Vanessa Bucklin is a female advisor based in Conrad, Montana that has built her flourishing practice using a three-pronged approach of trust in self, trust in the process of building relationships, and trust in paying it forward for future advisors.
Trust in Yourself
With a 15-year initial career in agricultural lending, Vanessa decided to take the leap into insurance at age 35 with three young children and a husband that runs their family farm. Given that she lives in a town of 2,500 where 7 agencies already existed, the competition was fierce. Told countless times that she’d never make it and there was no room for another agency, Vanessa did what she always does—got up each morning, ran for an hour to train for the next marathon, and then journaled her way back to self-confidence and calm. She obtained her P&C license and opened an independent agency. She quickly gained clients through her willingness to drive long distances to come sit at kitchen tables and talk.
Vanessa soon sat for her life and health license and joined New York Life due to their attractive training program and support for women changing careers. She hired new agents to handle the P&C side of her business and focused on planning. Despite her expanding business and focus, Vanessa kept to her formula for success: focused effort, personal touch and sheer work ethic.
Trust in the Process
Vanessa kept with the same sales process that she had learned early on—primarily focused on the personal touch with a focus on beating the competition in work ethic. “You get out what you put in,” explains Vanessa. “If the training said make 10 calls, I made 12. If the training said meet for coffee, instead I brought coffee to the farmers in the field.” Vanessa was well-known in her area as the mother of three who ran each morning, dropped off kids to school and then would drive 7 hours to go see a client for coffee. “Many of my clients don’t have time to sit at the kitchen table. I meet them where they are. If they need to run the combine that day, I would ride with them and we would go through their financial plan”.
With many advisors moving to virtual meetings, Vanessa notes that while she does do more Zoom meetings to cut down the driving, that there is no replacement for in-person interaction. “One of the things I routinely do is bring the farmers harvest lunches. We sit around and snack while talking insurance. The trust I’ve built because I fit into their time and not the other way around is immense”. In fact, these personal touches are baked into Vanessa’s scorecard that she still follows each week.
“I practice Three Minute Miracles,” she explains. “Every day myself and my staff take three minutes to just reach out to someone and let them know that we are thinking about them. We do not do this for a new sale, for renewals, to check in on updating a policy. We do this purely for good will.” Bucklin and her team credit their Three Minute Miracles program to the deep trust that she’s established with clients that bring referrals.
To help get the word out about her agency using her signature personal touch, Bucklin takes on efforts that many other advisors won’t touch such as selling group policies in underserved populations. “You can’t sell whole life insurance in a 30 second Super Bowl commercial,” explains Bucklin. “Instead, I take the time to go and talk to large groups of people which may or may not result in any new business. What it does do is open a connection to a real advisor who cares enough to listen. Inevitably, new business comes from someone in that group that remembered me talking and has just encountered a significant life event and needs help.”
Trust in the Industry
Her last ingredient in her success formula is her belief in paying it forward in relationships. Every year Bucklin hires an intern to help more people get exposed to the insurance industry. “I pull kids up in high school and get them involved in the practice. I don’t know if they will choose this as a career long-term, but they will always have that seed planted about this as a career-option.”
Bucklin also believes in giving back to the industry that has given her so much. She actively speaks at MDRT and NAIFA about the importance of bringing more people into the business and works with colleges and universities to get more insurance programs into the curriculum. “Insurance has had a bad name for too long. We need to be incredibly proud of what we do and all of us need to get out there and actively and aggressively make a new name for ourselves while inviting more people in.”