Introduction: Andrew Meinster was referred to CIB by a former State Farm colleague. He lacked the prototypical CIB candidate’s B2B sales background. My first interview notes about Andrew: “a bit immature but could be a value hire”. Nottingham Insurance took a calculated risk on Andrew as a new commercial producer hire in 2014 and he has paid off big-time as a rainmaker. Plus, as I reminded Andrew, he’s successful and still early in his career.
Q: Thinking back to your transition from sales outside of insurance, besides the technical learning curve, what was the biggest transition challenge that you encountered?
A: Getting comfortable in front of business owners. I could schedule appointments. Getting in the door was easy for me. But once I got in there, what do I say and what do I do? I was selling personal insurance prior to being at Nottingham. And now I’m actually in front of this business owner who has a very successful business and this person can definitely tell that I’m green. Leaning how to feel relaxed when I first met with business owners was the biggest challenge.
Q: So how did you overcome being green and inexperienced at the start?
A: My drive and my hunger to succeed overcame my anxiety and feeling out of place. I decided to view each meeting as a chance to get to know and understand the business owner on a personal level and make a connection. And then talk about insurance. I would listen to this person talk to me about whatever they wanted to talk about. When we did get around to insurance, even if I didn’t have the answers, I was still forming a connection and there was some trust built. I remember that I would listen to a business owner talk for over an hour and I would walk out and think that I’m going to be able to get this account now because I was an ear for this business owner and I was able to connect with them.
Q: What surprised you the most when you got into this career?
A: What surprised me the most is that it’s all about relationships. Insurance is a technical product but it’s not a product sale, it’s a relationship sale. Being able to build relationships with my clients, my colleagues and underwriters is what matters.
Q: What’s the most important thing a new producer can do in year 1 to be successful?
A: CIB had a sales coach for me, Tony. He was very helpful for me. He told me to keep cold calling and get in the door. He was my hype man! And that’s what I did. I had the tenacity that I was going to find my way to get in the door. For the first 6 months, I spent every day cold calling. I would get in the office super early in the morning and was totally focused on getting myself in the door. Every business that I got in the door and that I was able to write, it made me that much more motivated to keep growing. It was probably also my anxiety. I was scared that I was going to lose my job. It was a fear of that along with me deciding that I’m going to crush this.
Q: What’s a typical “day in the life” look like for you now? How is it different today compared to when you started?
A: The one thing that hasn’t changed at all: every day I still prospect. I’m constantly prospecting. I will never take that out of my routine. Leads are a way of life. On a typical weekday, I’m in my chair by 6 AM. I do a lot of prospecting on social media. Not so much LinkedIn, but I use Instagram and a few other tools. I’ve found that on Instagram, businesses showcase their business. For example, a tree removal company will post on Instagram a story with a 20 second video of them taking down this massive tree. And then you can comment on their story and begin to show genuine interest in their business. What’s changed the most is that I have a large book of business so managing clients takes time even though I have a service rep and a second one in training. I’m not spending nearly as much time as I did in the past prospecting. I’m doing it in different ways. I even have a company that’s doing prospecting for me. I needed to find other ways to keep generating leads. I’m paying money out of my own pocket in order to leverage my time better and I know that it will pay off.
Q: Looking back on your choice to become a producer, how did that decision change your career trajectory?
A: I was able to create a beautiful family. We feel financially comfortable enough that my wife’s been able to full-time take care of our kids. This career enables me to work from home when needed. I can see both of my kids every morning and if I need to stop working for a half hour or 45 minutes, I can. We’ve been able to move out of Philadelphia into a new house in a nicer area with great schools. I’m able to save for retirement too. So, everything has significantly improved in my life.
Q: What do you find most satisfying about the producer career?
A: Forming the relationships with business owners and underwriters. It’s been an awesome experience to form these relationships. When you’re the producer writing a lot, insurance company underwriters and marketing reps want to meet you, which makes you feel valued and respected and that’s satisfying.
Q: Why do some new producers fail and others – like you – succeed?
A: They’re too focused on systems and technical knowledge and not focused enough on engaging with and developing relationships with people. That, along with lacking the tenacity to prospect and get in the door.