After finishing high school, Cody Applegate went on to take college classes but after he was injured playing baseball, he decided to try culinary school instead. Ultimately, he realized there’s more to the culinary arts than he wanted to dive into, so he didn’t finish the course. He moved out of his mom’s house, got a roommate and found a job delivering pizza and then landscaping.
When that got old, Applegate landed a job in direct sales for a company selling air filtration systems. Here, he excelled. He was 19 at the time and within three months he was the top sales associate at the company.
“I realized the more I put into something, the more I got out of it,” he remembers. “My friends were struggling and still trying to figure out what they wanted to do, but I felt I’d found what I was good at, and I was making good money.”
Suddenly, Applegate’s company shut down, after the owner suddenly decided to take a different route in life. Applegate got a call from a company in Washington selling the same type of products. He asked if Applegate wanted a job.
“The owner made all kinds of promises,” Applegate explains. “He said, ‘We’ll get you into management and you can open an office in California,’ so I decided that’s what I wanted to do. But after I got out there, we didn’t work well together.”
Applegate didn’t like that area of Washington because there was nothing to do, and he was bunking with another sales guy in that guy’s mom’s house. To top it off, he wasn’t making as much money as he made in California.
“I got some training and did a little management,” Applegate recalls. “I then transferred to our master distributor as a sales associate. I began selling more. One guy I worked with was ready to open his own office, so he took me with him as a sales manager.”
Applegate was 23 years old when he finally got the chance to open his own office. At one point he had 10-15 people working for him. He won awards for having the top sales and for being the top trainer. However, when the COVID pandemic started people were scared to let salespeople into their homes.
“I had to let people go and scale down. I started branching out into other states, but it was the same everywhere. I felt defeated,” he says. “ I gave presentations out of my truck or in their backyards. We didn’t know when the pandemic would end.”
It was Applegate’s brother, who repeatedly encouraged him to change paths, even before COVID hit. He was a Farmers Insurance agent, and he was always telling his little brother that he was putting in too many hours at work. It was during one of these lectures that Applegate remembered his own insurance agent asking him if he was interested in working for him. He called that agent nearly a year later and asked if the offer was still good. When he got a firm yes, Applegate closed his business, got his property and casualty licensing and began the Farmers Protege Program.
After 100K in premium in a 12-month period. Applegate had enough capital to start his own insurance agency. He went through a few producers until he found a good fit, and in November 2022, he began buying his two-person agency live transfer leads.
“The agents I’d worked for in the past bought data leads,” Applegate says. “I knew that buying insurance leads is the most important part of sales, but after a year of working data leads as a Farmers Protege, it seemed like a big waste of time. I was making 100 calls a day to maybe talk to five people. Out of those five I’d give one quote. Five quotes a day was the goal so I started sending out quotes without even talking to people!”
Applegate then heard about “Insurance Sales Lab,” a training course with six steps to a one-call close and tips on how to run a successful insurance agency, big or small. He also heard about SmartFinancial and their high quality insurance leads, so he started buying live transfers.
“I made $10,000 that first month, and it slowly progressed,” Applegate explains.
Farmers offers their agents 5K in lead cost-share, but Applegate has already reached his limit. He buys almost $5K in leads a month out of his own pocket.
“I feel that buying live transfers is still working to my advantage,” he says “If I make $40K in premium, I get an agency growth bonus, which is an additional $5K. And the policies I’ve sold will be renewed if I service them properly. That’s passive income.”
To ensure success, Applegate gets the partnership and consistency that he needs when buying SmartFinancial live transfer calls. “My account manager’s consistency is the best,” he says. “I am able to call him any time to make changes to my account. We go over my numbers every week to make sure the leads are still profitable, and we tweak settings to get the type of calls I want.”
As Applegate’s insurance agency flourishes, he is looking forward to hiring another Farmers Protege, who is due to get her license in a month. He also plans to hire a customer service representative in six months to both service and sell policies. We wish him the best of luck!
4 Golden Sales Tips From Cody Applegate
- Aim for consistency. Stick to something for 30 days before making changes because things may not work out today or this week but if you give yourself a legitimate chance over 30 days, you’ll be better able to see what is working or not working.
- Having a system in place is crucial. Do you know what to say if you get a lead on the phone? How do you handle rebuttals when they say it’s more expensive than, say, Geico? Do you know how to ask for the sale?
- Track your results. Keep a scoreboard. We have goals every day, but if we don’t track our results every day, the chances of hitting those goals is less likely. We have a big printout laminate template in our office. We write how many sales we got, google reviews, how many life insurance appointments we have, etcetera.
- You’ve got to have the right mindset. When you talk to a person and see their coverages and limits, be honest and don’t assume they only care about price. Customers care about proper coverage and customer service. It’s easier to increase their existing coverage if you assume they care also.