I want to work for an Independent Brokerage focusing on Employee Benefits

Hello All,
This is my first post and please redirect me if i should be in the "New Agent" section. The information contained in this site is nothing short of gold so I hope I can find some quality advice.

I've been selling for awhile, always inside sales. It seems like this is a transactional based sales, while I've done well I want to get into more relationship based sales.
While I am young I'd like to focus on a career path and working on Employee Benefits sounds very interesting. My goal would to become an expert in group health, life, disability and later 401K retirement type planning.
Most brokerages are looking for experience. One has to start somewhere though, what kind of positions would an entry level person with 1 or 2 years sales experience qualify for? I am already licensed for California life/health but beyond the class instruction I don't have specific product knowledge.
I'm fine with cutting my teeth making cold calls to establish a client base but want the support staff and advice that comes with employment at an independent brokerage.
I live in the San Francisco bay area, any advice would be appreciated.
Thank you
If you're not planning on working by yourself and for yourself be prepared to give up as much as 80% of your commissions to the agency and deal with all sorts of inane rules to doing business.

I would look for a home grown local agency that already has a benefits department and a sales director, because your goal at this point is "LEARNING".

IF you're planning on working in small group it is largely transactional as well as the smaller the group, the more PRICE is the dominant consideration. It's not rocket science to get a quote from the 7 players left in the market and determine which is the best fit for the employer.

Of course, get ready for employees calling you and having to service 'em.

If I (30 years experience in group) were doing it all over again, I would sell individual health and only work the 401(k) market in group. Sell 5 small 401(k) plans a year and in 10 years your residual income will be over $100k

Let me know if you'd like to discuss further.
Thank you NewHealthStrategies. I wasn't aware the piece of commission would be so small. I finally been able to schedule an interview with a brokerage next week, so we will see how that one goes. It does have an established benefits department as well.
The way I figure 100% of nothing is still nothing so the education I'd receive would be priceless. After I learn the ropes, I could make the step to independent.
As for going to individual I was reading more and more prospects are getting declined by underwriting. That can't be too much of a set back since there are so many agents that seem to be doing well in the individual and family section of the forum.

As to becoming independent, one would need to become appointed with the 7 major carriers and then hit the phones? I take it the carrier would be more than happy to educate me about the products?

I would be very appreciative of any further information you have to offer.
We are all aware that there are multiple ways to "skin-a-cat" and making a decent living in the insurance business can be accomplished in the same multiple ways... I simply offer what has been my experience in the 27 years I've been doing this.

I'll give you a great example. Just today I wrote the benefits for a small law firm of 16 employees. Blue Cross medical on 14 of the 16, group life and LTD along with voluntary life and dental..... I probably spent about 6 hours educating the two lawyers who own the practice on how to set up a sound employee benefit platform that made sense (how much to contribute, Section 125 plans, etc. blah, blah, blah).

I had enrollment meetings with all the employees (another 2 hours) and still have to come back for an additional meeting on the 401(k).

IN TOTAL I WILL MAKE ABOUT $2,800 on this case.

Oh yeah, in addition I spent about $80 on printing up applications, enrollment forms, agendas and etc in order to explain all this to the employees (I will grant you that I could have used company material if I'd had more time in advance, but that is often NOT the case with small group).

DO I ASK THE QUESTION: IS there a more efficient use of my time?

I could easily have spent the 8-10 hours on the phone selling individual health, assuming of course that I spent those 8-10 hours actually talking to someone that was interested in buying individual health.... if I closed just 30% of them and average $800 in annualized commissions I would make $2,400 and wouldn't have had all the travel hassles to worry about.

Part of me is just burnt out of cold-calling on small employers since they are inundated with calls from agents EVERY DAY of their life. I get several referrals, but still need to prospect. Small employers are also complete idiots when it comes to group health and I've just about given up on the conversation of trying to educate them.... it's that proverbial trying to teach the pig to sing joke.

I LOVE individual health in that you're talking to someone that actually wants to talk to you (assuming you are buying leads)(buying small group leads is a totally different story...which I'll tell you about if you dare ask)... and you can certainly do it from the comfort of your home, with the internet and even venture into Webinar/Go2Meeting presentations.

I love the 401(k) market because (here is an insider tip): Most every agent out there thinks that this market is "owned" by securities rep's and pension consultants.... nothing could be further from the truth. Employers are very quick to segregate you (the measly small group health agent) into a category all by yourself and rarely thinks of you selling anything but health.

I also love the fact that very little "service" (day to day screaming Mimi's calling about billing reconciliation, COBRA, HIPAA and all the other small employee regulations) is needed in both individual health and 401(k) plans. In fact, in over 12 years I've never had more than 1 phone call per year on a 401(k) plan I've sold and the group insurance has changed brokers 9 times. Go figure.

Look, this is about making a great amount of money with the least amount of resistance and using a method that is as painless as possible.

If that is the criteria, then I opt for individual health and the small group 401(k) market. If those aren't available, then I vote to becoming a professional gambler... I figure the odds are about the same.

Good luck to you.....
Employee benefits has been primarily what I've been focusing on lately. I have a unique product that I'm selling to employers that they are loving and the commissions on it are phenomenal (28% commissions). I do agree that this post was definitely very good and helpful though!