What Does “Ready To Sell” Mean?

When it comes to selling Medicare Supplement Plans, you don’t have to limit yourself to the Open Enrollment Period! There are over 11,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day, which means not only opportunities to make a lot of sales, but also to earn a residual income. Selling Medicare Supplement Plans is a lucrative business that you can make a good living from, but before you begin selling, you must be “ready to sell.” Just because you are contracted with an insurance carrier does not necessarily mean that you’re “ready to sell.” There are certain steps that you have to take first.

computer mouse over the word license
Check your local state requirements to get licensed.

1. Get a Medicare License To Sell

Before completing any of the following certifications, you have to be properly licensed to sell Medicare products per your state’s Department of Insurance requirements. You must pass a state licensing exam and then apply for your license. Make sure to check with your state’s Department of Insurance for licensing requirements for your specific state.

2. Complete AHIP Certifications

America’s Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, represents over 1,000 companies that offer insurance. In order to sell Medicare products, you will be required to complete AHIP training. The training is designed to educate agents on selling Medicare plans as well as on protecting seniors. When you receive this training, you will learn the basics of:

  • Medicare fee-for-service eligibility and benefits
  • Eligibility and coverage
  • The different types of Medicare plans
  • Compliance with marketing guidelines and enrollment procedures
  • How to detect and report fraud, waste, and abuse

Once you have received this training and are familiar with CMS regulations and guidelines, you will satisfy the requirement of insurers to sell their plans.

2. Complete Carrier Specific Certifications

illustration of a man in a suit motioning towards a certificate

Once you have completed the AHIP certification, the next step is to get certified with the insurance carriers you are going to work for. Some of the large carriers, such as Aetna and Humana, require individual product certifications in order to be able to sell their plans. You will be given three opportunities to pass their product certification test; if you fail all three times, then you will be unable to sell their products for one full year.

3. Finding Valuable Leads

Once you have completely passed all the certifications required, then the final step is to find valuable leads so you can start selling! The best way to do this is to work with Benepath, because we offer real-time, exclusive leads. Customers come to our site, they fill out our form indicating that they are interested in purchasing a Medicare Supplement Plan, and then the lead is immediately sent to you in real time. You will receive a live transfer call, as well as a text and an email; they will even be linked to your CRM.

What sets Benepath apart from other companies is that our exclusive leads always expect your call. We provide a custom thank you page for each one of our agents: each prospect will see your information including your picture, your logo, and a brief description of you or your agency. We provide you with better tools, more guidance, and the best leads available thanks to our constant researching and technological advancement.

Ways To Thank Your Customers

It can be easy to put all of your focus on turning leads into sales, and on growing your business, instead of focusing on what is most important: your customers. There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow your business and become more successful, but at the same time it’s important to take a step back and remember that you are only successful because of your customers. In order to maintain a healthy relationship with your customers and ensure long-term success, you need to keep them happy, while letting them know that you appreciate them. You can do this by simply saying thank you in a creative way.

Send an Old-School Handwritten Note

caucasian hand with a pen in it next to a white card that says thank you

Handwritten notes are rare in today’s technological world. Emailing a thank you note has become the norm, but doing this is not personal or memorable. Taking the time to hand write a special thank-you note to a customer will make them feel important and appreciated – and everyone loves getting things in the mail!

Surprise Them

Send flowers, a goody basket, or pizza – because who doesn’t love pizza? Taking time out of your day to send any of these items is a great way to say thank you. Just make sure it is something the customer can relate to and will appreciate. You can send a little note or a joke with these gifts, and your gesture will surely brighten up their day.

instagram icon with the pull down menu to make a new post
Give clients a shoutout by posting a kind thank you message on your business’ social media page.

 

Give Them A Shoutout On Social Media

A lot of people spend their free time scrolling through social media, so what better way to thank your client than by putting it on social media? Give them a shoutout by posting a kind thank you message on your business’ social media page. Be sure to ask your client permission before posting, especially if you are using their professional profile, just in case they aren’t comfortable with having their name out there.

Make a Phone Call

Usually when an agent calls someone it is to make a sale. So you can imagine how surprised a client would be if you called to simply thank them for their business. Set some time aside during your day to call customers and thank them, and if they don’t pick up, leave a thoughtful voicemail.

Treat Them To Coffee

If you think your client would feel comfortable with it, ask if you can take them out for a thank you coffee. Taking your client out for coffee is an effective way to say thank you in person and help build a stronger relationship with them. If they cannot meet for coffee, or if they live far away, then consider sending them a gift card to their local coffee shop.

Pay It Forwardwoman holding a large $50 bill with the word donation on it in red

A wonderful way to show how grateful you are to your client is by paying it forward. You can reach out to your client and let them know that you want to donate to their favorite charity in their name. This is not only an extremely thoughtful way of showing your appreciation, but it is also a great way to build a stronger connection with your client.

Showing that you appreciate your clients and letting them know that you care about them as more than just a business prospect is easy. Show your gratitude with any of these simple and effective acts, and you will not only have a great relationship with your customers, but they will surely spread the word about your thoughtfulness to others- which will mean more business for you.

How You Can Nurture Leads With Benepath

As an agent, you understand that most people need a little hand-holding before they are willing to give their money away. If you want to turn a lead into a customer, then you must improve the efficiency of your sales funnel by nurturing your leads. This has to be a part of your sales process in order for a potential customer to become a paying customer. Nurturing leads is critical to your business’s success, and luckily, there are many effective ways to do this. One of the best ways to nurture leads is to work with Benepath. Benepath offers exclusive, real-time leads, meaning you’ll have no trouble getting in touch with them, and you’ll be able to get past that crucial first step of making contact. We’ve got the leads, and we’ve also got the best ways to nurture them – just ask our agents.

Get Personal

two people sitting at a table looking at a laptop together.
Customers need to feel a connection, so personalize your interactions with your leads.

Studies show that 41% of consumers have switched services or companies at some point because they weren’t being treated in a personal way. Customers need to feel a connection, so personalize your interactions with your leads. Make sure to use their names when you communicate with them, and to listen carefully when they speak, so you can remember little details about them that you can bring in your next conversation. If you can, meet with your leads in person so you can let them know what you have to offer- a face-to-face meeting will always leave customers with a better impression than any other form of communication!

Benepath facilitates easy, personalized communication with leads. All of your prospects will receive a customized thank you page with your name and picture, so they’ll instantly be able to put a name to a face, and will be ready for your call. This seemingly small touch will start your interaction off on the right foot, and will make your leads feel like they’ve got a connection with you right off the bat.

“I absolutely love the Benepath exclusive leads. This program consistently brings me high quality leads who not only know that I am calling, they are typically eager to speak with me! Not only this, but Benepath truly stands behind their system and acts as a real partner. Since starting on the Benepath program my business has really picked up and I spend less time prospecting and more time selling. I would highly recommend the Benepath exclusive leads program to any agent.”

  • Fred A.

Post Relevant & Conversational Content on Social Media

It’s hard to interest people in information that does not pertain to them or their needs. When you post content on social media, or when you send emails, try to include only highly relevant content that delivers value. Do not repeat information that your leads have seen or heard already. Switch it up, while at the same time revealing the value of your product. Adding valuable content about your product or service shows that you have a deep commitment to your business and to your relationship with your customers.

Use a Multi-Channel Strategy

social media web
Use a combination of channels by providing links in your emails to your social media pages.

Don’t stick to just using social media or drip-emailing campaigns. Use a combination of channels by providing links in your emails to your social media pages, blog posts, YouTube videos, podcasts, or webinars, as each of these channels provides access to new audiences. People are constantly on their cell phones, so you need to stay up-to-date and make sure they can access your content and connect with you through different channels. If you need suggestions on how to make this strategy work, talk to Benepath – we can help work out a successful strategy for your business.

“I have used leads in the past and had my own system of calling. I talked to Judy from Benepath and she taught me a follow system of calling, emailing and texting. I followed their system and was pleasantly surprised. Instead of having a contact rate of 20-40%, I was able to contact over 70% of their leads. Thank you for teaching that system to me.”

  • Richard D.

Follow Up In a Timely Manner

Automated emails and social media posts are an easy way to help you reach large groups of prospects, but they’re not enough. You have to contact each lead separately, and follow up with them in a timely manner. A follow-up email or phone call is the best way to convert inbound leads into sales opportunities. A well-planned call is more effective than cold calling, which is why Benepath delivers real-time exclusive leads to our agents. gold clock with the short hand on the two

“I have received 52 leads from Benepath and have closed 37% of the leads. My recent story is I had a lead from November that is 70 years of age. I called her up after leaving several messages and I finally reached her and we had a great conversation and she scheduled to meet with me next week. This is proof never give up on a lead you have not reached, because you never know the circumstances. She apologized later in the conversation for never calling me back. I love this business of helping people, so never prejudge a lead. All leads need to be worked a lot to get an appointment and a sale. I don’t give them too much information in the first phone call, my goal is to get in front of them to close them. This is my style and my success story. The quality of the product is here at Benepath. Keep being persistent and you will start closing more leads.”

  • Dale W.

Send Personalized Emails

Email marketing tools are cost-effective and allow you to automatically send out many emails at once. You should be sending emails regularly, about one email per week. Remember, though, to put your leads’ names on each email so they feel like you are not sending out a mass email, but rather one that is directed to them. Sending personalized emails is one of the most effective ways to nurture your leads, as personalized messages get 4-10 times the response that mass emails get. Simply putting a lead’s name on your email will make them feel that you care, and that the message is coming from a friend as opposed to from a salesman.

Use Lead Scoring

robot with the words lead scoring next ti ut

Lead scoring is a method by which you rank prospects on a scale. The scale is based on the value each lead represents – you can assign numeric values to marketing automation platforms such as social media interactions. The best way to determine the urgency of follow-ups or the need to nurture is by determining if the lead is ready, willing, and able. For example, if a lead is able and willing, but not ready, then you need to create an urgency for them to commit, with a discount or promotion, for example. But if a lead is ready and willing, but unable, then nurture the lead until they are ready and able.

“Wanted you to know that when it comes to leads, I have my own ideas about what makes a lead a good lead. Top of my list: I want to get the prospect on the phone as soon as possible after the lead shows up. If that doesn’t happen my chances of success start to fade. When I call the leads from Benepath, people are there to pick up the phone. Sometimes, they are a bit surprised that someone actually called so fast, and they are real prospects. “Wow, I just did that seconds ago!” is common. Of course, sometimes they need to be touched later for follow up but the point is that I now have the expectation from the moment I get the lead that I will get the person.”

  • Kirby T.

When you work with Benepath, receiving reliable, exclusive leads is the easy part. We provide you with real-time leads through a secured process, and give you a customized thank you page so your leads will be ready for your call. This thank you page assures leads that they won’t be bounced around between agents, and gives them a feeling of connection with you right from the start. We offer the leads, and, while it is up to you to properly nurture the leads, we are behind you every step of the way. You’ll find, though, that our leads do not need much nurturing because they are ready to speak with you and buy your product! But if they do need some nurturing, then follow the effective ways mentioned above to seal the deal. To get more information, fill out the form below or call 866-368-0377.

Create A Network With Other Independent Agents & Get More Sales

Working as an independent agent comes with advantages and disadvantages. The plus side of going it on your own is better pay, but the downside is that you do not have the network, or the training that comes with working for a company. But that does not mean that you cannot build your own network with other independent agents. Why build a network? Not only does it help you serve customers better, but you will also open up new opportunities for yourself and make more money in the process!

different colored play pieces on a paper with lines connecting all of them.
Creating your own circle of agents can be hugely advantageous to everyone involved.

Agency Network Vs Independent Networking

Are you aware of agency networks? Agency networks are organizations of agencies, carriers and partners that band together to help grow your business. These agencies provide advocacy and resources for independent agencies, in addition to helping independent agents form business relationships. You can choose to join one of these agencies, but there is a fee. Networking with other independent agents on your own, on the other hand, is free. Creating your own circle of agents can be hugely advantageous to everyone involved.

Access to Carriers and Customers

It is no secret that working with a team will help a business grow. The same goes for independent agents. You know it takes a lot of work to build your own business from the ground up, and you need to build a history with carriers before you can get more business. Being part of a network can help you gain access to more carriers. If you choose to go the route of an agency network, they will have ready-made relationships with carriers: an agency network will already be contracted with a carrier and will help you to write business for them. But creating your own network with other independent agents will also offer you access to different carriers, and products.

2 hands shaking with a network of people on screens behind as wallpaper.

Competition constantly grows amongst independent agents, which can mean losing customers. However, if you work together with other agents and carriers, you can offer customers more options, and everyone involved will get more business.

Joining an agency network will help you gain access to new carriers and products. You already know that it can be tough to get appointments with carriers if you do not meet their standards of business volume. However, banding together with other independent agents will help meet the carriers’ requirement, allow you to generate and make more appointments with leads, as well as have the time to keep them.

Learn More, Earn More

caucasian woman with glasses on and a book open in her hands with a light bulb over her head and cash flaoting in the air next to her.
Networking with other agents will help you stay on top of current market trends, developments, and bring in more revenue.

Networking with other agents will help you stay on top of current market trends, developments, and opportunities that you might be missing. You can learn from others in your field, and share information that will help build your skills and revenue. If you are faced with a problem, speaking with other independent agents in your network can help you to find a solution. Other agents might be facing the same challenges you are, so putting your heads together could be beneficial to everyone. You can learn different strategies that are working for other agents, and vice-versa.

An agency network can be a source of expertise on how to grow your business, as well as a way to dip into other markets and opportunities. Maybe you only sell health insurance, but are thinking of selling Medicare? Don’t know where to start? Rely on your network of agents. Think of this network as your own personal mentor.

Don’t get stuck in your day-to-day routine. Work instead on growing your business. This can be done with the help of a reliable network. When networking with other agents, you not only gain access to insurance carriers’ contracts, but can also increase your income by combing through these carriers’ leads. The market evolves, things change, and you don’t want to get left behind. Stay ahead of the trends, learn new skills, and grow your leads, sales, and opportunities by networking. If you establish yourself in the right network, the pay off is immeasurable.

Selling to seniors via video conferencing

The unaddressed truth behind Covid-19 is that until we get a vaccine, those of us who have an increased risk of serious health problems are going to need to remain socially distant even after the spike subsides. While a therapy for the virus could be found as early as June, a vaccine is much further away, with most experts looking at the end of 2020.

Adjusting to the times

For a variety of reasons, many of you prefer to sell face to face, and right now you can’t, for the safety of yourself and your clients.

You are left with one of three choices:

  • Stop selling
  • Sell over the phone
  • Sell over video

Why Video Conferencing

Seniors are not as tech-illiterate as many people think. In a study done by Amwell Health Solutions, data showed that 45% of American seniors have participated in video calls using FaceTime, Skype, and/or Google Hangout. Some seniors are even catching up to the new Zoom movement, using it to talk to their family and friends.

73% of seniors claim that faster health related services, such as insurance consultation, are the driving reason for their willingness to use video conferencing. Seniors have the will to participate, you just have to add this to your toolkit.

While calling could get the job done, you are missing an important layer – the visual cues. With phone calls we miss 50% of the conversation because you can’t see how the person you are talking to is responding. Video conferencing eliminates that limitation.

How do you do it?

So, how do you get seniors on the screen, not just on the phone? The first secret is that you have to make it easy. Best practice is to just have them click on a link you emailed them. You’ll probably need to include instructions on how to find the link, but the more simple you make the process, the more success you will have.

Ask the senior if they have used to using Hangouts, FaceTime or Skype. These popular systems are the most common, and you should adapt to their preferences. By adapting to their preference, the success rate of your calls will be significantly higher. While this may involve more flexibility on your end, it will undoubtedly benefit you in the long run.

The question “why you are taking meetings this way?” will come up, and be honest with them. Tell them it is to keep them safe in today’s environment. This expresses that you care about them as a person, not just a client, helping your overall rapport.

In conclusion

By incorporating live video into your sales process you’ll be able to:

  • See your customer’s visual cues
  • Share and go over your quality presentation materials
  • Build a deeper relationship with your customer
  • Make more sales!

And if you need help matching with Medicare insurance prospects, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 866-368-0377.

What the Payroll Protection Program means for insurance agents

 

Congress recently signed the CARES Act to help relieve Americans of the economic impact COVID-19 has had in the US. As part of this stimulus package, there has been a Small Business package included. This $350 billion dollar program is called the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), and independent contractors can begin applying on Friday April 10th!

We put together this video and article to help guide you understand what this program is.

Are you qualified?

Most insurance agents in the US are paid as independent contractors. You’ll know if you are one if you are given a 1099 each year or a W-2. If you were receiving 1099’s, you are an independent contractor and are eligible under this program.

If you are paid by a W-2, your employer, if they have less than 500 employees, can apply and pay you an average of what you earned in commissions over the last 12 months.

Here are the important details of the PPP:

  1. The maximum amount of the loan is 8 weeks of your average previous 12 months earnings (up to 100k), plus expenses for rent, mortgage interest and utility costs – which are no more than 25% of your 8 weeks earnings.
  2. You have to certify that you need the loan due to the impact of the Coronavirus.
  3. The interest rate is 1% and payments are deferred for 6 months.
  4. The loan can be forgiven based on how much you pay yourself plus your actual expenses
  5. There are no personal guarantees or collateral requirements
  6. Whatever isn’t forgiven has to be paid within 2 years

To apply for a PPP loan, you need to contact your bank. Make sure they are a Small Business Association lender, or a SBA lender for short. The SBA is the only association that will be writing the approval for these loans through member banks. The total amount of these loans are limited to $350B, and while that sounds like a lot, it is expected to run out quickly. This means you will want to take advantage of the Payroll Protection Program quickly.

5 Outbound Sales Cadence Insights Every Insurance Agent Should Know

5 Outbound Sales Cadence Insights Every Insurance Agent Should Know

Sales cadences are about more than just the frequency and content of your emails, they’re about engaging your prospects enough to begin a valuable conversation. How you interact with your leads should vary from segment to segment to maximize effectiveness. A good sales cadence filters out any undesirable prospects, but a great sales cadence will get meetings. One of the biggest differentiators between the two is our first insight: The importance of a timely follow up.

The Art of the Follow Up

The speed of your first response to a prospect is crucial to converting smaller opportunities into revenue. The Harvard Business Review found that businesses that attempted to reach leads within an hour were nearly seven times likelier to have meaningful conversations with decision makers than those who waited even an hour.¹ If you can follow-up directly after a prospect engages your cadence, you’ve got the best chance to move them further through your pipeline while they’ve still got you at the top of their mind.

If your prospects are in the market, they’re already eyeing the competition and likely reaching out to them as well. The longer you wait to follow up after a response, the more likely someone else is to. Conversely, the shorter your response time is, the faster you can get through the opening stages of your funnel to qualify a prospect because a quick response every time makes the sales process easier for your customer. Staying on top of your follow-ups doesn’t only create more conversions more quickly, it creates happy customers.

Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture

This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get lost in the process of following a sales cadence. The point of the cadence is assuming that the prospect has not seen the previous contact, the only goal is to elicit a response. Each new touch point should be treated like a cold call or email: Stay consistent with the frequency and content of your touch points to make sure you’re being seen.

Sales cadences work to organize your outreach attempts to enable you to reach a higher volume of leads without getting disorganized. That being said, it’s your job to be using all the relevant platforms available to engage your prospects and improve the quality of your outreach. Your goal is to make contact, use all the methods available to get your prospect’s attention. Sales development reps who didn’t engage their prospects on social media only filled their pipelines 47% of the time, compared to 65% of the time for salespeople who use social selling.²

As time goes on you should also be creating new cadences to succeed where others have failed. You’ll learn more about your audience through both your positive and negative responses as you keep track of what brings the most success over time and form valuable insights into your sales process.

Know How to Switch It Up

If you’re executing a sales cadence correctly, your leads will have to at least see your efforts, so avoid being boring and using the exact same approach every time. Sales cadences are still cold outreach attempts and need to have variation to maximize your chances of engagement. Thanks to the internet, the biggest obstacle for many cold calls and emails is providing value. Buyers do their own research now and are already at least somewhat informed on your offering as well as your competitors.

Two 2018 studies have found not only that 70% of B2B and 79% of B2C customers in the US do research online before they make a purchase, but also that 44% of B2B buyers prefer to identify potential solutions themselves before reaching out to sales.³,⁴ As such, the job of the insurance agent has evolved into one more similar to an advisor in order to address the questions and needs of more informed buyers. In order to separate yourself from the rest you need to really understand the problems of your leads and provide the buyer with the solution they’re looking for.

By centering your target customers’ pain points in your outreach, you’ll retain relevance no matter how many times you pivot topics or approaches. Your subjects will stay fresh as you approach leads with different topics, but your focus will remain consistent as each topic will be related by what’s most important: the customer’s needs. Instead of putting your whole value proposition in an email, break it down to create a concise sequence of attention grabbing topics. With a well crafted cadence, you’ll be able to not only generate opportunities, but also gain insight into which topics get the most engagement.

No One is as Productive as They Think

In a survey of how much sales reps thought they engaged prospects, the average number of perceived touch points per lead was 15.⁵ However, most reps actually only use 8 touch points per outbound sales prospect. Even top performers only use as many as 12 per prospect,⁶ meaning that it’s very easy to lose track of your relationships with each lead. The beauty of a well planned cadence is its ability to create a schedule for your messaging and keep your outbound prospecting efforts organized. Equipped with a strong cadence, a good insurance agent will be chugging through their pre-organized tasks each day as they go through their schedule, but even that can only go so far.

Besides minimizing distractions, one of the best ways to increase productivity is to improve the efficiency of how you spend the most time: working. To accomplish this, the average sales rep will use an average of 6 tools to help manage their load: A CRM, a data-list feed, a tool for social prospecting, an email engagement tool, and a tool for their sales cadence.⁷ Insurance agents typically don’t have such a busy sales stack, but they can learn a thing or two from these savvy inside sales reps about sales tools and automation.

Choose the Right Tools for the Job

When you’ve hit a wall in your productivity, utilizing a tool to help automate your workflow can take you to the next level. But between sending emails, making calls, creating and assigning buyer personas, and keeping track of your performance and tasks, the consistency and organization of a sales cadence can come at a cost of the time invested into upkeep. Without the proper tool or service, you would need to do lists and excel sheets to manage your cadences with various leads and incorporate them into your busy workflow.

Of course every insurance producer has tools at their disposal, but while your CRM may help you keep track of your prospects and your emailing tool will help cut the number of emails you need to write, the best tool for managing your cadences is a sales engagement platform like 20 Miles. Most sales engagement platforms manage workflow sequences, automate and track emails, create buyer personas, integrate with your CRM, and analyze data on the whole process to optimize, but 20 Miles takes it a step further: In addition to a feature-packed platform and award winning integrations, With robust analytics and a suite of sales tools, 20 Miles lets you get more work done while providing the data you need to perfect your process.

Takeaways

The usefulness of a sales cadence goes so much further than organizing your workflow or helping to ensure continued follow through on your outreach attempts. With the right approach, your cadences can become sources of data on your prospects and help to build loyalty with them through reliability; With the right tools, you can increase productivity and separate yourself from the rest. As you prepare to prospect your next group of leads, consider these insights to take your sales cadences to the next level.

Sources:
The Harvard Business Review: The Short Life of Online Sales Leads
Sales for Life: Social Selling 2017 Trends Report [Via Hubspot]
CSO Insights: 2018 Buyer Preferences Study
Netsertive: 2018 Local Consumer Survey
InsideSales: How to Build a Sales Cadence to Rule Them All
The Bridge Group: SDR Metrics and Compensation Report [Via Sales for Life]
InsideSales: How 900 Companies Build and Execute Successful Sales Development Teams [In partnership with Sales for Life and others]

Captive Agent Vs Independent Agent, Which Is The Right Path For Your Career?

As you embark on a new job in your life as an agent, there might be some questions regarding whether you should be independent or captive. These two kinds of agents differ in how they get clients. Independent agents generally generate their own leads, and work harder than captive agents. Captive agents are trained and given leads/clients to work with. It may seem tempting to become a captive agent because they are given the tools needed, but they make less commission than an independent agent.

silver scale with a question mark on each side.
There is a difference between a captive agent and an independent agent. Do you want to generate your own leads, or work for a company that provides leads?

Captive Agents

As a captive agent, you sell the company’s insurance products, and are limited to one specific insurance carrier- the one that pays you. Leads are given to you, and unlike an independent agent, you do not have to take a risk of spending your own money to generate these leads. Your company will provide you with leads, so you get to benefit from their marketing department without searching for clients on your own.

You will either make a set salary, or work on salary plus commission as a captive agent.

The Pros:

  • Captive agents are provided with financial support to help get their business on the rise.
  • You are provided with resources, and guided towards clients and referrals, product training, marketing and advertising tools.
  • You have a more reliable source of income pad from the company you work for.
  • More knowledge on the products you are selling.

    group of men and women in an office space.
    Captive agents are provided with resources and guided towards clients and referrals, product training, marketing and advertising tools.

The Cons

  • You are limited to the products you sell, whichever the company provides you to sell.
  • You will have to meet a certain sales quota.
  • If your company stops selling certain lines or increases rates, then you can lose clients.

Independent Agents

Independent agents have no limitations as to what they can sell, and which companies they can work with. They can cross sell from other carriers, mixing and matching to create a custom plan for clients. This is an advantage over captive agents. Essentially, you are your own boss, and do not have to share your leads or sales with a company, which means more money in your wallet. However, the caveat is that you have to generate your own leads.

dice that says "profit," "loss," and "risk"
Independent agents must start their own business with some risk and loss. But overall, they make a great profit working for themselves.

In order to get leads, you will have to invest your own money, which is always a risk. You will have to be motivated in order to be successful. You can work for an independent agency, or on your own, and will only be paid on commission.

Pros:

  • You make a higher percentage of commission than a captive agent.
  • More freedom than working under a company.
  • Ability to cross-sell insurance, and being independent from all carriers.

Cons:

  • You will pay for your own expenses to start your own business.
  • Only commission based, so there is no guarantee of an income.
  • No support, resources, or guidance from a company or other agents.
  • Build your own customer base/list.
  • Profits from sales are generally put back into the business for the first year—to help offset startup costs and lead generation.

Which Is Right For You?

When you take on the role of an insurance agent, there are different factors to consider on whether you should be an independent or captive agent. Do you feel like you are motivated enough to build your own business and create your own client base? Or do you want to work for a company that offers the resources you need and offers a salary? These are important questions that you need to think about before diving into the field.

You can become your own boss and build a network, or you can work for someone and become a part of a network. Either way, there is success in both of these kinds of agents, it just depends on how much work you want to put in.

Harness the Power of Referrals

If you’re a small business owner, you’re no stranger to hard work, learning curves, and passion. However, most owners don’t capitalize on their most powerful asset: referrals, and a solid system. These are the people that can make or break your business.

Referrals are your networking system. It’s a group of friends, happy customers, and allies that are willing to vet you to clients. Other than that, it’s a recommendation display that shows a customer you’re worth investing their time and money into.

It seems simple enough, but most companies don’t implement this properly. Skip to the front of the line with our tips.

referral system shown as a light bulb with thought bubbles
It all begins with you. Take your company to the next level with an expanded network.

1. Make a Promise

Referrals mean nothing if you can’t deliver. The first and most basic step is to prove your worth. This means being amazing at your job.

Every business will be different, so make sure you’re delivering your best every day. Stay on top of market trends, communicate effectively, and be honest. With these tenets, you will build a reputation of integrity, and that in itself will speak volumes.

Bottom line: promise your referrals excellence.

2. Tailor Your Referrals

Doing good work is essential, but having the right people in your network can channel your reputation to the right audiences. You don’t want to be fishing in the wrong pond, so to speak. You will not reel in any prospects.

Use our incredible modern technology to build your network. Before you reach out, check their profiles and confirm you want these people in your network This includes coworkers, family, and academic colleagues.

After finding them, hand them exactly what you want to be referred. This means taking snapshots, documents, and other representations of your work, refining it to look the best, and then giving it to your referrers. If they know what to say to best highlight your product or service, then you can rest assured the delivery to prospective clients will go smoothly.

game pieces of every color making up a referral system
Combining all these steps together will not only grow your business, but it’ll also grow your friendships.

Important note: make sure to add why you are unique in the business. Your profile’s personal spin is the easiest way to connect with people.

For example, if you mention you’re a foodie in your Twitter profile, perhaps you can make a connection with a work prospect through your shared interest. A recipe exchange can be what stands out because you not only make a sale, you make a friend.

3. Be Part of the Process

Like anything, marketing is all about the give and take. If you want people to refer you, be willing to refer them back.

This way, you are building a trusted network, an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” system. It’s not just about making as many sales as possible but creating a series of trusting relationships (or building friendships) so that everyone’s needs are met. This involves being picky with whom you share your business with, where you ask for referrals, and then keeping your network up to date.

Make sure to show gratitude when you get successful work from your referral system. Follow-up with people that give you a hand by sending thank-you notes or thoughtful gifts.

One last note is to set your referral system in a measurable document. Either keep a notebook or use an app to track which referrals are giving value. If something isn’t working out as well as you hoped, don’t be afraid to trim your network down. After all, these techniques won’t work as well if you aren’t doing your part to maintain.

How to Stay on Top of the Market

Commerce (and the market system) is like hunting. You need to stay sharp: know the right places, have the right mindset, and keep your skills up to date. If you want to be top dog, you must bring the right amount of effort. Nobody got to the top by playing it safe.

That being said, you can work smarter instead of harder if you know what to improve. We’ve gathered the best, and trimmed them down to be easily understood.

Research

A newsfeed stocked with helpful articles will keep you up to date. This involves your email list too. Sign up for newsletters and follow top industry professionals to stay sharp and learn new tricks. It may take a bit to curate this list, but that’s one of the beauties of research, you can choose what helps and what doesn’t.

market researcher looking at a full desk with computer
Climbing to the top will take hard work and the ability to learn from your mistakes. Failure is a teacher.

If a blog or website isn’t helping you, cut it loose. Be ruthless in your search for accurate, helpful information. You only have so much attention span in a day, so don’t waste it on fluff when you can spend it improving yourself.

Keywords and search tags are your friends. Think long and hard about relevant topics to your business. For example, a small business owner selling skincare would need to search for skincare trends, best skincare, and weird skincare routines. Use Google trends to find upcoming rivals and hashtags on social media for more information.

If all else fails, go back to school if you have to! A solid understanding of the market is essential to dominating it.

Teamwork/Networking

Together, we make up more than the sum of our parts. This means that we can achieve more working as a team than we could alone. Great marketing is not excluded from this tactic.

If you’re already part of a team, talk with your coworkers and involve them with your tasks. If your business does well, it reflects well on the entire team. Use this as a way to involve everyone.

Collaborating with others is the quickest way to refine ideas. This means doing your part and listening for what works and what doesn’t. If you’ve assigned tasks to others in your team, prioritize the feedback they give. This will help your business grow when you understand what works and what doesn’t.

We live in an interdependent society, which means at some point, we have to deal with other people to survive. Learning to do this well can only help your business. Join a volunteer group, you never know who you’ll meet, or the lesson you could learn.

Engagement

Studies show that people make more purchases with their emotional mind than their rational one. For sales to increase, you must appeal to this “reptile mind.”. So many companies are available selling similar products. With market oversaturation, it makes sense that people will choose to buy from companies that align with their own ideals.

employee using a computer to engage the market
Use the tools we have! Social media is a great way to engage with your community.

Engagements like these come on different fronts. On the lightest level, it’s how you present yourself and your business. This can be your logo, slogan, and the language on your website. Think of your target audience and what they would want to see.

On the other hand, this also means engaging with your rivals. This doesn’t mean to start an altercation with them, simply know who they are and what they’re doing. By studying your rival businesses, you can see what works for them and appropriate their own tactics to increase your marketability.

Social Media

Without a doubt, not using social media is your biggest mistake.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and all the other giants out there are capturing people’s attention on a monumental scale. Customers use social media every day, if not all day, and most of them are looking for products to buy. If your business seems like a friendly neighbor, then you have already won a major battle. People trust others in their community.

This pairs with engagement. From your laptop, tablet, or mobile device, several platforms exist to help with online outreach. You can post updates about your business, sales, news, and relevant content to display an ideal that attracts customers.

People love stories, and social media brings that love to the forefront. Your company’s story can unfold in front of your prospective customers, and they can engage, merging their story with yours.

These tactics must be tailored to fit each organization. One may work better than the other, and some may not work at all. You must try each one to understand how it works with your business and the market. However, once you get them streamlined, these strategies will take your sales to the next level.

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