“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” If you wanted to know where that quote came from, you could go online to your favorite search engine, type it in and instantly see that was from Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” But how did the search engine know that? If you can answer that, you know more than the average person about what it takes to build a business using the Internet, but you may not know, as Paul Harvey says, the rest of the story.
In the good old days, almost all life insurance was sold through face-to-face meetings with prospects, usually at their kitchen table, and usually at a time that was most convenient for them (certainly not the most convenient time for you or your family). That was then and this is now. In today’s world of fast food, 10-minute oil changes and movies on-demand, a growing number of people are turning to the Internet for purchases that, historically, have been made in person. Life insurance is a great example of this.
Today, a consumer can go to the Internet and, with little effort, obtain life insurance quotes on a wide variety of products from an even wider variety of companies at any time and without having to go through the traditional needs analysis required by his local life insurance agent. Granted, a needs analysis is a valuable way of making sure the client is being presented with the best possible solution that helps him achieve his goals, but this process often leaves him feeling like he was sold something. A consumer would much prefer to buy what he needs than feel like he was sold what he should have. That is where the Internet comes into play.
So how do you get in on this? First, let’s get a clear understanding of what we’re talking about. According to Yahoo!, people use its Web site to search for the term “life insurance” more than 408,000 times per month. That’s 13,600 times per day, 566 times per hour, or 9 times per minute. And that’s just for the phrase “life insurance” and only on Yahoo! Extrapolate, considering the many other search engines and all the search variations, and you will see that a lot of life insurance is being purchased on the Internet. So how can you share in this bounty?
The first thing you need to do is to get organized in a way that will give you the best chance of achieving success. For example, people looking for life insurance on the Internet could be almost anywhere in the United States. So if you want to earn their business, you need to be licensed where they are. Start with at least five states in three time zones. Why three different time zones? Because when it’s too early to reach people in California, you can reach all kinds of people in Florida. The more time zones you’re in, the more you are going to be able to actually reach people who have asked for your service. In the past, getting licensed in multiple states was, in many cases, complicated and painful. That is no longer the case. For a fee, one service, www.licenseregistry.com, can get you licensed in almost every state. In fact, many of the states now allow for electronic registration, so you could have a license number in a matter of days. So what’s next?
You’ll need some sort of contact management system so you can keep track of all your leads. Pieces of paper or card catalog systems just won’t work. Why? Something you need to know about consumers looking for life insurance on the Internet is that many of them are window shoppers. They may not be looking for a policy right now or they may simply be shopping for the best deal. You need to have lots of leads coming in so you can find those people who are buyers instead of shoppers. Here are some good rules of thumb: For every 10 Internet leads you receive, you should expect to be able to take applications on three or four of them. So what do you do with the other six or seven people who were just shopping? that’s where contact management tools can help. You should continue to drip on them with a newsletter or some other sort of communication so when they are ready to buy, they come back to you.
Something else you should know about Internet shoppers is they are price savvy. They’ve probably visited many different Web sites, so they know what life insurance costs. If you want to be able to compete successfully in this market, you need to be able to quote them the best possible price for their given situation.
How can you do that? Fortunately, there are solutions. Companies like Compulife Software Inc. (www.compulife.com) have put together some tools that allow you to quote prices from the nation’s leading life insurance carriers for term and universal life products for as little as $69 per year. This type of service can be beneficial to everyone because you will be able to see how one company compares on price to the competition in your local market. In many cases, you will be able to offer clients coverage that is significantly lower than what they have, even if they purchased it several years ago.
Let’s assume you’re 100 percent organized and ready to go. What’s next? You need some leads. How do you get them? There are a few different ways to begin, and each comes with its own set of problems and opportunities.
I want it now
The fastest way to get started selling life insurance on the Internet is to find a company already marketing on the Internet and purchase leads from it. With this approach, you do not need to build your own Web site, nor do you need to worry about how to drive traffic to it once it has been created.
“This approach can save you lots of time and money,” says Greg Sabala, regional vice president for Boise, Idaho-based Mountain Financial. “We provide independent agents with all of the processes and tools that they need to be successful at doing business on the Internet. We provide the exclusive leads (leads that are only given to one agent), contact management (through our proprietary “oneEsystem”), as well as all of the underwriting support necessary to help agents focus on what they do best: helping prospects find the best possible coverage for the best possible price.”
Using an agency like Mountain Financial can be a great way to get your feet wet without having to become an Internet marketing expert. Mountain Financial, or another company like it, can get you started fairly quickly because it has already done the heavy lifting for you. All you need to do is sign up to purchase some leads and then make the phone calls once the leads arrive. However, not all lead companies are created equal, so you will need to be careful where you buy your leads. Prices can vary dramatically from company to company, and not all companies guarantee you are the only person they have sold the lead to. You should look for companies that generate their own Internet leads and sell them to one agent. In addition, companies that generate their own leads often are able to offer them to the agent at a reasonable price (between $16 and $20 per lead).