You Shouldn't Need to Buy Leads (Forever)

Sep 19, 2016

  1. Alston
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    Alston Guru

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    I think a goal of every agent who buys leads should be to figure out how to need fewer and fewer purchased leads each year. (This assumes that they are not expanding.)

    I'm probably an old school agent to most of you but a newb to a few of you. I've been in this game for 30 years.

    Some of the methods that worked in the 80s still work today especially when combined with some of the newer ways of marketing.

    I know how to generate leads from my websites which I mostly code myself. I say that only to prove that I'm not a luddite ("someone who is opposed or resistant to new technologies or technological change" per Dictionary.com)

    I'm not opposed to new technology. I'm just opposed to having a high CPA (cost per acquisition of a new client).

    Weaning yourself off lead buying cannot start too early in your career. Buy leads if you have to, but have a goal of reducing your CPA over time by combining new and old school methods of working and reworking your list.

    Here is my strategy:

    Save all the data you can. I use an MySQL database, but you can do this is on your laptop using any one of dozens of programs. You will want to save contact information and the product they expressed interest in as a minimum. Plus dates of birth, x-dates and notes from your conversations if applicable.

    Save this in an electronic format that will allow you to print labels, do a mail merge, upload to a direct mail vendor, or spit out an email list. If the program you use has an option to export the data in CSV format you can use it for all these purposes.

    Be the best agent possible. Assume that every client will be with you for ten years and will refer you to ten people if you treat them the right way. There are a lot of things you should do to be considered a professional. If you maintain the right attitude you won't need a list.

    It is true, it costs less to keep a client than to find a new one.
    Plus long-term clients are more likely to refer you.

    Confidence building tactics are the icing on the cake. You have to consistently do the right things or it is just icing with no cake under it. That being said, this tactic seems to work for me:

    [client] I would like to get a quote.
    [me] Ok. My name is Alston, your name is?...
    [client responds]
    [me] Tell me your situation and I will do my best to help you...
    [client responds]
    [me] What questions do you have for me...
    [client responds]
    [me] Any more questions?
    [client] No.
    [me] OK. I have a few questions for you.

    After asking questions to make sure that the product they expressed interest in is a good fit for their situation, I often notice the client's attitude change. Sometimes it is subtle. Sometimes there is no immediate or perceptible change. However, I often take a step away from being a just sales person in their mind. I also take two steps toward being an advisor they trust, want to do business with and feel comfortable referring to friends and family.

    Stay in touch. Use the phone, email and direct mail (I like oversized post cards) to work your list. Over time, you will be able to generate your own leads at a lower cost than you can buying leads.

    You eventually want to have a different message for your existing clients, prospective clients and clients who have expressed interest in different products.

    If you have DOBs you can send birthday cards.

    An old school idea: Handwritten notes are super powerful. I use them to thank people for referrals (whether or not the person buys). I use them to contact the prospects that I made a connection with but wasn't ready to buy yet.

    I used to use blank notes with matching envelopes from a "dollar store."I think there were 8 in a pack for $1.00. I now have stationary with my picture on it, but I used the dollar store note cards for years and made a lot of sales because of it.

    I have too big of a book to send every prospect a handwritten note but I would if I were a newb with more time on my hands than money to invest.

    This really works, so I will just say this in advance: "You're welcome."

    A new fangled idea: If your clients visit your website, remarketing (aka retargeting) with Google, Bing and FB has a very good ROI.

    https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2453998?hl=en

    I'm writing this to help the newer agents and also to get ideas from established agents. It seems to me that a combination of high tech and high touch is the right way to go, but every one does it differently and I'm sure that I can learn something from other agents about the they way they are combining different strategies and marketing methods.
     
    Alston, Sep 19, 2016
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  2. djs
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    djs Super Moderator Moderator

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    Alston -

    Great info. I see a lot of agents trying to figure out how to 'modernize' their entire agency, making it as hands off as possible. As you point out, keeping in personal touch is a big part of the value of having a personal agent.

    It is amazing how small things that don't seem to matter at the time, make a HUGE difference over time.

    Dan
     
    djs, Sep 19, 2016
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  3. Alston
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    Add a little to a little and [eventually] there will be a great heap (Ovid)
     
    Alston, Sep 19, 2016
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  4. mickeyma
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    I always attach a picture of me on every correspondence. But, instead of stationary with my picture, I use a jpeg file. Scan a picture of yourself and save as a jpeg file. Edit the file to attach text. Insert this file into your word processor or email.
     
    mickeyma, Sep 19, 2016
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  5. FLInsa
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    FLInsa Super Genius

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    Alston, I replied to your other thread. I have built a 2MM book of P&C business in 4 years strictly out of internet leads - nothing else. Leads from the same lead companies that get a bad rap on this very forum. There is a way of working these leads - just have to figure it out how. :idea:

    And by the way, my retention ratio is currently at 98.2%. How? Simple, I call every client, on every policy, and on every renewal 40 days before their expiration date and I shop their policy. If my carrier B is more competitive than my carrier A, I let them know and if they decide to switch, I do it for them.That simple.
     
    FLInsa, Sep 20, 2016
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  6. Alston
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    I think we are more in alignment than you may think.

    When I went out on my own, I started from scratch. I (re)built my book almost exclusively on leads that I generated from my websites. So I'm not knocking Internet leads per se.

    What I am trying to say is that if an agent services their existing book -- like you do -- they will have a higher retention rate -- like you do -- and not have to buy leads (at least in the same volume) year after year.

    If in addition to servicing their book, if an agent markets to their book he or she will get even more sales with a lower marketing cost per application.

    IMO, unless an agent wants to grow their book forever or hire other agents, there should come a time when properly working their book is enough or nearly enough.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
    Alston, Sep 20, 2016
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  7. John Galt
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    John Galt Guru

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    Wish I had a p&c agent like you, are you licensed in GA?
     
  8. Alston
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    Alston Guru

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    The notepads I use cost about $60 per 1,000 sheets.

    Notepad Printing - Print Custom Memo Pads at UPrinting.com!

    Uprinting allows you use one of their templates or create a design on their website for free. (However, I paid a graphic person to design mine. I use her for all my off line marketing materials so that they all have the same look and feel.)

    I also purchased colored envelopes that matched my design.

    I invested a little over $250 for 1,000 notepads and matching envelopes When I reorder it will cost about $200 because I won't have the design costs.

    I needed just one additional sale to justify the investment. I've already made at least 5 sales where my client mentioned that my handwritten note was the reason they bought from me. I'm sure others were influenced that didn't mention it to me.

    I started using these in January. I still have eight or nine hundred of these in a box.
     
    Alston, Sep 21, 2016
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  9. InsuranceJerk
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    98% retention on p/c in FL is a damn miracle. Especially if you write auto and your leads are sourced online. There is so much pressure on the auto business and rates have gone up for pretty much all carriers, it's amazing you don't lose more than 1 - 2% to direct writers, considering you are selling primarily on price.
     
  10. FLInsa
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    FLInsa Super Genius

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    By the way, Alston and I spoke on the phone and he is a super nice guy. Wish you the best Alston.

    Sorry Bud, FL only and don't plan on expanding to other states anytime soon (if ever).

    98.2% to be exact as of last month. Now to do this I think you do need to have a very strong carrier lineup because if you think about, if you have most of all the major players, where will your client go to?

    Thanks to SIAA I am up to 24 home carriers and 16 auto carriers in Florida. Now it looks like Allstate will be available to SIAA agents in Florida soon too so that will be one more bomb for the arsenal.
     
    FLInsa, Sep 23, 2016
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