A young agent’s tricks and treats

May 8, 2006

Like many of you, I started my insurance career with an empty desk and a phone. Over the years, I have learned some tips or “tricks” that I have used effectively to generate sales.

Cold calling was the first lesson I had to master, and I took a different approach than many people. I still believe that any activity done outside the office is better than doing something in the office. Here are some cold calling techniques I have used — and they worked.

Pest extermination technique

I wanted to call on contractors when I started because they usually provide larger premiums. However, most contractors dislike insurance, and they especially dislike insurance agents. One day, I called on a scaffolding contractor, and he mentioned to me that I was the fifth insurance agent to see him that week. He then went on to say, “All insurance agents are like fleas around their renewal date.”

The very next day, I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a can of Raid Flea Spray. I taped my business card to the can and went back to see him. I said to the business owner, “I bought you this can of flea spray to keep the other fleas away, and I would like you to work with this flea because I am immune to the spray.” That novelty item worked, and the contractor allowed me to be the only agent to work with him on insurance for the next year.

Because contractors tend to be difficult, it often takes something “out of the ordinary” to get their attention. I took that approach with almost all the contractors I could find. I probably was the largest buyer of Raid Flea Spray at that Wal-Mart for almost a year.

Did the idea work every time?

No, but it worked often enough.

Get to know a daycare provider technique

I was fortunate to stumble onto the daycare provider technique because I had small children when I started in the insurance business. I was also fortunate to send my child to a daycare that was somewhat “hard to get into.” Because of that, I was able to interact each morning with some high-powered parents, especially mothers.

As time went on I decided to volunteer at the daycare for any activity, such as birthday parties, field trips and reading stories before naptime. During each activity, I would naturally interact with other individuals who were helping, and I would be as nice and helpful as I could. A daycare setting is very exhausting. Those individuals, mostly mothers, appreciated all the help I could give them.

Over time, some people would ask me what I did for a living. I would tell them I was an insurance agent. Inevitably, someone would say, “My husband owns a business and he could use some help.” Another door opened, and off I went.

Webelos belt technique

Many of us went through some sort of scouting program. The fun part of those organizations was collecting or earning badges and awards. Life as an insurance agent is very similar. Get involved in your town.

I am a firm believer in community involvement. Examples are Rotary International, the Chamber of Commerce, Masons, church, local governments, scouts, hunting clubs, card clubs or any other activity where you can meet new people. As you earn those individuals’ trust, they will naturally inquire if you can help them.

Do those activities take time?

Absolutely.

Do those activities take away from your family?

Yes.

A retired insurance agent once told me, “If I would work 16 hours a day for the first eight years, I would never work eight hours a day again.”

Commit to this business through time and effort to be successful.

The drive-by shooting technique

I have told this story to anyone who would listen because some of my most successful accounts came from driving down the freeway.

If you see commercial trucks while on the road, many of them have the phone numbers and names of the business on them. The next time you see a vehicle of an account you want to call on, pull over to the side of the road. (Talking on the phone while driving is dangerous.)

Call the phone number and ask the receptionist to put you through to the person handling the insurance. Tell that person that you were driving down the road and noticed a very courteous driver and wanted to let him or her know what a fine company they are operating. Let the person know you are an insurance agent and that you like to work with businesses that operate in a safe manner. At least six out of 10 times, you will get an appointment.

Some of those ideas may seem funny or unbelievable, but they work. So remember to be creative and have fun. Over time, you will build a book of business and do less cold calling.

Greg Wassberg is a producer with Crockett Insurance Services in Crockett, Texas.

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Insurance Journal West May 8, 2006
May 8, 2006
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