Jon Aprile was a finance major at Boston College and went into the restaurant business in New Jersey after earning his degree. When his in-laws retired to a house in South Carolina, he and his wife decided to move their family there, too. Aprile wasn’t sure what he was going to do to make a living, but he remembered that his best friend since kindergarten was a State Farm agent, and he’d encouraged Aprile to explore his options at State Farm in the past.
“Soon after we moved, I made contact with the State Farm corporate office, to learn about all the possibilities and requirements, which are much more rigorous than with other captive carriers,” Aprile said. “For instance, with State Farm, you have to be selected to open an agency; You can’t just buy it like a Farmers or Allstate agency.”
In 2007, Aprile started working with a more seasoned agent, according to State Farm’s recommended path, to see what kind of success he’d have selling insurance. Aprile stayed on for two and a half years, and in June 2011 he opened his own agency.
He realizes that he was lucky that there was demand in South Carolina for a new State Farm agent after moving his family there blindly. State Farm hand selects every single agent, and new opportunities to open a new agency only happen if a local State Farm agent retires.
However, starting as a scratch agent, without a single policyholder, was a daunting challenge for Aprile, and there were some tough times getting the wheels rolling.
“We struggled with our previous lead vendor, who offered recycled, old leads. I was paying anywhere between $6 and $12 just to get someone on the phone. A teammate suggested calling SmartFinancial, so I decided to give it a try. Instantly, I knew the quality of the SmartFinancial leads was better!”
Aprile regularly tweaks filters to get the quality and the volume of leads he wants. He turns the leads on when he wants them and turns them off whenever he needs to pause. “Every three weeks or so I have a call with my SmartFinancial account manager to readjust all the settings,” he said .”I’ve never had anyone as involved in my business as a lead provider. If we need to pause the leads last minute, he does it immediately. If it’s a holiday, he checks in to see if we'll be in the office or if he should shut everything down. I have a great team in place, so it’s been the perfect storm of everything lining up.”
Today, Aprile’s agency has a 25% close rate with SmartFinancial internet leads, and 35 to 40% on SmartFinancial transfer calls. Aprile only buys insurance leads from SmartFinancial these days because he likes the quality and customer service so much and because the partnership over the last four or five years has been exceptionally beneficial for his team. He also appreciates SmartFinancial's generous returns on leads with inaccurate information.
Due to his newfound success, Aprile’s staff has grown: he has one customer service agent, three full-time sales agents and one remote floater, all of whom are trained in the right processes of handling a prospect. In fact, Aprile relies on his team to make new property and casualty insurance sales, while he focuses primarily on retirement planning and life insurance policies.
Aprile’s team also has insurance licenses in two states, South Carolina and Georgia, where there is a convenience factor for those who own vacation homes in one of those states but live in the other most of the year.
In his 12th year now with State Farm, Jon Aprile is appreciative of having been given the opportunity to build a great life for his family. He’s extremely happy, and SmartFinancial is very happy for him too.
8 Golden Tips Insurance Sales Tips From Jon Aprile of State Farm
- With leads, promptness is most important. With calls, you have to be ready to take them.
- Follow up is extremely important. If you say you will call, or email, do it. Be knowledgeable about what coverages are offered and that you recommend and why.
- Have a good process in place. Don’t fumble around; Be prepared to answer questions and get into the important details.
- Make you only ask questions with a purpose, not generic questions. Go out of your way to find discounts.
- Sell multi-lines to maximize each sales opportunity.
- Distinguish yourself from other companies out there.
- Go up and above on customer service. Keeping the client must be the most important thing.
- Listening is so important. You can have in your head what you want to do or say, but if you aren't listening to the prospect, you won’t succeed. For instance, if the customer is only looking to switch car insurance and you’re thinking of all the many different products to sell, you’re better off going with just the car insurance sale that day. Really listen to what the prospect is telling you.