at the time was to either go to film school after my enlistment ended or continue in the field working on video productions as a civilian.

With only two years left in the military 9/11 occurred and that changed my life forever. I felt scared, angry, but most of all, I was very concerned for my friends and family members back in Maryland since the Pentagon was attacked and nobody knew what the hell was going on. I volunteered to do my part and expressed a high level of interest to go overseas and take care of business Jersey style. My wish finally came true in the fall of 2002 when I received orders to complete a short 3-6 month tour in Bosnia working with the Royal Air Force, USAF, USARMY and Special Forces. I was psyched out and couldn’t wait to leave. After completing training and waiting about 5 months I received some bad news. A day before I left for Bosnia I was told that my orders had been cancelled. I never did get an answer as to the specific reason, but suffice it to say I was told by a close friend; who happened to be one of the best mentors I have had the pleasure of knowing, that some ASSHOLE got my orders cancelled because he was more concerned about kissing a General’s ass and making rank and wanted to take all the glory. Apparently, having me over there competing against him for the attention of the brass was not an option. In all honesty, although I received many awards for my accomplishments and still keep them to this day, I couldn’t give two shits about winning awards at the time. I merely wanted to do my part and I had yet to go overseas. I guess that’s what happens when an E-7 competes against an E-4. I liked the guy up until that point. That is the unofficial story. Shortly after I decided to get out of the military in August of 2003. I started to pursue my B.S. in Psychology and work towards obtaining my doctorate in psychology and become a therapist.

From 2003-2005, I busted ass yet again, except this time I was a civilian. I became a 3.2+ student and succeeded in becoming the Psychology Board President, as well as serving on the Student Psychology Advisory Board. All my military training had finally paid off J Long story short, I made it all the way to being interviewed by the graduate school I applied to and it did not work out at the way I had intended. The college I really want to attend did not fit my personal style mainly because the Dean of Psychology and I did not see eye to eye and I found out that I wasn’t ready to pursue that route after all. Better late than never you know. I was rejected from grad school, and yet again, wondered what the hell I was going to do.

I decided at the time that I would only pursue my goal of becoming a therapist when I had the ability to pay cash for my degree and do a bit more research when selecting a college. I still love psychology, but now I read articles pertaining to the science for fun instead of grades. I completed a full 180 and decided to get into a field I had always wanted to try, but never attempted. I became part of the sales force. Yep, the love for sales professionals goes hand in hand with IRS Agents and people who talk on their cell phone during movies.

In the past 2 years I have sold mattresses, gutter/windows and overpriced basement systems. Although I came from a blue collar town, home improvement is not my forte. If it is broken, my motto is to call somebody. Quite interesting considering my father and grandfather were quite the handy men. After talking with a good friend of mine from high school who started his own business in the publishing world he recommended that I pursue something I could sell to people with similar goals/views as my own. That meant I needed a base of clients who exuded confidence, ambition, energy, and a unflinching desire to succeed. So, either my clientele would be exotic dancers or small business owners. My mother probably wouldn’t have been too happy with the former, so I chose the latter. That left my choices to become a financial planner, investment advisor or an insurance agent. When I started off with my first sales job as a mattress sales guy I was offered a position as a manager with my own store after a month of working. I probably would have made around $60,000 per year if I stayed. At the time, a friend of mine was making a killing selling gutters/windows so that is avenue I took until I realized that I;m not the handy man type. Needless to say, I pondered the next action. I received a few offers to become a financial planner, but decided to become an insurance agent because the company I signed up with made it seem like I could easily make $100,000+ a year. If making that amount of money was easy more people would be at that level. I was nowhere close to that level, but that job did help get me into the field and I haven't looked back since. If any of you have an idea what it takes to make 6 figures, allow me the chance to share some facts with you.

According to the Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) found here, the median income of a general family physician is approximately $137,000. If you take into account the amount of education needed to obtain a doctorate and the price of that education needed to attain such an income level, it paints a clear picture. A highly sought occupation, combined with extensive achievement in the academic world leads to a higher than normal income. Lawyers are in a similar bracket, although the prestige isn’t quite there yet. But here’s the kicker, take a wild guess about the number of doctors who graduate each year and have 6 figure tuition bills due??????????? Feel free to use a search engine at this point.

Now for the good news! The average insurance agent makes $41,000 a year according to the OOH ( The average 2 person family in MD earns approximately $74,000 per year ( There is an estimated 90% failure rate in the health/life insurance industry w/in the 1st year. Of the 10% who are left, 5% enjoy a nice modest income of around $41,000, while the remaining 5% earn in excess of $100,000+. The top 2% earn more than $250,000+ a year. I only know of a few friends in the insurance field who are at that level or higher. Your ability to boast about your success in the insurance field is largely determined by the car you drive. The majority of agents drive a leased BMW or Mercedes that they cannot afford. I drive a Lincoln Towncar, but then again I am originally from New Jersey. In agent terms your Annualized Volume (AV) is the gauge of how successful you are at 1st glance. Roughly speaking, the agent who turns in $200,000 - $250,000 AV in a given year averages $48,000 per year, so suffice it to say that agents who earn in excess of $250,000 pull in $1,000,000 - $1,250,000 AV per year.

My short term goal is to produce $500,000 in sales+ level w/in 2 years and $1,000,000 within 5 years. I LOVE insurance and truly believe that I am providing a valuable service to my clients. The ability to make very good money, while protecting the financial and health interests of small business owners is an appealing occupation to me and IT IS THE direction I want to go in my life. I currently only sell health insurance, although I’m licensed to sell life insurance but do not focus much on that side of things yet. I operate in MD, DC, VA, WV and PA right now. I started my agency January 1, 2007 and have experienced the ups and down of being a small business owner. Suffice it to say, I’m now starting to see the fruits of my labor. It takes me about a month to ascertain the availability of health insurance plans of a new state, so you can count on seeing a longer list by this time next year.

This blog has been created to share my experiences with all of you as I grow the agency. Here is the general outline for the next year entailing the goals I aim to accomplish by December 2008.

1) Become the agency for small business owners to turn to for their life, health and disability insurance needs in the Mid-Atlantic area initially; and nationally down the road.

2) Design a new website and start to brand the name of that site here in the Mid-Atlantic area, as well as the name of my agency (Due to confidentiality, the name of the agency will be omitted from any posts due to business and personal reasons).

3) Focus on personal production and become a million dollar producer by writing quality business and maintaining the highest ethical standards.

4) Start towards earning the coveted CLU and ChFC designations (for more information on these designations follow this link to increase my areas of expertise and credibility.

5) Obtain a physical office location by December 2008.

6) Hire new insurance agents and teach them to be health insurance experts in their geographical location (All agents will operate under the agency name until I see fit to change that approach).

7) Team up with other financial professionals and offer at least 4 seminars within the next year geared towards small business owners and the general population.

8) Buy an investment property.

9) Purchase an S Class Mercedes by August 2008.

10) Determine the next state I would like to move to within the next 1-2 years.

I appreciate the time you have taken to read this blog and look forward to hearing all of your thoughts and suggestions in the future. I assure you that this will be longest post I write. Throughout the next year I will keep track of every facet of my business and keep all of you abreast about my progress.

The easiest way to keep track of this blog and any other blogs is to set up a account. It’s FREE and I highly recommend it.

I aim to provide an insight into my world and share the good, as well as the bad, while trying to keep everything light. I already know that most people would rather get audited by an IRS agent, while having a doctor perform a colonoscopy, then talk to an insurance agent, so in the immortal words of one of my former military mentors, “JR, GET OFF YOUR ASS AND SET THE STANDARD”

Operation HAS commenced!!!!!!!!!!!!!