Young Agent Spotlight: Vaughn Costello at Skogman Carlson Insurance

How did you get into insurance?

I studied exercise science at university and became a strength coach/personal trainer after graduation. I was attracted to the field because I enjoy developing close relationships with my clients and supporting them as they reach their goals. Eventually, I got burned out: My passion for exercise became work.

A family friend who operated a captive agency asked if I was interested in working with him. We began to discuss what the opportunity looked like and what makes an agent successful. I worked at his captive agency for three and a half years. We were a high-volume shop, starting our days early and ending late. I learned a lot from the experience, including how to build rapport from initial conversations and the ins and outs of policy servicing.

There were times that being a captive agent limited my ability to problem-solve. I only had one carrier and one set of products to help my clients. I wanted to provide my clients with a variety of solutions from several carriers as well as build my own book of business. I decided to join an independent agency to allow me to do this. I currently serve personal lines and small commercial. Over the next few years, I am planning to expand my focus to include large commercial.

How do you approach prospecting?

Early in my career, we focused on cold calling. Cold calling took a lot of time and had a low hit rate. I found I was more successful working closely with my clients and building trust. These close relationships would earn me several referrals, and it would snowball from there. I still hit the phones, but I do it more strategically. If the person is expecting your call, it works better. People receive spam messages all day, and you don’t want to come off as a nuisance.

I build time in my schedule to do the little things, like handwriting thank you notes—even with my bad handwriting! I make sure to have a six-month review meeting with each of my clients to make sure they feel really good about my ability to write their business.

I also leverage social media and share posts once or twice a week where I share information and try to help people with their problems. It is amazing how many people have reached out because of these posts.

How do you use technology to manage your day-to-day work?

My agency uses a popular, commercially available agency management system. The “activity notes” function is critical for keeping track of your different clients. I slow myself down after each call and try to write up a brief summary of the conversation and upload any screenshots that could be helpful in the future.

I am diligent about my calendar. I leave my early mornings to clear my backlog and leave the afternoons for outreach and marketing.

What advice do you have for new producers just entering the industry?

I have a couple pieces of advice for new producers: 1. You need to put yourself out there so that your network knows what you are doing. 2. Don’t be afraid of not knowing every answer when speaking to prospects. You learn through working through the weird instances that come up. 3. Don’t sell on social media. Instead, be an advocate and a resource. The people will ask you for your business.

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