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.

The State of Email Marketing and Best Practices

Towards the end of 2010, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), TouchBasePro and Email Connection released the Bulk Email Deliverability Report South African 2011. The report is extremely important for all South African enterprises that make use of email marketing, which despite waning popularity is still remarkably effective. According to the report, up to 20% of the budget spent on email marketing is wasted, i.e. it doesn’t get through recipients.

Cordell Brewer, director of TouchBasePro attributes the wastage primarily to poor domain name reputation, which means that emails don’t make it past spam filters. An article on SA media and marketing news portal Bizcommunity cites statistics from Europe, Asia and the US, which show that 14 – 20% of email marketing messages don’t make it past spam filters, and Brewer believes that similar results could be found in the South African market.
Email marketing remains popular because it’s cheap and it’s effective. US statistics reveal that email marketing is the most effective form of direct marketing, delivering double or triple the ROI of other direct marketing methods. However, to be effective and achieve maximum ROI, emails first have to break through the barriers and reach consumers. As a result, there are a number of best practices which have been recommended for online marketers. The Bulk Email Deliverability Report outlines 10 of these best practices:

1) Improve data collection and check opt-in history: some spam detectors measure the quality of a sender’s reputation by the quality of its email programme. Ensure that you keep proof of opt-in, date of email acquisition and the date of each email campaign and monitor results and inconsistencies closely.
2) Manage expectations and relevance to reduce complaint rates: subscribers need to know exactly what they’re signing up for; if possible they should also be given the opportunity to decide how they want to receive information – html or plain text, daily, weekly or monthly. All relevant information should be clear and concise and above the fold on the registration page.
3) Unsubscribes and complaints: subscribers must be given the option to change their minds. Tastes and needs change and what was once considered vital news could become spam, before your emails get reported as such, rather provide subscribers with an easy method to opt-out of your emailing list. Unsubscribe links should be clearly visible. If you have a problem with being reported as spam, place the link at the top of the page where it is not likely to be missed.
4) Check inactive recipients for spam traps: these are fake or abandoned email addresses that are intended solely to catch spam, which is ignored. Some spam filters are able to detect spam traps in your email database and may decide to block you as a matter of course.
5) Monitor your sender reputation and blacklists: this is the most important factor affecting email acceptance. ISPs tend to use external companies to check sender reputation data and it’s a good idea to sign up to these companies so that you can also get an idea of how your email campaigns are perceived. Check regularly to see that you have not been blacklisted on any blacklist operators websites.
6) Use the infrastructure that works for you: this means you can either manage your email campaigns internally or outsource them. If you outsource, ensure you go with a reputable company, if you keep it internal make sure you have all the relevant checks and systems to stay on the right side of the spam filter.
7) Conduct pre-broadcast testing: this entails testing for delivery issues and format issues. It’s also important to monitor your inbox delivery rate.
8) Certification: certification schemes certify the integrity if email senders and can help campaigners get by spam filters. Note that certification does not guarantee that you’ll make it to the inbox; you still have to jump through hoops and maintain other best practices.
9) Manual whitelisting: this entails analysing delivery patterns and determining where problems consistently occur, then, quite simply, you have to create a contact list and work your way through it to have your company removed from the spam list.
10) Build up your reputation slowly: this requires time and patience and religious adherence to best practices.

Network Marketing – Direct Sales Recruiting

MLM-Network Marketing-Direct Sales RecruitingRecently I have noticed that many in the MLM-network marketing industry are having some real struggles with their recruiting efforts.Many say it is the times, the economy, it stems from 9-11, it is hard than it used to be, and people have changed. These reasons are resonated over and over again. It does not seem to make a difference whether you are experienced and proven, or are new and just starting out, or you are a man or a woman.Fact is people are still people as they have always been, few things have changed. Fact is this poisonous lack of belief is what is killing your recruiting effort and every ones paycheck. So because of this lack in belief, I feel compelled to express my opinion why I believe this is happening.The path of easiest belief – the path that most people in this industry will take. It is easier to believe it will not happen than it will happen. This is also the path many will take through life. It is easier to make excuses than to take the time to grow new beliefs that will attract success vs. repel it. When you have this new belief your prospects will feel it radiate from you and from your voice.1) Do you believe in normal or abnormal? Success is the abnormal. Normal is succumbing to the beliefs of others; you can succeed in building a business, only a few make it to the top, and if you succeed it will be short lived because it is against the grain. Recruiting is the process of building relationships, positive beliefs and convictions creating the abnormal…success.2) When times get tough in the MLM industry you begin to believe the things you are told a lot rather that that told only a little. Things such as you will never do it, it is too hard, and it is not a real job. This is what everyone hears. What we really need to hear is you can do it; you have what it takes, listen to the ones that have succeeded, not given up and just do it.3) Believe in you-not others when times are tough, when recruiting we begin to believe that others are smarter, know more, are more educated, and so on. This will impact your recruiting efforts in a bad way. We have much family, friends, people who will and can influence us. The big question is can they take you where you want to go or can they stop you from getting to your goal. The answer to your question is the clue.4) Do you believe or leave? Most people do not stay in network marketing or in life positive path. The reason is because all through life we have been taught it is easier to leave than believe. It is so much easier to find and excuse to be normal than a new belief to be abnormal. We all fall prey to this in our life and in our network marketing (MLM) business. With today’s technology building your MLM business is easier than ever before.When recruiting you cannot enter it with exit signs in your eyes or approach. People feel your beliefs first, then see and hear you. So you must enter the recruiting process in a positive belief mode.You do this by embracing the technology made available via the computer/internet age. You cannot fear recruiting, that is what you are there to do. Remember this is a new age, no more warm markets, no more cold calls or rejection from poor purchased leads. The technology will not recognize failure. So let it work for you.One technology that will create a positive belief with you and in your contacts would be a method that uses the newest technology to your advantage. It will automatically generate quality leads daily from a truly interested target market and pay you in the process, now what is easier or more positive than that. This program will not only build a strong relationship business, but will build in your contacts a strong belief in you. It will allow you more time for Income Generating Activities (IGA’s).A technology like MLM Formula will not allow you to fail. It will boost your confidence. This program will build for you with minimal effort, a strong relationship business for now and well into the future. This technology will eliminate the exit belief and replace it with a new path to success.You can do it and it is easier than you think because I will show you everything you need to do to make it happen step by step. All you do is just follow the video at: and you can achieve whatever level of freedom and lifestyle you desire.