For 13 years, James Hodges worked as a 911 telecommunicator and dispatcher, a firefighter and police officer in Muskegon County, Michigan. He was just looking to do something different when he began working for Mark Noffsinger of Allstate seven years ago.
James works closely with Ben Verbeek, another insurance agent, who has been with Noffsinger even longer, 11 years. Verbeek was in the mortgage business for 15 years, until the economy took a turn, which is when he got his insurance license and joined the Noffsinger agency.
At one point, the Noffsinger agency had four locations in Michigan. These days, Hodges and Verbeek run only two for the owner, who has been in business for 40 years. In fact, Ben and James plan to buy the book of business when Noffsinger retires in three to five years.
Adjusting to economic fluctuations, the size of the staff at the agency has grown and shrunk over time. In 2024, they are looking to grow again. “We had 27 employees at one point,” Ben says. “Then we had 10 or 15 and now it’s back up to 25. We’ve experienced big growth over the four years, and we’re still growing.”
James and Ben manage the team of outside sales agents who primarily use social media marketing and SmartFinancial live transfer leads to make sales. For data leads, the agents rely on Allstates’ internal leads.
The agency’s close rate is 12 to 13% on first-call closes and 18% on calls that require follow-up.
When asked how they are so successful, James explains that they role play on the Olson Agency RPOA training platform. “They have live training every week and live workshops once a quarter,” he explains. “Everything they’ve done is also on their platform.”
“Mostly, the agents at the Noffsinger agency all follow a script, and follow the process, which we know works. Everyone’s aim, however, is to introduce themselves, and if the customer wasn’t expecting a call, ask what has made them interested in talking about insurance, rates or a problem with their current carrier. We then tell them about Allstate before qualifying the lead.”
When the customer is not in a position to talk, the agents follow up. Depending on the call, they call back the next day or another agreed-upon day. What James and Ben both like about SmartFinancial leads is that the customers are pre-qualified. “The SmartFinancial agents are also very professional, and the customers know what’s coming when they are transferred,” says James. “This makes it easy to transition to starting a quote.”
4 Golden Insurance Sales Tips From Ben and James
- You’re not going to sell to everyone. Don’t take the rejections too hard.
- Make sure you have a process in place and follow that process.
- Master up-front objections, and be prepared for no’s. Get the tools to overcome objections by constantly training.
- Educate the customer early on about how the lead was generated so they understand how they came to you.