Insurance Agent Contracting – Direct Or Not Direct?

I have been asked this question many times over the years by new insurance agents. I have also been on many online Insurance Forums were I’ve seen some very bias opinions on the subject. So, I’d like to offer my opinion as it relates to the suggestion that it is better to contract directly with the insurance carrier rather than an MGA (Managing General Agent) or IMO (Insurance Marketing Organization).

There are a lot of very good MGA’s and IMO’s around the country that offer some very good (vested) contracts, services, incentives and support. You would not have these additional services, incentives and support being directly contracted with the carriers. Some examples would include weekly webinar sales and product training. Most insurance carriers do offer some product training but it’s nice to have access to much more and from a variety of experienced professionals in the insurance business.

Another would be incentive trips. Let’s use Assurant as the example. They do not offer sales incentive trips to agents. But many of our contracted agents have enjoyed very nice All-inclusive trips for years for their Assurant sales business they sold under our MGA channel. That’s in addition to getting 20% and 25% fully vested commission contracts with optional advancing. For carriers like Golden Rule, World or American Community that have offered agent sales incentive trips, many agents have qualified for two trips (the carriers’ and ours) with the same sales premium!

Other great value added benefits most quality MGA’s or IMO’s may offer (I know we do) is underwriting, product and quoting support, lead credits and marketing allowances. They enjoy as good or better commission levels than what they can get if they were direct to the carriers. On 98% of the products they are paid directly from the carriers just like they would be if they were contracted directly with them. Our contracted agents know at any time they could ask for a release to contract direct to the carriers of their choice. They choose not to do so because of all the reasons mentioned above. You do need to be sure you’re vested on your block of business under the MGA or IMO. This way if you choose to change your contracts later your renewals follow you.

Let me use Golden Rule as another example why we have many agents prefer to due their GR business through us then direct to the carrier. They get paid twice per month through us. Direct to the carrier is only once per month. They can qualify for 24% commission at five sales per month (60 per year) instead of 100 per year direct. They can have a 9 month advance commission contract. Direct they only get offered an “as earned contract”. Their GR premium qualifies for our annual sales incentive trips in addition to qualifies them for any cash bonuses or incentives trips GR may be running at the same time. Finally, they still own (are vested on) their business and can move at any time.

So don’t just believe the notion that it’s always better to contract direct with the carrier. Instead, do your homework, know what the contract your signing says, weight all the pro’s and con’s and make the best decision that is right for you. It wouldn’t hurt to ask for an unconditional release letter from the MGA or IMO before signing on with them in case things did not work the way you expected. If the MGA’s and IMO’s are worth their salt, they will not have a problem giving you one. Hope it helps you in whatever decision you make moving forward.

How Ideals Block Your Effectiveness in Direct Sales and Network Marketing

Have you ever pictured your ideal vacation? Perhaps at one time you have pictured the ideal holiday celebration or the ideal vacation. Surely you have a concept of the ideal direct sales or network marketing business. However, while you might have thought of the ideal sales presentation, the ideal recruit, or the ideal customer, you probably never considered how ideals might be getting in the way of you experiencing what you desire in your business.

Here is a definition to use as a reference point.

Ideal: Thought of as perfect or as a perfect model, exactly as one would wish.

Most likely that definition did not jump out and grab you because it is what you expected. But what I want you to notice is that from the standpoint of “IDEAL,” anything less than ideal is not only seen as something less than perfect, but also as something that is not good enough or not right!

This is where ideals get rather tricky because once you attempt to run your business from your ideals it is nearly impossible to experience your customers, your sales team, and even your company as ideal. In other words, your business will have a difficult time living up to your idea of “the perfect business.” There will always be something or someone in it to keep you upset and/or dissatisfied.

You are never going to be able to control every situation or person. You can do a brilliantly persuasive demonstration, and the person who ordered $300 of products may cancel his/her order if he/she loses his/her job the next day. You can be wonderfully supportive of a new recruit, and that individual may become overwhelmed and paralyzed by the personal responsibility required for a home business. You may be a stud at selling a line of products that your company decides to pull from the product line. Because all of those situations are less than ideal, it is easy to see how situations like that create upset in one’s perception of one’s business. Look at what can happen, however, when you let go of your ideals and you replace them with values.

The following is a definition that might also prove useful.

Value: That which is desirable or worthy of esteem for its own sake. A thing of quality, having intrinsic worth.

A few weeks ago I looked at replacing my ideals for values and I experienced a rather remarkable breakthrough. I could not help noticing that from the standpoint of my ideals, our house was less than adequate with its beat-up baseboards, its popcorn ceilings, and its cookie cutter outside appearance. However, by exchanging my ideals of “house” for my values of “home,” I realized that the things I value were clearly expressed – Mind, Self-Expression, Fun, and Joy.

The gorgeous musical instruments and the many bookcases in every room readily communicate our family’s passion for Mind. The artwork collected from our travels around the world and all of our families framed achievements highlight our appreciation of self-expression. The impressive number of board games and puzzles as well as apple computers clearly broadcasts, “Fun activities start here!”

By considering what I valued in a home as opposed to what constituted my ideal house I realized that my joy filled my home. Do I need to mention that becoming awake to your joy creates far more possibilities than paying attention to your limitations? When you focus on the specific details of ideals you lose sight of the unlimited possibilities available from values.

As you move full swing into the new year or any new day for that matter, I encourage you to take a moment right now to reflect on the values you wish to express in your business. When I looked at my work and business I knew immediately that I wanted to express Passion, Joy, Fun, and Gratitude. Certainly I do not expect my values to be the same as yours but let us pretend for a minute that they were.

If the person who ordered $300 of products calls to cancel his/her order the following day, your expression of gratitude that he/she called to tell you right away would most likely leave him/her with the impression that you are the quintessential professional. Let’s see, when customers start thinking of you as a model professional, can you see how they might tell more people about you?

If a new recruit ends up feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed by the personal responsibility required for a home business, your emphasis on fun and joy may be the magnet that pulls him/her to attend a monthly meeting, where he/she ultimately gets what he/she needs to overcome his/her initial resistance to personal growth.

If your company decides to pull your favorite product line from its collection, your commitment to passion for your business and customers could allow you to discover that you have the ability to get fascinated with your company’s other products.

Unfortunately, your ideals about the way all orders should transpire, your ideals about “good recruits” and what they look like and what they achieve in their first 30 days, and your ideals about your company’s policies and activities all get in the way of you creating and running a direct sales business that leaves you energized and ready to take on the world!

Take a few minutes today to notice some of the ideals you have in your business in the areas of your customers, your sponsor, your recruits, and your company. Reflect on the times you felt frustrated in any of those areas and how your ideals got in the way by making situations or people wrong because they failed to meet your ideals. Then ponder the values that would most inspire you in your business and commit to operating your direct sales business with those values as your foundation.

Author, Speaker, and Sales Trainer, Tammy Stanley shows network marketers how to experience prospecting victory with powerful marketing, selling, and leadership strategies.

What is Internet Or Online Marketing?

Most of us probably consider ourselves rather well informed on the subject of internet marketing, which is also known as online marketing, web marketing, i-marketing, or e-Marketing. After all, we browse the internet, do some blogging, communicate in social media sites, and also see how online advertisers are trying to persuade us to buy. While most people probably do understand what internet marketing is, the word itself has often been misunderstood and used loosely even by those in the internet marketing field.When a blogger speaks of internet marketing, he is actually talking about blogging. When an affiliate marketer speaks of internet marketing, he is actually talking about selling. When an online network marketer speaks of internet marketing, he is actually talking about recruiting and prospecting. Each of these people is talking about one part of the total internet marketing structure.So what really is internet marketing?Internet Marketing is a total system of interacting web business activities designed to plan the product, price, promotion, and how to distribute the want-satisfying products and services to present and potential customers.
Product (Is your product: innovative – truly unique, adaptive – replacement of existing product, or imitative – new to your company but not new to the internet marketplace. Branding and packaging do influence products),
Price (How much do you think I can get for this item? If the price of the product is too high or too low, it may have positive or negative effect on the company’s internet marketing campaigns),
Promoting your business online is to persuade internet users to accept, resell, recommend, or use the product, service, or act favorably upon the idea being promoted, and
Distribute or Place (Since your product is now ready for its market, you need to establish distribution strategies, including selecting channels of distribution).Most internet marketers define internet marketing as the advertising of products and services on the internet. This narrow definition reflects the sales and selling orientation which has permeated so much of online business. Advertising on the internet is one part of online promotion (others include online personal selling, online sales promotion, and online publicity), and online promotion is one part of the total internet marketing program. It should be noted particularly that “online promotion” and “online sales promotion” are different. Online marketing is not any one activity, nor is it exactly the sum of several; rather, it is the result of the interaction of many activities such design, development, online advertising, and online sales.However, we need to also recognize that i-marketing has other dimensions far broader than our definition. In the design aspect of internet marketing, your web site is very important. It is where the traffic will be directed to and also where most of the sales will come from. So you need to have a uniquely designed web site that is well structured, search engine optimized with the right keywords and description, contents and graphic rich, and has the marketing elements to improve your visitors’ conversion ratio.In the development aspect, the product planning is very important. You need to plan on developing or getting the right product or service to the internet marketplace, and at the right price. Will your product be sold through affiliate marketing, network marketing, directly to consumers, or directly to other businesses (B2B)? There is many other online business models you can develop based on the specific needs of each person or business when launching your web marketing campaign.Your online advertising aspect is also one part of the total online marketing program. There are several online media you can use to create brand awareness about your product, service, idea, or company.In the online sales aspect of your online marketing campaign, you will need to plan how your goods or services will be distributed to your customers, how payments will be processed (is it through PayPal, liberty reserve, or other merchant accounts?), and how sales can be increased.