Elizabeth Schirz is a Wisconsin native with a BA in psychology and a minor in Spanish. After college, she worked at a call center and was assigned the West Coast as her territory. She took a call from a woman, not knowing that she was a VIP, and after Schirz solved her problem, she joked about being sent out to California. Well, the last thing Schirz expected was to receive a travel voucher and a job offer.
"I was interested in making money and didn't have kids, and she had two offices with openings. I picked the Pasadena office, figuring I could go back to Wisconsin if it didn't work out."
After Schirz came out to California in April 1988, Proposition 103 caused the company to pull out of the state, and they closed down the Pasadena office. But Schirz wasn't ready to go back to Wisconsin yet.
"I went on to work for a broker at a real estate company and then landed at Farmers at the recommendation of another Farmers agent. He said that Farmers wanted a person with sales experience and a college degree. That was me!"
Schirz had been with Farmers now for 33 years. When she was starting out selling insurance, agents were given a phone book and spent the day cold calling. "That's how you got clients then, by creating a network with real estate agents and car dealerships. Insurance companies did not give you leads, so you had to join the chamber of commerce."
For 20 year Schirz was linked with a car dealership, which kept her busy on weekends. She didn't mind working the odd hours, but that relationship ended two or three years ago. After experiencing a small dip in income, she wanted to replace those incoming leads.
"I got connected with SmartFinancial through our district manager," says Schirz. "Farmers pays for 50% of the live transfer calls, which they highly recommend."
Since beginning the program, Schirz feels that SmartFinancial live transfer calls are a lifeline to her agency. "The fact is that you can email all you want, but you don't know if the customer read the emails or understood the coverage," she says. "With SmartFinancial you have the customer on the phone, and their data is right in front of you."
Schirz used other lead vendors before SmartFinancial but the service wasn't the same. Also, the internet leads she received had bad data. Even with the quality leads she gets now, she warns that if you're an insurance agent looking to make a quick sale, you'll be disappointed. "You have to be in it for the long game. I buy as many live transfers as I can afford because people on the phone want to talk to you right away."
Schirz attributes much of her success with insurance leads to her SmartFinancial Account Manager, who offers tips on how to get the leads to convert and how to make the most profit using leads. For example, Schirz initially bought homeowners insurance leads, but switched to auto to increase volume. "Now, I get people to bundle auto and home so they can save," says Schirz. "I got a fantastic sale from a guy who bought a Ferrari recently. I insured his home too."
Schirz buys three live transfer calls a day but wants to increase the volume even more. Her agency just hired two new agents that she is currently training them to take calls and get straight to quoting. What she loves about SmartFinancal is that it's a good training tool because of the recorded calls.
7 Golden Tips for Insurance Agents from Elizbeth Schirz
Have a process in place because if you don't, you'll fumble. If people call for a quote, they want the quote right away. Usually, they don't want a call back for the numbers. In fact, they are usually calling a couple of agents at the same time so give them what they want.
Try to think about how it sounds on the customer's end when you deliver your script and the quote.
Some people are not talkative but try to keep them on the phone and go through their cars and the appropriate coverages.
Mention discounts, because shoppers respond to discounts. When I give an auto quote I explain that, with Farmers, if you bundle that's where the discounts are. They like saving money, and we have a broad list of discounts.
Know your company's niche and hotspots, and emphasize them to the consumer. If they have one car and want liability only, I usually tell them that maybe our market is not right for them and that I won't be the lowest price in town. I try to end on a friendly note, and we save that lead's data to reach out later and see if their circumstances have changed.
If you are consistent with turning the SmartFinancial app on and off, and if you set the right hours, the dashboard is really helpful. However, the momentum stalls when you turn it off so only do it if you have to.
Be organized and use two screens, one with SmartFinancial data and customer information and another screen for quoting.