Trey Clarkson was a college basketball coach at the college level for 10 years. It was a demanding job that took up most of his energy. He was getting ready for his second child when he decided to change careers, for financial reasons and because he wanted to spend more time with his growing family. He applied for a position at State Farm and soon embarked on a-year long process of studying, getting licenses and interviewing for specific zip codes. After he was approved, there was a 17-week training period, and he began looking for an office in north Phoenix, Arizona. It was in April 2022 that he opened the doors to his scratch agency.
“On day one, it was just me and a former student I used to coach. He had been working three jobs while he was preparing to graduate, so he went ahead and got his licenses and began working for me after he graduated,” Clarkson says. “It was quiet that first day!. We were just trying to figure out how to get the phones ringing. I didn’t have a big budget then, because State Farm has certain premium requirements before increasing assistance.”
Clarkson began scouring a hot list of people he knew and reached out to quote them. The task was more difficult than he’d anticipated. “A lot of people who knew me suddenly didn’t want to talk to me because I was now the insurance guy,” he says, laughing. “I had a big list, but only about half worked out.”
A couple of weeks in, Clarkson started to buy Internet leads. He learned quickly that you have to get over the fact that some people are not happy about getting a call after submitting a quote request online.
“There was a little bit of fear in me when I first started calling,” Clarkson remembers, “but I saw that you can’t have that at all.”
The agency process that was in place, after all, was to call and text everybody for 14 days before pushing them out for a renewal in six months at renewal. “Our goal for our follow up process is to get a yes or no.”
“I was networking, working Internet leads and about to hire another person. I have not made much money in the first year but I have invested a lot to grow as fast as I can.”
Growing, he is, especially after getting in touch with SmartFinancial and buying live-transfer calls.
“I heard about SmartFinancial from one of the top State Farm agents in the country,” Clarkson explains. “She came out and spoke about her process, it was similar to mine, and she was also a former basketball coach. When she recommended SmartFinancial, I said, ‘Shoot, if that’s what she’s doing, that’s what I want to do.’”
Clarkson had tried other vendors, but his close rate was not very good. When he started working with SmartFinancial in November 2022, he began getting results. He buys three live-transfer calls a day in addition to internet leads. One particularly successful month he had close to a 50% close ratio with SmartFinancial calls Otherwise it’s been about 30% close ratio.
“Getting 15 new auto sales a week is our goal. So, 12-15 live leads from SmartFinancial helps us achieve that. We wouldn’t have met our goals without SmartFinancial during the slow months,” Clarkson explains. “We get over 100 applications every month for new business now. Knowing we have three good leads coming in every day helps motivate my office.”
Clarkson also praises his SmartFinancial account manager, who is consistently reaching out to give him support. “If we request a credit and don't get it, my account manager goes to bat if it fits the criteria,” he explains.”Customer service at SmartFinancial is significantly better than at any other lead company. And I’ve used nearly every lead vendor!”
As Clarkson looks to the future, he is setting more goals to achieve his mission to educate even more clients on all the insurance products that are best for them. His number one goal remains, to protect families and individuals. As many insurance agencies raise their rates he is confident that State Farm can compete and that his agency will continue to grow and offer great customer service.
4 Golden Insurance Sales Tips from Trey Clarkson of State Farm
- You have to hire people that care and are somewhat fearless and able to talk on the phone. Our successes as an office are because we all care. That comes across when you’re working the live leads from SmartFinancial because you’re trying to build rapport.
- Set goals - goals help give your office a purpose and get your team collectively striving to achieve a common goal.
- You’ve got to invest in your business. You have to be okay with not bringing home much money at first. Many people don’t do live leads because they cost more but I just want to hit my goals and to grow fast. You can’t be afraid to invest in the agency, especially early on. You have to take some chances.
- Have a good process in place. We have a good process for working leads by texting and calling. A lot of people prefer texting these days, so we do both. We always look at our text messages and try to respond to leads ASAP. I think that’s what’s led to our success.