In this article, the main topic of discourse is what numbers a final expense insurance agent needs to track to determine his or her level of success, as well as what agents need to do to improve their odds.  

Managing such ratios as closing ratios and average case size is important to do on some level. When challenges arise, it’s sometimes difficult to see what the problems are if you’re not tracking these basic ratios. By tracking your numbers, you’ll find whatever weakness needs to be managed and improved upon.

One thing that’s really cool about tracking your numbers is that this activity alone will immediately improve your outcomes.

It has been proven across a number of surveys and studies, amongst businesses and sports teams, that if the numbers are managed and inspected, outcomes improve.  

Keep reading for the top metrics an agent needs to monitor to measure levels of success and to discover what needs to be tweaked. Along the way, I’ll also point out some basic benchmarks for success-minded agents.

Related: A word about sales metrics

Sales metrics to manage

Note: Please assume with all of these ratios that we are referencing direct mail final expense leads. There will be some variation depending on the lead types, which will be mentioned.

8. Application to lead ratio

This is defined as how many policies you write compared to how many leads you purchase. This is a dependable litmus test to see if your production is on par relative to the average.  

What I have found is that successful agents have a ratio of about 25 percent. This isn’t always the case, but 25 percent is a goal that every agent should strive for. This means, if I have 20 leads, I should be able to convert five applications.  

It’s important to understand that this isn’t a closing percentage to lead ratio. In many cases, you may sell to two couples and a single person, which is five deals, but there are 17 leads left you didn’t successfully sell.

As long as you’re converting 25 percent, no matter whether these sales are to couples or singles, you’re doing well. Anything above and beyond that is excellent.

The reason 25 percent is a good number is, it allows for the highest chance, on average, to cover your expenses, but it’s also scalable.  As you will see, it’s harder to scale up when you have a 15 percent closing ratio.

Arrange your leads by type, come up with a total, and then divide the number of cases according to the type of lead total. That’s your application to lead ratio.  

If we were looking at another source of leads, such as telemarketing, a good conversion ratio off of pretty much any final expense telemarketing lead is about 10 to 15 percent, assuming final expense telemarketing leads are competitively priced.

Final expense telemarketing leads are more difficult to work, and are not as high quality as final expense direct mail leads on a consistent basis.

See also: 5 key ideas for new insurance agents

This refers to how many appointments you are actually setting over the phone and by door knocking compared to how many leads you purchase.

Your appointments to lead ratio refers to how many appointments you are actually setting over the phone and by door knocking compared to how many leads you purchase. (Photo: iStock)

7. Appointments to lead ratio

In my mind, you should be setting appointments with at least 50 percent of your final expense leads over the phone, and you should be getting in another 10 percent or more on door knocks.

As a trainer, my belief is that every agent should be door knocking and appointment setting or doing some kind of appointment-setting activity. With door knocking, you are going to get a much higher percentage of your leads converted into presentations than what you would if you exclusively called.  

As many trainers will attest, the difference between success and failure for new agents’ is often just showing up at the door. You can’t discount that.

With a combination of these two activities, you should be able to set appointments with at least 60 percent of your leads every single week with the hopes of actually getting in the door and selling something. I would say this metric is also the same for avatar final expense leads or any telemarketing lead. I think it’s very possible to get close to the same metric.

Related: The time is now to start prospecting life insurance online

6. Appointment conversion ratio

This ratio essentially measures what your closing ratio is when you actually sit down with a prospect. A good number is between 50 percent and 70 percent.  If you’re closing in that range, you’re doing great.  

Closing ratios below that tend to indicate that you are not doing something critical to the sales process. A consistently low closing percentage indicates you are probably going to have to look a little bit closer at what you’re doing in the sales call and have some analysis done to make some changes.

The average case size in final expense is around $50 a month. It will vary depending on your sales style as well as your market.

The average case size in final expense is around $50 a month. It will vary depending on your sales style as well as your market. (Photo: iStock)

5. Average case size

I personally have a lower average case size. I know there are many people who think the $50-a-month average is not realistic. My experience has been, in mathematical terms, the average is higher than the median.  

If you stack all your policies up in order of size from smallest to largest, the one right in the middle is going to be a lot smaller than the average. This is the definition of a median. And why does it matter? It indicates you’re going to write a lot more $20, $30 and $40 cases, but the $100+ cases tend to push up that average.  

The key point is that it takes time to get to that average. This means you have to work your leads hard. You’ll eventually hit the home runs and grand slams, all of which will have the effect of raising the average.  

If your case size is below $40 a month, you may get better results by simply selling the premium, which is the old Tim Winders-popularized approach to selling final expense, or by offering face amounts that start at $40. Then, see if somebody will take one of those over something cheaper. The point is, you may need to stop offering smaller premiums in order to raise your case size.

Related: Dealing with universal life premium increases

4. Lapse ratio

When calculating the average lapse ratio and what to expect in revenue, you have to anticipate lapses and not takens.

I always take 20 percent off the top in my management setup to account for those who lapse on me. As we know, the reality is a lot of these people keep their plans 3, 6 or 9 months. You’ll have a smaller chargeback than just a flat 20 percent, so it may be a little bit higher. But you also have people who buy and then change their minds. So if you just take 20 percent right off the top, you’re being conservative from the get-go.

See also: Built to last: tips for preventing life insurance failure

A very important ratio to manage and make sure you're doing well comes from your persistence, meaning how much of your business you retain in the first year.

A very important ratio to manage and make sure you’re doing well comes from your persistency, meaning how much business you retain in the first year. (Photo: iStock)

3. Quality of business ratio 

A good rule of thumb is to strive for an 80 percent persistency ratio. Above 80 percent indicates that you’re following up on your lapses, and what you’re selling isn’t necessarily overselling.  

Persistency below 80 percent indicates that you’re probably not doing a good enough job selling the prospect, and not selling what is right for them, while not following up with your lapses.  

Following up on all lapses is critical to solid persistency! Anybody who has been in the final expense business for a while will attest to the fact that most lapses occur not out of spite, but out of ignorance. A simple phone call to reinstate a policy or catch a premium up will probably save half of your lapses.  

There is no good reason to consistently have below 80 percent persistency across all your carriers. The people who are below the 80 percent number tend to be high-pressure salespeople who are lazy about helping clients when they miss a premium. There are many agents who have much higher than 80 percent, but an 80 percent ratio keeps your head above water regarding chargebacks, and keeps you in the game.

If your premium per lead is close to $100, you may have issues. You're going to find your return on investment is very low and probably not going to cover your expenses very well.

If your premium per lead is close to $100, you may have issues. You’re going to find your return on investment is very low and probably not going to cover your expenses very well. (Photo: iStock)

Overall effectiveness ratios

This last section covers additional ratios that quickly help final expense agents identify weaknesses in their business.

2. Premium per lead ratio

Essentially, this is how much premium you wrote over how many leads you purchased. If you wrote $3,000 in premium over 20 leads, that is a $150-premium-per-lead ratio. My experience is that if you have around a $150-premium-per-lead ratio, you’re doing just fine as a final expense agent. That is a solid number to keep. Much of your expenses are going to be handled by your profit, and you should be making a nice living, assuming you’re buying enough leads.

See also: How to get out of a sales slump

If your premium per lead is close to $100, you may have issues. You’re going to find your return on investment is very low and probably not going to cover your expenses very well.  

The truth is, you’re probably not working hard enough. There are agents who can make it with a $125-premium-per-lead ratio and do fine. Sometimes their methodology is a little different than your typical approach to selling final expense, but the goal should always be somewhere around $150.  

Anything above and beyond that is fantastic. If you can get beyond $150, you should be commended. But in my experience, those are really reserved for the top-tier agents who are absolutely dynamite. The truth is, you don’t have to have a PPL way above $150 to be sustainably successful in the final expense business. 

Return on investment is the number one metric monitored by seasoned sales professionals. (Photo: iStock)

Return on investment is the number one metric monitored by seasoned sales professionals. (Photo: iStock)

1. Return on investment

Of all the metrics mentioned here, this is really the number one metric that I concern myself with as an agent, and as somebody who is training agents.  

Return on investment compiles gross premium, or first-year gross commission, over your total investment, which includes marketing costs, travel and gas expenses, appointment-setting expenses and the like.  

Here’s my take on what your return on investment should be and why.

Your bare minimum return on investment should be 4:1. That simply means that for every $4 that comes through the door, you should spend a dollar. So for every dollar of marketing investment, you should have $4 in revenue generated. A better goal is closer to 5:1. This is more indicative of somebody who is working the system, following the process, and giving it their all.  

Another reason the 4:1 ratio is important is, this shows you that you have a scalable business model. The only thing that matters is whether you’re making enough money to cover your expenses and justify the business that you’re running. Meaning, if you’re spending $50,000 to make $100,000 in net income, if that’s all you want to make, great.  

But there’s a huge risk to that because the final expense business is not perfectly formulaic. There are ups and downs with most agents in this business, especially in the beginning. So the higher the ROI, the more cushion you have. If you have a couple of bad runs, or if you have a low return on investment, you’re going to potentially experience more frustration.  

With a 4:1 return on investment, you can scale it up. If an agent invests $25,000 in this business to make $75,000 ($100,000 gross revenue minus $25,000 in expense) you can scale that up. You can invest $50,000. You can even invest $100,000, and those ratios generally stay the same.

See also: 22 sales memes that get it right

Last words on reviewing your numbers

The biggest reason agents fail in this business is they lack a consistent activity level.  

Many times when I look at numbers, I find that the conversion ratio is great. They’re selling 50 percent of their appointments. Case sizes look good. But when we look at the amount of appointments that are actually converted from the amount of leads they have, it’s abysmal.  

It usually comes down to the agent not working hard enough. Typically they’re not door knocking or setting appointments or they’re not working long enough. They’re not fighting to see people. And this is probably the case 80 percent of the time.  

You can teach an agent how to sell effectively, give them a system to follow, and they will. But a system is worthless, if the activity level is low. 

Achieving optimal activity first trumps fine tuning your sales system. Certainly sales systems are important. What you say and how you say it is critical in sales. But it’s totally useless without the consummate level of activity required to achieve the optimized goal.  

So if you’re wondering how you can improve your sales results, do your math to determine the ratios mentioned in this article. If you’re having sustained, consistent troubles, y ou will likely find that you’re just not working hard enough.

See also: 

Should you be selling final expense insurance?

Making final expense more profitable

Insider secrets of a final expense specialist

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