In a market where there are so many insurance agents, how do you find one that’s right for you? And how do these agents market themselves in a way that allows them to build their portfolio, some from scratch, where attending a Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce event, gala or fundraiser, means they’ll bump into countless other agents fighting for the same piece of business? Well, we spoke to those insurance agents/advisors in Springfield that are a member of the networking group Business Networking International (BNI) to find out how and why it works for them.
Jay Davis of Country Financial has been a BNI member for about three-and-half years. “I have remained a member of BNI for a few reasons,” said Jay. “First of all, I’ve developed some great professional relationships that have evolved into quality personal friendships. Secondly, I like the fact that there is a monetary membership requirement and attendance guidelines. These two requirements strengthen the core of BNI by acquiring members that are serious about their business and their overall responsibility to other members of their chapter. Lastly, the fact that you have a single-minded sales force of 10 to 15-plus people actively working to regularly promote your business while knowing that you are doing the same for them.”
Jay began his career in the insurance industry as a “scratch agent” with Country Financial and the BNI – Springfield Insiders Chapter provided the impetus for his immediate, and future, success. “Without question, I couldn’t have made it in this business without my BNI chapter – Springfield Insiders.”
Jon Sutter has been a member of BNI for 15 years. He specializes in dealing with people who are either on Medicare or approaching Medicare that need help deciphering the ins and outs of the process. “I work with most of the top companies in the industry, and because of that can help them figure out where their best options are. I also spend a lot of time educating them on the system so they can have a better understanding of the process and therefore don't feel totally reliant on just my say so about a product or service,” he said.
Jon has remained with BNI because he says it is one of the best marketing investments he could make. “I have been given countless referrals over the years that have probably paid for my membership more than 150 times over. I started BNI when I was only one-and-half months into the insurance business, and I can say that without it, I probably wouldn't have survived the first year.”
Jon said it is the word of mouth referrals that BNI provides that make the investment in BNI so worthwhile. “Having that extra stream of quality word of mouth referrals helped me to keep my foot in the door in this business and really succeed. Since that time, those relationships I have built with other members have continued to help me develop new business and keep my business flourishing. As an agent that deals primarily in the senior market (Medicare supplement sales), having that word of mouth vote of confidence when talking with a client increases the trust factor 10 fold right from the start.”
Dave Bridges, an independent agent specializing in life insurance and health insurance products; specifically Medicare supplements and disability insurance, has been involved with BNI for 12 years. “I have stayed that long because it works for me. I receive referrals that I would never be able to contact on my own,” he said.
Dave said the difference between referrals from Springfield BNI chapter members and cold calls is that potential clients are not complete strangers as they have been referred by friends or someone they have done business with and have learned to trust. “The other reason I stay is that as a sole agent, it gives me the chance to associate with positive motivated people who are straight up and professional in their fields.”
If you are starting out or wanting to expand your business Dave highly recommends joining a BNI chapter. “It gives them 15 to 20 other people who are looking for people who need that person’s service or product and are ready to buy.”
If you are interested in joining a Business Networking International chapter in Springfield get in touch with Central Illinois Director, Jeff Ensinger, on 309 453 2463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit www.bni-il.com.