Pete Torres was a business major as an undergraduate and went on to work in the oil and gas industry as a safety director for 15 years. During that time, he was working towards his MBA from Rice University. After he graduated, he immediately transitioned to insurance. His first year, he worked for a mentor Farmers agent but has been his own boss since Sept 1, 2022.
When he first opened his agency’s doors, Torres had two full-time producers onboard. He now has three. Farmers Insurance requires its agency owners to employ at least two full-time staff members so Torres was lucky he’d received bonuses for graduating from the protege program to ownership of an agency. The money wasn’t the only bonus; Torres learned everything he knows today during that mentorship.
“For the most part I run my agency the way my mentor agent did but I’ve tweaked some processes to make it work better for us,” Torres explains.
For instance, Torres started buying data leads as soon as I could. He contacted SmartFinancial right away because his mentor agent had also worked with SmartFinancial. Torres began buying live transfers as well, about two to three 2 to 3 weeks after opening. Today, Torres continues to buy a combination of data leads and calls.
“All of my staff works the data leads and calls,” Torres says. |I manage the business and work my referral network with clients who only work with me.”
Torres personally trained each of his staff members. The agency’s process is to call data leads as soon as possible, to verify all their information and to send a quote, while trying to persuade the prospect to bundle home and auto at the very least. Once the prospect has had the time to review the quote, the agency follows up, usually the next day or the day after.
“We call back when the lead wants to be contacted,” says Torres. “Most customers want the follow-up the next day.”
Torres also sets up filters on his home insurance campaigns, to avoid coastal areas of Texas and to exclude Houston, because he hasn’t had much luck there. He works closely with his account manager at SmartFinancial on various strategies, to add and remove filters, to get the most traffic and the best chances of making a sale.
“The data leads have been very good for the most part,” says Torres. “They are a good way to build connections. We just try to give the consumer the product they want, and data leads are warm leads because they are actively shopping. Live transfers are somewhere between a warm and hot lead, and we see better success with them because SmartFinancial contacts them first to get them on the line. These people are more motivated to move forward as opposed to someone who filled out the information and became a data lead.”
With data leads, Torres’s agency sees a 15-18% close rate. With live transfers, they see a whopping 22-23% close rate!
“My agents have to work at least a month with the data leads before I send them live transfers,” says Torres. “For the most part, my most successful agents are working the live transfers. They can do a one-call close and can build rapport while working the Farmers quoting system as efficiently as possible.”
Torres’s agency is seeing lots of consumers switching, due to the rate hikes and the turbulence of the economy. “We just try to educate the consumer as much as possible,” says Torres. “”We tell them their rate will be higher wherever they go. We make sure to tell them about our superior customer service and claims service to lessen the blow.”
The future looks bright for Torres, who looks forward to one day growing his team to five or six producers. His goal going into next year is to try to win more awards with Farmers as well as hit the Toppers Club, which requires Torres to earn $350,000 in premium in a year with 15 life insurance policies. With SmartFinancial behind him, his team can certainly do it!
5 Golden Insurance Sales Tips from Pete Torres
- It’s important to have a good follow up policy in place–daily, weekly and monthly–to try to convert leads into a sale
- If you buy live transfers, it’s best to have your most senior or most productive producers work those leads. Use your best resources with these incoming calls.
- It’s important to build rapport with the prospects and ask the questions to see what they need, not just what they are looking for. Offer them the best products available to them.
- Just because you get a “no,” don’t stop there. We’ve sold policies two or three months after hearing a no. Keep working the lead until they come back around. Call every so often, email or text. Tell them, “We’ll still be here, so if you change your mind, let us know.”
- Most importantly, you have to praise and acknowledge your staff. I wouldn’t be where I am without my staff. They are appreciated for what they do.