Spotlight on Auto Aftermarket Express Producer Abel Puerta
More than 12,000 agents or brokers, within 6,000 agencies, work with Arrowhead as our producers writing personal, commercial and specialty lines of coverage. This month we’re highlighting one high-performing Auto Aftermarket Express producer, Abel Puerta.
A captive agent for Farmers Insurance, Abel sells personal lines plus commercial insurance for smaller-sized businesses, including agribusiness. Less than three months ago, he signed on with Arrowhead to offer our new Automotive Aftermarket Express Package from his office in Yakima, Washington.
“In just two months, I’ve sold $100k in premium. And I sold another $20k within the last couple of days,” Abel said in a phone interview with us. “It seems no one’s calling on garage accounts, and I don’t know why,” he added. “I’m finding that most of these garages say ‘Yeah, my policy hasn’t been reviewed in years, so let’s look at it’. We don’t have a lot of rejections.”
It helps that Abel has a background in automotive service: As a teenager, he started on the service side of a Mercedes-Benz/BMW dealership, and worked his way into heading up new car sales. “I know their business. And I know how they operate,” he said. This isn’t a potential client group who spends a lot of time online or on email, he explained, so he doesn’t use mass-email. “These are face-to-face guys. They can be a rough group. They want to deal with you ‘belly-to-belly’,” he quipped. “They’re on a completely different planet than engineers or accountants.”
Here are the other questions we asked Abel.
What about Arrowhead’s Auto Aftermarket Express Program makes it an easy sell for you?
“It is the easiest system with the fastest turn-around time that I’ve ever seen with any carrier- ever.” Naming several major carriers, he added, “none of them are as easy and fast as your quote and bind portal. I can quote an account in 15 minutes (it’s that long because I’m a slow typist). And your underwriter is amazing, able to turn stuff around in an hour.
“I am having fun selling this product with Arrowhead. I’m absolutely back to having fun.”
Learn more about the Automotive Aftermarket Express Package.
What misconceptions do clients often have about your job?
“How much money we make,” he laughed. “Actually, the biggest misconception – and fear – that I hear from clients is that we’re going to offer a discount to be able to write their business this year, but then we’ll jack up their rates by 30 percent next year. They’ve been burned too many times.”
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
Abel quickly pointed to well-known insurance sales trainer Randy Schwantz, author of “The Wedge®, How to Stop Selling and Start Winning.”
“I went through his program on how to sell insurance. If you can’t go to Texas for classes, I recommend the book. It teaches you to stop just quoting and start winning new business. He saved me hours of beating my head against a wall, trying to figure out why I wasn’t winning more business,” Abel recalled. “He teaches you how to drive a wedge between you and your prospect’s current broker who owns the account. How to not only differentiate yourself, but show how choosing you is the best option.”
What’s the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
“Learning to be self-disciplined was tough in the beginning, and sometimes still is. You’re your own worst enemy: You can decide whether to make a cold call or not. Self-motivation can be tough. You can always find an excuse not to do it.
“Meeting with a bunch of mechanics is NOT easy. They’re not well-spoken or polite, necessarily. They cut to the chase and tell it like it is. I had to learn to put aside the fear of being told no.”
What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?
“Winning. When I win an account it really feels good. I’m competitive – and I love winning new accounts.”
What do you do differently from your peers?
Not doing the email blasts, Abel said. “We knock on doors. We pick up the phone. We do it the old-school way. I’ve tried all the current marketing efforts, but for my specific audience in auto aftermarket or agribusiness, those don’t work.”
Having first-hand knowledge of the industry has been vital as well. “It gives me an edge on the competition by being able to say ‘I know this industry. I was in it 10 years.'” He added this advice: Go after the niche that you like and that you know. That makes the job fun.
What advice would you give to those who are new in the field?
“Don’t give up. It takes 3-4 years, but you’ll get there. Just don’t give up. I remember a couple of times in the shower when I said to myself, ‘What am I doing here? Do I want to do this long-term?’ Sooner or later, the floodgates will open. Hey, if it was that easy, everyone would be selling insurance!
“I’ve found there’s a gap in the ages of those who sell insurance: Most are in their 60s. I’m 39. My competition is retiring and no one’s replacing them. Younger guys, millennials, are trying to sell insurance with email blasts. They’re finding it hard to do face to face. I say, get out from behind text messages and emails. Don’t be afraid of in-your-face rejection. You’ll also have a lot of in-your-face successes.”
Thanks, Abel! We’re delighted to see how having fun has turned you into such a positive powerhouse, and look forward to working with you for years to come.