Chris Smith has been in sales for 23 years selling different products like glasses, security alarms, building materials and fire extinguishers. For a short time, he became a freight broker and even tried to get into pharmaceutical sales until the interviewer told him he doesn't fit the mold.
All he wanted was to do something to help people while making a good living doing it. He also wanted to be passionate about his job. "The insurance thing kept coming back up," Smith recalls. "One guy kept pursuing me, but I had no interest in insurance really." The passive income, which very few industries offer, was certainly attractive, but Smith only came around after he realized he can help people prepare for the bad times and help them when that time comes.
"Allstate, State Farm and Farmers all offered to let me open an office. I chose Farmers because of how they treat their customers. I also like that as an agency owner I have input with corporate. Underwriting may say they won't cover a claim or they'll cover half of it, but I can step in and say they should take care of all of it. Corporate often leans toward the customer."
A scratch agent, Smith had never worked in an industry where buying leads was possible, but he soon learned that to have a successful insurance agency, buying leads was one of the few ways he could build a book of business. Since he opened his agency in March 2021, he's been trying different lead vendors. "I bought from Allwebleads, Quote Wizard, Hometown Quotes, Everquote in addition to SmartFinancial. I had no success with any of them except SmartFinancial."
Smith buys SmartFinancial's exclusive auto leads and live transfer calls. He works closely with his Account Manager to set the right filters to get the customers that Farmers will underwrite. "I had a 40% close ratio with calls last month," he says. "I probably made $22,000 to $25,000 in premiums from SmartFinancial leads, and we are still tweaking the filters to get an even better result."
Smith owes much of his success to his SmartFinancial Account Manager. "He genuinely cares about my business and my success," he says. "He wants to help me grow, so I feel like he's one of my staff, and more of a friend than a lead vendor. That's huge for me."
"I hope to become the biggest agent in Tennessee one day," he says laughing, "but I have big shoes to fill and lots of time to work on that." In the meantime, Smith is happy taking care of people when they need it most.
5 Golden Tips for Insurance Agents from Chris Smith
You must have a consistent process of working the leads. Screen the contact thoroughly. Also, you don't have to be the first person to call in order to close the sale. I don't always jump on the lead right away.
Make sure to invest in a management software system that keeps you organized. I'm with Agency MVP, which does the job of ten people and enables you to contact the lead on a consistent basis. It automatically manages every single lead.
Be persistent and stay on the lead. The average sale from a lead starts between the fifth and twelfth contact. It sounds like a lot but not when you consider that you can text, email or make a phone call. So if you're calling two or three times and sending an email and a text, that's at least five touches. For me, it's between day two and day three that I close.
For live transfers, you need to practice taking the call, between the time it comes in and the moment you get the information in an email or see it in your dashboard. It's a little clunky at first, because you have to fill the lag time to keep the customer on the line. The other person doesn't realize you just got the call because they've been speaking with a SmartFinancial agent already. If you act like it's a brand new phone call, they will hang up. Practice small talk but be genuine and listen to what they say. Avoid making them repeat themselves or else they'll get aggravated, and it'll mess up the whole call.
You always have to coach your producers so they don't lose a lead or call. Train them on the lag time at the start of a live-transfer call and how to engage an internet lead right away so you don't lose them.