After high school, John Blanchard studied criminal justice and planned to go into law enforcement. He was six credits shy of graduating when he suddenly decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a Marine from 1991 to 1995 and traveled all over the world. After that, he worked for the Florida Department of Revenue.
Blanchard wanted a prosperous career and to be rewarded for the hours and effort he put into the work he did. He was also tired of traveling all the way from Ft. Meyers to Tallahassee two or three times a month. Blanchard began selling insurance in 2009, after a neighbor and he started talking. Making a career change was a good decision.
At First Family Insurance Blanchard sells primarily health, life, ancillaries and Medicare. “I started selling life and health insurance at UGA for a year before joining First Family insurance in 2010,” he explains. “In 2012, I began selling Medicare.”
Blanchard can’t imagine not using insurance leads to grow an insurance agency. He used leads from the first day he got into the insurance business. He had coaching from his neighbor who also worked for UGA, so he knew it was an integral part of growing your book of business.
“Insurance was only sold by phone then, and I was FedExing applications two three times a week,” he recalls. “Then we moved into digital, which was a dramatic change. I had more access to customers and much more rapid response from leads. Instead of beating the pavement to attend appointments, I went to 100% digital and became a million dollar producer in 2011. I have continued to sell at that level throughout my career.” First Family Insurance buys leads and calls from SmartFinancial, and Blanchard works closely with his account manager to adjust filters, volume and keywords in order to get the demand and quality he wants. “Karl helps me achieve our goals,” says Blanchard, who is busy managing an office which consists of 65 call center agents, field service agents and producers.
First Family Insurance is predominantly an outbound call center. All leads post into the CRM for the agents to dial out. “We contact leads within seconds by phone, text and email, sometimes up to four times a day,” Blanchard says. “Our best practice is continued communication and follow-up. All agents have access to our leads, so we have a round robin cycle in helping customers.”
When asked why he prefers SmartFinancial’s leads over other vendors, Blanchard says, “I like the quality and it’s worth the higher price because we’re closing anywhere from three and five leads per sale. With other vendors, it’s more like 30 or 40 leads per sale. From a CPA perspective, you can’t go wrong with SF insurance.”
Blanchard’s team has daily and weekly call goals and production goals. ”I also have an annual goal,” he explains. “Last year we made in excess of $114 million in premium. My goal is to exceed that by 15% this year, and we have 30% fewer agents.”
3 Golden Tips from John Blanchard
Don’t waste your leads. At our agency, if the prospect says no stay, they stay in our CRM, after which they hit a call count, 20 times, before they fall out of our system and fall into a different campaign. So hot leads fall into a warm leads campaign for newer agents to try to work and close.
Do the work. I started insurance part-time. My goal was to be on the phone at least one sale a day. If I didn’t get that sale, I’d stay on the phone. Some days I got five sales! Someone who starts out selling insurance full-time will notice that they have lots of independence. Treat it as you would a salary job and put in eight hours a day to have success.
You can’t sell insurance without leads. They start conversations with people who need insurance. You have to communicate well and clearly and make the sale out of it. Talk to prospects as you would your neighbor or grandma. Put them at ease. They’ll be willing to buy, even if they are not sold.