YES! Selling final expense insurance CAN be a lucrative and rewarding career.
However, choosing the WRONG final expense agency can be hazardous to your financial and personal well-being.
Discover how to find the best final expense agency to sell for, and learn the common pitfalls many new final expense agents find themselves in.
Greetings! My name is David Duford.
I am the owner of DavidDuford.com, specializing in training aspiring agents and people like yourself into successfully selling final expense insurance.
Most likely you’re here because you’re in search for a final expense agency to call home.
It’s likely you’ve seen DOZENS of final expense career options on a variety of job boards.
Perhaps you’ve talked to different agency managers about opportunities for selling final expense insurance, or received information about different final expense programs.
In fact, you may already sell final expense and are looking for a better agency to partner with.
Or you work full time and are looking for a part-time “side hustle” and think final expense is worth considering.
If you’re like I was when I first started, you have a base level of skepticism on which final expense career route is the best to follow. Heaven knows there are a ton of options! And many you review will sound good. But it becomes a little difficult to choose which is the best final expense job route.
The purpose of this recording is to identify the questions all people interested in selling final expense insurance need to know the answers to.
Most importantly, I want to make you aware of the long-term consequences you will experience if you select the wrong final expense agency to partner with, with an added effort to help you find the best final expense sales opportunity best suited for your personal goals.
Pulling back the curtain
While I am an agency owner and trainer, I can candidly relate with these potential long-term consequences. I made the same mistakes mentioned in this recording. I learned through trial and error. I’ve been at the top, AND at the bottom of the final expense business.
As an agent selling final expense insurance, I average around $5,000 in new business weekly. I work four days a week and enjoy the benefits of being a final expense agent.
As an independent final expense agent, I have many more opportunities and freedom to run my business the way I please that I never would have had, hadn’t I experienced going through the thick of it.
That’s the reason I’m writing this article on the truth about selling final expense insurance.
Once you finish, you’ll understand how the final expense business really works. And you’ll understand which career direction to take, and which career direction to avoid.
The ultimate goal is this. I want to empower you to make an informed decision on which final expense agency to partner with, based on what’s best for YOUR family, and not for the agency recruiting you.
Before covering the six fundamental questions to ask before joining an agency selling final expense insurance, I want to lay some groundwork on the fundamentals.
“Final expense is a simple business, but it ain’t easy.”
Selling final expense insurance can give you a great opportunity to succeed very well financially.
I’ve known agents making between $200,000 to $300,000 a year. And they only work four or five days a week in the field. Plus every agent builds renewal income streams on existing business.
So how do you succeed in selling final expense insurance?
First, you MUST get out and sell!
Let me be clear: a final expense career is a career in sales. You are not a grocery clerk.
You MUST “see these people,” meaning you’ve got to go talk to them. You’ve got to get to know them. And you’ve got to show them why your final expense solution is better than the rest. Then you have to ask for their business.
All of this activity is a daily, on-going process you will do for the rest of your career.
It’s a numbers game
Selling final expense insurance is not about “elephant hunting.” In many life insurance lines, there are opportunities to score five and six-figure deals. That doesn’t happen in the final expense business. Your target market is fixed-income seniors on small $35 to $55 per month average premium policies. Selling final expense is “in-the-trenches” constant work, constantly selling, constantly closing, and about knowing the true numbers behind successfully learning how to sell final expense.
That’s why I say you must commit to seeing the people. A successful career in final expense requires you to constantly write business on new people, which is why it’s important to be completely committed to this business.
What’s equally important to selling final expense insurance successfully is to have the right “tools” available to you.
Not only must you have the passion to win, but you must also have the best final expense carrier selection.
Additionally as important, you need to partner with the best final expense agency in the very beginning, as it’s fundamental to develop skills as a final expense salesperson.
You have to have the best final expense training. Final expense training needs to be focused. Final expense training needs to be comprehensive. You need both to succeed in this business.
Luckily, I had access to good training when I first started selling final expense insurance. In some ways, the training could have been better as I wouldn’t have made a few costly mistakes early on.
But having the right final expense sales training in the beginning and partnering with someone to guide and show you how to succeed is paramount to success.
Success takes hard work
With that said, I would be lying if I said good final expense training guarantees your success in this business.
Remember, while selling final expense insurance is simple, it definitely isn’t easy! Any marketer or organization saying you’re guaranteed to make money is full of bullshit. Beyond your commitment and willpower to succeed, you need proper coaching and mentoring. You also need correct product selection.
With major shifts in other insurance niches such as health care and the mortgage protection market, otherwise successful agents have been forced to seek out new products to sell. Many choose selling final expense insurance.
Last year we saw a 20% increase in the sale of final expense products as an industry. The conclusion is that there are both more people buying final expense insurance, AND more agents selling it.
This means you must be prepared with the best final expense carrier selection to sell the most insurance (and keep your insurance products on the books longer).
All of the above is why if you don’t have the right final expense prospecting, sales training, and carrier selection system, you’re going to lose out to other agents and not make nearly as much money as you otherwise would.
There are many final expense agents that are more tenured, more skilled, and more flexible than an agent married to one company, who isn’t independent. You’ll find that your business as a “captive” agent will get replaced, you advanced commissions will be required to be sent back, you’ll be in debt. That’s when you really suffer in this business.
With that said, let’s jump in with the six things you need to know to sell final expense insurance successfully.
Avoid Agencies Focusing FIRST On Recruiting And NOT Training
Most final expense agencies and recruiters are going to sell you what I call “blue sky.”
They’re going to tell you, “Hey listen, dude, the sky’s the limit in this organization. There’s nothing in your way. All you do is you buy leads, you just see the people, and then poof– instantly you’re making $100,000– $200,000– even more, maybe even on a part-time basis. It’s so easy, everybody’s doing it.”
Now if you hear this stuff, be wary.
More likely than not, you’re hearing a marketing pitch to get you in the door versus having an honest conversation that you MUST work hard in this business to succeed. That you have to dedicate yourself to this business.
Steps to finding a good final expense agency partner
So how do you find out which final expense agency is the best to partner with?
First, talk to successful final expense PRODUCERS, not successful final expense agency marketers.
As quickly as possible, you need to figure out whether or not this marketer has sold final expense at one point in his career. You also need to figure out if he’s a guy that came on board to be the next multi-level marketing recruiter?
We’ve all seen those people. The ones that pitch their vitamins, coffee, and that kind of stuff.
And selling final expense insurance is no stranger to the same type of set-up. In fact, it predominates most of the new agent recruiting opportunities.
The takeaway point with recruiters is this: he’s focused on producing AGENTS, not producing final expense business.
His goal is to do whatever it takes to sell you on the opportunity. Does he have your best interest in mind? I doubt it.
Always get references from other agents that the marketer or the agency has dealt with. You want to be able to sniff out the bad apples from the beginning.
I can see from a mile away when I read these job postings on Craig’s List and other job boards who’s who and what’s what.
Ask how the agency will help you
You want to know how this agency is going to develop you as a final expense agent from the very beginning:
- Do they have comprehensive final expense training?
- What are you going to do more than just send me a couple of audio recordings to help me be successful?
- Are you going to take me on field rides?
- Do you have a delineated schedule of final expense training?
- What are you going to do to make me successful?
- Do they have proof in the pudding that makes them successful?
You really want to see how these people will treat you as an agent. Asking these series of questions helps identify whether or not these are serious people to work with.
Any organization you go with, whether you work with me or somebody else, will take a cut of every deal that you make. That’s the nature of selling final expense insurance.
You want your final expense upline (is what we call them) to EARN that cut.
That’s why getting a pitch to join the organization without any indication the agency is committing to EARNING your production over the long run has severe, long-term consequences.
If you get the blue sky pitch, you’re missing out on fundamental final expense training, like when somebody sits down with you in person, has one-on-one consults with you and takes you on ride-alongs to learn the final expense business.
You just won’t get the same level of learning about selling final expense insurance. Not having access to that will have a negative effect on your development as a final expense agent.
Poor Final Expense Carrier Selection Leads To BAD Sales Results
I hinted on this in the beginning.
This business is totally unlike most life insurance sales opportunities.
Most agents from traditional life markets can successfully sell for one company.
They can make a lot of money selling one company’s products every year, and have loyal clientele that really aren’t privy to being replaced based on price.
And still, this is true to some extent in final expense sales. You have to sell yourself. You’ve got to be likable and trustable. And you have some authority to help your clients buy from you.
However, what you really need in selling final expense insurance the best way is product selection flexibility in order to sell the right product at the best price every time.
More options = win/win for agent and client
The reason this business is so competitive is there is both a lot of agents, and a variety of prospects with different health conditions.
Each final expense carrier has different underwriting requirements for each health condition.
You can’t do a one-stop-shop selection for everybody, force-feeding the same higher-priced, poorer-coverage product on everybody you see.
Because if you do, you get final expense agents like me that will come behind and replace your deal.
Most people you’ll present to are getting solicitations over the phone, in person, and maybe some send direct mail back. Rest assured that multiple agents will call on them.
That’s why it’s vital to make sure the insurance policy sold sticks. Because if the policy lapses, you will owe your commission back.
Too many “chargebacks” as they are called can ruin your final expense career in a heartbeat.
What will happen? You’ll end up in debt. Worst-case you’ll have negative marks against your credit.
An example of a company focused on recruiting
Delving more into this issue, there is one particular company severely guilty of this. They’re huge. They recruit heavily. And quite honestly they’re probably the largest final expense sales organization.
Now, while I won’t use their name, but here is a hint. The final expense carrier’s name is based on one of our Presidents’ last name. This company offers only one insurance product to sell. They’ll sell you the moon. And they’ll tell you, “This one product fits every situation.”
Now here’s the truth.
When an agent selling final expense insurance like me conducts a sales call with a person who has this particular carrier as their current insurer, it’s an almost guaranteed sale.
It’s free money! It’s lying there, waiting to be picked up!
And 9 out of 10 times, because this company’s insurance product is so extremely overpriced, we replace them.
The agent that selling the insurance product named after a President loses part of his commission. We effectively put him out of business.
And while the company named after an American president will tell you its prices are fair, experienced and independent agents know this company has the highest premiums in the business for final expense.
Even beginning agents with little no skill can easily replace this company’s coverage.
You as a final expense agent with this company named after an American president, are going to be out of money. You’re going to owe it back. And, you’re in a vicious cycle known as “chargeback hell.”
Don’t sign with just one final expense company
What’s the solution to this?
My recommendation is to NEVER sign up with a final expense agency that ONLY offers one particular company. It simply fails to work in the final expense business.
I’ve seen it tried and tried again. You NEED to have access to multiple carriers. And that means you MUST to be an independent final expense agent.
At any time, I have between ten to fifteen carriers I work with. Around 90% of the time, I write with only three to five of those final expense carriers.
Your prospect’s varying health issues require multiple carrier options. Different carriers have different underwriting requirements for prescription drug usage and health issues.
You need to have the know-how and the flexibility to match the BEST carrier with the prospect’s health. This is what gives you the best price and coverage advantages, DRASTICALLY reducing the risk of being replaced.
I cannot express how important this is to your longevity in this career.
And as much as I’d like to have more people selling final expense insurance with this particular company in my area to fuel my replacement sales, I have passion and empathy for the new final expense agent like yourself.
Do yourself a favor. Don’t get involved with selling final expense life insurance with this company.
Look for an independent agency with multiple carriers. This will give you the best chance to keep yourself in business, sell more final expense insurance, and keep the business on the books you sell.
Watch Out For Low Final Expense Commissions
I began in a situation like this.
Most new final expense agents do not understand that many agencies are sold on recruiting others. In insurance sales lingo we call that a “downline.”
If you think of multi-level marketing sales, new reps are sold not only on selling the product, but also recruiting their entire social circle.
This process continues on until you are recruited, and the further on down you are in the pyramid, the less money you can hope to make. And many times, this is exactly what happens to the unsuspecting life insurance agent.
How do you know if you are getting a bad deal? If you’re final expense commissions below 70% AND you are expected to pay full price for your leads, you’re getting ripped off horribly.
What’s a good starting commission for final expense agents?
Starting “first-year commission” for new agents with no experience that works with me averages between 100% and 110%.
Experienced agents start at commissions between 110% and 125% on average.
(Feel free to message me here if you’re interested in learning more – I am happy to send commissions schedules for you to review).
At this day in age, average commissions below 90% aren’t a good idea. I just think it’s a bad deal.
If you’re not maximizing your final expense commissions, taking into the account the people that cancel their policies, and things that happen with the low first-year commission rate, you will endlessly struggle.
And watch out for low max ceilings on commissions
And ones with low starting commissions have low max commission ceilings in many cases.
For example, you may do well and are rewarded with a move from 70% to 80% commission.
However, if this is the maxed-out commission you can receive, you’ll be leaving a tremendous amount of commission on the table when you shouldn’t have to.
This tip alone will earn you tens of thousands of dollars extra in commissions when selling final expense insurance.
Selling Final Expense Insurance Successfully Requires LEADS!
Some agents use final expense telemarketed leads, a few still do cold calling in person or over the phone.
With that said, 90% of selling final expense insurance is prospected through direct mail leads.
However, there is a dirty side to sourcing final expense leads…
Double-dealing leads, old final expense leads passed off as new
I’ve been a part of final expense sales organizations where my direct mail leads were unknowingly double-dealing them behind my back.
It wasn’t until I kept running into the same agent, and all the prospects saying they sent in ONE card did it dawn on me that I was getting screwed!
When I did was effectively put a middleman in the way of my leads.
Middlemen men are historically known to raise your costs. And when you end up in a bad situation with zero control over your final expense leads, you’re in trouble.
In many cases, the “freshness” factor of the leads reduces because they sit in inventory for weeks, even months.
Sometimes there is zero proof whether or not the leads new, weeks, months, or even years old.
And what happens with many agents new to selling final expense insurance is this: upon getting the leads and prospecting them, you discover they’re not really all that interested.
Sometimes they’re even dead! And they’re definitely NOT a fresh lead. Thus, the process becomes more like cold calling versus presenting to interested prospects.
How to find out if you’re getting screwed on leads…
How do you find out if you’re getting double-dealed?
It’s hard to say for sure.
First, you want the company to tell you in writing that you’ll receive fresh final expense leads. And you want to do business with a lead house that is not tied directly in with your agency.
Partnering with a third-part lead house vendor gives you options.
You tell them where to drop mail, what income demographics to set up. Your lead turn-around is faster, meaning you sell and see people quicker.
And just as important, the leads are fresher, meaning you’ll make more sales selling final expense insurance.
While buying final expense direct mail leads is the most expensive route, it’s the most effective route.
Yes, the price IS higher. But the long-term benefits are demonstrably better when buying your own final expense mailers and utilizing a third-party lead vendor.
Don’t get duped by people pushing final expense leads with no record of legitimacy.
ONLY Work With Final Expense Agencies Who Will Honor A “Release!”
What exactly is a “release?”
When you contract with a final expense agency, you are contracted through the agency to the insurance carriers.
However, unbeknownst to you, when you sign the producer agreement, you’ve effectively agreed to stay contracted with the carriers through that agency.
And the only way to move your contracts to a different agency is through either getting a release, or NOT selling final expense insurance with that carrier for six months.
Why many agencies do not release
The reason behind this is that to understand how life insurance works.
When you make a sale, you are loaned nine months of premiums multiplied by your commission rate. If the policy is worth $1,000 over payments of a year’s time and you are paid a 100% first year commission, you get $750.
However, KEEPING this advanced commission is contingent on keeping the policy on the books.
Every month a premium is collected, you “earn” the commissionable amount of that payment.
However, if the policy lapses in the first week, you owe that $750 back. You don’t keep it because the company gave you a loan contingent upon the policy staying on the books.
We call that “advancing” your final expense commissions. It allows for agents to stay in business selling final expense insurance, but there’s an inherent financial risk.
If the agent has lots of lapses, you are required to pay the advance back.
This is the explanation why they don’t release your carriers. It protects them from a bad chargeback advance write offs. And there is truth to that.
But what if you don’t have chargebacks and the agency is not keeping its promises?
But the thing is this.
Let’s say you’ve done your part as an insurance agent. The company’s final expense lead flow is bad. And they’re not treating you right.
In my opinion, you have every right to take those carrier contracts, as long as you DON’T owe chargeback money, to the agency that will do you right.
I was in a similar situation as an agent selling final expense insurance.
I wasn’t released from a few core final expense carriers. And while the company not releasing me was NOT giving me consistent final expense leads, and not doing what they promised to do, I had to sit out from these core companies for six months, and not produce before I could migrate them.
Now, why is this a problem?
It comes back to the competitive fundamentals of selling final expense life insurance.
Yes, you can sell other final expense carriers while your contract is tied up. But having access to those competitive carriers makes a dramatic difference in winning and keeping business.
Now imagine if all you had access to for six months were the higher-priced carriers with tougher underwriting.
Imagine if an agent selling final expense insurance like me with access to most competitive carriers coming behind a deal you recently closed.
Wouldn’t it frustrate you if I replaced what you just sold, causing you to lose out on those commissions?
Always ask each final expense agency you are considering a relationship, “Do you offer upfront release? If I don’t like the way things are going, will you release me?”
Make sure you always get a release in writing.
This shows you whether or not they’re committed to their word. Or if they’re trying to sign you up without regard to their investment in you selling final expense successfully.
Always Get First Day FULL Vesting When Selling Final Expense Insurance
This is huge!
For example, the company with the last name of the president, has its producers transfer ALL future commissions to their managers upon termination within the first two years of the producer contracting with the company.
Renewals are a huge part of this business.
Sixty percent of your total income in the first year with renewal streams accounting for the remaining 40% of your income.
Renewals are fantastic because it allows you to make money when you’re not working.
Vested contracts force agents selling final expense insurance to stay with this particular company for two years before even thinking about leaving and taking renewals your renewals.
Think. If your future income is held hostage at your employment, you can’t help to think, “What if something happens in the 23rd month of my contract and they let me go?”
All that hard work, and all that income you’ve rightfully worked for is now plundered and given to the company.
This is why you should never, ever, sign up with a company that does not vest you immediately from the first day.
To me, it’s immoral to work for a final expense company that says that your work now belongs to someone else.
I talk about this and other final expense agency scams in another article of mine. Selling final expense insurance shouldn’t be that way, but it is at these companies.
In Summary Of Selling Final Expense
To summarize the six points all agents selling final expense need to know:
1) Look hard for an agency passionate about agent development.
2) Partner with an agency that has carrier product variety.
3) Get the best first-year commissions and renewal streams, not getting stuck in a situation with low first-year and renewal commission.
4) Make sure lead-development is done using fresh final expense leads using a well-vetted lead house.
5) Don’t work with a final expense agency that refuses to release you.
6) NEVER work with a final expense agency that does not vest you 100% from the first day
Hopefully, you found this beneficial in your search for an agency selling final expense insurance.
Taking heed to the six truisms above will make all the difference.
Many agents selling final expense learn these lessons through trial and error. I’ve gone through most of these mistakes myself.
But… Are You Too Smart To Sell Final Expense Life Insurance?
Now I ask, “Are you just too smart to sell final expense insurance?”
Seriously, many people fail in this business because they’re just too smart.
They just think through things a little too much. Now, while I admit that this is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek type of article, I think there’s a level of truth to it, as well.
Now, I will ask you a few questions to better help you understand if you are just too smart for this business and why in some circumstances it may just be better for you to go sell something else.
Ready… FIRE… Aim?
My first question to you to find out if you’re just too smart to sell final expense insurance is:
“Are you the type that is a “ready, aim, and fire” person or are you more inclined to be the “ready, fire, and aim” type?
Now, what do I mean by this?
I mean that I have noticed, with my own agents and the agents that I interact with that sell final expense insurance successfully, that agents are not afraid to get out there.
They understand they’re going to make some mistakes. They’re going to screw up. They’re not necessarily going to get everything perfect.
They may even lose deals, but the threat of loss doesn’t get in the way of the opportunity for success.
For example, there is a discussion that I was having with an individual who was complaining. They said that winging it is a bad idea.
Well, I’m here to tell you that real learning comes through application. Real learning comes from actually seeing the people in this business and getting results. Real learning does not come from sitting down in front of a rate book or agent guide and studying it until you’re blue in the face.
Without a combination of going out there and actually seeing people, you will not know how to do this business.
It’s a crazy concept, but people who are successful in life and who have reached the top echelons of success completely understand this.
So, if you’re the “paralysis by analysis” type, then you will never see success in this business until you curtail that defensive metric.
If you peel away the layers of the onion, this is a defensive metric to defend you from experiencing success or failure. It’s a self-preservation method.
Too much thinking
This is my psychological deconstruction, here, but I think there’s some truth to that.
People think too much, and if you’re that type of person that cannot overcome your analysis by paralysis, then do yourself a favor and find some sort of technical or intellectual lines to pursue.
Simply, selling is about doing. It is certainly about thinking, but it is definitely about doing and seeing people.
With all of the thinking that you can do, it doesn’t amount to anything until you apply it. They say that “knowledge is power,” and it certainly is, but it’s more accurately described as the “potential for power.”
Knowledge is potential power, and it’s not until you apply it that you actually get results.
I’ve, again, not to beat the dead horse here, dealt with hundreds of agents over the years, and there are some of them that want to make sure every stone is turned over and make sure everything is absolutely perfect before they even take the first step out the door.
But, what they don’t understand and won’t listen to is that there’s so much that they don’t understand looking from the outside in.
And, they won’t understand until they do it. Therefore, there’s no way to be perfectly prepared. Preparation is important, but not to the point of being overbearing about it.
Following Orders > Creative Freedom
Now, my second question:
“Are you the type that’s creative and follows your own path in life or are you boring and just like to follow directions?”
Well, I hate to tell you all who are creative because I have this bent, as well.
If you are too creative and you’re the type of person that toots to their own horn or follows their own pathway in life, then it’s likely that you’re going to experience failure in selling final expense.
Here’s the thing about selling final expense: This job is boring.
You go out, and you see the same type of people in the same type of economic conditions.
Yes, they are different people, but they have all the same needs. It’s the same kind of presentation. It’s very routine, and it’s very cut and dry.
This type of stuff will drive a naturally creative person bonkers, and I can say this because I have a creative side to me, too.
That’s why I make videos on my YouTube channel. You’ll see some of the projects that I’ve done, and I can tell you the creative drive tries to find things in a system to improve them.
Creativity makes you want to better and change these things.
Some people who are too creative for final expense will dream up a whole different type of approach to selling final expense successfully, but the problem in this particular business is that it is a business. It is routine and fact.
Final expense and its marketing tactics have been around for decades.
Literally, people that are selling right now are using the same direct mail leads that have been used since the 60s or 70s.
They are seeing the same kinds of people every single day. They’re door knocking these people unannounced. They’re calling them up over the phone to set an appointment.
Again, there’s no creative element in this business. It was creative 50 years ago, but now, it’s boring. It’s expected.
The thing in business is that business is about getting results. It’s about following a path or system that gets predictable results for the people you see.
There must be a better way
Everything in society telling you that there must be a better way. Why does society do this? You see how technology has taken over. If you’re on Facebook and if you’re interested in marketing, you’re going to get all sorts of solicitations.
“Buy this program to create a funnel to generate leads.”
“Buy this program to tell you how to totally develop leads in a different, new, exciting way.”
“I made $100,000 in 30 days in my underwear.”
And, it sounds really exciting, except for whatever reason, final expense is unique.
The outside forces of technology have not made an upending in this business as it has with other lines of business.
Sure, some people do Facebook leads. I sell them, they work, but nothing has taken the place of direct mail across the board.
So, I conclude this particular question with this statement:
If you are creative and you cannot discipline your creative elements, then don’t do final expense because I can tell you as a creative person, you will seep your creative bent into this process.
You will think of ways that you could do things better. You will start to put together a system that is creative and might work. But, it probably is going to fail.
Boring wins in final expense
Statistically, hundreds, if not thousands, of agents have gone through selling final expense and most fail out.
Know that what has been experimented in a creative fashion has probably failed already, which is why the big guys, the ones that are bringing in multi-millions in premium, are using a stupid little direct mail card.
There’s a sense of humility and discipline. You’ve got to reign in the creative element. Find some other cause or side hobby that allows your creative juices to flow.
Here, you’ve got to be disciplined, and you’ve got to just accept the fact that selling final expense is routine and boring.
When I say boring, I mean it’s exciting because you get to deal with some amazing people sometimes, but it’s not that you’re going to come up with an awesome, never-before-seen system that is going to veering you untold amounts of riches.
Again, most people who are successful in this business are doing it the old-fashioned, boring way.
Routine And Predictability
My next question is somewhat related to my last question about creativity and routine. This is my final question to help you know if you’re too smart for selling final expense. My third question here is:
“Do you believe spice is the variety of life, or do you believe in routine and predictability?”
This is true regarding selling life insurance in general. I’ve read a variety about this topic, probably over two dozen life insurance sales-specific books from top producers.
I just got done reviewing a book by Tony Gordon. He sells more creative lines of insurance designed to help business owners sell their shares if they get disabled, retire, or die.
There are all sorts of different environments and different products sold to that type of business person.
In his book, he says that he was taught from the very beginning that the only way to succeed is to do 15 appointments a week.
You must routine and discipline yourself and the same 15 people a week in the presentations. It has to be. It is a predictable system that will get you success over the long-term. Doing anything less than that lowers your chances of success.
Specialist versus generalist
When selling final expense, the same rules apply. Many times, the most successful people in this business are abject specialists.
They don’t generalize in a variety of different products. They focus on one particular type of product (like final expense), and they mastered that. They do as many appointments as necessary to achieve the type of financial success that they want to acquire.
Again, I’ve seen this more often than not. When I go on convention trips, I mostly meet agents that only sell final expense, and these are the ones that qualify for the trips. The generalist, typically, doesn’t qualify. Now, why is that?
I believe this is partially because it takes so much knowledge base to be a generalist on an effective basis.
It’s one thing to master one product, which final expense is simple, but it is complicated when you try to remember five or more products.
You’ve got to remember all the objections, the entire sales pitch, the underwriting, which carriers do what, what premiums are good under what circumstances, who your competition is, and what their weaknesses are.
It takes a lot of time and discipline towards that to get it. If you’re the type that likes variety, if you like to see final expense, Medicare, and disability, you certainly can do that, but you’ll be much less effective.
Why? Because we all have upper limits on what we’re able to retain.
Then, we have upper limits on what we’re able to actually effectively demonstrate to our prospects to elicit their trust and eventually to get them to buy from us.
If our minds are spread out all over the place with different types of prospects in varying economic situations, with different underwriting, and different carriers, it’s overwhelming.
In many ways, that particular mindset is related to the first question’s paralysis by analysis discussion.
Too much, too soon leads to too little, too quick. While variety is great, and it allows for mental stimulation. You have to discipline that urge and focus on one thing over a long-term basis. Bottom line.
Yes, add more products. A lot of agents do. They start with one thing, and they add more as soon as they master the first thing, which honestly is a year-long to two-year process; it depends on your ability to absorb and adapt to that particular environment.
However, a lot of people who are successful at selling final expense never do anything else because being a specialist is financially rewarding.
If you like the idea of selling different products at different marketplaces, again, discipline that approach.
Focus on one thing that you enjoy and get really good at it. Then, add more products down the line a year or two later.
When selling final expense, that’s what I teach my agents to do. Don’t spread your focus between all sorts of different insurance products. Just do the one thing that works well and follow the system that is successful.
Conclusion For “Big-Brained’ Final Expense Agents
In conclusion, number one: If you recognize that you have these character flaws, know that, in some ways, they’re not character flaw so much as they are potential roadblocks.
If you’re smart, then you’ve got to have the wherewithal and the self-control to manage those urges.
You have to control the paralysis by analysis by just saying, “Screw it. I’m going out there, and I’m going to sell some life insurance. Yeah, I’m going to screw up, but hey, I know I can fix stuff after the fact, and I’m going to help a lot more people, even if it’s not totally perfect.”
Getting out there and seeing people is exactly what you need to do versus sitting around. Making sure everything’s perfect means never helping the first person.
Number two: Take your creativity and discipline it.
Better yet, find something other than final expense while you focus on final expense to allow your creative instincts to manifest. Don’t apply them to final expense and try to get too creative too soon. You have to earn the right, if you’re ever going to be creative, by being successful in the system that has been proven to work.
Then, number three: Be disciplined to routine.
Understand and expect predictability in the system. Yes, spice is great in life, and it’s nice to do all sorts of different products and sales approaches but give yourself the opportunity to be successful first before you start to pursue these alternative pathways.
Truthfully, for beginners, when they start off too varied, it typically results in their utmost failure.
This something I wanted to share because I’m just a person who has all of these character flaws in the context of selling final expense. Discussing this helps me remind myself that we’re all human. We have to look at ourselves and recognize our weaknesses, then actively make charges against them.
That allows our strengths to overcome those weaknesses and not to let these roadblocks get in our way.
Why I Failed Selling Final Expense
I’ve been thinking about this as I’ve been doing field training and talking to agents who relate my experience on what the final expense business is like.
And, part of my experience has been failure. This is a good thing to train you all on.
I have actually failed out of this business within the first year by not following the fundamentals of what this business teaches us. I’m here to provide a sober account of what happened as to how I got derailed out of the business.
Luckily, a series events that happened afterward got me back on track in final expense, after I promised that I’d never come back into it.
I want to discuss how I’ve luckily been able to stay afloat and continue on all these years.
The whole purpose of this article is not to brag because failure is nothing to brag about. Coming back from them is, on a certain level.
Help For Struggling Final Expense Agents
The real reason why I’m doing this training is because I think it’s really important, especially for new agents that are looking to get into final expense, to know the reality of this business.
Maybe, they are currently frustrated with the results, and they’re looking for ways to improve their sales presentation.
They want to improve upon what they are doing because they’re not getting the results that were either promised to them or in some circumstances they were getting before until things changed dramatically.
That is where I come in. I’m here to share an experience that you can relate to and provide you with some hope if you’re currently struggling in final expense.
I say this jokingly and seriously, if you haven’t considered quitting the final expense business, then you really haven’t been in it long enough to consider yourself an advanced agent.
It’s so simple it’s complicated
The unique factor of this business, as we’ll get into a little bit later, is that this business is so simple that it’s complicated. The way this business has been done is the same way that it has been done for decades.
In fact, I’m still doing the same thing now that I was doing in 2011. The people are exactly the same. The lead systems are exactly the same.
It’s just so simple that it can really throw people who like to be creative and improve processes through a loop.
I know because I am like that, to an extent. I won’t get too much into detail because I want to share my experience with you first.
My Story Of Failure
Without further ado, let me kind of give you a quick overview of where I was when I started in the business and where I went that really caused my ultimate demise.
Then, I will share what got me back on track to getting to the point where I was stable and profitable all at the same time.
I got licensed in April 2011 and started with a really great organization out of Dallas. Their name is Equita. In fact, if you guys are looking for an agency to work with, definitely look at them. They are very good people. I have nothing but good things to say about them.
I came under the tutelage of a guy named Andrew out of Atlanta. He was a top producer with them, had been for years, and continues to be now. He writes $200,000+/year. He is a great agent and a great trainer. Funny guy, too. I owe a lot to him.
When I got started in the business, it was very simple. It’s the same thing I do when I take a new agent along to train with me.
It is something like, “Hey look, come do a day or two with me. Let’s just show you what this is like and give you a feel for what to expect out of this business.”
So, I rode along, watched, and thought, “Wow, you know, this is pretty simple. You just door knock these leads, show up on a preset appointment, maybe call them ahead of time, offer what you have, then present some options, and ask for the business. Rinse and repeat. It is very simple.” And, it is.
Doing well right out of the gate
Once I got trained up, I went out and bought some leads. For my first week or two, I did okay.
Then I really got some steam and was writing about $10,000-$12,000/month. At the time, I was actually doing it part-time because I had a personal fitness training gym that wasn’t doing so good but was still providing income. I wasn’t quite ready to leave it yet.
My thought was, “Well, I’ll give final expense a full-time effort, even if it is on a part-time basis for the next four to six months, and I’ll see what happens. Then, if I like it, I’ll close my gym down, and I’ll jump into final expense full-time because I see some opportunity in it.”
And, it worked out. Everything I thought would happen actually occurred. Just the way I described it. I was chugging right along, doing well.
Ultimately, we got to the point where we had some lead issues, and I transitioned to another agency similar to Equita. Nothing personal, just business.
This is where the problems began. I transitioned because I felt stymied by my commission level. But, the lead issue was really a big thing.
I wasn’t getting leads as consistently as I thought I should have been. There were some issues, and we all have issues with leads. It’s just about being forthright and transparent to make sure that your agents understand that there are ups and downs in lead flow
There’s no guaranteed consistency to everything. That’s just how any business is.
When I got over to this new organization, I was doing just fine. And, I got to the point where I got overconfident.
I thought about how this business is really interesting, right? You have to get in front of 25 people a week, and if you’re a good agent, you’re going to sell six to ten of those deals.
That means I’m spending all this time talking to what 16 to 19 at these people who may express interest, but they aren’t qualified for whatever reason.
That is when my creative juices started to flow, and I wondered if there was a way to completely eliminate those groups of people. That way, I could just focus on seeing the people who actually would buy.
I thought that there must be a method utilizing marketing, through a direct mail piece or something like that, where I can just sit down with people who want to buy. We all think that. I’ve realized that this happens in all industries. We try to take a process and then simplify it or optimize it.
I went to work and develop the lead piece that I’m actually was very specific.
If you’ve seen a final expense lead piece, and you see what mine was, it was night and day. It was basically the sales pitch on the lead piece card.
Shiny Object Syndrome
So, I send them off, actually got some people to buy from them, and it was not a negative ordeal. But, what had happened in the meantime is that this obsession with trying to optimize my system led me away from the fundamentals.
I got away from what actually worked for the “shiny object syndrome.”
Shiny object syndrome is when your creativity becomes an obstacle between you and the results.
Remember, we’re not in final expense to be creative. This isn’t a creative endeavor. It’s a business, and it’s work. It’s been ironed out, and I took that for granted as a new person.
I came from a personal training business where I created advertisements, and I studied a lot of marketing like from Dan Kennedy.
This meant I had this bias coming into final expense that I could make it better because I had some sort of better understanding of marketing.
I didn’t understand the people or the market itself. I decided to let my ego-driven, creative side get in the way of what actually works.
While I was making these cool, little lead pieces work, I wasn’t working the other system as hard. Ultimately, what happened was I got results with this thing, but I still got better results using the original system, which I didn’t expect.
I expected because of all of these things I added to this lead piece and the marketing method that I would somehow do better. And, it just wasn’t the case.
I will say that the organization I was with drop the ball. They didn’t explain how the program worked, which is a big deal. When it comes to this business, you got to work with somebody who will make sure to clarify things so you can understand how this business works.
So, I have made some modifications to my lead program, and I got a lot of prospects from my lead system that just wasn’t good material. It was just this perfect storm.
The point that I emotionally quit final expense
I put too much into this idea that I didn’t have like money and resources. I got away from the fundamentals. Then, combined with that, I also had a circumstance where the leads I was getting from the traditional source weren’t the right market.
It was this cataclysmic force that put a ton of pressure on me. And, I got to the point that I quit. I was running appointments, and I got to the last one of the day, I remember it specifically.
I was parked in a church parking lot in Chattanooga, and I’d had a shitty day. I didn’t sell anything, and the note on the card had said, “Call me before you get here.”
The appointment setter had set it up. I was mad, but normally, I would have just done it. You don’t call ahead of time, you just run it. But, I called anyway because I was frustrated. The son had set up the appointment for his mom. Well, the mom answered and introduced herself. We will call her Mrs. Jones.
I said, “Hey, Mrs. Jones. David here, I’m just confirming our appointment tonight about life insurance.”
She said, “What are you talking about? I just had two guys who sold me a policy walk out. They just sold me a policy right now.”
I was just completely deflated and frustrated.
I said, “That’s funny, Mrs. Jones, because your son said I could come and help you out.”
She ended, saying, “I’m sorry that you think that’s funny, Mr. Duford, but that’s what happened. Have a nice day.”
And, that’s the moment I quit.
I was completely emotionally spent on dealing with deadbeats and the frustrations of what I was doing.
Ultimately, deep down, I knew that it was my fault for detracting from what worked. I let this brain of mine get in the way of the all too simple, yet complicated approach to selling final expense.
It sucked. My son, David, at the time was a one-year-old, and I had to go to my wife to tell her that this wasn’t going to work out.
Even right now, it’s embarrassing. And, especially, to go to my wife and say that I failed. It was not something that you want to do if you’ve ever done it.
It wasn’t good. So, I had to bite the bullet. I’m at that point where I was emotionally divorced from final expense, and I said, “You know what? I’m just going to look around and do something else.”
Realizing that working for someone else was actually worse
I got a job, and I worked for a company called Aramark, selling uniforms services. I made a decent salary and began with an associate sales position.
It was funny because this was my first job. I’ve always worked for myself in a professional capacity up to this point.
I was like 26, I never worked for anybody else, and I absolutely hated it.
I started working there, and I never knew what corporate bureaucracy was until this. I never knew what it was like to have somebody work in a job they hated.
They would complain, but they would never do anything about it.
They would spend literally years working for a company they could care less about and didn’t want to deal with.
They pretty much despised of really deep down. But they would never ever solve their problem.
I looked around, and I saw all these people, not just in selling but also in administration and management. I never saw anybody that actually enjoyed what they did. And, what I saw was kind of like death warmed over. It was miserable.
These guys liked each other and were formal with each other. There are good people, don’t get me wrong. I’m not disrespecting them.
You could tell that they just went along to get along, as the old saying was. And, I thought, “God, I cannot imagine myself sticking in something like this.” It was just completely sucking the soul out of me.
Again, I never experienced this, and I’ve never worked for anybody else. So, I felt like a newbie.
How I got back into final expense
I was six weeks into the business, and I was sitting there on the couch with my wife. I said, “You know, I’m going to get back into final expense, and if there’s a way, I’m going to do it.”
I schemed my way into how I was going to do final expense.
I’m starting off the right way like I should have done before I did all the stupid crap that was just not timed-well, smart, or prudent, and I got back to work. I was lucky enough in my wage job that I could flex my hours.
Here’s how I did it…
I would go out after 2:00PM-3:00PM and work until 10:00PM two or three times a week and all day Saturday.
I did that for five or six months until I got an advancement at the job just because the other guy quit. I had to fill his role as a salesperson. Then, I was under a little bit more scrutiny at that point, unfortunately. But, I still made it work.
I would work Monday through Friday, put my time in and my requirement at my sales job (my wage job), and then do the same thing I’d been doing before.
I’d run about 12-15 appointments a week selling final expense. Slowly but surely, my goal was to save up enough capital for a proper direct mail campaign because that’s what I realized I got shortchanged on.
I got away from that and spent all this money on stupid stuff when I should’ve been paying for direct mail and just sticking to the story.
I was also saving up, from a capital basis, to make sure that if something happened after I left my wage job, that I would have a little money to fall back on.
Then, my wife got pregnant with twins and that made things a little bit more interesting.
Nevertheless, I determined that that was even more reason not to work for these people. Fast forward to about August, my wife was hit when she was 36 weeks pregnant with twins.
Some person passed out at the wheel. She was going up a hill, and this guy came around and swiped her.
That was my last day in the field selling Aramark. I remember flying home at 95 miles/hour down the highway to get to her.
She was okay. The babies were fine. They delivered via C-section a little bit early, but they were actually full terms. It was okay.
Actually, I went on three months paternity leave in order to keep my health insurance, but I went right back to work selling final expense full-time.
Now, here I am, and that was back in 2013. I can’t believe how fast time has gone by. So, that’s my story.
The first thing I’ll mention is a famous saying,
“Methods are many. Principles are few. Methods always change, but principles never do.”
This is an important saying that reminds us about the importance of fundamentals. It’s all about the fundamentals in final expense. Like I said before, this business is so simple that it’s actually extremely complicated.
If you are halfway intelligent, you’ll try to think your way in the failing, and you won’t do it purposely. You’ll just think you’ve got some better method or some better idea or way.
When reality is, there are so many people in this business all over the nation, and many of them have tried the same things I did. I didn’t realize this until later on when I started recruiting.
This same thing happens to other agents, and it sucks. 99 percent of the time, it’s no better than a boring, old direct mail lead campaign. That is why it’s important to do the fundamentals.
You don’t need to be a guinea pig for a new lead program or some newfangled idea.
If you want to come into final expense and give yourself the exposure to the best, most opportune ways to do things, then the fundamentals are where it’s at.
So, what are the fundamentals of final expense?
Hopefully, by now, you know.
Number one is direct mail. You’ve got to do direct mail long-term to succeed in this business. Now, there are always exceptions to the rules. There are ways to get to that point, like doing seminar marketing or Facebook leads.
Ultimately, the goal is to get a guy on a steady flow using direct mail leads. We just see everybody at convention doing direct mail.
They are all doing basically the same thing. It’s not some “secret sauce” card or anything like that. The secret sauce is in the system and following it. So, that’s where most people really get shortchanged.
It’s not some intellectual secret. It’s just the fact that you buy leads, and you keep buying them, even if you have a bad week or good week.
You’re committed to what it takes to do business in this arena. The new agents that get away from that are scared of doing it or think they developed some newfangled idea, they’re always the ones that never really grow or worked through these things.
Unless you learn from your experience like I did. Fundamentals are where it’s at.
I’ve been doing this business for years, and I’m literally doing the same thing, right now.
Tomorrow, I’ll be going on preset appointments developed by direct mail final expense leads. Hopefully, I’ll run eight or more appointments. It will be a long day tomorrow, but it’s the same thing I started with when I first started in this business in 2011.
A lot has changed since then but a lot hasn’t. Direct mail in final expense is still where it’s at. Again, fundamentals and face-to-face sales are what is best. There’s obviously telesales agents out there, but again, you’re more likely to succeed if you do direct mail.
Remember, the fundamentals matter.
It’s a numbers game
From a larger perspective, the key thing is to get in front of final expense prospects by any means necessary. Direct mail is the easiest, most turnkey way to do it.
I teach people how to do seminars. I do have people who do seminars on a full-time basis with success and make more money than a lot of direct mail agents do. The secret to their success is almost the same process.
They just always are setting seminar appointments. They’re always doing seminars. They’re not doing a month of seminars then switching weeks on and off. They’re always committed, and they’re always filling the pipeline with more seminar leads.
That’s an important distinction to make. The bigger picture is you’ve always got people to see, and you’re always running appointments. That’s the biggest fundamental.
The other thing, too, is that deviating from the basics, while there is always the opportunity to make an idea work, ultimately, you never know if it’s going to work until you try, and most of the time, it doesn’t.
Stick with the basics. Don’t get distracted. Do what works well and do what it takes to get in front of people.
You’re not going to be able to develop some newfangled system that will just send you hot prospects who are ready to buy. The reality of sales is you’ve got to see people.
You have to physically go to them, talk to them, and qualify them. This is because many people read a card or marketing message differently than how we think they will read it.
Understand The Final Expense Market
The other factor is this market. Take some time to understand the final expense market. It’s not what you think. It’s a different group of people, and they respond a different way.
Many people don’t want to reply to a letter in the mail. They don’t want to do a full read-through of an eight-page sales letter or listen to a 20-minute voicemail recording about the product.
They just want a person to talk to and buy from. You got to run that risk. That’s one thing you have to accept in this business. Both the ups and the downs.
Even the best agents in this business will get thrown out of 75/100 of their leads’ homes. But, the fact is, if they closed 25/100 leads, then they’re elite agents. They’re going to be in this business a long time, as long as they can keep that ratio high.
It’s very important to consider that you’re going to be told no at least three out of four times, but then you will get a yes. And, that one yes is worth way more.
That’s what we have to keep in mind. Also, know that the distribution of those events can be all over the map. You can have hot runs as much as you can have cold streaks.
You have to accept it and just work the system. Make sure you’re doing the appointments and seeing the people because things generally tend to work out if you’re working it.
Full-time effort on a part-time basis
Also, one thing you can easily do in this business is, what I call, a part-time commitment with full-time effort.
A lot of these organizations want you to be completely full-time with them. I understand why because people generally do better when they jumped in with both feet. Whereas people who dabble and just do a little here and there are not nearly as effective at getting long-term results.
Still, there is something to be said when you’ve got money coming in from your existing career and that was one thing that was good about working at Aramark.
I knew I was going to get paid something. At least I could pay the major bills, right? I didn’t have to come under financial pressure if I didn’t make the sale selling final expense.
It was enough to know that I didn’t need to be desperate or close deals that I shouldn’t. It made sure that I was doing this job the right way, and I had the time to make sure that I do it the correct way.
Since then, I’ve taken on lots of agents on a part-time basis. I think it works great. If you’ve got a great a job and you’re not ready to jump full steam ahead, don’t worry. Commit to a specific schedule on a part-time basis.
Do what I did. If you got to work Saturdays, then you’ve got to work Saturdays. If you want the opportunity to be successful in this business, then you’ll make compromises over the short term.
That’s just how this world is. You’ll run some appointments during the evening after your full-time job is done for the day.
Make sure that you’re doing that and making that commitment, but you’ve got to be committed, and you cannot dabble. If you’re writing a little business here, skipping a week here and there, then it’s not going to work out. You’re better just to take your time getting into this business. Save up and have a bankroll of capital storage that you can do it the right way.
What I Would Do Differently Starting Over Again Selling Final Expense Insurance
I’m the kind of guy that my lessons are best learned by screwing up.
I got to do this myself to really learn from it. I think we’re all like that to an extent, but there are some of you who are smarter than that and can learn lessons without necessarily screwing up yourself.
The goal of today is to look back at some of my mistakes and things I did consciously or unconsciously that slowed down my progress in this business.
Looking back and seeing what I’ve done, I know now that my progress could have been substantially quicker if I had done a few things differently.
What I did right
Before I delve further into my mistakes, I want to share one thing that I did absolutely 100 percent right.
I started this business off as a broker. This is very, very important. I got into final expense as soon as I got a life insurance license. There was no stumbling across life insurance to get to the point of, “Hey, there’s this thing called final expense.”
I started the final expense business because the one thing that I did was research the marketplace and learn from the very beginning about how important it was to represent a multitude of products.
Luckily, as we’ll learn throughout this whole process, a lot of my successes and failures in this business had been caused by my brain. It gets in the way of what is proven to work.
But part of my mentality has always been if I’m going to sell, then I want to sell the right way. I don’t want to sell in some fashion that’s good for me only or biased to me only.
Part of that research process of looking at the different options, final expense was the obvious realization that brokering was the superior choice to go with.
Meaning, as a broker, we represent a multitude of products. It was very obvious upon looking at some of the captive options out there, that captivity in this final expense business reduces the number of sales you make.
It also reduces your commission. You deal with a whole set of office politics that you may not want to deal with. You’re required to do things.
You are supposed to act a certain way and do things a certain way, all while not making as much money. I just didn’t like the idea of that.
I’ve always been entrepreneurial and not afraid to be on my own. This dispossession was natural to me. Whereas a lot of people get in this business in a multilevel marketing environment or they get involved in a captive environment, and it can be, in many cases, the death knell.
Many have to move past working in those capacities, where they realize that working in a brokerage environment is really the ideal method.
So, the one thing I did actually do right from the very beginning was work with a brokerage company that offered multiple carriers. As time moved on, I added more carriers to the mix, which helped me become better. But, that’s about all I did right from the beginning.
Now, let’s talk about some of the things that I wish I would have done differently.
As I look back now, I do exactly the same thing now as I did when I started off. Between today and when I started, there are a lot of ups and downs and a lot of experiments. Most of them failed and one even took me out of the business, but these are things that I did to cause my own personal demise.
It’s funny. Now, it’s exactly the same. I go out. I work direct mail leads. I see people face-to-face. I do brokerage presentations. I don’t sell over the phone. It’s all the same exact things as when I started, but it took me all this crazy stuff in between to get there.
A lot of this stuff will probably be similar to what you may be experiencing or what you will think about. So, let’s get to it.
The first thing I really, really wish I would’ve done. I did okay at this for the most part, but I did get distracted. I wish I would have laser-focused entirely on final expense.
I did many of these things correctly from the beginning. Regardless, I thought because I was smart, and I understood how simple this business was that I could overcome some of these things, which ultimately failed.
This will make more sense in a minute, but one of them was, “Hey, I’m going out here. I’m selling final expense. Everybody I see has a Medicare Advantage or supplement plan. I need to sell Medicare Advantage. I need to sell Medicare supplements.”
I didn’t sell Medicare Advantage, I just sold med supplements, but I spent a lot of time thinking that there had to be more than just final expense that I could get involved in.
I wanted to offer different products to my people and even potentially do some side business in that particular mode. Ideally, I would maybe sell final expense, but I would lead with Medicare supplements.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with the idea of cross-selling in addition to final expense. I realized that being a newbie, you understand that this business is simple, but it’s not easy. Many times, we get distracted by, what I call, the “shiny object syndrome.”
Shiny object syndrdome
The shiny object syndrome makes you have the same experience for a particular time, over and over again. You never grow because you’re constantly distracted from your primary product. You never really grow beyond your minimal experience because you never are giving a product your full commitment.
You keep just going with the new, shiny products, but you never take the time to master a single product.
It’s hard for people to understand that, especially when they are just getting started. It’s easier once you screwed up a couple of times, and they’ve had honest self-reflection.
Early on, final expense was easy for me. But, it was actually just simple. My problem was that I thought it was easy because it’s simple. It’s not, as I’ve established.
You think because it’s simple that you can start doing other things in addition to this. What happened with me, which is what I see a lot of other agents do, is that I got too much going on, and I lost effectiveness in all the products I was selling.
Can’t be a slave to two masters
You can’t be a slave to two different masters. When an agent tries to do this, they’re no good at any of it or they’re marginal, and they don’t get great results.
I had a similar situation like that where I went out there and did a little Medicare supplement business. I didn’t like it or care for it. I did too much research, trying to figure out how I could get transitioned into picking it up Medicare, and all the while, it detracted from my final expense sales.
Again, I repeat, this is not some sort of rant on why you shouldn’t do anything but one particular product. It’s just that you have to understand that learning and mastery takes time. It takes commitment, and commitment requires ups and downs. That’s the thing that a lot of people don’t understand today.
We get frustrated with the results that we experience, but that’s all in the scheme of things where hindsight is 20/20. Of course, that’s all part and parcel to becoming a master at something.
Very few people have the capacity to become a super master of multiple products in a short period of time.
Therefore, looking back as I do now, mastering final expense, not just for a six month period of time, but for my entire career should have been my primary focus.
It really became that way after a year or two; after I failed out of the business and realized what I was doing wrong and stopped letting my own brain get in the way.
Ultimately, if I were to realize that I should have dialed into the final expense and see what’s the potential was in terms of the income earning opportunity, (which we’ll talk about in a little while), then I probably wouldn’t have gotten distracted and failed out of the business.
Hope that makes sense. It’s really important to be committed, and that’s kind of the main point here.
Being the best at one thing
It doesn’t matter if it’s final expense, doesn’t matter if it’s Medicare supplements, or the voluntary payroll deduct business. I don’t care.
The only thing I care about is that if you’re going to do something, you might as well be the best at it.
Know that any kind of product, even if it is simple, takes time, commitment to ups and downs, and the experiential effect of the people you deal with. You need to experience the interactions and questions they have before you become a master.
Then, once you’ve done all that, it’s at that point, when you do master something, that I frankly don’t mind if an agent builds their repertoire.
For example, Medicare advantage sales is a great cross-sell or ancillary product to sell in addition. It just takes time, and it takes process. You need to give yourself that opportunity to really overcome that.
Marketing with direct mail leads only
Continuing here to the next thing I’ll bring up.
Another thing I wish I would’ve done differently when getting started is a big thing that took me out of this business.
I wish I would’ve completely laser-focused on the vanilla direct mail lead program.
This is what I am doing today this week, next week, and conceivably for as long as I can. The exception is some Facebook leads, which I experiment with from time to time.
Regardless, 99 percent of my lead generation is direct mail.
Also, I’ve worked at referral generation too, to be fair, but the primary source of purchase leads has been exactly the same as it was when I first started in this business.
The likelihood of that being exactly the same for the rest of my career is very high because of the people we deal with.
It’s funny, you go on conventions, and everybody there pretty much does the same kind of direct meal lead systems.
The question becomes, “Why even fool with that kind of background? Why even try to do something different when you know you can apply this system to this market, and you get X results if you put the work in?”
I’m not saying you can’t be creative because I do have a creative side to me, and I think it’s a good thing.
It’s just you have to temperate it, discipline it, and be sober about it. Because what happened in my business is that I got to again this point, six to nine months in, where I thought I was smarter than the business.
I developed this new lead. I had them call a voicemail; they listen to a recorded message for 15 minutes and then left their information.
My thought was that these are going to be pre-qualify prospects because if they spend all the time of the phone listening to this message, then when I go see them, I’ll write them up.
While I got results from them, I realized I spent a lot more money to get that.
I really didn’t get as many people who were more qualified, and as it compared to your typical state-regulated final expense mailer, the results were not as good as the vanilla system. And, that’s what was unbelievable.
That’s what struck me as unbelievable because I have a marketing background. I had a personal training gym. I had ads that made me a lot of money and brought in a lot of clients. So, I was a self-professed pretty good marketing agent, and I thought I could overcome this silly vague language on this card.
I figured I could combat all those silly objections people have with this newfangled idea, and it didn’t even work nearly as well.
Through my maturity in this business and recruiting others, I’ve realized that other people have the same kind of desires.
They want to do something better than this direct mail system. They don’t want to sit down and have people who think it’s free. They don’t want deadbeats that can’t afford anything.
They want to get around that, and they’ve tried. They’ll try other things, and they’ll spend money that doesn’t result in anything.
And, I’ve seen it again and again and again. That’s when I realized that if you look back from 2011 when I started in this business, this direct mail system been around for 30 years.
Why is it that we’re using the same thing 30 years later? And, that’s the lack of maturity and perspective that I did not have at the time, which is why I made the crucial mistake of thinking I could improve it.
Trust me, over the last 30 years from 2011 back to the 80s, I’m sure hundreds of people had tried these newfangled lead system ideas and didn’t get results either.
Ultimately, many of them probably ended up leaving the business like I did because I was tapped out and broke.
Looking back, if I had just applied the direct mail system that was working nationally, that was producing great results as it is today, if I just did what I was told, then I wouldn’t have had a lot of the frustration that I ultimately had to deal with.
And, it’s unbelievable how this business is so simple that it becomes complicated.
It’s hard to have people who are creative and want to try to improve a system to unhinge themselves from that mentality and just trust the system. For example, this could be someone with an engineering type of mentality.
Again, I know lots of people that have failed out of the business. I know people who have spent an unknown amount of money.
These ventures have cost them a lot of time and effort to really yield very minimal results when this thing right here actually works fine. All they have to do is follow it and find another hobby or creative outlet to relieve themselves of their creativity.
Resist trying to improve the final expense sales system
I have a couple of other points I want to make, here. Let’s discuss the engineer element that I just briefly mention because that was a big thing for me. I am creative. I don’t take things on faith. I am somebody who is skeptical, and I try to find ways to improve systems.
That’s how I came into this business. I already mentioned this, but I realized that I wish I really would have disciplined that tweaking mentality where I was trying to alter the system to better it and accepted the fact that there are others like me who might have done the same thing. Why try to do anything different?
It’s counter-intuitive to all other kinds of marketing. That’s all we’re shown, now.
For example, we are shown how great Facebook marketing is, how great internet marketing is, and how big the market is.
We get told about all these weird new technological ways to generate leads, but the old, boring stuff is really truly what works well. It doesn’t sit well, and it’s hard to believe that, which is why I ultimately tried to do something different.
Again, what I wish I would have done is had the ability to temper that mentality, which I do now. I’m still very creative. I’m more creative in my recruiting efforts and my YouTube videos. Those are my creative outlets. I’m putting up products and projects; stuff like that to help agents.
But, when it comes to the actual selling part of final expense, it’s boring, rigid, the same, and there’s nothing really that is new, despite new carriers. The selling process and the lead generation process are exactly all the same.
This is also really important. Part of the perspective that you need to have in this business and part of gaining the ability/judgment to see if what you’re doing/thinking is right or not is really having somebody that’s a mentor that can be sober with you.
You need someone that can be candid with you about what you’re doing that is great, what’s not great, and what’s going to end in your demise.
I try to, as best as I can, foster that type of mentality with my agents. If they were doing something that I think is a bad idea, I’ll tell them that. And, if they are getting off course know, I’ll tell them that. I think back, and I had a really good trainer.
But, the way I operate as a person is somewhat disconnected because I have a lone ranger mentality. So, I don’t go out and share everything that I’m doing with everybody.
I don’t know if that’s a personality flaw, but it probably is. When I was doing all this whole grandiose scheming of putting together this direct mail lead program and spending all this money that I didn’t have on it to try out an idea, I didn’t have somebody to throw the idea off. I didn’t have someone to say, “That’s stupid David, and here’s why.”
The likelihood, if I had only let the guy know, would have been very high that he would have stopped me.
He probably would have said, “I had an agent that did some crap like that. But, look at me. I’ve been in the business three/four years by using the same thing. I’m writing $200,000/year.”
He would have probably set me straight. Would I have listened? Probably not, but like I said, my learning capacity usually revolves around screwing up.
As Gus says in Breaking Bad, “Never make the same mistake twice.”
You’re allowed to make mistakes but only one time because then you get into trouble.
Wish I would have scaled up much sooner
This is the last thing I’ll say in this section of the article about what would I have done differently selling final expense. I know that sales training, the lead system you use, and understanding that direct mail is the key to success certainly matters. I wish I would have known to scale up my lead generation activity so I could scale up my activity level earlier on.
The cool thing about final expense is that it is very rinse and repeat, meaning the agent who can do ten appointments a week off of 20 leads through door knocking and setting their own appointments, that activity, that presentation, and that whole ball of wax is about 98 percent mirror image to the person who’s doing 40 appointments a week.
Maybe he doesn’t door knock, but he’s running a bunch of appointments and buying a bunch of leads. But, the person who is doing 40 appointments versus the person who is doing only ten is probably riding three to four times as much as premium. After they deduct expenses, they are making a heck of a lot more money.
I wish I would have realized the upside potential for final expense income. As agents understand that and become comfortable with it, they can see what is possible down the line. As you master your craft and as you get comfortable with the sales process, your income can greatly improve.
If your income goal is substantial and all you have to do is double or triple your lead flow, and it can be done. When you have the right people in place, like an appointment setter, and you understand how to present in an efficient but effective manner, you can run 40 appointments a week.
I’ve seen it done, I’ve done it personally, and I would do it if I need to. If I had to, back up against the wall, I had to make things happen, then I know I could do it in a heartbeat.
So, I wish I would’ve known about scaling up because a lot of the deviation that comes from that comes from trying new methods and this belief that what you’re being presented isn’t going to give you the results that you want. That is why you think you’ve got to come up with this new-fangled idea.
Ultimately, the whole reason we’re doing this job is to help people, to get paid, and to make a living, not to use this as some kind of creative outlet. I hope that that problem is just mine. I hope none of you have that, but if you do, be wary because it will get in the way sometimes.
To conclude this article, I want to share with you how my agency operates. At DavidDuford.com, I focus on developing new agents selling final expense to become financial successful agents.
Here’s how my Mentorship program works:
1) My focus is on developing agents comprehensively in a hands-on basis,
2) I release offer releases to all my Mentees in writing, and
3) Agents selling final expense in my agency are vested 100% immediately.
While much of my final expense training takes place over the phone and through email, I avail myself in a face-to-face training environment.
All of my agents are free to train with me in person. I coach you through problems that you run into in the field. I let you work my final expense leads for free to get a feel for how the business works.
And I let you get real-life final expense training before working your fresh leads with a vendor I help you get started with.
I’m going to show you how to prospect your final expense leads. I’m going to show you what and how to set appointments on the phone.
I’m going to show you door knock your final expense leads. I’m going to show you where you get the best leads from, not just direct mail, but other sources of leads, too.
I’m going to show you how to talk to your leads. You’ll learn what scripts to use in front of your prospects and, how to get in the door more frequently.
I’m going to show you how to use and teach you my low-pressure presentation from the opening, to the introduction, to the pre-qualification, the close and then to the warm-down. This is vital. You have to know how to sell final expense, and I’m going to teach you every last bit of how I do it so that you can, too.
All these things I teach in-person and develop with you. We work on it. We have weekly meetings.
We review the business that’s submitted and sold. We review final expense appointments that went well. We review appointments that didn’t go well and how we can improve.
The whole intent of my new agent program at DavidDuford.com is to help you to become successful faster selling final expense insurance.
As far as I go, I’m a teacher at heart. I love to sell. But I also love to teach my agents how they can duplicate my efforts selling final expense insurance and experience the same level of success I have. I produce and sell final expense daily. That means my final expense training is based on real-world results, not stuff in a book.
Like I said, I like the hands-on, more personal training approach to this business. I want to take the most optimal applicants I’ve discovered and take them and develop them, that’s really where I get the most of my pleasure from.
So if sincerely interested in selling final expense and believe both intense training and learning a duplicable sales/marketing model is paramount to your success, go to the top of this page and click here, fill out the contact box information, send it off and then within the next couple of days I’ll reach out to you and we’ll set an appointment to discuss the opportunity further.