After selling Mortgage Protection life insurance for a while, working Sunday nights to set appointments and working long nights because most Mortgage Protection prospects get out of work after 5 p.m. – he switched to Final Expense. He had to learn many lessons the hard way – like where to find the best leads and how to best approach them, overcoming challenges and frustrations along the way to push himself toward new insurance sales milestones.
Since then, Doug has created a successful agency where he trains his own agents to learn the same presentation and tips that allowed him to write a monthly volume of life insurance policies that very few agents attain.
Listen to the episode as Doug shares his story about persisting beyond the hurdles and obstacles that plague many agents. In this podcast, Doug gives new agents 10 tips on how to overcome new agent hurdles and scale up their sales with the potential to earn $150,000 in one year.
Also, be sure to check out Doug’s YouTube channel, Final Expense Trainer, where he has amazing insurance sales training videos that agents can watch for FREE!
Interview with: Douglas Massi, Owner of United Final Expense Services
Glen: So Doug, thanks for being on the Heroes Huddle Podcast today. I really appreciate you coming on, so excited to pick your brain for all of our listeners. But specifically I wanted to talk to you today about being both mentally prepared and really try to get some information out of you that could help anybody who’s listening, who’s newer to the industry, maybe they’re struggling, maybe they’re doing ok but they’re trying to get better.
As someone who—I followed you for a long time, since I’ve been in the insurance business, specifically the life insurance business, just because of your massive success that you’ve had. Interesting enough, from what I’ve read online, it sounded like you had your own struggles, and obviously I can attest to that, my own personal struggles as well when I first came into the industry.
I would just love to hear a little bit more about when you first came on, some of those struggles that you had, and what helped you overcome them.
Doug: Sure, Glen. Yeah, thank you very much for inviting me to do this. It’s a very nice compliment. When I first got licensed to sell life insurance products, I had already been selling home improvement stuff for years, so I already had a good basic foundation for face-to-face sales. But when I first got into, specifically got recruited to sell life insurance products through The Hartford, I really wasn’t prepared.
What I remember was, at the beginning, the life insurance presentation we were doing was like an hour and a half long, and so it was pretty difficult. And I remember really, really struggling with that. I wasn’t comfortable being in a house with the clients, and the struggles went through that whole process, through that whole life insurance sales process, even being on the phone setting the appointments.
Now back then, I got the short end of the stick because my phone night—and I worked out of a local agency, a local office, my phone night was Sunday. So back then, I think we had to be there from as early as 3:00 or maybe 4:00 at the latest until 9:00 at night every Sunday. So here I was, one of the requirements to work for this company was to go on a Sunday night and make phone calls. I just remember how hard it was and how I really struggled with that. I guess I just wasn’t desperate enough, wasn’t hungry enough, and I really needed to work on myself.
And the reason I say that was because I did that for a couple of months and ended up going back to—I actually went from being a Hartford agent, to going back to doing the sales business that I was doing before with the home improvements, the remodeling, lot of driveways, stuff like that. I only went back to that for a couple months and I realized, “No, I don’t want to go back to this. I want to do the life insurance thing.”
So what I did was I jumped, I went to one of those companies that is like notorious, with the three initials, for giving really low commission levels, and I went there because they had the leads. Like that is what I—it’s like only after a couple months I was like, “Alright, let me try going back to life insurance. Maybe I can get my head wrapped around it and give it another shot.”
At that time, I did go back to them. One of the things I kind of stumbled across was neurolinguistics programming, but not just neurolinguistics programming; I was in like a self-help stage. And so I did that thing where—I remember some of the books, Think and Grow Rich, How Successful People Think by John Maxwell, and the classic Dale Carnegie, Win Friends and Influence People, something like that.
That was when I got into this neurolinguistics programming thing, which is really—I guess it’s like a mental, psychological variety of skills for understanding yourself and being able to influence people. And so I highly recommend finding—if you’re getting into any type of sales business, especially for the first time, to learn about yourself, especially if you’ve got fears.
Like if you’re uncomfortable making presentations or door-knocking and stuff like that, I’m telling you, get yourself a book on neurolinguistics programming. Well nowadays get yourself some audio. Shoot, they’ve probably got stuff on YouTube. I know a good book, and it would be a book on CD type of thing, would be Introducing NLP by Joseph O’Connor. And I know that’s a good one because it touches on a lot of stuff, and from there, you can actually go to other types of NLP books and things to do.
But what I remember the most was doing these little, what were they? Assignments, so these NLP assignments. And one of the assignments that I did on a regular basis was this assignment that teachers you how to look at yourself while you’re having a conversation with somebody from a third-person narrative. Kind of like you’re hovering above watching the conversation you’re having with this person.
The way this assignment was designed, what it did was it taught you to realize that it didn’t matter. Like it was so minute as to where—you know, you’re looking at yourself having a conversation, that’s all it is. Ok, so here’s this guy, it’s me, Doug, having a conversation with this really beautiful woman that I was attracted to, or with this very wealthy guy that maybe I was making a presentation to.
When you look at it from that third-person narrative, it’s like such a minor—it’s like such a no big deal. As (compared) to where the opposite is where: here I am, sitting there, let’s say at a nightclub, talking to a beautiful woman. It’s harder, it’s different. It’s like it’s almost like intense. So the idea of these assignments, of these different neurolinguistic programming things was that it made you view things differently.
When you practiced the assignments over and over, that was one of the—that was an issue for me was, even though I was already into sales, I was—there was a part of me that was kind of shut. It was kind of like that—it was weird, it was like every time I’d go to make a presentation or I’d be attracted to—I use that as an example because that’s how it was back then, I’d be attracted to a girl I couldn’t speak to. These assignments taught me to realize that it really wasn’t such a big deal.
Then what happened over time was I was able to overcome those fears naturally, and then it was easier to talk to people, to talk to groups of people, which I was afraid to, to make a presentation. The thing that was scary to me, great example, when I first got into life insurance just learning the presentation, this hour-and-a-half presentation, you pull in front of the house and it’s a million-dollar house.
Here I am, this 30-something-year-old guy that just did, you know, in the beginning, it was so scary. I just remember looking, you know, perceiving it in the beginning with like—you think of one of those images of a person with their eyes wide open and their eyes are popping out of their head, and it’s like scary to where eventually now it’s like you pull in front of the doctor’s house and it’s, “Ok, so it’s just another person.”
But it took a while to get over that. That was what I really got into, and I got into that for, it was about a year that I was doing these different assignments, trying different techniques so that I could make things easier for me to open up, to be myself, to conquer those fears. It got to the point to where I could say anything in a house and not be worried. As to where in the beginning, I remember it’s like you’re—as a new salesperson you’re kind of tip-toeing around.
So of course your prospects are going to sense that. They’re going to feel it, they’re going to smell the fear on you, and they’re going to know that you’re not confident. To me, that was a big step for me to really get my head straight to be successful. That was really, really important.
Glen: I really appreciate you sharing those details with us, especially being open and honest. It’s funny, talking to you right now it’s kind of a flood of memories for me, too, thinking back to when you first pull a trigger. It sounds like it was an all-commission position for you, right? Most insurance sales positions are, especially in the life insurance business. [09:45]
Doug: Of course. Oh yeah.
Glen: Once you make that jump, that adds a layer of anxiety or fear. And then on top of it, like you were saying, if you’re inside that house and you’re scared, you don’t have the confidence, people know. People can tell if something’s off, even if they don’t understand the business or know exactly how long you’ve been doing it. So yeah, I can totally attest to that.
I remember pulling up, I had—when I first got into the industry—I had a 1992 or 1993 Toyota Camry. This car, the paint was peeling off, it had more than 200,000 miles on it. I used to try to park it like a house or two down in case, I’m not kidding. I used to park a house or two down from the person I was going to see, because my hope was if they happen to look at the window, they wouldn’t see my vehicle. Because you know, that perception, that fear.
It’s funny, because I felt like I got my own confidence, and I think a lot of it was from just over time, but it got to the point where I really didn’t care. If they weren’t going to buy from me based on my vehicle, then it is what it is. But yeah, I mean you’re absolutely right, there needs to be confidence.
I find it fascinating, it seems like you’re able to really become self-taught, and whether you’re teaching yourself or you have a great mentor or a great coach or a great trainer, it’s very important, I think, to be coachable and to be able to change and to learn and to grow, and you can’t have that hard ego. It seems like you did some real growth.
But yeah, to continue on with what you were talking about, so kind of walk through from when you finally started to figure out the neurolinguistics programming and building your confidence. It seems like you were almost able to, in a meditative state, you were able to kind of watch yourself present, which I think is awesome. Because as a trainer, you would probably want to be able to see someone’s presentation or to hear it. So if you’re able to kind of do that yourself, I think that’s fascinating. [11:55]
Doug: You know, and that was a point of my life where I was—I mentioned the books, the NLP, I mean there was a lot more to it. That was like that year where I probably did more growth physically, mentally, spiritually than any time in my life. I got back into exercising, I got back into working out, and—it’s so funny, I took that all the way to—I think part of my personality, it’s like a flaw that’s helped me, is I’ve got this personality that if I get into something, I really get into it. That’s kind of what I was doing with NLP.
Meanwhile, I’m going to the gym five days a week, and I did that for years. I backed off, I hurt my back a few years ago, but I did that for years. And that really—that physical—when you add that physical aspect of it to the mental aspect of really maybe self-healing, self-learning, it’s really, really, really, really important. So I had all that going on, too.
Now something else that I got into at that time that I don’t do it, I haven’t done it in years, is meditation. The meditation aspect of my life back then—meditation really helped me, too. I remember how hard it was just to try to clear—you start off with meditation trying to clear your mind, and literally trying—here’s what you’re thinking. In your head you’re thinking, “Don’t think for a minute.”
So how to learn how to do that, there was different techniques, so of course I got into meditation; I purchased books. I actually had a friend, thankfully, into meditation that worked with me, that taught me some really cool tricks, and so that helped, too. Basically concentration tricks, how to just close your eyes, be in a dark room, and relax, and picture yourself inhaling, then slowly exhaling, and the oxygen you’re breathing in while you’re inhaling, picture it a light blue color as you breathe it in, and exhale it. Just doing that for a couple of minutes helps to clear your mind. That was another aspect of it.
Something else that I really think helps us as humans, this is such a normal, natural thing that’s not talked about. People don’t speak about this enough because there’s different types of personalities. Some people are more outgoing than others. I’ve always had this introverted part of me, but what I find to be important is to socialize with other people, to be a part of groups, to be a member of a club, to do hobbies where you’re doing activities with other people. Socializing is super, super important.
So my thing is, for me, I think that I had to have the whole package. For anybody who has that whole package, who’s working on themselves physically, spiritually, mentally, that is socializing with people, that’s doing that regular thing that they do on the weekend. I know you get that in some sense naturally because you have children. We don’t have children. So when you’re doing things with the kids, you’re taking them to their soccer practice or what have you, stuff like that really, really—it helps us to grow and strengthen. To me, stuff like that, it’s really, really, really important.
Glen: I totally agree. Listening to you talk there, I was just thinking about professional athletes. So for anyone who’s listening, if you follow the NFL, I’m a huge Arizona Cardinals fan, and thinking about some of these top-performing athletes. While sales isn’t necessarily the same physical, you’re not necessarily getting that physical workout that you would if you’re playing an NFL football game. But mentally if you’re wanting to be a professional and you’re wanting to play at the very top of your game like a professional athlete would, I think you have to get on that same level.
So listening to you talk there, I get it, I totally do. I think you need to have the whole package. You can’t just be a top-performing salesperson if mentally you’re crippled in one way or another, whether it’s social—and we all have different forms and variations of anxiety and fears and rejection.
Rejection is one thing I wanted to touch on, too, because I think coming into the insurance business, you know, I personally have years of sales experience from different positions, selling all sorts of different things, and I even did door-to-door sales for a while. I think that some people get crippled by the amount of rejection and the amount of no’s that they hear. Unfortunately, the insurance business has a huge turnover, especially for independent agents like us.
So maybe you can speak to that? The rejection, what you do, and to go back to the professional athletes, you have to shake it off. If someone messes up in pro sports, you can’t just sit there and think about that one play for the entire game. You have to shake that off and you have to go back out there and perform at an extremely high level like that never happened. [18:23]
Doug: It’s true. But even more, I mean if you’re a professional athlete, you do your event. Your stuff happens during your event. With what we do, I mean whether you’re calling to set appointments, that’s an all-day thing, multiple days a week, to being out in the field making presentations. Or like when we first started, final expense, when I went from mortgage protection to final expense, one of the best pieces of advice that I got was to door-knock.
Now so I had never done door-knocking at that time before in my life. I had never had to just door-knock. We were taking our lead, and back then we were using mainly a door-knock—a direct mail lead, and door-knocking with the lead in hand. So you have to get yourself in a mode where you’re ok with that.
When I first was told to do that, I was like, that’s not what I was used to. When I was doing mortgage protection, even though we had to do that Sunday night where we booked our week up with mortgage protection, the final expense market’s completely different.
I was told, “Forget about making the calls. Don’t do that. Just go and door-knock the lead.” And it was like what? Are you kidding me? I’m not going to do that. That was the way I thought it. At first, I was like—and then I was like—but I kept hearing people saying it, and I was like, “Ok, I guess that’s what we’re going to do.”
But that’s the thing. So yeah, I mean so like when we first—ok, I’ll give you the nightmare scenario. So the good advice I got was to do the door-knocking. Now I know that today because, our agency, we’ve got a lot of agents that won’t call to set any appointments, they only door-knock, and we’ve got agents that have been doing it that way for years.
But when I first started, what I did know better was the areas. I didn’t know that some areas are easier to work than others. So like I remember when I first got appointed, I was studying the script to do the final expense sales. They asked me, “Where do you want to get those leads?” I was like, “Well, I live here in Hallandale, Florida. So here in Hallandale.”
And of course they were like, “No problem, we’ll do that.” Meanwhile, where I live, apparently this is one of the toughest parts of the country to sell final expense insurance at, and of course, I learned that the hard way.
Glen: Walk me through, and for anyone listening to this podcast as well, one of the main reasons I wanted to have Doug on here, not only has he been very successful in all sorts of different facets and mentally, like we’ve been talking about, I think he’s really cracked the code in some ways.
From a numbers perspective, talk about your production from when you were first trying to figure things out, that first year maybe it sounds like, where you’re kind of struggling, still doing some of this mental reprogramming, and then where your production went.
Yeah, I totally agree, and from the marketing perspective, Florida can be very tough. Some areas of Florida are nearly impossible from the marketing end, I can tell you that. From the agents I’ve worked with, I’ve heard it’s very similar, and I think a lot of people think, “Oh, Florida. There’s so many older people—if you’re selling Medicare, if you’re selling final expense insurance, it should be a no-brainer. There should be sales for days.”
But unfortunately, sometimes that can have the opposite effect, where these people are being flooded with agents and marketing and phone calls. That just even speaks more to your success that you’re able to do what you have done in your area. But yeah, walk me through really fast, the production: What was that first year like? And then once you kind of figured things out, where you went? [22:42]
Doug: Sure. So yeah, in the beginning, trying to work where I live, ok, sure, I’m in the sunshine state, that’s where everybody goes to retire. It must have the best final expense market. All the seniors are here. Ok, great.
Glen: You just wear your swimsuit, right? You’re driving around in your convertible, you’re hitting the beach in between appointments, right? It’s just sunshine and rainbows and unicorns down there?
Doug: Sure. And everybody has their checkbook out waiting for you.
Glen: And it’s double—everything’s double the premium.
Doug: What I found out early was there’s this big-city rush-around mentality. It takes me 10 minutes to get to the grocery store that’s like a couple miles away because our area is so overpopulated. I found that that carried into what’s going on with the people here. So there’s this mentality of everyone’s trying to sell me something because these folks are getting hammered with insurance agents, other people trying to sell them stuff all the time.
There was other obstacles I had to learn how to overcome. You know, they live in condominiums, a lot of gated communities where I live, so it was really—we pretty much failed out in the beginning until we realized—I had read somewhere, saw something that maybe working a rural area would be better.
So we were going to a family thing, a weekend thing in Orlando, and so we’re driving from where I live by Miami to Orlando, and there was this area, and we’re driving through it and I just remember talking to my wife going, “You know what? It’s kind of quiet here. Maybe we should just get some leads here and go try it.”
We were already on our way out. We were already almost like, “Ok, this didn’t work. What are we going to do next?” So we did, we did it, we gave it a shot, and what we realized was it was night and day. So that, to me, was very, very important, is when we speak to new agents, one of the things we help them with is to find areas that are better for our market that are going to be easier to sell in.
So it wasn’t super easy, but it wasn’t—compared to what we were—now this is the thing, we struggled so hard those first couple of months trying to sell here in Hallandale, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale areas, and this is where we were really working, and the few sales we did make were so hard, it was such a push that we actually learned a lot. So now when we went to these areas that were easier, it was night and day.
It was like, “Oh, ok.” These people are inviting us in the house, they were wanting to hear us, they were open to us talking to them. It was so much easier compared to what we were used to. It’s funny because what we were talking about here, the beating we took in the first couple of months, that failure helped to prepare us to be successful; it really did.
So my wife and I both sell, so I say ‘ours’ because she was a field agent doing it with me. She wasn’t like calling and setting my appointments, she was doing her thing, working on her book of business while I was working on my book of business. So what happened was at that point—so now it was like a new learning curve that we had to cut through.
In the beginning, there was still a lot of knocking on doors, they’re not letting you in. We were door-knocking the leads, and you get the rejection. So one of the things that I learned to do right away was—my personality is kind of like just push, push, push—was I had to force myself to take a break and not go home. That’s something that I’m going to tell you guys, when you first get into—especially this business, final expense sales, you do not want to go home for lunch. Because I am telling you, it’s going to take the life out of you and you’re probably—there’s a good chance you’re not going to go back out that day.
The next thing you know—it’s true, then you’re working these half days that don’t work. They don’t work.
Glen: Yeah, I’ve found just on a personal level that even if I just have a big lunch, it doesn’t matter if I’m in the office, out of the office, if I eat too big of a lunch, I feel like I’m just done. So yeah, and if you go all the way home, too, that’s a whole other step. [27:33]
Doug: You get distracted, you’ve got the family stuff that’s happening, and the next thing you know, you’re like, “I’ll just go back out a little later. I’ll just do this tomorrow morning.” It’s just too easy to not go out.
Especially, let’s say you go for lunch, you haven’t sold anything yet. It’s like it can work against you. So I had to actually teach myself—here I am driving out of areas to take these little breaks, and that’s what we still do today. I’ll go to Dunkin’ Donuts and take a break and have something, I’ll go to Subway and grab a salad, even if I’ve got some food with me, just to go somewhere, take that break, and keep going. Reenergize and keep going.
So back then, what was happening was we did start to get better, and the way we did things changed. I drove to this one area, so here I was like maybe I want to say eight months into the business and I was producing. It’s finally—it finally, Mariana and I were both—we were writing business. There was some decent production.
We were getting $10,000, $12,000 annualized premium months, and so we were doing ok. So I got—it’s so funny, like a couple of days in a row I got rained on and so it’s raining all day, I’m two hours away from home getting rained on, pushing my way into the houses. Now the interesting thing is when you’re door-knocking leads and it’s raining, they let you in. They kind of feel sorry for you. It’s out there raining, it’s easier to—my personality is a little pushy—it’s easier to push your way in.
But at the same time, you’re getting rained on, so it’s hard to stay out there, to fight through it. So of course there was a couple of days where I did go home early. I did that twice in a row and I said, “You know what? Screw this. I need to get on the phone and set some appointments.”
So interesting enough, it wasn’t that difficult. I think part of it was because I was bound to be successful in my head. My mindset was: Nothing’s going to stop me at this point, I’m good at doing this, we know we can do it, now let’s just try doing something a little different, which was—of course, and this brings me back to what we did, what I did in the beginning when I was in mortgage protection calling to set all your appointments.
So I had already—I was already a pro on the phone, I had already—at that point I had already done that for a couple of years consistently and was good at that. So here we go, back on the phone, it wasn’t hard, and I was sitting there thinking, “Jeez, I probably could have been doing this all along.”
But I’m glad I didn’t, because again, all that door-knocking we did, it kind of prepared us to go to the next level, to do this next thing, which what it did was it made it easier. So of course now the production went up, now we’re using the time more effectively, and was able to increase our leads because now we’re spending more time making presentations than door-knocking, and that’s when that next level was to have appointments set.
You know, we’d set six or eight appointments during a day and door-knock in between and do that two or three days a week—and I say two or three days a week because it was hard. Our days, my wife, and this is something that she was really good at from the beginning. My wife has a very strong work ethic. She has no problem putting in 12, 14-hour days. So that’s what we were doing. You add in the drive time, you’re leaving 7:00 in the morning to get to these areas, and we’re not getting home until 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00 at night. And it’s still that way.
But we went from that call to set appointments—first the door-knocking, then calling to set appointments and door-knocking in between, to the next step was we started looking for an appointment setter. And we did run through a lot. It was hard to find anyone that had a decent work ethic. So now we’ve actually got someone that works with us, she’s part of our team, the way I see it, she really is. She’s become family. She’s got such a strong work ethic. It’s so nice to have someone like that.
So now what we did then was once we found her, I realized well shoot, now I’m not needing to spend much time on the phone at all. The next level was naturally, for me, to even increase the leads more. That’s what we did during that first year this was all happening.
We went from failing to actually being able to find a way that worked, door-knocking, struggling through it the whole time, the ups and downs. To that ok, now we’re calling to set appointments, door-knocking in between. To now just handing off the leads, found someone that’s dependable, and so that was when things really, really took off. That was our—my first—I should say my first full-time calendar year, which was 2014.
So we started 2013, by the beginning of 2014, we had Diana working with us, our appointment setter. Interesting enough, that last month of 2013, we didn’t work the full year. That last month, 2013, December was when Mariana and I went to Argentina to get married, and so I only worked, I think it was 19th or the 20th, we went to Argentina. So that was actually our second month working with Diana as an appointment setter, but the crazy thing was that December was by far the best month I had ever had.
That was my first month actually doing—I don’t think I quite broke 20,000 annualized premium, but that was right around where we did. So over the next few months, I’ll never forget, we just kept doing what we were doing. So we had increased the leads, we’ve got Diana working with us full-time, and so by March of 2014, I had finally had a month where, it was weird—I was hitting, I think January and February, I did over 20,000 each month, and then in March I did over 45,000 in annualized premium. It was just a good month. It was just the system was working, the learning curve was over—well not really, we’re always learning. But I really think that it all worked that way because we really had a good base. We really had that—
Glen: You built the foundation. I mean that’s—I’m a big fan of door-knocking, I mean like I said, I have a lot of door-knocking experience. I just feel like it’s a condensed learning experience. You’re up in someone’s face, you’re going to make presentations even if you’re less confident or newer. I definitely don’t believe that door-knocking is the most efficient way of selling insurance, and I think exactly what you just kind of went through with your first 12 months. I think that is a great example.
If you can get to the point where you have an appointment setter, or even if you’re setting your own appointments and door-knocking in between, I really believe that’s much more efficient, and I’m sure your production proves that.
One other thing that I wanted to mention too that you touched on earlier, picking the right area. I feel like—and personally this is just kind of my own anecdotal evidence—I feel like that’s almost half the battle, really. If you’re marketing to an area that’s saturated with insurance agents or you’re just not getting the feedback or you’re not making the presentations, look for a new area.
I totally agree with Doug, a more rural area tends to almost always be better than the urban or metro areas. I can speak from the marketing end of the business, I can speak as an agent when I was selling in Portland versus some of the more rural areas outside of Portland. People were just so much more receptive to when I showed up. They wanted to hear what was going on, they wanted to know more about it versus when you’re in the city, kind of like what you mentioned, people are—that city mentality. Everyone’s running around, “What are you trying to sell me?”
So I totally agree with that. Doug has an amazing YouTube channel where he goes through, he does all these short clips, which I’m a big fan of condensing that information, and I know he has at least one that talks about this that I’ll try to link in the blog article that’s associated with this podcast interview. So make sure to check out Doug’s YouTube channel, a wealth of information on there. [37:25]
Glen: Absolutely. So when you’re first starting off, your production of less than 10,000 a month, you’re trying to figure it out, and then all of a sudden, you ramp up, and by the time you hit the 12-month mark, you’ve kind of done the steps, you’ve done the door-knocking, you’ve done the neurolinguistics programming, mentally I think you’ve grown, and also you have the experience and the product knowledge behind it, and it’s kind of all coming together at this point.
You have a great sales system, which I talk about every day when I’m speaking with agents. You have to develop your own system. I can’t really—I can talk about strategies, I can give you scripts, I can say, “Doug down in Florida does this and he’s killing it,” but at the end of the day, you have to figure out your own sales system, and there’s different facets to that. How you’re going to follow-up, how do you present, how do—what are your leads, how many leads are you able to work. So it sounds like you really kind of figured all of that out.
Failure is the quickest way to success, and it sounds like you kind of fell on your face like most of us do. So production-wise, after that 12 months—so you went up to what? 20,000? And then even more than that?
Doug: Yeah, the system was working, and I say the system, the system that you don’t hear people doing because it didn’t really exist until then. It was like we kind of figured out something, the combination for having a really nice lucrative career for us, that system that worked for us was working with a lot of leads.
We spent a lot of money on leads, working with a good appointment setter, having the work ethic to put in those 12 to 14 hour days, two or three days a week. That really—it really, really did. Yeah, I like what you said, because you do have to figure out what works for you. Nobody makes the exact presentation, no two agents make the exact same presentation.
I’m going to give myself a little plug and this is on our YouTube channel. It’s called “Final Expense Trainer” and we recently put up an interview with an agent named Sean McMurray, and the reason I’m bringing this up is because in this interview, he shares his presentation, and his presentation is completely—it’s like a million miles away from what I do in the house. It’s completely different, and yet he’s found extreme amounts of success doing what he’s doing. So yeah, completely, completely different.
Glen: That’s what kills me whenever I’m reading, whether it’s online or I’m talking to an agent, whatever it is, whenever I hear that there’s one way to be successful, that there’s one lead type, or one lead company, or one presentation, one script, or you have to use an appointment setter, or you shouldn’t use an appointment setter. There are so many different ways to be successful in this business.
Doug: I’m so glad you brought that up, because I am telling you, a lot of new agents fail because right off the bat it’s—that whole thing with making appointments, calling to set appointments, that’s a skillset that is kind of important to get that next level. To me you’re not going to ever next level your finances.
Look, I don’t think you’re going to be able to make a six-figure income if you don’t have the ability and don’t put forth the effort and learn, go through the learning curve that it’s going to take to learn how to set your own appointments. Because especially if you’re—if that’s not something that comes natural to you, which it wasn’t for me in the beginning. I remember those Sunday nights working for The Hartford where you’d get the no’s on the phone, the no’s on the phone where I’d go outside and walk around the building and want to scream and pull my hair out and have to take a break and get myself psyched out, and then come back in and just go, dial, dial.
So it is a skillset that you have to learn. And if you don’t, if you try to skip past that, and I see agents do this all the time, and I tell them over and over, “Look, you can’t do this.” If you’re doing this simply to work less, ok, you can do that. Your income isn’t going to be very well because now you’re blowing a lot of money on an appointment setter. I mean I love Diana, she’s family, but I still believe that she cannot set appointments the way that I can.
Nobody, no appointment setter should be able to set appointments the way that the agent paying for those leads, spending money on those leads should do. If they’re your leads and you’re spending money on them, you’re going to work them harder than any appointment setter. So if you try to like, “Oh, let me get an appointment setter. Hey, I’ve been doing this for three months, six months,” even less, nine months, and you’re just not good at setting the appointments, you’re just not comfortable doing it, you need to figure out a way to get past that.
You really need to make that happen because—this is how I look at it. If you’re not good at it, let’s just say you’re not good at it, and you hire an appointment setter, you can’t—it’s not fair to expect this person to do better with your leads than what you do with your own leads. I mean she’s not spending all this money on the leads, she’s just getting paid to set the appointments. Unfortunately, most appointment setters—and this is a big reason that appointment setter thing doesn’t work for a lot of agents anyways—what they do is they like to pick those low-hanging fruit.
They’re going to make the dial—they’ll dial through the calls the first two, three, four times maybe of the new leads, and what happens is in the beginning, they dial through the leads the first time, they get the agents 30 leads, let’s say. They dial through those leads, they get five or six appointments right off the bat, then they dial through them again, then they get three appointments, then they dial through them again, and then they get one or two appointments.
What they’ll do is, in most cases, your appointment setter is going to stop at that point, I hate to say it. And then they’re going to be like—if you got the wrong person they’re going to be like, “Yeah, I called them like seven times. That’s what I got.” They’re not going to tell you the truth. The simple fact is you’re paying them per appointment, so why should they work extra hard? If you pay them by the hour, how are you going to know that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing by the hour?
So that’s where the hard part is, to find someone good. That’s why I say you can’t bypass that learning how to set appointments stage. You’ve got to—if you’re going to burn through your leads, you’re going to burn through your leads. Here’s something I will tell you, and this is not marketer speak, this is the fact. If I get on the phone and I call someone to set an appointment and they tell me, “I’m not interested in having anybody come to my house. Please leave me alone,” click. You go knock on that lead two weeks later.
You don’t know if that person’s having a bad day or if that’s just how they are, because they’re getting calls from people trying to sell them stuff all the time. You go knock on that lead, door-knock that lead, and there’s a good chance you’re probably most likely going to get a different person, a different personality that answers the door.
I can’t tell you how many times they’ve said to me, “Didn’t I tell you,” or like with the appointment setter, they’ll say, “I told her not to send anybody to my house.”
“Oh my goodness, I’m sorry, Mrs. Jones. You know what? I think I did talk to you, I’m so sorry. You know what? I’m already here, this normally takes about 15 minutes. Why don’t we just cut it real short? Can we sit down for just a few minutes? Maybe I’ll surprise you. I might be able to do something really good here.”
You can’t—this is the crazy thing. They’ll let you in, the next thing you know, they’re hugging you on the way out after you made the sale. They’re so glad that you were persistent. I’ve had them say to me, “You’re very persistent. I like that about you.”
Glen: I can’t agree more with that. Sometimes what I’ve found is the people who were harder to present to, a lot of times there are other agents who probably got that same lead or a pre-write, that person submitted a lead at a previous time, whatever type of lead it is, and they failed. They failed to talk to the person because that person told them no just like they tried to tell you no, but you take that extra step and you make sure.
It really doesn’t matter what you’re selling, how you’re selling, even if it’s selling on the phone. You can call that person back and try to talk to them another day and maybe they’re having a better day, maybe you caught them at a different time, just like you said. Knocking on the door, I totally agree, I used to do that myself. Yeah, and you’d be surprised, sometimes you get these terrific deals out of there and you thought they were just going to scream at you the second you knocked on their door. So I totally agree. [47:30]
Doug: It goes the other way, too. When they’re—I’ve noticed that sometimes you get people that are just—they’re a hard sale, and they don’t buy. But there are times when, and to me this is where it’s about work ethic, it’s about effort, that whole being prepared, that whole not taking no for an answer immediately, not giving up immediately. There’s sales that we make that are hard closes. I mean they’re really not being easily persuaded.
When you put forth the extra effort, you jump through some of these extra hoops and spend this extra time with them, a lot of times they turn out to be the best sales. So that’s why—and I’m bringing it back to that whole when you’re setting appointments, skipping that process, trying to go right to an appointment setter. That to me, it’s part of like, how do I say this? It’s a track record that isn’t going to lead you to success.
When you try skipping things like the new agents that won’t door-knock leads. Sometimes I talk to agents and I let them—they’ll call me about final expense and I’ll say, “Well have you done research? Is this something you really want to do?” And I tell them, I say, “Part of this is we’re taking—when you’re new you’re going to need to knock on people’s doors without setting an appointment. That’s part of it.” Some agents are afraid of that, and it’s like it’s normal to be afraid of that, but you’ve got to be able to do this type of activity to be successful.
Another thing that we touched on, that traveling. The best areas I work in are two, three hours away, so a lot of times I get local agents, Miami guys, Fort Lauderdale guys that call me and they’re like, “Yeah, I want to get into final expense. Tell me what do you guys do? What’s your program?”
I tell them, I say, “Well look, I don’t know if you’ve done the research, but where we live, it’s really hard. So are you ok with driving, two, three, four, five hours away to work those areas, maybe stay a night or two in a hotel every now and then?”
I say that to some people and it’s click, they hang up on you. It’s funny. Every now and then I’ll get this and I had a guy do this, this was a couple months ago. This kid, this young guy, and he’s like, “Yeah, I talked to this company, man. They wanted me to drive all over the place to sell insurance.” I said, “Brother, I don’t want you to do anything, man. You do whatever you want and have a great day, my friend.”
I mean it’s like the mindset, he was already set up to go down that path that wasn’t going to work for our industry. It’s just—it really is. The guys and girls that put forth more effort in everything from this type of preparing themselves, getting the triple lineup, that mental, physical, spiritual act together, all the way to doing all the work, just struggling through the pain, to being brand new in the field, door-knocking your leads at 3:00 in the afternoon in Arizona where it’s 110 degrees out, you’ve got to be able to push through that.
You’ve got to be able to do what it takes to move forward to be successful.
Glen: There’s a mental toughness. There’s a minimum mental toughness that’s required, and I’ve talked about this before, but you don’t have to be the smartest, you don’t have to be the best at sales or the best at insurance sales. I mean just by having a strong work ethic, I have seen people time and time again prove this, that you can make an insane amount of money. You can have a terrific career in the insurance industry as a final expense agent, senior insurance, whatever line of insurance it is, just by having the mental toughness and being willing to accept those no’s when they come, and being able to push through those hard times.
I mean talk about those days when you’re new, I mean you’re spending money on leads, and that’s something we haven’t even talked about. I remember coming into the business and when I got sat down they said, “Ok, it’s going to be $2,000 for leads this week.” And I just remember looking at the agency manager and I was like, “Man, I don’t know what crack this guy’s smoking, but it must be pretty good. He wants me to pay him to make money? This is insane. There’s no way.”
So I mean when you’re spending money on marketing and you’re not making sales, it can be very difficult. And that’s where I think it hurts. [52:44]
Doug: It hurts. It’s painful. In every way, just about. That whole being prepared, the more that you do to be prepared, it always works out. The guys that—I’ll give you an example. This week I see what our agents are writing, and I see the issues they’re having with some of the policies.
So one of our newer agents, and he’s sold final expense, he’s been doing it a few months before us. We’re like his second move. He found a way to get better commissions and better leads and all that stuff, and so now he’s working with us. His first couple apps were like—I’m looking at the issues, and usually like you miss something, it’s normal, you make a mistake. But there was like four or five issues on each app.
I’m sitting there thinking to myself, “Has he done anything? Did he even look at the application? Did he even do any research at all?”
What I do—we have a training program. So we put up all of our new agents on the training program, whether they’re brand new or not, and what it does is it’s designed to get you up and running within 30 days selling final expense. When I say our training program, I’m very proud of it, the way we put it together, because part of it, you log into this program and it teaches you—there’s a course that teaches you how to make a presentation. There’s another course that teaches you basically the soup-to-nuts aspect of my industry, final expense sales.
So then on our website, we’ve got all these videos that aren’t available to the public—like me teaching how to overcome specific objections. Like we have a formula to overcome objections, so we’ve got all this material. So what I do for this first 30 days is I’m sending you emails of what you should be doing over the next couple of days to prepare yourself for the next assignment.
So you know, I guess to make a long story short, I know who does it and who doesn’t. So like when I saw this, I was like, ok, so—I guess this is what I’m getting to. The more you put into learning to do something new with final expense sales, for example, the more you put into learning, memorizing a presentation, learning the main product, the underwriting, being prepared, like having everything that you need when you go to someone’s house. I mean I’ve had agents call me from the client’s house who forgot like the pricing books, who didn’t even have like application stuff, silly stuff like that. The more you put into all that type of preparation, the more likely you’re going to be successful sooner.
Glen: Do your homework. Do your homework. [55:58]
Doug: I know, it’s like it’s so silly, but it’s like it needs to be said. So I know—when we have new agents, I see what they do right off the bat, I know who’s putting a lot of effort into it and who’s putting nothing into it. It’s night and day. It’s night and day. You’re always going to reap what you sow.
Glen: One hundred percent. You can’t expect to make a million dollars doing 10 hours a week out the gate with little knowledge. You have to do your homework, and I talk about this all the time, and I think that’s such a great point to make. Regardless of whether it’s through your training program, whether you’re just reading independently, whether you’re studying, whether you have a mentor you’re working with, maybe someone’s shadowing you or you’re shadowing someone else, you really have to put that time in.
I can tell you, firsthand experience—so before I got into the insurance business, I probably spent like 90 days, at least three months, it felt like, just reading. Just reading about final expense, Medicare, and there’s all different lines of insurance and different carriers and agencies, and IMOs, FMOs, and I felt like I had a pretty good grasp. I went out, got my license, quit my job, and then you’re out in the field and it’s like, “Oh my God, I still don’t know anything.”
That was my gut-check is first couple weeks I thought I was prepared and I wasn’t. So I know there’s agents out there who probably prepared significantly less than me and still thought they could go out and be successful. You really can’t stop at all. You have to continue to prepare, things change, carriers—
Doug: You can’t give up.
Glen: You can’t stop.
Doug: You can’t give up. It’s like giving up is something I see a lot. When I say give up, I mean like I’ll get this every now and then, I’ll get someone that’ll tell me they’re having a hard time logging onto like one of the—let’s say, the insurance agency’s portals to check their business. Or they were on there, but they couldn’t find something. When I know it’s like an easy company, one of the easier carriers, and they tell me that, I’m like, ok, so they tried for a minute and then gave up. They tried for three minutes and then gave up.
Little stuff like that, just you’ve got to push through and just keep trying. You’ve got to figure things out. If you don’t try to figure things out on your own, well is it fair that you be successful and have a six-figure income? Of course not. The people that are making the big bucks are the ones that are busting their butt, they’re doing everything possible. They’re going the extra mile, they’re failing and then trying again. They’re not just giving up.
Glen: Yeah, and what can make this so difficult is you see these people who are extremely successful and they make it look easy, whether it’s in the insurance business or outside of it. You’re like, “Oh man, that looks easy. I can do that. He just wants me to say this and I’m going to make a sale and I can do 20 sales a week,” whatever it is.
And then all of a sudden, you’re like, “Oh wow, this is—there’s more to this. I need to learn more. This is an objection I didn’t expect.” I mean there’s just so many variables and you can’t stop learning, whether you’re a master or whether you’re brand new. Things are always changing. I think that’s so important.
Doug, I don’t want to keep you, I know your time is extremely valuable, and I appreciate you coming on. So just to kind of wrap this up, if it comes down to new agents and obviously being that you were one and you get to now work with new agents and you’re training them and mentoring them, any kind of final advice on something that’s going to be applicable to everyone as far as what to do or maybe just a common mistake that you see a lot of these agents make, that you’re like, “If anything, don’t do this?”
I would just love to hear kind of some final words or some final advice for our listeners before you go. [1:00:20]
Doug: You know, I’ll make it real quick. It’s going to come down to work ethic, and you have to ask yourself: How much are you willing to put into something? If you aren’t willing to put 100 percent of yourself into whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish, let’s say with final expense sales, into learning this business, you’re probably not going to do too good at it.
The guy that puts in the 100 hours a week, and I know that sounds like a big scary—it’s a big scary number, but that pretty much is about how much time my wife and I put into our businesses. You know, being self-employed, running an insurance agency, it’s a lot of work. It’s normal to do 80 to 100 hours of something. I’m not saying we’re constantly, constantly doing something, but I’m pretty much, you know—when we’re awake, in most cases we’re doing something for our business.
So the person that puts in that—I hate to say this, but life insurance, it’s normal to put in 60 to 80 hours a week when you first get into it. If you’re not willing to put in that kind of effort into a new business, how are you going to succeed at it? I mean, how are you going to make it?
So my advice is to make up your mind to commit, and don’t take no for an answer to yourself. Don’t take failure as an option. Don’t accept it. Do what you have to do, whatever it takes to prepare yourself. And then if you start it and you’re not prepared, do whatever it takes to keep pushing forward. Because if you can do that, you’re going to learn stuff about yourself. You’re going to have a good chance of being very successful in anything you do, especially final expense life insurance sales.
Glen: I was going to say that’s applicable to everyone everywhere. I mean that mentality is probably one of the single greatest things that I’ve been able to come up with, that I refuse to stop at anything but success. You really—you have to—because there’s going to be some days, and they still come today, there’s still days where I’m like, “Man, I just feel like I went 10 rounds in a boxing ring and I feel like I got knocked out today.” And you know what? You’re going to wake up tomorrow and you’re going to go right back out there and you’re going to keep doing it.
Doug: That’s right.
Glen: So that’s terrific advice. I really appreciate having you on, Doug.
Doug: My pleasure, Glen.
Glen: I’m looking forward to talking to you more.