Richard M. Demko II started his life insurance career selling policies in tough neighborhoods in St. Louis and Houston. He even was bitten by dogs on two occasions as he went door to door, looking for clients.
Today, Demko is director of insurance with Centric Wealth in Houston and is a Top of the Table qualifier. He discussed his journey from the kitchen table to the Top of the Table during Tuesday’s NAIFA Performance + Purpose virtual conference.
Demko said he was three months in to his career as a multiline agent when he had an opportunity to place a life insurance case but struggled to get a face-to-face meeting with the woman who needed coverage. She died uninsured shortly afterward, leaving two young daughters.
“I kept asking myself what could I have done better as a producer and as a salesperson,” he said. “At that point, I no longer cared about your home or your car insurance – I cared about you.”
Demko went all in on selling life insurance, talking to prospects until he regularly lost his voice.
But although he cared about helping clients and had a lot of passion for the business, he said he eventually learned, “It’s important to care – just not that much.”
“It’s a mindset and persona more than anything,” he said. “Your clients can smell desperation. You have to control yourself before you can control anything else.”
Decade Of Struggle
Demko said that success didn’t come to him until he had spent about a decade struggling to obtain clients.
“Back then it was just sales – one call, hard core close,” he said, adding that he could “take out objections one by one like a Western gunslinger.”
“It took a lot of trial and error to refine my process but once I did there was no stopping me.”
Demko said he learned a few principles that eventually helped him to write more insurance. They included:
Use very few insurance terms when discussing coverage with a prospect. If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
Show more death benefit to write more death benefit.
The single biggest issue to writing more business is to show more value.
Write higher death benefit.
Don’t go it alone! Hire support staff, study and benchmark with the best in the business, create more leaders.
The higher levels you reach, the more you can bring others along.
He eventually was doing a healthy business with clients he was comfortable with, but he needed to meet new people in order to grow his practice. He needed a process to meet more prospects. So he started asking for introductions – not referrals.
Getting In Front Of People
In addition, he developed a game plan to help fill the sales pipeline. He reached out to those in his community who had the largest stature and were willing to meet with him.
“The answer is always no if we don’t ask,” he said. “And we weren’t meeting with them to ask for business. We would come in to the meeting with a list of names that we should know and that we grabbed from their LinkedIn profiles. We were able to get their wheels turned on who they needed to introduced us to.”
He admitted the process may have been “stalkerish,” but said, “We can’t help people we don’t meet.”
The goal wasn’t to get business from the community leaders – it was to get introductions to others who could become clients.
Demko said that by the time he reached the second and third levels of introductions, “we were introduced as someone they could trust and who were experts.”
As a result, he had 10 cases that were each more than $50,000 in annual premium and one case that was more than $250,000 in annual premium.
“By focusing on taking at least one application a week from one of our top-tier prospects, my additional production was just shy of $2 million in a year when we had a global pandemic,” he said.
In following up with clients, Demko said each client receives three touches a year:
A review on the anniversary of their buying the policy.
A call two days prior to their birthday.
A signed custom Thanksgiving card.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.