Annuity Agents Alliance Blog

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Annuity Marketing Budget Management vs. Annuity Lead Management

If you want to become a top producer, somewhere around the the 2-3 million dollar productions range you need to switch from annuity marketing budget management to annuity lead management.

What is Annuity Marketing Budget Management?

Annuity marketing budget management is the process of determining how much you can spend on marketing for at least the next six months and then spending that amount regardless of sales volume

As you get capitalized, you consistently increase your budget until you are spending somewhere around 10-15% of revenues on marketing.  Your goal with this type of marketing budget is to make sure you are consistently spending money on marketing but not spending more than you can maintain.  The problem with this system is that what you can afford does not always produce the number of annuity leads required to keep your calendar full.

What is Annuity Lead Management?

Your #1 business goal as an annuity agent is to get capitalized enough that lead flow becomes more important than managing lead expenses.  At this point, you realize that the most expensive annuity lead is the lead you don’t have and your focus changed from managing your marketing budget to identifying how many annuity leads you need every week to keep a full calendar  Once you have determined the number of leads you need each week, add 10% (i.e. if you need ten leads you will manage for 11 leads). 

The next step separates the men from the boys.  Now you need to spend whatever i
s required to give you and average lead count that will keep your calendar full.  When you start the process of annuity lead management your ROI might shrink and your lead expense as a percentage of revenues might increase.  Don’t be alarmed!  Eventually your revenues will catch up and you will get to a stage in your business where you cannot out expense your revenues.  This is the point where momentum becomes as powerful as the concept of compound interest and where your confidence goes ballistic.  This is also the point where you don’t need your clients, they need you, and you become a low hanging fruit picker.  If you got to the point where you are selling 2 to 3 million per year you have already proven you can sell.  Now all you need to do is keep your calendar full by switching your priorities from lead expense to lead flow and your production will reach levels that very few annuity agents ever experience.

In both circumstances you never turn off your annuity marketing for vacations, holidays, or anything else.

If the Annuity Leads Don't Come to You, Go to Them

I just got off the phone with an agent (I will call him Joe) and we had the typical conversation about annuity seminar leads drying up.  During the conversation he told me that he has sold 180 million in annuity premiums over the last 30 years.  I won’t tell you where he is from because you wouldn’t know where it is anyway.  Basically, he lives in the middle of nowhere.  In fact, he joked that the number one product in his town is meth and that his town has the lowest income per capita in his entire state.  The closest major city is over two hours away.

He said to me, “People have told me for years that I should move to a bigger city where I could get more annuity leads, and I guess they are right, but this is where my family is.  More money is not worth moving away from my family.


We chose where we live and we live with what we chose.

We all have challenges in our business; location issues, health issues, money issues, lead flow issues, and many, many more issues.  The question is what are you going to do about it?  Are you going to be a victim of your circumstances or are you going to work hard enough and innovate so you can live where you want to live and have the lifestyle you want to have?

I cannot help but be impressed with Joe and his success selling annuities.  He has put his butt in the car over and over again to travel to his clients for over 30 years.  He has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in annuity marketing expenses so he always had someone to show his products, even when it was not easy for him to spend that money.  I did not sense any complaint or regret for all those miles Joe put on the road.  He has made hundreds of thousands of dollars per year helping his clients with safe annuity products and has provided his family with a lifestyle far beyond his small town roots.  He takes vacation when he wants, coaches football when he wants, and he truly knows how great he has it.

Make sure your work ethic matches your dreams my friends.  Dreams don't become reality without effort, risk, and perseverance.

5 Elements Top Annuity Producers Possess - My Two Cents

I ran across this article in LifeHealthPro and thought it hit the nail right on the head.

5 Elements Top Producers Possess

In the article it says, "A recent study examined the performance, personality, skills, and attributes of 79,747 salespeople from 4,317 organizations and found five elements that all top salespeople had in common.  What I have done is taken the elements they identified and then interpreted how they each relate to top annuity producers."

Allianz

Jack Marrion, President of Advantage Compendium, then goes on to make his comments about this study and how they apply to annuity salespeople.  I personally think Jack is a genius and I hate to even consider adding value to his comments but I thought it might be helpful for the partners I work with to give some feedback based on my experience working with multi-million dollar annuity agents.

1. Possess Selling-Related Knowledge

Top Producers Waste Less Time with Bad Prospects

Jack Marrion says, "Knowing who is a receptive prospect was the most important factor in being a top producer. Top producers identified the prospects that were most likely to buy and ignored the rest. They didn't waste time making presentations to prospects that don't have the authority to buy."

This is so true!  I can't tell you how many times I see agents milking the same dried up cow.  You can't make grape juice out of raisins.  It's simple, get more annuity leads and you won't be desperate.  A good annuity marketing strategy allows you to chose your clients, not chase them.

"Top Producers are Knowledge-brokers that Have Know-Why, Know-Who, and Know-How"

Jack Marrion also says, "Top producers are perceived by prospects as knowledge-brokers in that they possess information that is unavailable to others-----due to connections, background, expertise--and they will use this information to benefit the prospect."

Study, study, study!  Chad and I spend a minimum of 5-8 hours per week reading and studying annuity product and financial information.  Google everything you don't know about but should, bookmark your resources, and read, read, read.

2. Adapt

"Top Producers are Adaptive Sellers Who are in Tune with a Prospect's Emotions"

According to Jack, "Top producers match the selling strategy to the needs of the prospect. They rank high on emotional intelligence. When top producers feel a fact-based presentation isn't connecting with a prospect they will change to a story-based."

This is all about on-the-job training.  If I had a dollar for every time an agent asked me for a copy of our presentation like we had it on a flip chart.  Good salespeople are students of failure.  Why didn't this work?  Why didn't I connect with that client?  Why didn't they understand?  Success is the return-on-investment for failure.  If you are reading this I probably don't have to tell you that there is no opportunity to capitalize off of failure more than in the sales business.  Those who succeed are those who mitigate the chance of repeating their mistakes.  Be observant of what you do right and what you do wrong when you are selling.  Write down the good, bad, and ugly.  Repeat the good and remember the bad so you don't repeat it.  There is no flip-chart for success in annuity sales.

3. Cope with Ambiguity

"Top Producers Cope Better with Uncertainty"

Jack says that, "The sales process is one of ongoing uncertainty and top producers face just as much uncertainty as everyone else. The difference is top producers have developed coping mechanisms that permit them to function is spite of the uncertainty."

This is one that I personally struggle with, just ask Chad.  I am a total control and planning freak.  The reality is that nothing ever works just like you want it to.  You will never have your expectation met and every time something is going perfect all you have to do is wait a few minutes for it to change for the worse.  If you are like me, I have two suggestions.  First, get over it!  Except that your expectations will not be met and be happy if they are.  Salespeople are the worst on this issue; they cry for justice and fairness like children at times.  The best you can hope for is to work with people that have integrity and always make every effort to fix any problems that develop.  If there was one word to describe this business it would be "change".  Second, go to Amazon and buy the book, "Who Moved My Cheese".  Sometimes I am just flat out amazed at the temper tantrums some agent have over what turns out to be a vary small issue.  Don't be one of those agents!  Learn to go with the flow and make adjustments without getting emotional about it.  Things that seem bad don't always turn out to be bad and at the very least they are not usually as bad as they seem.  Focus on the solution, not the problem.

4. Have a Higher Cognitive Aptitude

"Top Producers are Smart"

Jack Marrion points out that , "Top producers have above average IQs. This does not mean that one needs to be Albert Einstein to be a $10-million annuity producer, but it does mean there are no dummies in the top ranks."

Not everyone can be a genius (I know I never will) but everyone has the choice to be smart (see the second part of #1).  Also, don't just be smart, be wise!  Smart is the acquisition of knowledge; wisdom is knowing what to do with the knowledge.

5. Work Engagement

"Top Producers Work"

Jack concludes by saying, "Top producers are self-motivated and proactive. Because of their drive, top producers tend to be leaders in other areas of their lives as well."

I will put our calendars up against anybody's.  If you are proud to show me your calendar then there is a pretty good chance you will become a top producer.  Also, Chad and I both have leadership roles in our business, but also in other organizaions like our churches.  Find a leadership position in some other facet of your life.  It will help prune your character and build your confidence.


Source: "Drivers of sales performance: a contemporary meta-analysis. Have salespeople become knowledge brokers?" Verbeke, Dietz & Verwaal. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 39: 407-428; 2011.

Your Annuity Business Plan: How Dreams Become Reality

Have you ever heard that most people spend more time planning a vacation than their retirement?

I have a new one.  Most annuity agents are not business owners and they spend more time planning a vacation than developing a marketing plan and setting goals.

Our partners hopefully don’t reflect that statement and I know for sure most of you don’t.  Here is an email I got from one of our partners today.  What you see in this email is how dreams become reality.



Hi Anthony,

Just thought I’d give you a little update on the state of our business. July was a good month (although not as good as we had hoped).  We ended up with $725k in annuity production in July. We’re currently at $2,374,926.91 YTD.   Last year our total production was only $1,431,468.06.  Our goal for 2011 has always been $5 million (we’re a little behind). One thing that’s hurting us is cancels. We’ve taken over $200k in cancels for July and over $800k in cancels for the year.

Our goal is to start  Safe Money Radio sometime in the fall. Our cash reserves (approximately $16k) are getting better, but still not to where we feel comfortable making the move. We’re currently on auto-pay for annuity leads from Annuity.com; we also commit to 20 Pre-Qualified Annuity Leads per month. Of course we also have miscellaneous expenses and are in the process of adding health insurance. We’d like to maintain our current marketing while adding Safe Money Radio.  Our goal is to have 3 to 4 months of expenses in cash reserve. Once are on the air, I really see 2012 as being a blow-out year for us.


By the way, you sell big you lose big.  In July We had over $800K in cancels.  $400K from Bret Roby and $400K from Chad Owen.  When Bret got back from his mission trip in Africa he immediately went out and wrote a $200K case and when Chad got back from his vacation in Florida he wrote a $200K case the next day during a policy delivery. The $56K in chargebacks have already been covered by other issuing business.  When you get hit with cancels focus on the future, not the past.  It’s not what you lose but what you gain that matters. 

As you can see from the email above this partner is at least on track to double last year’s annuity production and may very well hit his goal because a good growth plan is exponential.  Not bad for an agent that got their insurance license just a few years ago!

There is more to being in this business than just buying an annuity lead; you have to have a plan. If your marketing vehicle is in park, now is a good time to put it into drive.

Key Components to Running a Successful Annuity Business

How do you sell millions in annuities?  How do you grow your business?

Annuity sales is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  Establish a marketing budget and increase it constantly.  Even if you start out modestly, say $1,500 per month, and increased your budget by $100 per month your annuity lead budget would more than double in two years to over $3,900.  That budget, in most cases, would be enough money to run a Safe Money Radio show and buy six Pre-Qualified Leads or two Annuity.com Lead orders.


The point is to always grow your annuity marketing and reinvest your capital to buy annuity leads.  Marketing capitalization works just like compound interest; a small increase in your annuity marketing dollars can have a huge impact on your gross revenues.  If you look at 2009 to 2010 (see data below) you will see only a .6 increase in Chad Owen's (co-founder of Annuity Agents Alliance) annuity lead count.  This would have been even higher except for the lack of Annuity.com leads in 2010 but regardless, Chad's sales increased by over 5 million.  In 2011 his lead count increased by 3 leads per week and he is on track to grow his volume by at least another 5 million.  If I went back to 2008, 2007, and 2006 the trend would continue; less leads and less sales.

You will also notice that we are constantly adjusting our lead marketing to get maintain our lead counts.  The most expensive lead is the one you don’t have.  We look at your business constantly and shift and/or increase our marketing dollars for what brings the highest return on investment but more importantly brings us a consistent flow of annuity leads.

Growth is an exponential formula made up of the following components:

  • Consistency: Never turn off your annuity leads.

  • Incremental Marketing Increases: Too little annuity leads is better than nothing.  To many and your will blow your budget.  The key is to always be increasing your marketing until you are consistently receiving a slight annuity leads surplus (in other words, a few more leads than you can get to).

  • Reinvestment: Pay your your business first.  Strip every luxury out of your life, if needed, and feed your business with marketing dollars.

  • Faith: The annuity business is not for cowards.  All successful businessmen are risk takers.  You need to spend money on marketing and trust in your abilities to convert your annuity leads.

  • Data: If you don't know the numbers of your business you don't know where you have been or where you are going.  At the very least keep track of the number of annuity leads you receive, now much you spent on your leads, and how much revenue they produced.

  • Effort: Show me your calendar!  If your calendar has as many annuity appointments as our calendars, watch out, success is around the corner.  There is no such thing as a 9-5 business when you are the owner.

  • Time: Success doesn't happen overnight but if you follow these suggestions you will be amazed how quickly success will come. 

  • Education: If you are an annuity salesman then you are in college for life.  Always be studying products, strategies, sales concepts, etc., etc.  The amount of TV you watch for entertainment purposes has a direct correlation to how much money you are not going to make.  Leaders are readers.

  • Relaxation: Smell the roses along the way.  Schedule mandatory vacation even if you can only afford a low cost break.  You need to recharge if you are working as hard as we do.

  • Small Things: Don't make the mistake of stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.  I have partners that don't have their Retire Village website set up or don't use the Safe Money Book or Kit.  Are you serious?