Meet Sa El Who Failed His Way To Success


One of my favorite verses in a song comes from Exhale by the great Whitney Houston. It says “For every win. Someone must fail.

I love those words because they remain true in anything that we do in our daily lives, especially when it comes to things like work, or small business.

Today, I will take you through my journey to success and show you that being the “Someone” that fails isn’t a bad thing.

Door To Door Life Insurance – Lesson 1

Getting my life and health insurance license was a great accomplishment for me; it took two weeks of self-study and 30 minutes for me to complete the state-mandated test.

Once I became licensed my first act was to establish myself with a few insurance companies and to go work with a larger insurance agency such as an Independent Marketing Organization (IMO).

These are sizeable independent insurance agencies that would train and assist you in the field of insurance sales if you signed up under them as an independent agent.

These companies wanted good agents because they get a piece of what you produce.

It looks like this:

 

How The Insurance Pie Works

HierarchyCommission %Override on My Sale%
IMO (Independent Marketing Organization) 115%5%
MGA (Managing General Agent)110%10%
GA (General Agent)100%

20%

Agent80%N/A

 

Based on the above layout, when I sold a $100.00 insurance policy, I received $80.00 of it, and the remaining $20.00 flowed upstream, which was still a great deal. And don’t let the 5% override of the IMO fool you, most of them can have upwards of 30+ Thousand agents.

The only issue for me is that I was doing this process door to door. When I started 11 years ago, insurance companies were sending out “Mailers” to ask customers if they wanted to purchase life insurance.

If they sent the mailer back, it would come to myself or other agents as leads; we would then take those mailers to the customers home and try to make the sale.

The amount of time away from home was insane, and you never knew who or what was going to be on the other side of the door you are knocking on. It also didn’t matter if it was cold, hot, or raining, you had to make the sale, and after only about two months of this, I decided there had to be a better way.

I failed as a Door to Door life insurance salesman. However, I decided I wanted to offer life insurance over the phone.

Lessons I Learned From Door To Door Sales:

  • Always Be Prepared
  • Persistency Pays Off
  • Work Harder To Get Better Results
  • Have A Positive Attitude & Maintain A Positive Attitude

The Senior Health Market – Lesson 2

At the time, there was only one life insurance company that I can remember by the name of Baltimore Life that offered life insurance over the phone.

It was a one of a kind product some people didn’t trust it, I knew surviving with just one insurance product probably would be hard, so I decided to go into the Medicare Advantage space.

Medicare Advantage is the Senior Health Space, and if you thought health insurance was complicated, then you probably would lose your mind with the Senior Products.

Medicare Advantage was still a product where you needed to meet with people in person, so while I was onto something with selling over the phone, I still had to get into the field and work.

I found out very fast that when it comes to the Senior Market, being very young doesn’t work for you; it just hurts because the Seniors didn’t trust that I knew what I was talking about when it came to their health plan.

I found myself doing more assuring and follow-ups than I did making the Sale, and some of these products had $0.00 premium.

Can you imagine being so bad at selling something that you can’t even give it away?

At this point, I concluded, what if I sold Health Insurance, to people my age, over the phone?

I failed in the Senior Health Market, but I figured the Regular Health Market would be great!

Lessons I Learned From The Senior Health Market:

  • Timing is everything, what doesn’t work now, can work later
  • Just because something is affordable doesn’t mean you can sell it
  • Build Trust and Rapport Fast and Early
  • Excellent product knowledge can make up for being a poor salesman

The Affordable Care Act – Lesson 3

I had a complete and total setup. I had two monitors, fast internet, and four phone lines for making and receiving phone calls.

I knew how health insurance worked, and It was easy for me to build rapport with people my age or younger. Unlike the life insurance space, the health insurance space had already gone through the phase of selling over the phone, so several companies offered the product.

I even had customers doing a screen share with me to complete the application process. This was right up my alley, the life insurance space was still trying to figure out over the phone, but the health insurance market was booming.

Then comes the Affordable Care Act, most often known as Obama Care.

As an Individual, I was excited about the idea of No Lifetime Maximums and No Declining People due to health issues. As an Agent, I was mortified because the structure on how health insurance companies could payout commissions would change.

Around that time, I had enough life insurance companies offering products over the phone that I was able to start transitioning to life insurance.

Once the law was enacted, I started to get the letters from health insurance companies about the changes in my commission structure and some companies even closed down. Since I expected this to happen, I had gotten the health insurance side of my business down to about 40% of my total book of business and immediately switched 100% to life insurance.

Lessons I Learned From The Affordable Care Act

  • Don’t limit yourself to one stream of income
  • Good times also come to an end
  • You should physically smile when you talk to people on the phone.
  • Trusting my instincts was ok.

 

I Have A Telesales Career – Lesson 4

I made it… Or did I?

Here I was, selling life insurance over the phone Like I had always dreamt, and I was selling multiple products.

I had Fully underwritten term life for the young and super healthy, no-exam life insurance for people who didn’t want to take exams, and final expense life insurance for people over the age of 50. If you needed life insurance, I could sell it to you over the phone, no matter your age or health conditions.

The process had even caught up to the point where I could do an e-application through email with life insurance. I remember it clear as day the words of a general agent “You will never be able to sell life insurance over the phone.” But here I was, deep in my career, making anywhere between $60,000 to $100,000 per year, I had no boss (except for my husband), and no one could stop me.

It didn’t matter that I had to work 14 hours a day to meet my personal sales goals, nor did it matter that I couldn’t spend as much time with my family, Right? While I was very grateful for the income that being a Life Insurance agent gave me, I didn’t like the lifestyle one bit.

I lived for the weekend like everyone else; the only difference is that I couldn’t separate my work life from my personal life.

I found myself answering emails when I should be relaxing, or trying to send in an underwriting requirement so that I can get a policy out of underwriting faster.

I realized I was in a relationship with my husband and with my business and my husband wasn’t having any of it. I finally started to normalize my work schedule and take responsibility for not working outside of work hours. Then, out of nowhere, my gut starts feeling something, some sort of shift.

More and more customers are asking if I can email the quote, they are asking if there is anywhere online, they can learn about life insurance. Customers no longer want to talk to me much, and most of them felt like they knew more about life insurance than I did.

It was great that customers were becoming more educated about the insurance they were buying, and in my mind, it felt like everyone wanted to do this process without an agent.

There was a company that I always wanted to be like by the name of EHealth Insurance; they did everything in the Health Space, that I wanted to do for the Life Insurance Industry. Everything was online; customers could learn about a product and purchase it from their site without any hassle from an agent.

However, if they needed an agent, they were still there to assist. After doing some research, I found out that websites can actually make money and my company Simply Insurance was born.

I failed at having a career as a life insurance agent, but I saw the future of insurance… The Online Market.

Lessons I Learned From My Telesales Career:

  • How to manage a home based business
  • How to love my spouse and my business equally
  • Selling a product to someone educated about it is much harder
  • To Enjoy the “No’s,” each one brought me closer to a “Yes.”

 

Each of these failures could have made me want to stop and get a 9 to 5 job and say to hell with trying to be a success. But, I had a voice in me that always said, don’t stop, keep going, follow your gut.

Just take a look at all the things the four failures taught me from above:

  • Always Be Prepared
  • Persistency Pays Off
  • Work Harder To Get Better Results
  • Have A Positive Attitude & Maintain A Positive Attitude
  • Timing is everything, what doesn’t work now, can work later
  • Just because something is affordable doesn’t mean you can sell it
  • Build Trust and Rapport Fast and Early
  • Excellent product knowledge can make up for being a poor salesman
  • Don’t limit yourself to one stream of income
  • Good times also come to an end
  • You should physically smile when you talk to people on the phone.
  • It was ok to trust my instincts
  • How to manage a home based business
  • How to love my spouse and my business equally
  • Selling a product to someone educated about it is much harder
  • To Enjoy the “No’s,” each one brought me closer to a “Yes.”

 

Success Won’t Always Look How You Want It

In 2017 I created Simply Insurance, the goal was to be an online market place where customers could purchase life insurance online, all without an agent.

I had no clue how to make money online, but there was a ton of education on it. I invested in education to become great at SEO and Content marketing. I had to know how everything worked. I decided I didn’t want to share in the commission of an insurance sale, so I went the affiliate route with my website.

This assured that I would get paid per lead or application submission once a customer decided to get covered. I took all of the lessons I had learned from my failures and put them into my online business. My family acknowledged that I would need to spend more time, in the beginning, to get things running.

And guess what:

After just two years, Simply Insurance is a six-figure online business.

We went from selling only life insurance to offering Pet Insurance, Homeowners, Renters, Concealed Carry, Accidental Death, & Disability Insurance.

Simply Insurance was founded in 2017, but it was started in 2008, so while I did build a successful blog in under two years, it took me nine years to get there. I also just co-founded a business by the name of Credit Knocks, with a few good friends and our goal is to educate the average person on how to grow and rebuild their credit.

So remember, it isn’t about the failure; it’s about the lessons learned. – Sa El

 

About The Author

Sa El is the Co-Founder & CEO of Simply Insurance. He is a Licensed Life and Health Insurance Agent with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is an Entrepreneur, Insurance Educator and Field Underwriter. Sa is on a Journey to get 1 Million Families insured

 

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About the Author

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Michael launched Your Money Geek to make personal fun and accessible. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.

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