Why Developing Leads May be Harder Than Selling Them



Any successful insurance professional knows that in order to remain competitive in this business, you have to have good, exclusive qualified leads.

The generation of insurance leads has in fact been a subject that haunts most struggling insurance agents, especially once they have depleted their initial “warm” market. In the past, if an agent was not able to prospect very well, he or she had a pretty slim chance of making it in this cutthroat industry.

However, today there are ways that agents can help themselves by having a list of “ready to buy” prospects in front of them every day. Rather than trying to find the proverbial needle in the haystack in terms of people who might be interested, agents can now buy their leads and know that they will be talking with at least somewhat interested individuals.

These leads can be difficult to generate, though, and they do not always come cheap to the companies that are harnessing them and, in turn, providing them to the insurance agents. So, this raises an interesting question: Is it harder to initially develop the lead or to sell the lead once it is been generated?

Developing the Lead

At first glance, this may sound like a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” type of question. After all, selling insurance has never been accused of being an “easy” profession to make a living in. Honestly, neither is generating exclusive life insurance leads.

The truth is that, as a lead generator, I can tell you from firsthand experience, it’s a lot of work. One can bring in leads based on a variety of different methods, including SEO, keywords and pay-per-click advertising. Yet, because of the way Google is changing, it can be extremely difficult (especially for smaller companies) to keep up with the big brands.

So, just how difficult is it to develop the lead?

Let’s use an example of developing leads in my particular vertical. I am trying to develop leads, and also to generate exclusive leads for the life insurance niche. As a smaller player in the lead generation marketplace, I am actually competing against one of the hardest verticals for lead generation. For instance, I am going up against some of the most recognized names in the country, like State Farm, who, according to SEMrush, advertise for 37,700 keywords and spends an estimated $2.8 million per month just on pay-per-click ads alone.

To give you an example of what their advertising efforts get them, State Farm ranks for 299,000 keywords. It also has the domain authority to rank on the first page for any keyword that they target. They are just one of many in this vertical.

You can convert a lot of your traffic through the copywriting that you use, as well as how and where you strategically place keywords. You can also use calls to action and opt-ins, depending on the situation. You also want to ensure that the leads will convert. Otherwise, the agent has just wasted his or her time. I think that this alone is one reason developing leads can be much harder than selling to them.

Selling the Lead

Challenges and advantages of selling the lead can differ based on the individual agent, as well as their primary focus. First, we will look at the challenges. I do not think that any agent who has ever tried to sell a lead would disagree that there is an enormous amount of competition in this area. In fact, when I first started in the insurance business, I was purchasing what I thought were “fresh” leads — and maybe they were.

Unfortunately, even though the prospect was often ready to buy, I was also often competing with three or four other agents for the business on the very same lead. None of these leads were exclusive. At $15 per lead, that became frustrating. What it did for me, though, was it gave me a sense of urgency in getting to the lead much faster if I wanted to make the sale.

Yet, even with the frustration and the urgency with selling leads versus developing them, there is still far less pressure knowing that all you have to do is sit back and wait for the leads to come in. I have personally been on both sides of the gate, and I know that having qualified exclusive leads every day can make life as an agent easier. Because of that, there are agents who will pay good money to have a list of potential buyers waiting for them.

Making the Process Work

In order to truly make the process work, your leads have to be qualified. While this can be frustrating to an agent who is working to sell the lead, it can also produce additional pressure on a company that is working to develop one.

For the companies that are able to produce not just leads, but well-qualified leads, this can become an extremely profitable business model. Over the past several years, several lead-generation companies have sold for millions of dollars. For example, in 2012, InsuranceAgents.com reportedly sold for $24 million to Bankrate.com. Bankrate has also purchased similar lead generation sites NetQuote, Insureme, and InsWeb. Just recently, BankRate then sold to All Web Leads a block of websites such as Netquote.com, among others, for an reported $160 million.

Developing leads today is literally a full-time job. So it is a rare individual or company that can both develop and sell leads at the same time successfully. Unless you have in-depth experience with SEO from an insurance industry standpoint, selling the lead may be the best way to go.



The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Image credit: CC by Maryland GovPics

About the author: Brad Cummins

Brad Cummins is the Founder of Local Life Agents, a nationwide independent life insurance agency. A graduate of Ohio State University, Brad and his wife and son reside in Columbus, Ohio.

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