Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Well Do You Care

Today was a GREAT day! I had a meeting with a few people at one of the local insurance companies in order to discuss a semi-captive agreement selling Medicare Advantage and Medi-Medi plans. Two lines of insurance I want to get experience in.

I must say that I was very impressed with their professionalism and can honestly say that it was one of the best insurance related meetings I've had with anybody from an insurance company.
Here's the scoop.

- I would be an exclusive agent (W-2) and could only sell their products.
- Very generous base salary combined with bonuses.
- Ability to keep all my non-resident licenses
- Opportunity to sell other insurance products as long as it doesn't impact my production.
- Reasonable production standards.
- Expected to scout locations, conduct seminars and manage and operate RV for marketing purposes. OH YEAH!
- NO Cold Calling or going to residential houses due to CMS guidelines.
--Networking with local doctors, get the point.
- Attend training meetings.
-Participate in direct mail follow up (warm calling) once a a week in office for 2 hours, while still working out of my home.

Here's my take on the positive aspects of the position.

1) I have wanted to conduct seminars but haven't yet due to inexperience and a feeling of anxiety about public speaking. This position will push me (Progressive Training) in a similar to how weight lifters push themselves week in and week out by using heavier weights.

2) I will need to join Toastmasters once I find a local club that I like and then research, practice, implement, videotape, rinse and repeat until I can build up the confidence and experience I desire.

2) I want to learn the MA market, but I do still love selling individual and family insurance and wish to sell medical supplements as well. I can do all three as long as I meet the production requirements, so I'm happy! I might have to look into selling on the West Coast to take advantage of the time zone difference. More on that later.

3) I need constant input about who is doing what so I can keep the motivation going and push myself. I normally talk to one or two friends daily as it is now to find out how things are going in their respective sale field so I don't feel isolated. This was an awkward feeling at first that some new agents don't expect. I'm not the type of person that can compete against himself and have fun because I need to have that wonderful feeling that I beat XXXX on particular date, week, etc. The only thing difference about my approach is that I try not to openly gloat about my production.

4) I have the ability to work out of the office or my home. Ah, the best of both worlds. Office space up here in CT is UNGODLY expensive, so this is definitely a positive.

And now for the negative aspects I've thought about thus far.

1) Not meeting quota.'s not a major issue. Take underwriting out of the equation and my sales will go up about 25%. Allow me to sell free insurance and my sales shoot up another 50%. I currently sell 2-3 deals a week so realistically I expect to sell 3-7 deals a week, which more than meets the quota requirements.

2) Looking like an idiot during the initial seminars. I cannot really do anything about that but suck it up and do it, so that's a non issue as I'm comforted by their training program combined with joining Toastmasters.

3) Spending too much time working and not enough time relaxing. The position will be a 9-5 gig, which gives me another 2 hours to sell other lines...UNLESS I start selling on the west coast which would potentially give me another 3 hours. I'm going to play it by ear and if I get tired of watching Survivorman reruns I can sell in the Western States.

4) Burning myself out from working long hours. I have to force myself to stop working as it stands now so I do not to watch that. Most people around my age are going out drinking and screwing off while I'm working, so I rather sacrifice now and have the "ability" to retire by the time I'm 45.

5) The companies marketing avenues for their agents are out of my comfort zone so I'll be more or less fed to the lions.

6) I eat lions for breakfast and bear for dinner with Rum and Coke.

7) I almost ruined my shoes today because of the rain and snow. I've been wearing the same brand for about 5 or 6 years and highly recommend you pick up a pair. You won't be disappointed.

8) I forgot how to tie a Double Windsor this morning. That can probably be correlated to becoming the infamous underwear agent.

What do you guys/gals think? Should I take the position?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Can You Call Me Back?

Those 5 little magical words put more fear into people then Al-Quada. At least we can make contact with Al Quada!

Yesterday was one of those sales days where I had to push myself in the morning due to lack of production in the week, but by 11:oo a.m. I was feeling great because one of my prospects who said the aforementioned magical words CALLED ME BACK and we agreed on a nice high deductible health plan w/ copays. That's not one of favorite plans, but I did cut their premium in half so I'm not complaining and neither are they.

Some agents would be content with the $900 I made off that one sale and call it day, but that only represents 23% of my weekly goal., which is unacceptable to me. The experience did remind of something I sometimes fail to remember. Namely, as a professional insurance agent, I'm more than capable and comfortable, controlling the sales process, but what I DON'T have control over are my clients buying habits and the outside forces in their life.

I've been working with these people for about a month. This is how the sales process went.

1) I received a request for a health insurance quote on 1/3/2008.

2) Introduction letter and 4 page quote request form sent same day.

3) I received a fax back on 1/18/2008 with the entire form filled out and questions. I love questions! Tells me my system is working and I piqued their curiosity.

4) Talked on the phone with wife for 45 minutes on 1/18/2008 about the quote from and qualified here and her husband. Promised I would send some quotes and a brochure and set follow up appointment on 1/21/2008.

5) Quote (password protected) and brochure e-mailed on 1/18/2008.

6) Left phone message on 1/21/2008 and sent a standard e-mail.

7) Husband calls me back the following day to "interview" me. We talk for 20 minutes and reach a mutual agreement that his wife and I will go over things that Friday to see if their "application will approved."

8) Answering (arrgh) machine again. Message left and e-mail.

9) One final message on 2/4/2008.

10) Call back and application completed on 2/6/2008 for $4500 AV

Total up the time I spent with these people thus far and it's approximately 120 minutes or $45o an hour! This means I can spend another 16 hours with them before I go over my minimum hourly wage of $50. Can you see what I'm doing here?

There are numerous formulas I use to keep track of finances, marketing, etc. but I call the aforementioned equation the "Get off you Ass J.R." ingredient. Combine that with a healthy dose of behavioral conditioning and listening to 1-2 songs and I'm good to go. When I don't feel like telemarketing that is the kind of stuff I do to motivate myself.

Still think an agent can make $100,000+ part-time.......... Try walking 10 miles to pick up a bucket of water that you have to HIKE back to your village and tell me things are too hard!

What do you do to motivate yourself?????

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Telemarketing for Dollars

Telemarketing for Dollars

I had a great last week! I met with some executives at a national health insurance company about working together to market some of their senior products. There are a few things that need to be ironed out, but it looks like it’ going to be a good business relationship. I submitted approximately $9000 AV. I’ve yet to break the $15,000 barrier consistently (business that sticks), but I feel I’m close. Submitted business is great, but I care more about policies that are placed, active and kept for 12+ months.

One of my gripes about selling insurance is the mystery surrounding the IMO/FMO/GA “verbal” contracts. You’re either nodding your head or wondering what I’m talking about. Allow me to elaborate.

I recently offered a contract to a friend of mine that will net him more money and a chance to earn higher overrides on his agents then his current GA offers. I also told him that I’ll give him a release in case he doesn’t like the extra money. Prior to the two of us talking he was with a GA who will remain nameless. Due to the unwritten rule between this insurance company and numerous companies he was told that he could not be released w/out waiting 6 months and having zero production. Now, here’s the kicker, he hasn’t written any business!

I spoke with the insurance carrier about this and we agreed on a few things regarding my contract, so I was able to work around the issue, but it does amaze me the lack of transparency that permeates this industry.

Fast forwarding…

I spoke with a good friend of mine recently and we were discussing the recent changes that both of us have made to our telemarketing scripts. The discussion focused on various methods we both favored and our sales process. Although our systems are very similar there are some differences I would like to discuss in how we do business.

I endorse a 1-2-3 sales system to how I conduct business. I’ll talk about Step 1 in this post and will follow up with step 2 and 3 shortly. There are sublevels to each phase, but let’s get into that later as I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information because this message is about telemarketing.

Step 1: Enrichment Call

Step: 2: First-in Appointment.

Step 3: Sales Presentation

I call and introduce myself. My main goal is to gauge interest and either, schedule a first-in appointment or a follow up call, e-mail, etc. My secondary goals are to find out the name of their insurance carrier and how much their currently paying?

The first call normally averages 10-15 minutes if they pass phase one and grant me permission to move forward in the call. My idea of granting permission is not hanging up on me and answering 1 key question...Here’s my script word for word.

“My name is John McCollough…is Bob Smith available please. Mr. Smith (I don’t use first names unless I’ve been given permission) is this a bad time? The reason for my call is find out if you are familiar with the new health plans that small business owners now have access to that allow them to save up to 50% off the cost of their premiums, while using pre-tax dollars to pay for their health care costs?” Then I shut up, pay attention and find a way to get to the 2nd phase.

It’s imperative that you DO NOT go into a sales pitch as this juncture. Ask broad questions, pay attention to the response, ask a more focused question and repeat.

This is a new pitch I’ve been using with great success. Wam, bam, thank you, next!!! After I ask the first question, 95% of the time I get a NO, followed by I’m not interested or a pause. If their not interested I move to end the conversation by asking permission to add them to my mailing list and then I close with, “One of the benefits of my newsletters is that I have access to information as an agent that allows me to keep small business owners up to date about their current insurance carrier so there are no ugly surprises…like rate increases… which carrier should I ensure you receive information on?” “Do you have the XXXX or the XXX plan?” How much are you paying a month?”

Now this is just beautiful and is a great way to finish this conversation. I may not have succeeded in getting the appointment, but now I know the insurance carrier now and I’ll use any credible resources to take advantage of that opportunity if the insurance carrier does something stupid.

Motivation starts to dwindle when you don’t know what the next step is and you let the client dictate that for you. Who is the expert? NEVER allow that to happen!

I’ll post information on phase 2 later this week