InternetCE.com And The American Real Estate School Form Strategic Partnership

partnershipIn an effort to better serve our clients, nationwide, we have formed a strategic partnership with American School of Real Estate to provide real estate pre-licensing and continuing education.

We found that many of our insurance students also sought accreditation and certification to retain and obtain a real estate license. We are proud to meet the demand and to have such a solid partner in which to do so.

The American School of Real Estate is the nation’s oldest 100% online real estate license school, birthed in the mid-1990′s on the radical (at that time) proposition that students could actually learn faster and better through the efficiencies of the Internet.

Today, students who enroll at The American School of Real Estate will find a library of over 150 original, dynamic state-approved courses to chose from. We created, designed, and own all of our real estate courses and learning tools. (Unlike competitors: Fully half or more of our competing schools in any given state are simply reselling an old course written by others, or referring the student to another site to earn a commission.) What that means to our students is better, more accurate course content, delivered in the method the student prefers, for less money.

“America’s Favorite Real Estate School” has now successfully trained over 100,000 real estate students from all parts of the country using the convenience of the Internet, and consistently ranks #1 in first-time pass rates by boards and commissions that publish same. Students who graduate from The American School of Real Estate not only enjoy the pedigree of our institution and our reputation with America’s leading brokerage firms, they also can take advantage of Specialist Designations that are widely recognized as invaluable marketing tools fully embraced and preferred by the consumer.

This partnership continues to solidify our company as a nationwide leader in professional continuing education, with offerings in Insurance, Securities, and now Real Estate.

Trying New Things

changeI wrote an article yesterday and was trying something new.  I had recently read a post on marketing and the use of intentional poor grammar as a marketing tool, and wanted to give it a try.  Well, it worked…sort of.  Lots of people read it and some even responded to let me know how much I sounded like a chimp.  I got responses from people that have never, ever responded to anything I have ever written before, which was sort of nice.  The trouble is, the overwhelming comments to me were that incorrect grammar, of any capacity, from an education company were anything but good.

So, I’ll not do that again.  That is the beauty of life.  I am able to try new things and if they work, do them more often and if they don’t, scrap them for something…new.

What is the take away and how can an professional continuing education serve its clients better from this lesson?

I say the lesson is to reiterate how trying new things is the only way to go.  Stagnation is death.  We have a choice to make a change…to try something new, and if it doesn’t work the way we wanted, to try something new once again.

If you are not happy with your job title or present income reality, make a change.  If your current skill sets are preventing you from advancing, learn something new.  If you are bored to tears with the industry you serve, switch.  And if it doesn’t work out…try something new again.

But I can’t learn that…I haven’t tried that before…I’m only a (insert job title), there is no way I’ll be able to be a (insert fantasy job title)….it goes on an on.

Let us not forget that two brothers working in a bicycle shop are responsible for the entire aerospace industry.  They were courageous to try something that had never been done before.  They struggled.  They were laughed at.  They made incredible sacrifice.  But they tried new things and stuck with what worked and changed what did not.

Do you have it in you to try something new?

Will E-Learning Become Even More Better Than Classroom Study?

online vs classroomI wrote an article a few weeks ago for a colleague on the pros and cons or online vs classroom study.  I also have just found a compelling NY Times article on a statistical study of online vs classroom learning environments, whereas the results state that the web wins.   Both systems of learning have merit, but where do they merge and how will technology and its catching up to the way people actually live and communicate aid in this convergence?

When in a classroom, I have an opportunity to ask real time questions and lean over to ask my fellow student what the teacher just said…perhaps an extra explanation.  I also have an opportunity to stay after class to meet in study groups and debate on what will be on the next test.  Now, get wired..How does twitter and facebook allow for the same?  Do white boards and chat rooms provide this dialog?  If these tools were fundamentally integrated into an e-learning platform, would it accelerate our ability to absorb and retain?  I have explained the importance of having and using a facebook/twitter/linkedin account if one is in sales, given the sheer number of people that use these tools, so if most folks are already dialed in, will having these resources a part of the mix continue to evolve e-learning?

I believe the answer is a resounding, yes!

Unemployed Insurance Agents Get Aid With Free Continuing Education Courses

helpAuto insurance agents’ association and continuing education provider step up to the plate to provide financial support.

Concord, North Carolina September 18, 2009 – Auto Insurance Agents of North Carolina (AIANC) and InternetCE recognize the tough economic times and are doing something about it. AIANC and InternetCE have committed to assisting 50 unemployed insurance professionals, donating state filing fees continuing education courses, totaling 24 hours each, for agents who’ve lost their jobs. Continuing education (CE) is a requirement for maintaining an insurance license.

Rick Pegram, President of AIANC, wanted to do something. “I have seen more and more people that I have known for years losing their job in this economy,” Rick said. So AIANC has offered free attendance at AIANC’s upcoming Insurance Expo 2009 to agents who lost their jobs. The agents are welcomed to pass out resumes and network with participating companies. The conference is September 25-26, 2009, at the Embassy Suites in Concord, North Carolina.  Attendee information and registration can be found at www.AutoInsuranceAgentsNC.com.

However, the giving didn’t stop there. Ann Bartell, marketing representative for Smart Choice Agents Program, saw the story and contributed $500 of her own money to help defray resume printing and copying costs and Cathy Miller, Business Writer, contributed her services as well.

When Rick approached Aaron Loring Davis, Chief Technology Officer at InternetCE.com, about donating CE courses, Aaron was happy to accommodate. In an interview, Aaron stated, “InternetCE has been an advocate for agents for almost 20 years. We are very fortunate to be in a position to be able to help and are honored to have been asked.  It speaks volumes about Rick and his organization.”

 

AIANC will pay the state fees of $1.65 per hour and InternetCE is offering agents the option of online or live classes.


If you would like more information about the “Pay It Forward” project, please contact:

Rick Pegram

President

Auto Insurance Agents of North Carolina

704-791-2756

rickpegram@gmail.com


Adults Attending School Have Different Motivation

bookI read an interesting article this morning regarding the anxiety of going back to school as an adult.  It can be found here.  While I do think one may have butterfly’s when entering a classroom or getting back into the books after years of being in the professional world, I believe that most of the feelings are of a positive nature.

The tone of the mood is set by virtue of the motivation.  I speak from experience.  I wanted to expand my skill sets and my marketability to my clients.  My core interests (outside of school) were different than that of a 18-22 year old.  I was paying for it myself.  I was interested in the curriculum.

The proof is in the pudding.  My grades were far better than from years gone by.  I was much more efficient in my studying, given that I know myself, what works and what doesn’t.  Procrastination wasn’t nearly the slippery slope it was years ago.

Facets of my life that are in no way connected to the curriculum improved, too.  Is it because my brain is being challenged?  Is it because of the reward I am finding in having success?  Is because I know I am serving myself today and for the future by learning new tools?  Yes, yes, and yes.

Insurance Agent Websites: Back to the Basics

With all of the talk today about ‘quoting engines’, ‘blogs’, and ‘social media’, it’s easy for insurance agents to lose focus on why they have a website and what it should do for them. Before you worry too much about integrating Facebook and Twitter into your site, don’t forget to make sure you’ve got the basics covered.

The most fundamental element of selling insurance is developing trust with your prospect. You need to convince them that you are the best person to help fill their insurance needs. With the rapid rise of the Internet, the traditional ways of communicating trust are disappearing – a visit to your website might be as close as your customer will ever get to you. Because of this, it’s critical that your website first and foremost develops trust with your prospects.

Your website needs to show your prospects two things. First, it needs to show that you are the right insurance agent to meet their insurance needs. You have the knowledge, experience, and professionalism to serve them well. Second, your site should communicate that you represent the right products and carriers to meet their insurance needs. You’ve got the tools in your box to “zero in” on the best product at the best price for your prospect.

How do you do this? Here are a few simple things you must do on your website to communicate the above two critical items:

1. Feature information about you, including your contact information. Show that you’re a real person who wants to help them make the right insurance-related decisions and not a “faceless website” by putting your picture and contact info front-and-center.

2. Provide professional quality content. You need to sound like a trusting professional to be a trusted professional. Your site’s content must be well written, typo-free, and formatted clearly and cleanly.

3. Display properly across all browsers. A broken site is a sign of a broken business. You site must work equally well on Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox. This means the HTML and CSS of your site should be standards-compliant. Not sure if your site is? Run it through the validator at http://validator.w3.org/ to find out.

4. Offer more than just a quote engine with a logo. Encourage your site visitor to take a minute or two getting to know you on your site before getting a quote. Offer them information of value to show that you’re invested in the relationship.

5. Update your site frequently. Keep your site fresh with new content. Regular content updates show that you are an active participant in your website and reinforce the fact that you are to “go-to” resource for their insurance needs.

It’s time to revisit the basics on your website. Make sure you’re presenting the right image and working on building trusting relationships. Your payoff will be higher quality leads that you will find are much easier to close.

About the author: Aaron Kassover is the co-founder of AgentMethods, the fastest way for an agent to launch and manage a high quality insurance website. Aaron has helped hundreds of agents take advantage of the web in their business, and has advised many of the nation’s top insurance carriers on their websites and online marketing.

Top 10 Must Have Technology Instruments for Sales Associates

The future ain’t what it used to be.  - Yogi Berrtech

Can a sales associate get by these days with a legal pad, a fax machine, and a full tank of gas?  Sure, but I feel that one would be missing out on tools that have made our lives incredibly easier and more efficient.  They help us work smarter.  They allow us to reach many, many more people than we ever could before.  These technology tools embrace mobility, a collective knowledge from the masses, automated and integrated functionality, and ease of use as center points.

  • Smart Phone – A Blackberry is my first choice (it’s built for business), but I have also toyed with an Iphone and was a Palm guy for many years.  This tool is essential.  My blackberry is my office.  I use it to communicate via telephone, text, email, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.  I use it to record my thoughts via short text notes, pictures, and voice.  It contains my calendar and task list, which is wirelessly synced to my computer, or any computer (via google…more on that in this list).  I use Maps utilizing GPS constantly, given I travel quite a bit.  $200-$450
  • Google – Google search is simply the best and quickest way to get relevant information on just about anything.  Gmail, perhaps the most robust and spam free email protocol, is also the gateway (you need a gmail account to access most their jazz) to most of the other products they produce.  Reader allows me to stay up to date on blogs that I am interested in.  Maps helps me find my way.  Analytics provides me with the valuable data to see how my websites are clicking along…whats working, and more importantly, what isn’t.  Documents is the platform for collaborative writing and saving, such that I can access my documents from anywhere.  I could go on and on, but this list can help bring it all into focus with regards to using the platform with productivity in mind. Free.
  • Blog – I use WordPress, but I also like blogger (google owns it).  Your clients want to know what you have to say.  By blogging, you are giving yourself a voice.  Not only are the folks you already know curious about what’s on your mind, so might the client you have yet to acquire.  Blogging is a best practise for achieving solid SEO (search engine optimization) and to show the world or you neighbor that yes, you do know what you are talking about…and more importantly, you are capable of providing them with the service you claim to be able to provide. If you do not write well, hire someone that can.  Cathy Miller is excellent! Free – $500/month.
  • Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter – 300,000,000+ people, as of this writing, is a lot of folks.  Period.  If you haven’t already got a profile setup, get one.  If you already do, use it to your advantage.  Sales pros go on and on about the value of a referral.  I’m not aware of a quicker way to find XYZ than to post the question to my profile pages and allowing my trusted friends send me in the right direction…and I’ve asked not only for the best headphones, but also a solid mortgage broker (for my mother), a business manager (for a client), and real estate agent (for myself).  Free.
  • Su.pr, Ping.fm, Delicious.com – You’ve got a blog, a Facebook page, a Linkedin profile, and several other mediums to let the world know you’re still alive and kicking…and working…update them all with one click and then, view your analytics to see which ones are doing the most for you.  Get the most from your efforts.  Make more money.  That sounds nice. Free.
  • Evernote – “Use Evernote to save your ideas, things you see, and things you like. Then find them all on any computer or device you use. For free.”  That’s their tag line and I think it sums it up.  They’ve got apps for your phone and its easy like Sunday morning.  Driving in the car and you need to call abc client, but now isn’t a good time, given you’ve got groceries getting warm, a baby getting hungry, and ball game that is getting gone…text, speak, or snap a photo to remind yourself when you get back to the lab (office). Free.
  • Pandora – I just cannot get through my day without some tunes.  Sitting at my desk I soothe my aching brain to ambient beats and in the car jam out to some good ole rock and roll. Digital, commercial free, and well…free.
  • Alltop – Your online magazine rack.  Find top blogs on just about everything, from industry trends to jobs (not Steve) to fishing.  Crucial in my efforts in staying abreast to what my clients, and competitors, are learning and being exposed to. Free.
  • Zenhabits – If tough out there.  Sometimes its downright dreadful…this, this life/work/play balancing act.  I have found that this site is great for helping me keep it all in perspective. Free.
  • Morning coffee, alone, for 10-15 minutes outside – High tech, low tech, I love Shrek…I allow myself an opportunity to set my intention for the day.  I let go of yesterday.  I breath deeply.  It is medicine. $.05-$5.00, depending on if your at home or Intellegentsia.
  • Bonus, but a given – Computer.  I use a Dell laptop, so I can take my business with me, but there is no excuse for not having access if you live in the United States.  You can buy a netbook for under $200 from Dell and the public library and probably your cousin has one you can use for free.  You can find free seminars at that same library to learn to use it.  In fact, as this point in innovation, computers are often times an accessibility tool for the disabled, so no more excuses.  Log on, get connected, and get to work!

Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate of unplugging.  I still use a Moleskine from time to time in addition to that aforementioned legal pad, but I believe I’d be missing out if I were not taking advantage of the free, easy to use tools listed above.

Do you know of other tools that you could not get by without?  Please let me and other reader know by listing them in the comments section.

Onward and upward!

Just say NO, to doing more! You need to study!

studyI’m thinking about doing what you need to do…and not doing what you do not need to do.

If you are like me, you love love love it when people ring you up to ask for help or involvement.  “Would you mind lending a hand to move my couch?”, “Would you like to go hear the Jingle Trio play tonight at the Music Bar?”, “Would you like to come over and talk about nothing for a couple hours?”…I love it when I get these calls.  It makes me feel good to be needed and to be involved…however these things do always fit in the my time budget for finishing my studies for the day or week.

I need to say no.

Sure, I want to help.  Sure, I want to be part of the party.  The thing is, I rarely find myself regretting not hearing the Jingle Trio when I’ve aced my test or been finished with my required studies.  And more often than not, the folks that rang me, didn’t really miss me either.

On the other hand, when I do say yes, in haste, I tend to have quite a bit of regret.  I go to help move said couch and return home 3 hours later pissed that I still haven’t open my lap top to study and now my schedule is wonky.  While helping out a friend with a couch might have been priority, it certainly isn’t at the top of the list.

Learning the material that I set out to learn is the top priority.  By able to say no to requests that flutter in as the days and weeks go by allow me to study, learn, and move on.  It takes courage and resolve, but by being true to my original goal, I am able to allow myself time to do the things I really do want to do.

In researching for this article I found the tips in Rick Osborn’s blog helpful.  The post in particular that helped was written by Donna Scott, who contributes for onlinecollege.org.  I also found this article, on Zenhabits.net, very compelling, with regards to focusing only the essential.

Onward and upward!

Interview: 10 Points To Ponder In Getting A Series 7 Securities License

I was fortunate to get an interview with Thomas Weiss on his experience in getting his series 7.  Sure it was a few years ago, however I believe these are excellent points to ponder when preparing to take this sort of exam and enter this sector of business.

If you have additional thoughts on these questions, please do add them to the comments.

Why did you decide you needed to be licensed?

I had to get licensed when I started working at Morgan Stanley. They had a policy that if you didn’t pass the first time you took the test you were fired. That was the mid 90s I am not certain if they still do this but it definitely adds some stress and motivation.

How did you choose you school and what options were the most appealing to you?

I attended 2 weeks of class but I actually didn’t use a school. I found an instructor in the area who emphasized practice tests. He was recommended by several of the young brokers who had passed their 7 over the last few years.

What costs (money, time, materials, etc. ) were incurred in taking the course?

I honestly can’t recall the cost. I focused pretty much on nothing but the test for close to 2 months.

What was the easiest/hardest portion?

Easiest was the fact that during that time my job was to study. The hardest was dealing with the frustration when I took practice tests.

If you could do it all over again, what would you have changed?

I would have started by reading the answers to the practice tests than read the questions. After that I would have read the sections and only then go back through & take practice exams.

What recommendations would you give a prospective student?

It is essentially like any big test. Learn some strategies for taking tests. That alone helps. If you can eliminate some answers, even if you have to guess, you are improving your odds. Time is not your friend during the exam… don’t waste it worrying about any 1 question. You can always come back at the end.

To your knowledge, what has changed since you got licensed?

They always say it gets harder every year. I don’t see how that is possible, but it’s the rumor. I had a natural understanding of options that really helped me. I think the only part that could really change a lot over the years are the rules & regulations.

What frequency/ amount of continuing education do you need to keep your license?

I’m not real sure. The office always had us in CE lunches, so I never was worried about losing the license. I do know if you allow it to go inactive for 2 years the license will lapse.

Is there any other curriculum that you recommend to prospective students that would allow them to ultimately be better at their job?

Spend time understanding what area of the business you are passionate about. Without a real passion for what you are doing you can never succeed. It is the hardest job at the beginning. If you don’t truly love what you do you will never make it to the point where it becomes very enjoyable.

Being a wise old sage, what kernel of information would you offer to someone considering this profession today?

Talk to as many different Financial Advisers as possible. Model yourself after someone successful & if at all possible find a good mentor. The easiest way to succeed is to find a successful FA/ Broker etc that is growing their business and looking for a junior partner. If the relationship works often times the mentor will develop a succession plan to transfer their book by allowing the mentee to buy them out over time. It is always much easier to keep existing clients than to find new ones.

Onward and upward!