A San Diego State University graduate with a finance degree, Shawn Graham has been selling insurance for over 20 years, after acquiring her own family’s agency. Shawn’s father, a former Allstate agent, decided to go the broker route and opened an agency. He then suddenly decided to get out of the business after it had just taken off. He asked Shawn if he wanted to buy him out after he graduated from college. Shawn said yes to the amazing opportunity and got a loan to finance the book of business.
Like his father, Shawn is also an independent agent and was quickly able to get the carrier appointments he needed to get started. Being an independent agent allowed him to stay local in San Diego, where he was born and raised.
“I learned the basics from my father,” Shawn says, while quick to point out that it was different back then without the Internet. “People actually came to the office. You learned the fundamentals about coverages and then got a phone book and started calling people between walk-ins. You can’t do that anymore. It’s a whole new world.”
In the beginning, Shawn’s agency was growing from referrals, and he had another business at the same time, an accounts receivable company. He ended up selling that second business and came back to insurance due to the residual income.
“I had to revive the business,” Shawn remembers, “so I started door knocking and cold calling. I was approaching people who asked for nothing, so it was hard. I tried Internet leads but they just didn’t pay off at the time. I tried direct mail, everything.”
Shawn finally tried SmartFinancial exclusive Internet leads and had much better luck than he did with another vendor. “An internet lead versus a cold call is an easy sell,” he says now. “If there’s an interest, it’s just a hand-off. Learning how to build rapport has helped me too ”
Since starting his lead program, Shawn has hired two more agents for his growing agency, and they all sell. auto, home, commercial, life and some health but Shawn is the only one who handles the data leads. “I only buy exclusive leads, around 200 to 260 a month right now but will be increasing the volume to 25 a day, up to 600 a month.”
What Shawn likes best about exclusive insurance leads is that he feels like he has more control over them than the live calls, which he worries he’ll miss. Data leads also allow for more follow up. “I close 12 to 13% of the leads I buy,” says Shawn, who also raves about his SmartFinancial account manager. “He’s been very helpful in the journey of getting the leads,” Shawn says. “He always follows up with me and wants to know what’s going on. He’s invested in my success, and I really appreciate that.”
As for what the future holds for Shawn Graham and his agency, “Growth is the #1 goal at my agency, and so is increasing our leads,” he says. “We are thinking about getting licensing in other states too, so opening another agency is a possibility in the future also.”
6 Golden Insurance Sales Tips From Shawn Graham
- You’re going to have to figure out a budget and stick to it. Make an investment in leads. I tested leads to see how many I can close and then created a budget around my close ratio.
- If the lead vendor is good, a 10% close ratio is what you should shoot for.
- Stick to the lead program for six months before deciding it’s not right for you. Reinvest the money you make into leads when you do close.
- Follow up with the leads continuously. I suggest at least twice a day at minimum for as long as you can. Some people will be thinking about insurance right then, while others don't need to think about it for a few months. If you keep calling you’ll get the opportunity eventually. When you get someone on the phone, that’s when the opportunity starts.
- Rapport on the phone is very important. Ask good questions and listen to their answers. Have a set of good questions ready depending on the line of business you’re selling.
- A quick response to a lead, within 10 minutes, is a good timeframe for the first contact.