Jason Walker began his career by bouncing from one inside sales job to the next. He excelled in most of his roles but good performance didn’t guarantee job security. He worked for a trash company and ranked first in sales but, in the end, the company eliminated his job. He then took a job with Sprint after it was bought by T-Mobile. He was really excited about it and ranked in the top 10% of the sales team, but then COVID hit, and the entire team got sent home.
“Every time I looked for a new job, insurance came up,” Walker remembers, “but the timing never seemed right. After losing the job at Sprint after only two weeks on the job, I circled back to Farmers and we made it work out. Now I’m my own boss, and no one can eliminate me.”
As a Farmers agent, Walker opened his own scratch agency in February 2021. He sells auto, home, commercial, life and specialty insurance. He had experience buying leads from his days in mortgage lending, where buying Internet leads was the norm, so he tried buying insurance leads from two preferred lead vendors in his district.
“My experience was not great,” he says. “Basically, the leads were crap. I was getting fake names like Fred Flintstone. I now see why they were so cheap. It became very frustrating, too, but I kept being told that buying leads is just something you have to do. I watch the dollars I spend tightly, so my money has to be well spent. I wasn’t happy.”
Everything changed for Walker after he responded to an email from SmartFinancial. He replied honestly, by telling the sales representative that he was unhappy with the vendors he was using. He said he received no refunds when the leads had no phone number, no email.
“I shouldn’t have to pay for that,” Walker says. “If I blow the sale, that’s another story. Email account, no phone number fine, but many of the leads had nothing but a mailing address.”
The salesperson at SmartFinancial explained how the company generates leads, using a questionnaire asking for the basic information necessary for a quote. Walker soon learned that SmartFinancial leads are different. “The people I started calling were actually invested in shopping and weren’t just checking out an ad they saw about low rates,” he says.“Twenty five questions qualifies a lead and is legit. It gives me enough of a window to pitch the insurance product. I can actually quote people.”
When Walker was assigned an account manager, he was impressed with the service she provided. “She never goes more than a week without checking in on how the agency is performing,” he raves. “She even sent talking points to help my staff.”
Most importantly, Walker is now talking to more people than ever with SmartFinancial leads.
“I have actual conversations with shoppers now,” Walker says. “No bad numbers. If I’m paying for three leads, I expect to talk to one at the very least. I’m now talking to one, usually two. SmartFinancial gives me a fighting chance, and that’s all I need. It’s a good return on my investment.”
Walker’s district manager initially told him he’s spending too much on insurance leads but he continued singing SmartFinancial’s praises and now over half his district is buying leads now that they see that it’s worth the money. In fact, instead of buying fewer leads, Walker just started buying live transfer calls in addition to data leads. He’s made one-call closes on transfers! But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t thoroughly work the leads that aren’t easy to close.
“My assistants each make about 150 calls a day,” he says, explaining that he has two part-time marketers, one of whom was taking the licensing exam at the time of this interview. They call the leads within the first five minutes of receiving them. They gather all the necessary information to generate a quote before making an appointment, during which Walker quotes the lead.
“We have a cadence to the way we follow up,” Walker explains. “If we don’t make contact within five minutes of receiving the lead, we call back 30 minutes later and then three hours later if we still haven’t made contact. We call up to four times in one day, and then we stagger. In a month, we’re usually 15 attempts in, and then we call once a month after that. If we end up not writing business with that lead, we ex-date it.”
Walker has big goals that he’ll reach with the help of his dedicated account manager. “We’re not where I want to be yet,” Walker says. “We want to write 30 policies a month, three of them life insurance. We’re in the right direction but it’s a climb. We are doing better each month, and we’re turning it up next month going forward!”
3 Golden Tips from Jason Walker
1) Hit the leads as early as possible and as often as possible.
2) When they claim that they did not want a quote or they were just messing around, say something to the effect of "I get it, I have done that as well. Since I do have you, I can get you the information you sought in just a few minutes."
3) Keep coming back to "you" as in "you sought a quote" or "you were interested in the info."