Host: Tim Martin
Guest: Adam Maggio
Episode 10: Why Agents Should Recruit – Adam Maggio Interview
April 19, 2014
Welcome to Success is Voluntary, a podcast devoted to helping you become the salesperson you were always meant to be, where it’s all about helping you learn the techniques and tools that will enable you to win in the increasingly competitive world of voluntary benefits. Welcome your host, a guy who has hired and trained over 2,000 voluntary benefit salespeople in his career, Tim Martin. Success is Voluntary, selling voluntary benefits.
Tim Martin: Yes, my name is Tim Martin, and you are listening to episode number 10 of Success is Voluntary. This week I had an opportunity to interview Adam Maggio. Adam has recruited and trained hundreds of voluntary benefits agents in his career and is someone who goes out, all out, all the time.
His energy level and stamina are both unbelievably high, as you will certainly see in today’s episode. He lives in New Jersey and certainly carries that swagger, as well. You know what? I love him for it. I love people with swagger, as long as they can back it up, and Adam can certainly back it up. Let’s get right to it. Well, welcome, Adam. How are you today?
Adam Maggio: I’m doing pretty good, my friend. How you doing?
Tim: Good. Good. You know, I was looking back, and I’ve known of you, and we’ve met a few times before that, but I got to know you pretty well in 2009 when we maybe drank an adult beverage or two together in Tampa, Florida, for the Super Bowl. That was a great trip.
Adam: Without question. Actually, one of the better trips.
Tim: You bet. I was so mad when they wouldn’t let me take a guest with me because usually on a trip like that, they let you take a guest…until I got the 1099. Then I said, “I’m glad I didn’t get to take a guest.” What was the 1099 on that? It was like $15,000 or something stupid like that, wasn’t it?
Adam: Well worth it, my friend. Well worth it.
Tim: It was worth every penny of taxes we had to pay. You betcha. Well, Adam, I appreciate you coming on and spending a couple of minutes with us today. I know you’re super busy, and I know you have a ton of stuff going on, and I’m just amazed at your energy level and where you go all over the country, but tell us a little bit. I mean, I know you were born into a big insurance family. Right? I mean, you started out in insurance right out of high school. Right?
Adam: Yeah, man. I don’t want to say, “I walked into it.” It was kind of introduced to me at an early age, and then the only reason, really, why it did was I originally went to a gentleman and asked him to actually get me a job selling cars. It was funny, man, because I remember, to this day, when he said, “Well, why do you want to do that?” I said, “I want to make a lot of money,” and he really didn’t understand.
At that point, I didn’t really have a solid, I don’t want to say, background/education, but I didn’t really come from a great college or anything like that, but I noticed quickly that everybody who was really out there and making it happen and making the money and the lifestyle that I at least saw that I wanted owned a business. The problem was the startup cost.
Adam: When I looked out there and realized that everybody who was doing what I wanted to do, as far as financially, owned a business, I realized that really the people who are making money are in two categories. One is owning a business and two is sales.
What ended up happening was I literally went to go get a job selling cars. The gentleman said, “Why do you want to do that?” I said, “I want to make a lot of money,” and he said, “Well, the car sale only pays you once.” I said, “Well, what do you mean?” He goes, “Well, you get paid one time.” He said, “If you get involved in this insurance stuff, it will keep paying you.”
That was pretty much all I needed hear. I jumped in, literally, to an insurance school, didn’t do too well in it, to be quite honest with you. I failed three times. I passed on my fourth shot, but basically, that was the beginning of everything.
Tim: That’s great. That’s an interesting story. You just wanted to go make a lot of money but had no idea. In fact, I’m very passionate right now about reaching out to college kids or of that age because they don’t think of insurance as being a sexy, fun career. They think of it as being people who look more like me, you know, midlife type of guys. I’m approaching 50 here pretty hard, and that’s what they think of, old guys, that it must be boring, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun.
Adam: Yeah, I have to tell you, man. I’ve never seen a better time when the insurance industry is what I would call sexy. There are a lot of opportunities because of all the different changes that are going on. If you’re relatively creative and you really have a good work ethic and a drive, what I think is that people who are coming into this industry now (particularly at a younger age, who can maybe get over those little hurdles that you need to get over in the beginning), I think they’re ripe.
Tim: I couldn’t agree more. There is so much opportunity, and the guys who have been in it for 20 years can’t even see the opportunity because they’ve done the same thing for 20 years. They just don’t get it. Somebody fresh and young, hard charging, that’s going to really maximize, I think, as we move forward in the next 10-15 years.
Adam: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Tim: So tell us a little bit about your journey once you got started. What do you think was the impetus for your success? Because I know you had struggles, and I do definitely want to address that a little bit, but what were some of the things that you did, maybe, that a lot of the people who weren’t successful… Because I’m sure when you came on, there were a bunch of people who started around the same time, and you don’t remember their names; they’re no longer in the industry. What did you do differently?
Adam: I was kind of thinking about that the other day. Ironically, first and foremost, I didn’t really have a Plan B. I think a lot of people, they limp into things, and what ends up happening is you can’t really focus on one thing or another. It’s almost like if you just find somebody who is making that type of money that you want to make and you don’t have that Plan B, all you have to do… I say this a lot because people have to realize in this industry, success leaves tracks. Right?
Adam: If you follow somebody who was making $30,000 to $45,000 a year, you could actually do what they do, and you can get those exact same results. What I quickly realized was when I got in the industry, and it’s kind of funny (I joke around a little bit about it), but my first convention was really an eye-opener, okay?
Because I get there and there was gentleman who was doing a little bit better than me, and I met him, and I realized, I’m like, “Wow, this person is really nothing special, other than they have a great attitude, sounds like they had a solid work ethic, a little bit of charisma.” I realized, “Okay, education, background really has nothing to do with it.”
Well, I think when you combine that with not having a Plan B and just realize, “I’m going to make this work (it’s just a matter of how I’m going to make this work and how quickly),” and you realize that you can follow people who are making $40,000 and get those results, but you could also do that with people who are making $400,000 and get those results. That was kind of the little, like, trigger, I guess.
When I looked at it and just realized that, “Hey, you know what, there is nobody…” It’s like wrestling, right? A lot of people, they look at football. It’s a team sport. That’s great, but you can still point fingers. In this industry, you really can’t. I think that’s one of the things that really deter some people away from it in the beginning because you can’t point those fingers.
I think when it boils down to it, if you just look at the fact that most people who attend conventions do not have a similar background, right? Most people who attend conventions probably make 80 percent of the money, and it’s a very small crowd. You realize that most of these people are everyday individuals, but they just got in.
Just like anything else, they didn’t assume it was get-rich-quick or anything. They just got in and literally said, “Hey, you know what? If they can do it, I can do it.” If that person can make $400,000 and I could do the same thing and get those same results, well, then who’s it on? You know?
Tim: Yeah, it’s on me. It’s on me.
Adam: Exactly and it’s a tough pill to swallow for a lot of people.
Tim: Yeah, that’s a really tough pill to swallow for some people. They want to blame everything else. And I would never want to minimize. A lot of people have gone through some crazy crap that I haven’t had the misfortune of having to go through. I get that. Real tragedy happens to real people.
For the most part, however, what I found is that most of the limits that people have are self-limits. They put the limits on themselves. A gentleman I know says it this way, and I love it. His name is Michael Beck. He says, “If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them.”
Adam: Yeah. Exactly. A hundred percent, man.
Tim: You bet.
Adam: A hundred percent. You couldn’t have said it better.
Tim: I just hang out with smart people. There you go.
Adam: Yeah. Definitely.
Tim: You came on, and you were producing, and you were doing well. Then they ask you to take a leadership role. Tell me a little bit about that transition. Did you struggle with that at first, or was it pretty natural for you? What were some of the lessons we can take away from that transition?
Adam: Ooh, that’s an interesting one there. That was something that was pursued for a while in terms of someone asking me to do that. It’s funny, man. Looking back, I was all about being a hot producer, and I like the recognition. I like all that.
I had a guy start with me at basically the same time I did, and this guy was an MBA-type guy. I can’t really throw his name out there, obviously, because I don’t have permission to use it, but he started basically the same time I did. He was a little bit more systematic driven, and I always kind of walked around with, “Hey, I’m going to be the top producer, and that’s cool,” but what happens is you just run out of time.
You really can’t leverage yourself. In all reality, you just can’t get done what internally you need to get done, so you really need a team of people. The challenge is not every top producer is going to make a great manager, but I thought of it a little differently. I kind of shifted… I had a gentleman say something to me one time. I remember I was down in Atlantic City, and what he basically did was he came in and said, “If you don’t start recruiting and you’re waiting for somebody to do it, you’re going to be in trouble.”
From that day on, I think everything kind of changed for me. I literally looked at it and said, “You know what? I’m going to shift from personally producing…” which I had no problem, because the work wasn’t the hard part. I hate to say this, but a lot of people go into management because they don’t want to work hard. For me, it wasn’t a matter of working hard. It was more of what I’m going to do with that time.
I quickly realized, man, in this industry, I mean, how we’re paid and the real growth in the industry comes more with working with people rather than… I don’t want to say personally produce because obviously our clients are always our number one focus, but I looked at it like, if I could teach someone to do the same thing I did, you know, I made them money, in return, I wouldn’t have to worry.
That was kind of big changing point for me, not waiting for somebody to build my team and literally accepting the responsibility of changing that focus from, “All right, challenge one is over. Let’s get into challenge two.”
Tim: That’s a great way to approach it, absolutely, and you’re right. Sometimes that top producer makes a lousy manager. They have to go into it with the right heart, I guess, the right reasons to be in it, and they have to take, sometimes, themselves out of the equation. For some people, that’s easier than others. Some people don’t want to give up that spotlight at all.
I’ve seen a lot of teams that produce a decent amount of business, but more than half of it comes from the manager, and that’s way out of balance, obviously. I mean not maybe the first year, but if you’re still the number one producer on your team two years from now, you have a serious problem.
Adam: Yeah, your focus isn’t in the right direction.
Tim: Sure. Sure. Well, that’s interesting, so basically saying, “I can’t wait for somebody else to build my team. I have to go out and do it myself.” That’s great. What other…
Adam: From a financial standpoint, I know a lot of people look at it like… Obviously, in this business, there are overrides and things like that, but when you look at it, technically, the ground-level guy actually gains the most from the recruiting, even if you’re just an analytical type, “Well, who is going to make the most money?”
Just look at it. I mean typically, you’re going to make the most money by recruiting. Your manager is going to make less of an override, but the reality is you gain the most, so it’s definitely a personal responsibility.
Tim: Sure. Sure. What other advantages come out of recruiting other than just the override? I have some answers, but I know that you have them, as well. I want to hear from you. What else comes out of that? What else does it do for your team when you start recruiting…even if you’re a rep?
Tim: You can recruit as a rep, and every organization I’ve ever heard of, there is some kind of a bonus for recruiting reps, so why would I want to help my manager hire my competition?
Adam: Absolutely. The best time to recruit is actually when you don’t have the responsibility. When you mention there are little bonuses in the beginning, I mean, the way I kind of looked at it was, “Hey, look, I’m going to start doing this. I don’t have the real responsibility yet, but I’m going to get rewarded for it,” because what happens is most people don’t look at it as a stream of income.
You have people that, look, let’s face it, they throw out income claims. They throw out this and that. What you have to remember is that is literally a stream of income as much as the insurance process is itself, right? When you look at it that way, you say, “Okay, at the end of the year, I want to go out and make $500,000.” Well, what portion of that is going to come from the recruiting?
The second part with the recruiting, why it’s important, is it literally gives your business a ton of consistency. We have tons of ups and downs in not only sales but insurance, in general. Well, when you have a team of people you’re working with, those ups and downs are not going to be as up and down. They’re going to be a little bit more streamlined because the fact of the matter is you’re going to bring people in this office; they’re going to work.
Not all will. I mean, statistically, not a lot will. The ones who do work are going to help fuel that calendar, fuel you getting going. Literally, the whole adage of being just at bat, if you have recruits consistently, systematically, coming in the front door and you create that factory line to give anyone who is willing to work an opportunity to go out there and make an insane living, I mean that’s what recruiting is all about.
Adam: That’s literally what it is. I mean people lose focus of what people do for a living. People are miserable. They go out. They work 9:00 to 5:00. They come home. When you have the ability to take somebody and say, “If you just give me an honest day’s work, I’m going to lead you down this path,” and you can back up your talk, that’s what it’s all about.
Tim: Boy, you can’t say that any better. I get so passionate about this. I tell people all the time, “What we do in this business is we get people to do what they should do anyway but wouldn’t do if we didn’t come along,” and I don’t care what level you’re talking about.
You could be talking about a business owner or the person, the policyholder themselves, but I think it pertains to recruiting, as well. If you really care about that brother-in-law of yours and he is in a miserable 9:00 to 5:00, he has no room for advancement, he has no room for really putting together a great retirement for his family, they’re just scraping by, and you don’t offer them an opportunity to come to work with you, I challenge whether you care about him or not.
Adam: Definitely an interesting way of looking at that, my friend.
Tim: Yeah, I mean if you really care about him, why wouldn’t you? At least, give him the opportunity. Whether they take it or not, that’s up to them. That’s on them, but why wouldn’t you talk to him about it?
Adam: Well, yeah, and I think the answer that people are scared to say is they fear failure, right?
Tim: Of course.
Adam: You feel like if you recruit somebody, the failure is on you. Well, I can guarantee that if I went to anybody in an insurance organization and had an opportunity to quiz the top 20 percent, they’re all going to say, “Look, man, I gave him the opportunity. Their failure isn’t dependent on me. Their failure is dependent on whether or not they’re willing to listen to instructions.” If you fear the failure of the person who is coming in… Because let’s face it, a lot of people don’t even believe it themselves.
Adam: They’re out there. They’re selling a dream that they may not be living themselves. I can understand that, but the reality of it is, man, if they don’t fear the failure of the person, of course, you would open it up to everybody. It’s changed a lot of the ways… I mean, me personally, obviously you. It’s changed a lot of the ways that people live. You just can’t fear that failure.
You can only put your arm out, say, “Hey, look. This is what we have going on. I’m telling you for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t want to hear from you in four years saying, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ Two, hey, look. Out of every ten people I interview, eight don’t take the job. Be one of the eight.”
Tim: Yeah. Oh, I like that. I like that a lot. Just take all the pressure of them.
Adam: I knew you would.
Tim: Take all the pressure of them.
Adam: Right. Exactly.
Tim: At the same time, just put pressure back on them because that is a takeaway close right there, baby. I love the takeaway close. That’s my favorite close of all time. I love the takeaway. That’s fun. That’s a good one. I like that. I’m going to use that probably this week some time. I’ll make sure I use it this week. Yeah, that’s good.
Adam: Well, everybody who tunes in, my friend, is going to get some real good training.
Tim: That’s great. Let’s talk a little bit about those things that you said, “The fear of the failure.” I think that’s very true. You also said something earlier that kind of stuck out to me. You said there are a lot of people out there making income claims, and people who maybe even are making those income claims that they don’t believe it themselves. Do you think we oversell this opportunity, or do you think we undersell the opportunity, typically, to the average recruit?
Adam: I’m a straightforward guy. I’m not going to dance around the subject. I have to tell you I think most people sell too much of the opportunity, and unfortunately, those are the people who aren’t making the money.
Adam: The people who are making the money, and I’ll just throw this in the ring. Obviously, I know a lot of successful people, whether it is yourself or other leaders in the industry. Those people tend to attack the interview a little bit. The reason why is they’re willing to systematically gauge what their value is on their hour. If I’m bringing a recruit in and I know damn well I’m worth $500 or $750 an hour, I’m going to let the recruit know that.
I think most people who
the money, who may be out there kind of selling the dream, and, after the interview, driving around into a beat-up Subaru are the people who are a little bit misleading. That, I think, attacks the industry in a negative way.
I would encourage anybody who is getting hired, and I don’t care what company you’re going for… Anyone who is out there who is recruiting, be straightforward, and demand…demand….your hour’s wage. Let them know upfront what it’s going to cost them to have you give the sweat equity to train them. People aren’t stupid. I think a lot of people think people are just like, “Oh, they’re going to believe everything they hear.” People aren’t stupid. Right?
Adam: They’re going to go home. They’re going to do their homework. They’re going to do things like that. If you’re upfront with people, you’re going to catch more quality people over the long haul rather than just sitting there telling them, “Look, I have a nice watch, and I have a big house.”
I think that’s kind of like the disconnect with the whole thing, but if you’re on this call and you’re a recruiter, you have an obligation. You have an obligation to (a) tell people the truth, but (b) demand what you’re worth. When you come combine those two things, I can tell you, statistically, over time, it’s a much, much, much, much better scenario when they get ready to hit the ground running.
Tim: That’s interesting. Talk a little bit more about demand what you’re worth. How do you do that with a new recruit? I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re saying there, Adam.
Adam: A lot of the recruits that come in, including me, we’re kind of hourly-wage workers. We’re used to punch in, punching out. They’re kind of just mindlessly going about their day, making whatever it is, $10, $15, $20, $30, $300 an hour. What most people don’t realize is that we’re in this business to compress the time, okay?
Adam: When I sit there and I sit down and I’m ready to train somebody, I’m expecting that they understand that I’m worth $750 an hour. I’m worth $1,000 an hour, and I clarify that with them. What most people fail to realize is they just wait for that 1099 (if you’re in the industry) at the end of the year. Break it down. What is your hourly rate?
When you look at it that way and you project it to the recruits that way, and they understand that they’re getting value for you being willing to take your personal time to mentor them, just it’s a whole different mindset from that recruit coming through the front door. It’s just insanely different. You know?
Tim: Yeah, I like that. That’s a whole new level of thinking that I think I’ve done instinctively, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually broken it down for a recruit. I’ve always demanded that they actually do their homework, that they do the things that I’ve assigned them, or else I won’t work with them. My very first gatekeeper is if I ask you to go put together a list of businesses you want to call on, where maybe you have a connection, and you show up tomorrow and tell me, “Well, I had Cub Scouts at my house last night.”
“Well, I had today scheduled to work with you. I might be able to work with you next week. Do you think you can have it done next week?” They’re like, “Literally, I have to wait until next week?” I said, “No you had to wait until today, but you didn’t do what I asked you to do, so…”
Adam: Yeah. Exactly. One of the easiest ways to do that with the new recruits, man, is you can call them out on it. You say, “Hey, what do you want to make?” Virtually, everybody says six figures. “All right, $100,000? Well, that’s $50 an hour, so explain to me what you’ve done in the past that you’ve made $50 an hour. Oh, you haven’t.
Okay. Well, let me explain to you what is required to make $50 an hour.” It just changes the whole… They’re not sitting there in the office on Facebook or grabbing a cup of coffee. “Hey, look, you want to make $100,000 ($50 an hour), would you pay yourself for this?” You know? Like, come one.
Tim: Right. Right. If I’m paying my administrator $50 an hour, I come back from lunch, and she’s on Facebook, she’s not working for me very long.
Adam: Exactly. People, unfortunately, value other people’s time more than do they themselves.
Tim: Boy, that’s so true. That is so true. What are some of the common threads you have seen in the people who were successful? You were talking about you. You followed somebody else’s footsteps. You said, “Success leaves a trail,” and I can’t agree more with that. I think that’s very true, and I like the way you’ve even broken it down. You can either follow the people who are making $30,000 a year or you can follow the guy who is making $400,000 a year, figure out what he is doing.
What are some of the characteristics? I’m not talking about being able to pick winners because we know we can’t pick winners in this industry. You can pick the losers, but it’s awfully hard to pick the winner when you’re recruiting. Once they get started or once you’ve actually put them into business, what were some of the things that you’ve seen that made people successful? Kind of conversely, what are some of the things that led to failure?
Adam: It boils down this: It’s how many times a day they say yes to their business. You’re running a company. Now I never looked at it like the manager above me was my manager, yada, yada, yada. I looked at them as a support system. I was the CEO of the company, and they were not. They were actually one of my support systems.
A lot of people view it that the manager is the CEO of the company, and that’s just like the worst way to start off. When you start doing that, you start having someone to blame, so it’s just a matter of knowing who the boss is. If you’re not taking that personal ownership of it, you’re in the wrong business. Let’s face it. I don’t mean to be rude, but you’re better off being a $10-an-hour employee.
When you look at people who consistently say yes to their business all day, those are the people who are going to be successful. You can tell them pretty much right off the bat. Day eight, if they’re in work, they’re there. You know what I mean?
Adam: That first week is literally the part where they have to man up and say, “Okay, I’m going to do this or not,” but when you see someone there on day eight and they’re consistently saying yes to their business all day… What do I mean by that? Well, every time you go out and get a breather or every time you beat the traffic, that’s saying no to your business. Statistically, you almost can’t fail if you consistently try to say yes to your business.
It’s not about being perfect from the start. A lot of people wait on that. No, it’s just about getting yeses. “Okay, great, you marketed for an hour? Great, yes. Okay, you did this. You screwed up and took a two-hour lunch? Okay, no.” Grade yourself, though. Grade yourself at the end of the week, and don’t do it for anyone else. Don’t cheat. Just do it for yourself. “Okay, I failed, boom. Okay, I had a great week: A.”
When you look at that and the people who say yes to their business and they just start taking the ownership and not relying on “training”… I hate to say it, but a lot of people wait for… “Well, I need to get trained on this and get trained on that.” No, you need to market. You need money. Right?
Adam: You need to market and let the person who hired you go out and help you do the… I don’t want to say the “easy stuff,” but let’s face it. There are very few activities in this business that are worth a lot of money. Closings are obviously a very important thing, but, I mean, I would much rather learn on the job rather than with some (and I hope this doesn’t come out the wrong way) corporate trainer teaching me in the classroom.
Adam: Bottom line, you know?
Tim: Right. One of my favorite people in this business says, “This business is caught more than it’s taught,” and the only way to catch it is you have to drive enough activity that you demand somebody’s time. If you are consistently setting, say, 10 appointments a week, I guarantee you we can find somebody who will want to work with you. I have managers who will stand in line to work with you if you’re consistently setting 10 appointments, right?
Adam: Absolutely. I mean it was funny. Just yesterday, I was up at my buddy’s apartment up in Hoboken. We were talking about going to the car show. These guys watched me call into the car show to get tickets. I literally called six or seven times. They’re like, “You’re relentless,” but that’s what we teach people, and that’s what we have to be able to show the same way.
Tim: Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. How many times do they say yes to their business? I like that analogy: Every time you take that two-hour lunch, that’s saying no. Every time you finish that hours’ worth of marketing strong, you say yes. Cutting out early to avoid the traffic, no. That’s so brutally simple. That’s great.
In fact, one of my managers, he does a thing on his Monday-morning meeting. I think it’s brilliant. He has a little checklist, where you grade yourself on it from an A to an F. You don’t have to share it with anybody. You don’t even have to share it with him, but you have to grade yourself every Monday on different aspects of your business. What would you give yourself? Most of them are pretty brutally honest with themselves. They share with the others, and then they talk about what they can do to fix it. Yeah, I like that, so…
Adam: It’s a great strategy. Absolutely.
Tim: Yeah, I also like what you said: “You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be in the business working on it.” That’s good.
Adam: You know who I learned that from? Mark Zuckerberg. He had something. I saw it. I forget where the hell it was at, man. He said, “Progress not perfection.” I’m thinking, like, “Wow.” Think about how many people wait to get ready when in reality there are people like us on conventions who just got ready, you know what I mean?
Tim: Yeah. Yeah, I’ve never had that problem, unfortunately. I could use a little streak of perfectionism every now and then. I’m more of a ready-fire-oh-yeah-I-should-have-probably-aimed guy, but I’m working on that. I surround myself with good people. I have a phenomenal administrator. She is all about the aiming and keeps me on task on that, so that’s another thing…
Adam: Well, yeah, and think about this: Life teaches you ready, aim, fire, right? Just think of that reverse. So everybody goes, “Well, yeah, ready, aim, fire.” No, no, no, fire, ready, aim, right?
Adam: When you look at it from a marketing funnel, so you ready, aim, fire, you’re never going to be able to fire. When you fire, you get ready, and then you aim, you can start to close the amount of businesses you need to get the income you deserve.
Tim: That’s great. That’s really good. Adam, I know that you were one of the top recruiters with Aflac for a long time. How many Career Builders Clubs did you win?
Adam: I don’t even know.
Tim: You don’t even know.
Adam: I would probably say every one since I started. That would be just a guess. I may have missed one, but I would pretty much say every one since I started.
Tim: You bet, and for those of you who don’t know, that means recruited at least 100 career agents in a year and did it year after year after year. I did it six times. You’ve done it at least that many times, so obviously Adam knows what he’s talking about when it comes to recruiting. Let’s talk about that for just a second, and we’ll get off of the recruiting thing here in a minute, but…
Adam: I could talk about recruitment all day, my friend, but go ahead.
Tim: You and I both. You and I both. It gets me fired up. Well, I think the other thing recruiting does for you (let’s just take a step back), what else it can do for you and your organization is that even if you’re at the rep level, it helps you build your belief in what you’re doing. I mean, you can’t go out and talk about how great it is to do what you do and not be affected by that. It helps your energy level.
Adam: Oh, without question. Without question.
Tim: Yeah, you bet.
Adam: That’s probably the biggest area I could see for improvement in the industry. If you asked me wholeheartedly, I would literally just tell everybody to recruit their own people because your brain just cannot work that way, where you’re literally sitting there selling something you don’t believe in. Even if you’re not making that money in the beginning, if you’re pitching your vision, it doesn’t matter. You know what I mean?
Adam: Your brain just will not sit there pitching it. You can do it for a week, you know, two weeks, but, man, let me tell you, after three or four weeks, the person getting the most out of it is you.
Adam: You’re sitting up there. You’re just reinforcing everything.
Tim: Yeah. It happens. You’ve had managers report to you, and you get districts that kind of get down in the dumps. They’re depressed. Maybe somebody they had poured a lot of time and energy into left suddenly or something like that, and they’re just depressed. Then they come to me for advice. I tell them, “Well, you know what you need to do,” and they kind of look at me like a deer in the headlights. I said, “You need to go recruit.” I said, “You’re so depressed from…”
Adam: Well, someone lied to them.
Adam: Someone lied to them. Someone said, “Hey, you know what? I get what is going on. I want to get in,” and they show up the first day and realize, “Hey, this is covered in overalls; it’s called work,” and that’s the main reason you need to keep recruiting, because people will lie to you.
Tim: Really? People lie? I didn’t know that. That’s interesting.
Adam: Yeah, it’s a funny way of putting it, man, but I have to tell you, it’s like they’ll sit there and they’ll tell you until they’re blue in the face they’re ready for it. They need the opportunity. It’s one of their last shots, this and that. Then literally they show up day one, man, and all of a sudden, it’s a different person. That’s just the reality of the business, unfortunately, but, I mean, I can’t tell them if they’re going to wake up in the morning. You can only show them the way.
Tim: Right. Well, where I was going with this whole thing is quantity versus quality. If you’ve recruited in the insurance industry for 10 minutes, you’ve been in this debate with somebody. I know where you come down on it. I know where I come down on it, but I still think it’s worth talking to the audience about.
I said earlier, “You can’t pick winners. You can pick losers.” I think we can do a pretty good job of that, but talk to me about the selection process. What are the things you’re looking for? What are the non-negotiables for you?
Adam: Well, look, quantity, quality, yada, yada, yada, what I say is you use the quantity to find the quality, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. A lot of people look at that as, oh, a cattle call. You’ll hear other stuff out there. The reality of it is if you sat there and looked at and just judged people based on a resume (or whatever it may be), you can’t do the business that way. That’s the bottom line.
The whole debate over quantity over quality, the funny thing is, and I’ve done this before, if you take an audience, and you’re speaking to them and, “Hey, look, how many people here are making over X a year? How many people qualify for this?” and you ask them, you know, that, “Hey, this is me. This is me,” you took them in a group, and you say, “Hey, what was on your resume before you got here?” you’re going to find there is just no pattern.
Tim: There is no rhyme or reason, yeah.
Adam: Absolutely not, man. The people who get in this industry generally want to win, and they need some sort of vehicle to be able to do it. It happens that this industry, the vehicle, I mean it could be a Ferrari or it could be a Fiat, but the reality of it is, when you look at it, if you don’t judge people based on what is on their resume, if you judge people based on work ethic, I think that’s probably one of the biggest contributing factors. That’s more about getting the quality out of the quantity.
Any business fails. We know that. Right? It’s like 3 percent of small businesses succeed. How many can you start off with willpower? Most you need a storefront. You buy a McDonald’s; you’re going to need $1.5 million down. Here, they’re saying, “Hey, look.” Yeah, I wish the price to entry was higher, to be honest with you.
Tim: I do too. I do too.
Adam: A lot of people want… I’m like, “Look, you’re out of your mind.” The reason why a lot of McDonald’s don’t fail is because people put a ton of money out of pocket. McDonald’s is a great organization and so forth and so on, but if people had to put that type of money into this industry, it would be a different game.
Tim: Completely. You know, it’s so funny. For a while (and nobody had a problem with it; we were perfectly legal and everything), we made the new recruit pay $500 upfront cash money before we would even accept them to start their pre-licensing. Then we paid all their fees for them as they went, including their sales school and everything out of that $500. There was no money left over. It wasn’t like we were making money off of picking it up.
Because they had given us a $500 check, at least they had some investment into it. All of a sudden, our contracting rate… We were only contracting about half the people who committed to the career before that. We went up to about 90 percent. Ninety percent of the people who committed to it actually contracted with us. Now $500 isn’t a lot of money, but it was more than the $75 or whatever it would cost them to start studying.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely. I’m all for that.
Tim: Yeah. Yeah. I work for Colonial Life, a large corporation. I can’t get away with doing that anymore. They would not allow me to do that, but if you’re listening to this and you’re in an organization that will allow you to do that… All my managers freaked out when I made that decision. They’re like, “Nobody is going to want to contract. Our recruiting is going to go in the toilet.” We did 102 recruits the previous year. We did 156 the following year.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely. I love it, man. I really do.
Tim: You bet. All right. What are you doing now, Adam? Let’s talk a little bit about what you have going on. I think it’s pretty fascinating. This is a big, big industry. A lot of times, we get in our little bubble. When I was Aflac, I was in the Aflac bubble. I knew there was other insurance out there. I knew there were other organizations out there, but I had no idea, really, until I left there, exactly how big this industry is.
I think we get in our little comfort zone and drive the same way to work every day, and go to the same church, sit in the same pew, same spot all the time, and it’s too bad because it’s a big world out there. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing with DaVinci.
Adam: Man, I’ve been all over the map. I’ve been back and forth to California, now, probably…I don’t know…15 to 20 times. Basically, it’s a beast, man. We’re working with a lot of voluntary benefit agents. We’re working with a lot of insurance brokers. We do have people who are kind of coming in looking to start in the business, but we’re focused more, right now, on higher-level life insurance sales and financial planning and things like that.
We’re basically taking the same approach, man, but we’re just using a lot of technology to streamline the process. A lot of brokers, voluntary benefit agents, people starting off, they don’t have a way to really streamline the high-end life insurance sales process. It’s a difficult process. All right? It’s not like you’re going out there…
Tim: Well, let me take a timeout for just a second. Let me explain this for our agents a little better. A lot of these VB agents, they have great relationships with the business owner, right? I mean they’ve been in there. They’ve done a good job developing good rapport. They’ve given great service to this customer, and this business owner doesn’t need $100,000 term life insurance. They need something much more sophisticated than that, but they’re not going to buy from somebody who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Tim: They don’t know what they’re talking about, so okay, I’m sorry. Time back at you. We’re back, so keep going.
Adam: Yeah, no, I appreciate you clarifying that, too, man. Sometimes I get lost off in a knowing-what-I-know-and-knowing-what-I-don’t-type thing.
Adam: Yeah, no, absolutely. We’re dealing with, basically, the business owner. We’re dealing with a lot of the higher-level life insurance sales/financial planning, and it’s an interesting animal because there are a lot of new laws out there. The way that industry works, people primarily, if they get recruited from a company, they’re particularly selling that carrier’s product.
Well, in the life insurance industry, it’s a lot different than it is… Whether it be any of the popular voluntary benefit carriers, they’re all, within a nutshell, pretty much the same, but not with life insurance. You can’t possibly represent one company and be able to fit everybody’s needs.
What we saw was there was a major void because a lot of those companies, they’ll literally hire people to sell to friends and family only. Once they do, they’re obviously going to represent the carrier’s product, but there are a lot of new laws, and there are a lot of new updates in that industry itself, where the cost of the life insurance has technically gone down because the life expectancy is longer.
What we found is a lot of people who are in benefits don’t have a relationship with the owner. They have a relationship with HR and things like that. What happens is that relationship is there, but it might not be for long, so what we basically did was figured out a way where we could take an industry that’s kind of underserved and take technology where we’re not asking to meet in person, where we’re literally running these meetings via the Web.
What we find is the higher-end clientele (a) appreciates the fact that we’re notifying them of these new laws, (b) appreciates the fact that we represent every company because we can give them the fairest rate, but most importantly, the person’s relationship that’s with that business owner is getting more solidified because it’s not just perceived as, “Oh, they’re the accident insurance people. No, that’s my person who is actually in charge of my policy.”
Tim: Got it.
Adam: We make it nice and smooth in the sense that a lot of people who are successful in this industry have to take 20 to 30 years to get there. What we did is we streamlined the process to say, “Hey, let’s let the analytical people do the analytics. Let’s let the salespeople do the sales,” and what we’ve done is we’ve been able to create a whole process where we can literally work with any business owner in 51 states.
What we do is we basically run a meeting with them on the Web, and we look at what they have. If we can’t reduce their rate or give them better coverage, we refuse the job. If we can, we obviously process that all in our back office, and we make sure that they, in fact, do have the best deal available. Because of the volume and things like that that we drive, we are getting the best deals out there.
Tim: Well, by not only volume, but a lot of these guys have been in their policy for 15 years. What happened is (just not that long ago) the law changed dramatically for life insurance. Talk a little bit about that.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely. In the simplest terms, life insurance is based off something called the CSO table. Right?
Adam: They determine the life expectancy of an individual. Well, what happened was all life insurance carriers were using the oldest rate table possible because if they use the older rate table, life expectancy wasn’t as long as it was now. All these life insurance carriers had these reps out there issuing life insurance policies based on that old rating table.
Well, what happened was, in 2009, the insurance commissioner came down and said, “No, no, no, no, no. We have to do this. Boom. Here’s the new table,” and because of that, that new table, life expectancy is now longer. It will drive down the rates, and there is a lot of…
Tim: Because they have longer to pay for it. Right?
Adam: Well, yeah, their life expectancy is a lot longer, so the risk to the insurance company is not as great.
Tim: Right. Right. Because ostensibly, they’re not going to die as early. Plus, they could collect more premiums because the person is going to live longer, so both sides, yeah.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely, and it’s been fun, man. I’ve been able to work with great people across the country. It’s a trillion-dollar industry, so we’re pumped up. Finally, we get to work with people across the country. The bottom line is you have to do the right job in that industry, and I’m confident, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that people who are involved working on this daily and tightening up the process are literally the best people to represent a broker or a voluntary benefit rep’s clients.
Tim: Sure. Sure. Well, that’s fascinating, and you said you do it all based on the Internet. You don’t go out and meet with them. You’re not driving around to do that. That’s pretty interesting. I love technology and where it’s going.
Adam: Yeah. What we found out was, especially when you’re dealing with a business owner, I mean they’re busy. Sometimes when they’re dealing with financial stuff, they don’t want to be in the office. They want to be with their spouse, in their house…things like that. For us, yeah, we’re not driving around, but for them, it’s a different experience.
You don’t have somebody… It’s not a high-pressure type thing. It’s more of a conversation and literally showing them, “Here’s what is going on. Here’s what has happened,” identifying what they have and seeing if we can make sure it’s better. Like I said, if not, we won’t take the project, but if we can, obviously, we would be more than happy to.
Tim: When we were talking before this, you said you just have some brilliant people sitting in the back office. They have spent the last 30 years understanding the analytical part of this business and understand all the different carriers, and if somebody has diabetes, “Where is the best place to take that person?” versus somebody who is Wonder Woman.
Adam: Oh, absolutely. I mean I see the policies that come through. I don’t look for them. It’s not really my part of the job, but it is simple stuff, man. I mean, literally, if you represent one carrier, you can’t offer this. If someone smokes a cigar, they’re considered a smoker with this carrier but not another, and the rates, they jump by about 25 percent. I hate to put it as blunt as this: It’s not a hard sell. You know what I mean?
Adam: We’re literally just identifying what they already have and literally giving them the opportunity to kind of get a little bit more of a clear-cut shot at what is the truth.
Tim: You guys have been featured everywhere. Tell me about some of the places where they’ve interviewed you guys or done features on you.
Adam: Oh, man, I have to tell you. I’ve been overwhelmed with that kind of stuff. We’re all over the map, man. We were in the Wall Street Journal. We were in Yahoo! We were in Reuters. It’s not a sexy subject. Let’s face it, but I think people who are looking for that type of information just want the truth.
We’re lucky enough to have publications like those pick us up, and it just reinforces kind of like who we are and what we do. We just literally want to be transparent. That’s kind of the main focus, so those publications that picked us up have helped sales tremendously. I mean, we’re all over the place. We actually have some stuff coming out soon, too, that’s going to be pretty unique.
Tim: Huh. Well, we’ll have to get you back on after that comes out and talk about that and what you’re doing there. Hey, Adam, how can people get ahold of you?
Adam: The easiest way to get ahold of me, believe it or not, is Facebook. I’m also going to set up something for your subscribers here. If they go to www.adammaggio.com/siv they could definitely get in contact with me there. I’ll grab some information, and I’ll be more than happy to obviously help anybody out who needs the help and, without question, keep providing value, because that’s really what it’s all about. It’s www.adammaggio.com/siv.
Tim: As in Success is Voluntary, S-I-V.
Adam: Success is voluntary, my friend.
Tim: You betcha. Tell me a little bit about that. Does that resonate with you: “Success is voluntary”?
Adam: You know what, I actually didn’t think about it until you just said it, and yeah, absolutely, 100 percent, it is voluntary, and it’s an obligation. A lot of people are maybe too afraid to admit it or stare at it in the face, but without question, it’s one of those things where you have the option. That’s a hard pill to swallow for a lot people, but if you have the option to succeed and you choose not to do that, that’s you, you know?
Adam: If you have that option to succeed and you choose to do it, it’s readily available. I think if people just really grasp this industry and understand what is going on and understand what changes are happening and the money that can get made, and if they really just want to go out there and give it 100 percent with zero excuses, it’s going to happen…without question. I mean, there’s enough information available out there right now to take anybody from park bench to Park Avenue if they really want it.
Tim: “Park bench to Park Avenue,” I haven’t heard that line in a long time. I love that line. That just resonates with me because that’s my story. I lost my Domino’s Pizza stores through bankruptcy, got sued five times after the bankruptcy by different vendors. Five times in eleven weeks the the doorbell rang with a process server there. By the grace of God and great opportunity and my hard work and some really, really awesome people who came beside me and gave me a hug when I needed one and a kick in the butt when I needed one and a high five when I deserved it… You know?
Tim: I think we’ve all been there. They say, “If you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he didn’t get there by himself.” Right?
Tim: That’s the way I feel.
Adam: I like that.
Tim: Yeah, yeah, I feel that way.
Adam: I like that.
Tim: You bet. All right. Speaking of that, we’ll close with that. Tell me how you want to be remembered because I know you’re a young guy and still charging hard, but I’m sure the reality has set in somewhere along the line that you’re not going to be here forever. How do you want to be remembered?
Adam: You know, man, I haven’t thought of that a lot, and I’m starting to think of that a lot lately. It’s funny because everybody comes in for the money. If I had to boil that down in a nutshell, I would just say someone who just went at it, someone who just literally didn’t stop. It doesn’t matter. Whatever is going to happen is controllable, someone who just went after it, and just proved to the common man that, “Well, look, if you want it, it’s here. Zero excuses.”
I would say that’s probably the number one thing, man because we all wake up… Some people forget where they came from and things like that. Look, I put my pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else. It’s just showing everybody, “Look, if you just work your butt off and go after it, it can happen.”
Look, for me, it was a game-changer. I can’t say that for everybody, but there was a lot of help. There’s always luck involved. I’m not too ashamed to admit that, but at the end of the day, it just really boils down to someone who really just went after it when the opportunity was there and didn’t rely on laziness because it’s unfortunate, but it’s an epidemic.
Tim: It is an epidemic. You said, “Relied on luck.” I can’t remember who said it. Somebody famous said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get,” and it is weird how those two tend to go hand in hand.
All right, Adam, well, I really appreciate you being on, and we’ll definitely get you back on once you’ve… You said you have some pretty exciting anouncements coming up. We’ll definitely get you back on and get that out. Well, of course, we’ll put the link you just talked about, www.adammaggio.com/siv, in the show notes, along with a link to you on Facebook, as well. Appreciate it. We’ll talk to you soon.
Adam: Hey, man, pleasure. Anytime. Let’s keeping rocking it out.
Tim: All right. Thank you so much.
Remember everything is voluntary, including success. Take it in your hands now. Head over to www.successisvoluntary.com/iTunes/, and stay up to date with all the latest tips, news, and techniques in the world of selling voluntary benefits.
Tim: Thanks for sticking around. I hope you found Adam to be as passionate and hard charging as I do. One of Adam’s strengths is surrounding himself with smart people, and he has certainly done that at DaVinci. If you’re interested in what he is doing, I would suggest you go to their site we mentioned in the show, www.adammaggio.com/siv. Like I said in the intro, I’ve known Adam for a while now, and I promise he’ll take good care of you. Thanks again for listening. I’ll see you right back here next week.