January 23, 2018

Michael Sams has been in the insurance business for about 13 years now, and in 2017, he had a record year – over $900,000 in production.

Our biggest question is how?!

We’ve had a sit-down interview with Michael to help us understand his process and how he went from 40-50 clients in his first year to a whopping 800 today.

Q: When did you first decide to become an insurance agent?

A: I first decided to become an insurance agent when I was done playing sports. I was in college and hadn’t given a lot of thought to a career, so the family business felt like a natural fit.

Q: When you first started, what kind of products did you sell?

A: Medicare Supplements were the primary focus. That was the foot in the door for me. Everybody needs help with Medicare and their supplemental insurance.

Q: What were your sales for your first year?

A: In my first year, I only had between 40-50 clients. There was quite the learning curve. For sales, it was just a Med Supp per person.

Q: How were you getting new clients?

A: The marketing plan to gain new clients to sell Medicare Supplements was simply going door to door. From time to time, we sent out mailings to let people know we’d be coming to their area, but it became challenging to keep those letters ahead of us, so we just went and knocked on doors.

Q: Was there ever a moment when you felt like your sales took off?

A: In the first 4-5 years, it seemed to be really slow, steady growth. The turning point for me came when I started using a Client Needs Assessment. It uncovered the needs of the client so that I could sell specifically to those needs.

It sounds silly to say this, but when we quit trying to sell insurance and began to meet the need of the client, my sales took off.

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Q: What kinds of products do you sell now?

A: It’s a wide range of things. Annuities, cancer plans, life insurance – especially life with a long-term care rider. It’s no longer just Medicare Supplements.

Q: What were your sales for 2017, and how many clients do you have?

A: My production for 2017 was $910,000, and I have about 800 clients.

Q: How did you motivate yourself to get to that $900,000 mark?

A: First of all, I always want to do better than I did the year before. Second, we have an “Agent of the Year” contest at our agency, and it’s a huge bragging rights thing around our office. You always want to finish at the top. The last thing was that I incentivized myself with a saddle. If I hit $900k in production, I would custom order a saddle that I would never normally purchase. That was my dangling carrot that helped motivate me.

Q: How much of your production was Medicare Supplements versus ancillary products?

A: The majority of that $900k in production was Med Supp sales. But a lot of it was also annuities. I helped a lot of people earn more interest than they were with CDs and money markets, and I was able to help seniors move out of the volatility of the stock market into a safer place. If I had to rank the products in order, it would go like this:

  1. Medicare Supplements
  2. Annuities
  3. Life with LTC
  4. Cancer Plans

Q: What does a typical work week look like for you?

A: I work renewal appointments – a few in the morning and a couple in the afternoon. Each appointment is an hour to an hour and a half. On average, I usually do 4-5 appointments per day. Those folks are coming to me now – that transition was hard. But I started inviting them to the office rather than going to their home so that I could see more people.

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Q: How do you manage all of your clients?

With so many clients, it’s difficult to manage them all by myself. One big helper is AgencyBloc (a CRM). It helps me to keep track of clients records.

I also use Rocket Referrals. They send out thank you cards, holiday cards, referral cards, etc. Those help me to stay in front of my clients. The biggest help is the interns, though.

We have interns that come in and call our clients 60 days before their renewal date. The interns have a script, and they ask a client to schedule a time to come in to review their Medicare Supplement. The interns can make a lot more calls than us, because we have a developed relationship with the client. It always becomes a catch-up call, and the next thing you know, one call lasts more than 10 minutes. The intern can do the same call in less than a minute.

Q: How do you get new clients today?

A: In the beginning, it was door to door. Now, it has gotten to the point where it’s all referrals. It’s one of the benefits of our business – the longer you’re in it, you don’t have seek out new clients. To me, it’s a tremendous compliment that if I do a good job for my existing clients, they’ll send new business my way. I haven’t had to make any cold calls or do any door knocking because of the referrals from existing clients.

Q: Were there busy or slow times during the year?

A: January and February are slow. It used to drive me crazy, but we just saw everyone during the open enrollment period. We don’t start renewal appointments until March. March through September is very steady – 4-5 appointments per day during that time frame. Open enrollment is obviously crazy – I just see as many people as I can.

Q: What advice do you have for new agents?

A: Educate yourself on many products, and use a Client Needs Assessment. Instead of becoming so one-dimensional and focusing on one product, know your products. Learn those so that when you use your assessment, you can sell to the client’s needs.

If you don’t meet their needs, other agents will get that business. You’ll sell a lot more product.

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