Like many successful agents, Joseph Cesario had other plans in college. He studied sociology and minored in psychology, only to find out later that his education fell in line with sales because he was better able to relate to customers and had a genuine desire to help them.
"School definitely helped me understand people better," Cesario says. "Now, I'm not selling a product. I'm protecting what my clients worked hard for."
Cesario was selling phone systems when he was first approached about selling insurance with State Farm. He took that job and worked for an agent in the Agent Aspirant Program for two years, until he was approached by Met Life about opening an agency. Eventually, Farmers bought out Met Life Auto and Home, so Cesario is now a Farmers agent, and the Cesario Insurance Agency is a Farmers agency.
From his first days in the insurance business to now, Cesario has been buying insurance calls and leads and knows how important a role they play in growing a business. "Starting out, leads are an absolute necessity – 100%," he says. "At State Farm, we bought internet leads and we worked hard on referrals. When I first opened my own agency, we started with internet leads too. We also opened a phone book and started calling people, which worked out too."
In Q1, Cesario had a winning streak with SmartFinancial's live-transfer calls for commercial insurance, so he just began buying internet leads as well. "I take three calls a day from SmartFinancial, and they have been incredible!. We have closed a lot of business! I saw a $12,000 profit for Q1 from just commercial sales alone. I sell Auto Home, Life and Health too so 20% of our revenue came from SmartFinancial."
Cesario runs a four-person staff of two producers, himself and an office manager. "We all share the three incoming calls," he says. "We all help each other out." In the near future the team plans to grow but keep the same processes in place. Eventually, Cesario hopes to grow organically and cut back on buying leads. "That's the goal down the road," he says. "Your book of business has to be self-sustainable if you want to stop buying leads."
4 Golden Tips from Joseph Cesario
Find as many opportunities as you can. Join networking groups, the chamber of commerce. Just talk to as many people as you can. There's no secret to success in this business, which is based on the law of large numbers. Try to help as many people as you can. You'll sell more policies when you're separating yourself from the product you're trying to sell and simply protecting people.
Market your agency as much as you can. The more you put into the business, the more you'll get out of it. That means buying insurance leads and calls. Reinvest in your business. Fund your business.
Get referrals. We have a referral sheet asking for five referrals from every client. We try to grow organically but to get there you have to market your business by buying leads.
Get used to no's. You're going to be told no, exponentially more than yes, but x-date those people because at one point they'll have a problem or rate increase. Hearing no is just part of the job, so reply, "I appreciate your time" and always ask if you can call back at renewal time.
Recycle all leads that didn't work out. People's circumstances and priorities change. Don't throw away leads that didn't work out the first time around!