Insurance Talk: Shared Leads vs Exclusive Leads

Fran Majidi
March 9, 2021
Shared Leads vs Exclusive Leads

When you buy leads, you have a choice in your investment, and the price is usually reflective of the quality of the leads you buy rather than volume. Put another way, your chances of writing a policy are always higher the less competition you have and the better the leads fit your ideal profile. With that said, you may be able to buy more chances to play if you spend less money on exclusive leads and buy more shared leads.

In our years of working with various types of agents, we’ve seen successes with many different strategies. Some agents like to buy a bit of each and they throw in a few live-transfer calls in too, for the easiest sale of all.

If it sounds like we’re telling you there’s no right answer, you are correct; it’s more a matter of style and how much you’re willing to hustle. If you’re in the insurance business, you already know that moving fast and never sounding rushed are important, so regardless of which type of lead you buy, you should get on the phone as soon as the lead comes in. Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the pros and cons of shared versus exclusive data leads.

The Truth About Shared Leads

Some vendors will have you clawing 3 or 4 other agents to be the first caller with shared leads. At SmartFinancial, we only share a lead with 2 other agents, and we make sure the other agents do not represent your insurance company, if you’re a captive agent. The reputation of a vendor matters. On the rare occasion that we mistakenly send the lead to two agents from the same company, we credit those accounts. Not all vendors do!

Shared leads are cheaper in price but you really have to jump on them. You must have dedicated producers ready to call when the leads come through and to follow up over the next few weeks to get the sale. If you’re buying lots of shared leads, you better have the manpower to be the first caller and to consistently follow up. Otherwise, you’re wasting money and are better off buying what you can juggle. Always remember to text, call and email, because not everyone picks up a phone with an unrecognized number.

Better yet, if you’re not interested in making much effort in contacting the lead, your money may be more wisely spent on live transfer calls, which cost more than shared and exclusive leads, but are guaranteed contact. Only buy calls if you are able to take calls when they are set to flow in. You can always pause your account, but if you do not and aren’t in a place where you can properly establish dialogue with a prospect, again, it’s money burned.

Exclusive Leads: A Goldmine

Exclusive leads are the middle child of insurance leads, and many agents overlook them as an alternative to shared leads or they jump straight into buying calls because they hate the competition. The truth is that exclusive leads are a wonderful product if worked by the right hands. Yes, they cost more but you’re the only agent contacting this person, isn’t that worth a few extra dollars, because that’s how much more they cost. Beware: the vendor you buy the exclusive lead from cannot guarantee that the lead didn’t fill out forms other than the one they submitted to them. So, things can get tricky. For the most part, however, exclusive leads are a goldmine because contact rates are much higher, hence the price difference. You also need to call as soon as you can and follow up thoroughly the way you would a shared lead.

Communicate with Your Account Manager

Again, the way an account is set up will greatly influence your success at working leads. For instance, if you work with a carrier who only writes a certain type of policy, it may work in your favor to add filters. But if you’re an independent agent or work with several carriers be more flexible and shed some filters to get better volume. Your SmartFinancial account manager is always on hand to customize your account to optimize your experience with your lead program. Tell your account manager what you can and can’t write so they can meet your needs.

The Cost of Filters and How They Affect Volume

Exclusive and shared leads can easily double in price if you add all filter options. So take that into account as you tweak your account, and only add the filters that you must, otherwise, you may not get very many leads. Another trick to boost volume is to add area codes. But even if you add all the filters possible, you’re paying as much as you would for a good meal and you’ll reap more at each renewal. Which brings us to the next question: When do you see the money?

When Should an Agent Expect to See a Return on Investment with Insurance Leads?

You have to have patience for the first 18 months of working with a lead program. You may start selling right away but you’ve got overhead. This is the way we like to break down the ROI schedule: For the first 6 months, you’re paying for the cost of the leads. You’re also paying producers to contact and follow up with the leads. There’s also rent and utilities to pay. Only 6 months later, however, you should expect to break even at net zero after all your bills are paid. Then, 6 months later, you should begin to see a profit that only grows each time a client renews. It’s important to hone your customer service skills because retention makes all the difference in the world.