I get told nearly every day, “Gerry, tell me the truth about selling to insurance agents. I used to go after them to generate leads for my business, but I just don’t know if it’s worth doing anymore.”
Sometimes I hear this, “Gerry, what is your prediction of the lead viability for insurance agents in the coming years? We successfully get leads from insurance agents now, but how can we be sure to maintain this in the future.”
Can you relate? I know I’ve been in nearly each position throughout my five decades in the business. Want to know what goes through my mind as I hear these questions?
You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!
Please laugh with me at these lines from the movie A Few Good Men when Col. Jessup is being questioned on the stand regarding the issuing of a Code Red by the lawyer Kaffee.
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee : I think I’m entitled to them.
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!
So before you read any further, are you really sure you want the truth about insurance agent sales? What I’m about to say may sound like I’m trying to talk you out of doing agent sales. But I figure I have two options, I can tell you the truth or blow smoke at you. My guess is you, like Kaffee, want the truth.
The truth is insurance agent sales is hard and isn’t for everyone. And maybe you shouldn’t do it, because it’s not simple and easy.
Easier Ways to Get Business
There are a lot of easier ways to get residential jobs that are simpler. For example, SEO. You hire a good SEO company and they do the work for you. Set it up and you can forget all about it. No time or energy on your part. What could be easier?
Pay Per Click (PPC) is another excellent example of simple and easy for the same reasons as SEO. Just remember to always have room in your budget for this, because once you stop paying for the service, you can forget the leads.
Google Ad Words is another example. Just hire the service and they will make it happen for you. Make sure you always pay this bill; guaranteed leads – the good, the bad, and the “I’ll never work this job, why did I just pay for this lead!”
Plumbers are a great source of work. However, they require a salesperson and that makes it harder, but not nearly as hard as insurance agent sales. All you really have to do with plumbers is offer a cash lead fee and pay them in a timely manner. Oh, just make sure you’re always the company paying them a premium or you can forget that lead source.
There are also Third Party Administrators (TPAs) and claim department programs. Once you are on the list, they will send you work. Now that’s the simplest and easiest way to get jobs. Keep your fingers crossed the pool of participating contractors in your market stays low so you actually get assigned. And pray to the lead gods that you don’t get kicked off the program in the middle of the night.
So yes, all those ways to get leads are simple and easy. You sign up, you pay, you get leads. And yes, there’s a downside to all of these simple and easy ways to get work. But it’s automatic – you don’t have to “do” anything – so despite the downsides, these are deliciously tempting and taste so good; your quick fix.
A Difficult Way
Now let’s talk about insurance agents as a lead source. I’m going to tell you the truth. Insurance agent sales are NOT simple and easy, and it’s harder today than it ever was before.
First, the agent’s needs have changed. They’re no longer dealing with the claims process. In fact, two out of five agents don’t help their customers with advice during a loss, and have trained their customers to call the 800 number for claims service.
Look, if someone is never going to refer you, what day do you want to find that out? TODAY, right?
Because the insurance agent’s needs have changed, the old marketing message no longer works. They don’t need donuts, candy, brochures, or a sales pitch about your quality, customer satisfaction, and cost savings.
Today, a successful sales message has little to do with you. It has everything to do with them, their needs, and wants. That’s infinitely harder than giving them three reasons why you are the best service in town.
Agents are harder because of the time it takes to find the right agent – those three in five who do refer – and then get them on board with referring you above all other options, including their own claim department “program” or TPA. If you need jobs today, don’t waste your time going after agents. It takes months and months to get them to a highly productive referral stage.
With agents, you have to stay at it for the long term. It’s not uncommon to see a year pass before they become highly productive. When you don’t see referrals in the first three months, you’ll be tempted to fire your salesperson or just give up altogether.
With all due respect to existing insurance agent “marketers” out there, “agent marketing” stopped working in most markets 10 years ago. If you’re still doing the 20-year-old, “Stop-in, drop something off, and roll on” to the next agent, you may have “simple and easy” down, but you probably don’t have anything “productive and effective” (read: money in the bank).
The truth is today you need a sales system. You need a salesperson, not a marketer. Your salesperson needs to have the right sales skills and the right mindset.
If you’re like most owners, you don’t know how to do the sales work and you’d rather take a beating in the parking lot than make a cold call to an insurance agent. So how are you going to hire a salesperson, train them, let alone manage and lead them? Are you seeing why this is so hard?
Choosing to sell to insurance agents is a major investment. This investment has risk and rewards. Insurance agents are still a great revenue stream, and the right agents will be in business for years to come regardless of how their industry changes. You can learn to fish in that stream and not be stuck paying all the simple and easy options already mentioned. You can own this source and they will feed you and your family for years to come.
So, How are You Handing the Truth?
Are you ready to embrace the hard, painful, ugly reality of learning how to fish for insurance agents so you can feed your business for life?
For those honest enough to own the “No, definitely not,” I commend your honesty.
For those of you who are bold enough to declare, “Yes, yes I am ready to learn how to fish and feed myself,” and those of you who are courageous enough to admit, “I’m not sure, I want to be, but I’m scared about the truth,” don’t hesitate to seek help from others who have succeeded in this realm. There is no need to reinvent the wheel!