James Powell was studying computer information systems in college until he decided to leave the country. He was only 23 and had just gone through a divorce when a phone call changed his life. The call was from a friend who had moved to England upon graduating from high school.
“I was a crazy kid,” he says. “I sold everything I owned and moved to England! I then got a job at a bar inside a hotel and stayed for a year.”
When Powell got back to the States, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He took a few office jobs and ended up working for a healthcare information technology company in Kansas City. There, Powell gained 11 years of experience in finance, sales, project management and HR leadership, but he decided to move on. He sold flood insurance for a bit but decided it wasn’t exactly what he wanted to do either.
A friend of Powell’s who’s now been with Farmers Insurance for five years showed him that the door was wide open to start his own business. “He introduced me to his district, and I was sold,” says Powell, who now sells auto, home, renters, business and life insurance for Farmers as well as policies for RVs and motorcycles.
Powell has enjoyed building his agency over the past two years. His staff includes a customer service representative and a Farmers Protege, a producer who plans to open his own agency next year. Powell’s agency has been doing so well that he’s looking to hire more people, possibly a marketer to work old leads that still have some life left in them. Powell understands the value of a lead.
“I’d worked in sales before selling insurance so I know buying leads is important to garner new business and grow, especially if you’re a scratch agent building a name and brand. I have been purchasing leads as long as I’ve been doing sales. Right now, the majority of the leads I use are quarter leads, so we input them into the dialer and keep smiling and dialing. I also buy live-transfer calls from SmartFinancial.”
Before partnering with SmartFinancial, Powell tried warm leads with another vendor, but the quality was not so good. He soon found out most were generated through contests, so the leads didn’t have a strong intention to buy. He then read an article about SmartFinancial and decided to give transfer calls a try.
“I’m seeing a significantly better outcome with SmartFinancial compared with the past vendors I’ve used,” Powell says. “My ROI was over 110% last time I checked so the calls are working out great. My account manager is also stellar. He calls often and checks in to make sure everything’s okay. I can’t say enough about that.”
Powell schedules up to 12 a day but usually gets anywhere between three to seven calls Monday through Friday. He has the option to receive calls Saturdays and Sundays too, but he chooses to pause his account on weekends, when the agency is only open by appointment.
“My producer and I share the calls,” Powell explains. “We utilize the scripts that SmartFinancial provided during the onboarding process. We tweaked them a little bit, and we’ve memorized them, but it’s there on the monitor in case I’m doing something else and need to jump back into selling off the script. I usually only just glance at the first sentence or two and it helps.”
For instance, Powell utilizes the trick of not mentioning Farmers or his agency until the end of the conversation, after giving a quote right away. The challenge is trying to do a one-call close, but Powell has been having a good share of them, too.
“I love the live calls because if I don’t have anything going on in the pipeline, I just turn this bad boy on, and I know I’ll get some traction right away,” he says, appreciating the versatility of the platform, which allows you to pause or start back up any time you wish.
“SmartFinancial has done exactly what I wanted,” Powell raves. “They’ve put people in front of me, and I close the deals.”
4 Golden Tips from James Powell
1. Sell protection. Insurance is not just a commodity. The crux of it all is protecting our clients. Don’t talk about price first. Talk about assets and family. That’s why I’m passionate about what I do.
2. Rejection is no big deal. Just work your leads as best you can, and take everything in stride. Don’t take it personally when a lead doesn’t buy insurance from you. You will come across people who want to buy what you’re selling. If you’re adding value to their life, making a sale will offset all the rejections you get.
3. Stay organized. We utilize our CRM to set tasks and we follow up with leads from there. With about 90% of our calls, we quote immediately and usually in the morning. We also set an appointment to follow up in the afternoon, after the quote is given. If we can’t get the person on the line for the follow-up we put them in the CRM and try four or five times a day to make contact. After 12 attempts, we X date that lead and then follow up in four or five months.
4. Make multiple attempts to contact all your leads and then X-date them if you hear nothing. You paid for these leads, don’t throw them away!