A few things I’ve learned about Final Expense Insurance over the years
In my experience most of our clients really need our service
There are lots and lots of retired seniors that are just barely getting by and are willing to figure out a way to use some of their social security moneys in order to fund a whole life insurance policy. For them, this is a big sacrifice that can make a big difference in their family’s life. Funeral costs are expensive and final expense insurance is the only that that these folks can afford to be buried. Unfortunately, because of the high cost of funerals, a lot of folks that do not believe in cremation are having to do it anyway. This is a terrible thing for a lot of folks to look forward to. It’s against a lot of basic American principles and religious beliefs.
If you’re thinking, “well, why didn’t they take care of this when they were younger?”, just understand that in life, things don’t always turn out the way we think they might. Yes, many retirees have a nice pension and don’t need to worry about life insurance to fund their funerals. These folks were able to save and do what they had to, and in most cases, they had to make a lot of sacrifices earlier on in life to do so. Not everyone lives their life like their neighbor.
A lot of unexpected things happen in life and the next thing you know, nothing turned out any where near the way it was supposed to. I hear stories from my clients all the time about what should have happened and what didn’t happen. I was writing up an application with a military retiree just the other day and he told me about how he always assumed he would have a pension only to end up on barely enough to get by. He was in the military half of his life but worked as a subcontractor for one of those big 3 initial agencies we always see in the movies and on television. What he didn’t know was that a subcontractor didn’t have the same benefits as a career military officer. When his health started going south, he found all of this out the hard way.
This is also why it’s important to sell life insurance as an independent life insurance agent. When you are captive, you are limited in products. My experience with captive agencies is that they tend to have over inflated costs built into their products and tend to offer products that really aren’t that competitive. This also goes hand in hand with products that don’t pay as well as other products. A captive agent may be on a 50% commission schedule or lower. This is terrible compared to what a true independent agent is paid.
As an independent insurance agent, contract levels are common around 110-120% and even higher for those with production proof. The difference in pay and product between independent agents and captive agents is night and day. There are several carriers that sell in the areas that we work in that tend to be extremely overpriced. These overpriced policies are just waiting for an independent agent like myself, to stop in and easily replace.
In all honesty, I tend to feel sorry for most of the agents that are with captive final expense companies
Unfortunately, a lot of these guys were recruited by managers that exaggerated the potential of how much they can make, in order to recruit them. These companies tend to recruit as many agents as possible, only to end up trying to keep the ones that actually are selling, around. Most of the agents that are recruited by these companies tend to stick around for a little while before they get tired of the learning curve and end up hitting the road. When they do make sales, they really don’t make enough money to justify sticking around to get through the learning curve.
It’s hard to survive on a couple sales a week when you are only making a few hundred dollars per sale. I was once a captive agent and I will say that the training I received at that agency was second to none. We had to be in the office daily for ongoing training and so that the manager could make sure we were doing what we were taught. This was great if you don’t mind being micro managed and if you want to learn at any cost. The interesting thing is that I was working very hard to make a living as a Hartford agent and was paying $30 Per Lead. My contract level was 60% so I was splitting my sales with the agency and paying full price for the leads. When all was said and done, I was only making around $50,000 a year and was grateful that I could make that. I definitely paid for my training.
Sadly, most insurance agents that go captive do not have the same experience that I had. A strong work ethic is necessary when you get into a new business and the only way for you to make it is to bust your butt and do whatever it takes. This attitude and willingness for success is why a captive agency can make or break an insurance agent. No matter how you look at it, it’s up to the individual to succeed. Anyone that has the work ethic and is willing to put everything they have into being a success, can be a success. It doesn’t matter if you are a captive agent or if you are an independent agent. The nice thing about being captive is that you have a manager that you can turn to. As a true independent you don’t have this. Either way, it does take a different mindset to be managed vs independent.
When it comes to working as a captive agent, the good always comes with the bad. Not that being managed or having to answer to someone is bad, it’s just not my preference. Unfortunately most agents don’t want to be micromanaged and are not willing to work 50 plus hours a week in order to be successful. They immediately start making excuses and have a hard time adjusting. Most captive agents tend to leave and start all over somewhere else. The messed up thing is that most of them end up hopping from captive agency to captive agency. This is a bad work habit that they tend to take with them from job to job. Then when they decide to work for themselves as an independent agent, they are all alone with only their poor work ethic and bad habits to keep them company.
There are a ton of benefits to being an independent final expense life insurance agent
If you have the capacity to study and learn on your own time and aren’t the type of person to go watch tv when you’re bored, you will do fine as an independent. It’s all about having a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and being good at commitment and time management. Think about it, when it comes to sales, you will reap what you sew. If you don’t work hard, you won’t sell much. If you go the extra mile, you will most likely end up being successful and making more money than the next guy. Yes, this goes with any business but when it comes to final expense sales as an independent agent, remember, you are on your own for the most part.
The way to be a success story as an independent agent is to be able to manage yourself and not be lazy. Working for yourself can be great as long as you have discipline. When it’s time to work, it’s time to work. Set goals and make them! Even if you have achieved your goal for the week, keep working. Don’t just call it a day and go home. This is the attitude of a successful final expense life insurance agent. Surrender is unacceptable. If you’re willing to go the extra mile for your final expense life insurance business, you will likely be successful. If you’re wanting to call it a day early, and not put in the effort that it takes to have a successful business, you’ll probably fail miserably.
Having access to a lot of competitive final expense carriers with different niches is important too
I like the idea that when I leave a client’s house with a sale, no one will be able to give my client a better product or a better price. If the agent is good, he might be able to save the prospect a couple of dollars but in most cases, this won’t be a big enough savings for the client to want to cancel their policy and purchase another one.
A lot of the carriers have some unique niches that most insurance agents don’t have a clue about. I know that if a client has COPD and Smokes, I can give him the Americo Ultra Protector 2 and no one will be able to beat that price. If the client has Epilepsy and suffers from seizures, Americo is good for that client too. I know that if the client pulls out a Direct Express Card, Transamerica has the Social Security Benefit Billing and drafting process down tight and will draft the funds on the same day the clients card is loaded. We often run into seniors with multiple serious health issues. Having Security National Life for these really unhealthy final expense clients is important, as SNL tends to be one of the few carriers that not only takes a lot of folks that should only qualify for a guaranteed issue plan, but the rates for their graded product is of the best in the nation. This is just a few examples of why it’s great to have access to a lot of carriers. The beauty of being an independent life insurance agent is that we have lots of options.
Sometimes a prospect will request to pay a little more if they can have their policy with a name brand like Mutual Of Omaha. In most cases, it’s about putting the client with the best carrier based on their health. A lot of time I am able to place a client with a carrier that will give them first day full coverage as with most other carriers, it will either be a decline or a graded policy. There is nothing like walking out of a clients house with a sale, knowing that you did something really good and that in no way is there a better product that someone else can give them.
Access to great leads is obviously important too
At United Final Expense Services, we have access to 3 different fixed cost direct mail final expense lead vendors. Yes, 3 different ones. I can pick what verbiage I want on my lead and have options as to the income level and age to target. The idea of having flexibility with the type of lead card I want to use makes it easy for me to hit our specific market without wasting time on non final expense prospects. This makes selling final expense a lot easier than having to use whatever the captive carrier is offering.
Captive agencies often do not have a lot of lead options and tend to use more generic leads that don’t even mention life insurance on them. As a matter of fact, they tend to use leads that are very misleading. That’s not the worse part. Most IMO’s that are marketing our product tend to re sell leads. Trust me, if someone is financing a lead for you, they are probably going to sell it to someone else, especially after you are gone. This is where most “aged leads” come from. I like that here in Florida, our aged leads are leads that no other agent has ever worked. We even have aged leads that I called and didn’t have time to door knock. If you’re in Florida, let me know if you’re interested as I won’t charge for these leads. Keep in mind that the prospect has never seen me at their door.
I also am thankful that we have access to Live tele marketed leads. The relationships that we have with some of the telemarket lead vendors has been built up over many years. This is why we can offer our agents TM leads for some of the lowest prices in the industry without asking agents to take a haircut in commissions. These are leads that were called and made by eithr English speaking marketers here in the US, or folks in the Philipines. This type of lead is great for when you are just starting out selling final expense or when you need to add some leads to your weekly direct mail lead order. These leads are still not as good as the direct mail leads but they are cost effective.
The direct mail final expense lead is the golden standard when it comes to final expense leads. The ideal that the prospect has to do actions like open the envelope, fill out the card, and then stick it in the mail box is important. Think about it! They actually had to take a few steps before mailing the card back to us. When you go to knock on the prospects door with the lead card in your hand, he will definitely remember filling the darn thing out. The crazy thing about direct mail life insurance leads is that even when they get old, they are still good.
In my honest opinion, aged direct mail leads can be just as good as brand new direct mail leads. Aged leads are definitely better than telemarket leads. I have made several sales from leads that were over a year old. The first 2 final expense sales that I ever made were off of a batch of leads that were around a year and a half to over 2 years old. The prospects tend to recognize their own handwriting, even if they don’t remember mailing in the card, and will let you into their homes to make your presentation if you have the correct training and attitude.
When it comes down to it, I just love being an independent life insurance agent
I love that I can make my own schedule and that I don’t have to answer to anyone but my wife. If we want to up and go out of town, we do that. If we want to go to an expensive restaurant, we can afford to do that too. The money we make as an independent final expense life insurance agent is a lot more than I ever made when I was a captive agent. Back then, it was a struggle to make $50,000 a year. Now, Mariana and I have a nice and cushy, six figure income and there are no regrets and no looking back. We do what we want to do and when we want to do it. We have complete control over our own destiny and love it that way.
You can also have the same thing that we have. At our agency, we can make sure that you start out with a huge advantage. Having 110% to 120% first year commissions as a new agent is huge. Having access to a variety of leads is big too. And the training! Our training system is designed to get anyone with a license, up and running in just a few weeks. The harder you study, the sooner you sell. It’s really that simple.
A lot of folks think that selling burial or funeral insurance is kind of negative and sad. Then we show them the income potential and that is when they usually change their thinking about it! Final expense sales is a huge industry and a lot of money with a long term income is totally doable.
During my final expense presentation, there is a point where I let the prospect know that it’s alright to talk about death today. I let them know that this is my job and that now is the time to talk about it. This tends to give them comfort in buying life insurance and talking about funerals and cremation and dealing with funeral homes. Our job is to help these folks and their families out by making sure they are able to have the type of send off that they deserve. Nothing feels better than knowing our job is to help others and give them peace of mind. Final expense life insurance sales is one of the most important products that seniors on a fixed income talk about. Everyone has their idea of how they want to be put to rest. Our job is to make that possible!
What about final expense sales training?
Well, what about it? Our insurance marketing organization has what I believe to be the best training in the entire industry. We have a ton of videos available on our website for our contracted agents. Even if you’re not a contracted agent, you can always go to our YouTube channel and see tons of training videos and topics. Our YouTube channel is called Final Expense Trainer. The sweet thing about it is that it’s totally free. You can probably learn more from Final Expense Trainer than from most insurance agencies that claim to specialize in final expense sales. I highly recommend the videos on setting appointments and door knocking leads. We also have videos on overcoming objections while door knocking leads and overcoming objections while setting appointments. It’s important to know how to deal with these very basics objection scenarios.
At United Final Expense Services Inc., we also have some pretty cool state of the art training. We have a training program that you can log into. Once you are logged in, there are several video segments of Douglas Massi making the final expense sales presentation that he uses to be one of the highest producing agents in the country. During the video segments you will see his body language, how he dresses, and most important, his exact presentation. To top that off, during the training you will learn why and how to do each aspect of the presentation, right down to the close. During the Presentation Training Program, you will also see how to overcome objections while closing the sale. This is a very key topic that can never be over told.
When it comes to training, you must learn all aspects of the sales process. If you do everything right but don’t know how to close the sale, you will never make it in our final expense sales industry. This is why we have spent so much time and effort making videos for our agents to learn from. We also have another interesting training program. Like with the Presentation Training Program, you log in and once in go through a similar training that goes over the final expense sales process. In this program, we touch on the importance of ordering the right leads, all the way through to servicing your clients. It’s important that someone walk you through each step of the sales process, including delivering policies and getting referrals. Getting referrals is also very important and most agents don’t seem to do this nowadays.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, you have Douglas Massi. If you need to get a hold of him, all you need to do is call his cel phone. Yes, he gives this out to all of the agents. If you’re a new final expense agent, he expects you to let him know when you are out in the field. This is important because on your field days, you are going to run into situations where you may need to call someone for help. You can always call Doug on your field days for an “underwriting assessment”. This is code for, “help, i’m not sure what to do with this prospect”. We know that as a new agent, there will be times when you’re in the field and need help. This is all part of the learning process. As long as you’re willing to commit to this business with everything you have, we are willing to step up in a big way with helping to secure your success.
The last thing we want is for you to feel like you’re on an island, all alone. This is why we have our weekly training calls and this is why you can always get a hold of someone if you really need help. Being an independent final expense agent doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Yes, you are expected to learn the sales process and yes, you are expected to deal with the carriers with any type of carrier related issue. One of the most important things you will learn from us is the importance of being independent and what comes with that label. At United final Expense Services, we have the training, the sales system, the leads, the carriers, and the commissions that you will need to be a successful final expense life insurance agent.