Wednesday, 18 May 2016 12:38

Ringer Radio Episode 12

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Monika
Good Afternoon, Atlanta. This is Monika Meacham and Gabriel Meacham with Ringer Radio.

Gabe
Hello Atlanta. Today we have an awesome week. We’ve got a lot of tech news that we didn’t research or didn’t do anything with so we’re just going to skip that section.

Monika
When did we start having tech week?

Gabe
Last week.

Monika
Oh. He had one nerd show and he’s happy.

Gabe
I have been happy about this nerd show all week.

Monika
Yes, yes he has. He got his nerd talk in. So today we’ve got a good guest with us…we’ve got Sunil Sachdeva with SDK Associates. Welcome, Sunil.

Sunil
Thank you.

Monika
Some people may go “hmm, his last name sounds very familiar.” Yes, he’s my cousin. Same middle name, same last name. I keep my middle name because it’s a cool middle name.

Gabe
She couldn’t give up the name.

Sunil
It is a very cool name.

Monika
I never realized until about 6 or 7 years ago that it actually spelled out “such a diva” as well as Sachdeva, so I spent 20 some years walking around with a name that I just didn’t realize basically said I was a diva.

Gabe
And she lives up to her name.

Sunil
She does.

Monika
Sunil, tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us about your business. You have SDK Associates. You started that how long ago now?

Sunil
It’s been 2 ½ years…it will be 3 years in July of this year.

Monika
Nice. So tell me a little bit about it.

Sunil
I originally started in the insurance business about 30 years ago, in July of ’86 with MetLife. Then I took early retirement and started my own company in July of 2013. I work with a lot of individual families and small businesses, making sure they’re protected well when it comes to life insurance, disability, long-term care and of course, health insurance, which today everybody has to have it under Obama Care. Everybody basically needs it.

Monika
It’s a lot more expensive. I’m sure you hear so many complaints about it.

Sunil
I get calls everyday wondering what’s going on.

Gabe
Politics as usual. What are you going to do?

Sunil
Exactly! But the business is well because everybody needs it and has to have it. Not like a few years back…just like auto and home. I basically love what I do because again, I don’t think there’s too many people that love what they do and it’s not the money. Money does help but it’s the way that I protect young families from premature death or premature disability.

Monika
I bet you like meeting a lot of the people too. That’s probably a really good part of the business.

Sunil
I love meeting strangers. You have to have a personality where you don’t mind talking to a stranger about what you do. People say “what do you do?” You say “I’m an insurance salesman.” And most people say “I have enough insurance.” And usually I say “I only work with successful people anyway.” That way those people turn around and start talking to me. You want to be a little bit off the grid and you don’t want to be a person that says “I only do insurance.” I love meeting people…taking care of them…I get to know their families…I get to know most of the things. You become kind of like a bartender. They’ll spill all the beans. That’s basically what I’ve been doing. I’ve been in Atlanta going on my 47th year so I do have a lot of family, friends that do refer me and that’s where most of my business comes from…referrals from family, friends and other customers in every community that I do business in.

Monika
So where was the itch coming from to do your own business. Is it because of circumstance? Is it because you wanted to and you were like “I’m ready to go and have my own business”?

Sunil
Well it was basically both…it was circumstances because MetLife was going in a different direction and then somehow I think I made the right choice because recently, in the news, about a month ago, MetLife sold their retail business so all the agents are now going to be known as Mass Mutual Agents.

Monika
That’s going to be hard on them right?

Sunil
That’s going to be very hard because they are used to having a MetLife name and now they won’t be able to use that name so people tell me, especially my wife, that “you made the right decision 2 ½ years ago.” Because I would be in the same boat today. A lot of those people are calling me because I am a broker with Mass Mutual, and wanting to know is that a good company or not…even though this company is older than any other company, but Mass Mutual is not well advertised or well known as New York Life or MetLife. So those people are worried. Those people don’t know what to do because they are like me…was with MetLife for the last 25-30 years so now they’re having to decide: do you want to go with Mass? Do you want to go with another company or do their own business? Things weren’t going the way that I wanted with MetLife and I always wanted to have my own company so it was a perfect opportunity to do so. I’m glad I did that.

Gabe
So basically, just to explain to you what the purpose of the show is, it’s to show the young entrepreneurs, maybe the guys that just stepped away from their job…we’re trying to build a platform where we bring in and interview people that have done just that and be able to talk to the young entrepreneurs here in Atlanta, about some of the mindsets or the motivators or maybe some of the pitfalls to watch out for that first year as an entrepreneur. We feel that one of the best ways of doing that is bringing in people that have done it. They don’t have to be 50 years done it…I think it’s better if they’ve done it in the last 5 years, in the environment that we currently live in.

Monika
Especially because the 1st few years are always the hardest…it’s your hardest hurdles. You’re either going to be an entrepreneur or business owner or you’re not. I’m not saying that the 1st time you do something it’s going to work because there’s a lot of successful business owners out there that…

Gabe
It took Disney like 7 times. I’m pretty sure that we can both agree that anybody that has that drive and desire eventually will make it. All we’re trying to do is speed up that process a little bit and maybe if there’s people out there that are listening, they don’t have to make some of the same mistakes. Or if there’s some insights…

Monika
So that brings up a good question…in the first year is there anything that you would re-do?

Sunil
Not really because I was in this business for the past 27-28 years, so yes it was a little bit difficult because there was no name company that I could represent…so you’re representing your own name, your own brand and you being a broker, so people have a lot of questions.

Gabe
Well you had a good reputation.

Sunil
Yeah, that was one thing that having a good reputation helped…clients built up in the past 25-26 years.

Monika
Were you able to take your clients with you? How did that work?

Sunil
No. When you retire or leave a company you have an 18 month non-compete clause that you cannot market to those clients unless they come to you.

Monika
But if they came to you…

Sunil
…then there’s no problem because you can let them know “I’m working with this company. I’m an independent agent.” Like you said, the part was how do I market myself, not having the MetLife name behind me? That was a little bit difficult and of course I was scared because I’m used to doing the same thing for the past 26-27 years.

Monika
All of a sudden you had to change.

Sunil
Exactly. All of a sudden you have to change.

Gabe
There’s no guarantees or assurances or anything.

Sunil
You’re not getting any kind of benefits. You’re not getting any kind of pay. You’re starting all over again. But again, I’m glad I did it and I would do it again and I would encourage people…Yes, it is scary. But if you have the drive and you have the means of representing yourself, most people should.

Gabe
We’ll talk to you in 2 minutes.

Monika
Welcome back, Atlanta. This is Ringer Radio here with Gabe and Monika Meacham.

Gabe
And I don’t thing we really announced anything earlier but if you want to check out our website go to www.hirearinger.com.

Monika
Our phone number for Ringer Consulting Group is 404-369-0009. So we have Sunil with us still, with SDK Associates and we were talking to him before about what he was doing and how he started his business 2 ½ years ago. He’s in the insurance game. We started getting into a topic I wanted to come back to from the last segment, which is competition. You are in a very fierce world in terms of these insurance companies that have been around for a millennia. They’re huge, they have the budgets behind them to do all of the advertising and all of the marketing and promotions to make them a very high level brand. You being a very small company, just coming in, it’s got to be really hard in terms of barrier to entry and in terms of marketing. How has it been for you over the last couple years?

Sunil
You’re absolutely right. It’s not easy but I do have a fantastic partner in my lovely wife who does a lot of my marketing. Of course, as a broker, I do represent all those big companies…

Gabe
So you can leverage those names?

Sunil
Yes, I can leverage those names and I can advertise them, put their logo, because I do market those companies like Mass Mutual and Guardian and AIG. When I was with MetLife, of course, they had marketing on TV and radio, but here I’m just doing marketing in the paper market. Of course, we have a big magazine called Cubber and that’s where my ad goes in and then I have 4 or 5 other small magazines in my Indian community.

Monika
Cubber’s an Indian magazine. So is that your target demographic in terms of who you tend to target after?

Sunil
Yes because all these magazines are targeted to Indians in the Southeast so 90% of the clients that I have are Indians. Then the ex-MetLife clients are there and they are Indian and non-Indian. So marketing wise it’s tough and I do have to give credit to my wife and brother-in-law who is in the mortgage business and he marketed himself, so I learned a little bit from him how to market.

Monika
So you’ve been doing everything in the print world in terms of marketing a lot. How’s the return been for you? Let’s use one example of Cubber. That’s a very prominent Indian magazine and that goes nationwide correct?

Sunil
It started with Southeast but it does go nationwide.

Monika
Your advertisement went across the whole Southeast or is it specified?

Sunil
The whole Southeast.

Monika
What kind of return have you been seeing from using it?

Sunil
It’s been very good especially with Obama Care. I usually ask them when they call and then I transition into selling them the life, the long-term care and disability and that format I would never give up. I may give up other formats, which I had an online format with Wow that wasn’t that successful, but I am also on Twitter and Facebook with my wife’s help and that, other than paper. My wife did say “we need to talk to Mona about setting up a website.” So she’ll be calling you. That Cubber Magazine, even though it’s not cheap, but it’s the best way for anybody starting…

Gabe
Yeah, it is your demographic all packaged up all nice.

Sunil
That’s what I’m trying to market to is, 70-80% of the time, the Indian market. And it goes to every community in the Indian market.

Monika
Now is there a lot of other companies like yours that are listed in there or are you lucky in the sense of you’re one of the few?

Sunil
When I first started 30 years ago, there were not too many agents. Now, just take an example, with MetLife, there are 8 agents in one office. I was the 9th one. Then you look at New York Life, there are about 2-3 agents. You look at Mass Mutual, they have 2-3 agents. Then you look at independent agents, like myself, there are a lot of them and of course, like you said, the competition is also the Internet…people like to go on the Internet and check the prices out, shopping and all that. Back in the old days, they picked up a phone and they called you. Now they go to the Internet and shop, which I can do for them. They think the price is cheaper when they do it on their own but to me, I don’t get paid by Gabe or Mona…I get paid by the insurance company. Just like Obama Care, they think they can do it themselves and the price would be cheaper. It’s not. One thing that I do believe, you can market all you want yourself, but if you don’t provide the service, forget it. If somebody’s going into the business that had been used to working with big companies, like I was, my motto is good service will keep on bringing those clients. If they want to get into the business anytime, make sure you do service.

Monika
We always say “service, service, service”. We’re very customer service oriented people because we think it’s a lost art, almost.

Gabe
In our industry it’s a completely lost art. You can call 5 different companies before you get a call back from one. I challenge anybody out there that has one of the larget Webmaster companies…try to get the CEO’s cell phone number. Try to call him on the weekends and see what happens.

Sunil
In my business people call all the time. A lot of my clients ask “how do we reach out to you?” You’re independent so you represent hundreds of companies, so where do we go? I tell them one thing…’I will return your call within 24 hours. There’s 2 reasons I will not call you: the number 1 reason…I’m dead. The number 2 reason is if I’m on vacation overseas. Otherwise, you will get my call back in 24 hours.’ That is important to the client because they don’t want to do anything themselves. If they have an agent that’s getting paid by a company, they want to make sure he works for that commission.

Monika
You said something earlier that people sometimes go out and look on their own and I don’t understand why they would because in this type of industry you don’t pay your agents. No matter what, you’re always going to get a better rate…you don’t find a cheaper rate outside of an agent.

Sunil
No because company is company is company. They only thing is they think the commission would be coming from their pocket. When you tell them “no, the company pays me. Your premium is the same. Your return is the same, so you don’t have to worry. I work in the community…

Monika
…in the cheap community.

Gabe
Whaaat?

Sunil
I’m more of an American style type of person because I’ve been here 46 years and I have a philosophy…I want to hire an expert to do the things that they are an expert in. For the person starting a new business, that person needs to promote and let them know that you are an expert in whatever you are doing. That helps. Unfortunately, you cannot be an expert in everything.

Monika
A lot of people think they can though. We see that a lot on our side too.

Gabe
I think we’re probably guilty of it a lot on our side as well. Sometimes you mistake the fact that you’ve been doing everything for so long as you can do everything forever. Sometimes you’ve got to niche down and specialize. With that, we are going to go to break and again have a great time driving and I hope it’s not raining.

Gabe
Hello Atlanta. Welcome back to Ringer Radio. If you have any questions for us or any of our guests, feel free to call us at 404-369-0738. We’re going to jump right back in where we left off. During the break it seems like we always have the best conversations.

Monika
As you know, Ringer Consulting Group, we have 3 distinct lines of business. We have Website Development, Digital Marketing and Custom Software Solutions. I know that Gabe, in the past, has worked with various insurance companies in terms of building out systems. You, you’re small still and technology in your industry, very specifically, has changed, the scope of it, in terms of what you used to do 10-20 years ago to what you do today. You were mentioning during the break that 20 years ago you’d look in a book to get your prices…

Gabe
…actually he was saying he’d rather have the book.

Monika
You had the book before. Now you have these online portals that you’d go through to check prices. How has that change been for you?

Sunil
I learned in the past 3 years. At MetLife I did it, but here I have to do everything for myself, but fortunately I’m good in the sense that I have people at the insurance companies that do send me the prices for a client for health insurance, life insurance and all that. I don’t have to do much on myself except email that to the client, print it out and put it in my file. My wife is a lot more up to date on technology…telling me to get on Twitter…telling me to get on Facebook, which were prohibited when you are with these big companies due to compliance rules.

Monika
Oh, I’ve heard that.

Sunil
You just can’t put yourself on Facebook and say “OK call me.”

Monika
They have specific rules, internally, that they can’t market themselves a certain way.

Gabe
Are you able to say “if you’re 45, non-smoker, the best company…” Can you make that dictation or…

Sunil
I can do that but the old way was that you can’t do that because of you’re going specific. If you talk about a product you better make sure you’re going to put in everything…

Gabe
…all the little stars and asterisks.

Sunil
Yes. I can go on Facebook and I can see a friend I haven’t seen and I can tell them “hey call me”. Technology helps but I’m not the technology guy.

Monika
You still have paper and she wants you to scan everything.

Sunil
When people your age call me these days “call me and scan it to me” I had to know what that was 2 years ago. What is this scan? The faxes have gone down because of the scan.

Sunil
I have a printer. I have 3 computers, but I still love paper. One thing is, you can email, you can scan things but to do your job you have to see the person, in person. That’s the thing that I enjoy the most. I am a people person. If you go see a doctor you go to his office. Why do you want me to email and fax you something that we need to discuss in person?

Monika
Let’s go to a little bit of sales. The way you’ve been doing sales is probably referral based, correct?

Sunil
Correct.

Monika
So do you do networking? Do you go to networking events? Is it only referrals of people you know? What have you been doing there? What’d you do before? What are you doing now? What tips can you give people out there that are trying to learn?

Sunil
In my business, networking is important and a lot of the networking in my business is done at social events…weddings and birthdays and, like you guys would invite somebody that I never met and I will… Plus also, I do attend networking but not as much as I used to but my mostly networking comes from having something like what we call a booth at these events like (names events), which are coming.

Gabe
What do booths cost at these events?

Monika
These are Indian festivals…things that happen around Atlanta.

Sunil
You just put a booth up there with your name. You’re like a vendor selling jewelry or clothes.

Monika
Do you get a good return form that?

Sunil
I do get a very good return from that. It’s not cheap to do that but I have the best return because I’m marketing to not only to just one part of the Indian community but all these people come to this event: South Indians, North Indians…

Monika
And these events are more about just having fun and social things so the booths are not like your booth. It’s not a tradeshow or an expo, it’s more or less consumer oriented, activity based type of…

Sunil
…basically we are trying to get somebody to come and register and we do have giveaways so that’s one way of us saying “ok, we’re going to give away a computer. Come and register for it.” And of course, the form that we have has their name, DOB, phone number, address, email address and then I have an assistant that follow up with those names and let them know that they’ve won or not. If I get 10% of those leads, I know how good I am at doing this and I know I can sell 70-80% of those 10% that I get. So that’s my main way of marketing because that’s the bulk of the cost, besides Cubber Magazine, and of course my wife helps, a lot of my family helps and now for example, you have an event and they’re at the same time, same day and one is at Turner’s Stadium, one is at Decalb Energy, so that’s how big they have gotten.

Monika
The Indian community is a very tight knit community. They’re very close. Gabe’s asked me to market to the Indian community and we do a little bit but not a whole lot.

Gabe
There’s a lot of techs in the Indian community.

Monika
There’s a ton of competition but then also the same point, Indians are cheap and with insurance they can’t try to bring you down.

Gabe
We have to disclose now, the co-host of the show, she is Indian so I guess she can say stuff like that.

Sunil
They can’t argue with the price because that’s the company’s price.

Monika
Right, for you. But then for us, I guess that’s the reason why I haven’t really gotten into it too much. I want to definitely but there’s a lot of competition there in terms of Web Developers.

Sunil
There is. A lot of those people that come to those events in the last few years that I have had those events…a lot of my clients have a background of South Indian and 90% of those are IT professionals.

Monika
South Indians are somehow bred to be IT people

Sunil
Especially South Indians in the (names places) area. So those people are loyal and those people want what I market. The other communities are also just as good. IT professionals have a day off and they don’t mind coming. Otherwise, they’re busy from 9:00 – 9 or 10:00 and those are the people that even though they’re in technology, they do want to see you in person because they understand they can’t get everything by email or fax or scan. They’re the ones that are my clients. That’s my biggest thing…if I don’t put my name…even though you don’t get the business, your name should be in front of your community, your clients. Some of the other marketing I do is calendars that I send out, __ cards that I send out, birthday cards that I send out. I may not see a client in 5, 6, 7 years but they still know that I’m in this business. If they have children and grandchildren they’re going to know who to call.

Monika
You touch them every so often…

Gabe
…as often as possible…

Sunil
Because if you don’t…by email, fax, you can do that but if they see a birthday card…

Monika
…it means a little bit more definitely.

Sunil
…and fortunately, unfortunately, all that cost is my cost.

Gabe
Exactly. Alright so with all that we’re going to go to break really quick. Happy Friday.

Gabe
Bring us back, Sunil.

Sunil
Welcome back to Ringer Radio with Gabe and Monika Meacham.

Gabe
We’ve had an incredible time so far with you Sunil. I don’t know that we ever did a proper job of…

Monika
…highlighting his business, how to reach him and everything like that.

Gabe
…the phone number and all that, so take the mic, sir.

Sunil
Well again, my company is SDK & Associate Insurance Services. You can reach me on my cell, which is the number that I give to all my clients, at 678-521-8484 and my email address is sunilsachdeva@hotmail.com and of course my address is sunil@sdkinsurance.com. You can reach me at that anytime from 9:00 to 9:00.

Monika
This is anywhere from health insurance to life insurance to…

Sunil
Life insurance, health insurance, disability, long-term care, investment planning, financial planning, is the main business that I’ve been doing for the last 30 years and like we said before, how I distinguish myself is the service that I provide. Anybody can go and do business with any agent. There are hundreds of them out there in the Atlanta area but I distinguish myself from providing the service because AIG can sell you the same product through Sunil vs. Joe. What kind of service you get is…

Gabe
For gups like us that don’t look at insurance all the time, it’s really nice to have somebody that we can just say, in plain words, “this is what my life is right now” and you turn that into lingo in terms that “well this is the type of products that you get”.

Sunil
Correct. Unfortunately some agents just try to sell what is best for them, for their pocket. I never make a sale or try to sell the 1st time I visit a client. I want to get to know them. I want to get to know family. His income, his background and what’s going to be the best product. I don’t go there and say “you need this, this, this, this.” Just like a doctor, if you don’t know the problem…

Gabe
That’s what most people don’t get. It seems like most people just want to get people into the right solution, yet the customer is always so in a rush that they don’t care that they’re in the right solution they just want to get it done.

Sunil
It’s like when somebody’s starting a new business, you don’t just want to sell what’s best for you or your family or what the commission is. I don’t look at that. I look at what XYZ needs and I also tell people that if your brother buys this doesn’t mean that this is for you. Your brother could be here for 30 years and he’s a doctor. You’ve only been here for 5 years and you’re not so the affordability for that person is more than what it could be for you. So a lot of agents, unfortunately, say “OK your brother bought this. Let’s go ahead and get you that.” No way. I want to make sure I get to know and then put the product in front of them. Of course I will give my opinion that this is what you need.

Monika
That’s what they need because a lot of times they won’t know any better.

Sunil
They don’t know any better. Of course, they can say “yes” or “no” and we can go to something that they think is a little cheaper or better and of course the price is not everything, as you guys know. If price was everything then people would just buy the cheapest thing out there. That’s why when we talk about, in technology, what you pay for, is eventually what you’re going to get. So I don’t want a client coming crying to me 20 years later saying “Sunil, you sold me a crappy insurance”. I’d rather lose that client today than to have them come back to me in 20 years cussing at me and doing all that. So I believe that you should rather lose a client. If people are going into this new business: Lost a client. You don’t want a headache 20 years from now.

Gabe
Every client is the exact same pain in the ass. It’s very, very true.

Sunil
But every client is right. But I agree with you, they are. But another thing that I believe in is No client is no more important than the other ones. Unfortunately, some clients may pay you more but doesn’t mean that the client is more important than someone who pays you, in premium, half as much or much, much less. A lot of agents will cancel an appointment to go to a better client. I don’t do that because then I feel like I’m not doing my job, I’m just going after the monetary side of it rather than trying to help the client.

Gabe
We’re at the point in the show where we flip the script around a little bit. We’ve got about 4 minutes left. Do you have any questions, like a stump the ringer, or anything like that?

Sunil
You guys are in technology. Unfortunately I’m not. Technology questions are probably asked by my wife more. Like I said before, she does all the technical side of it…get me the computer, get me the printer, talking to the Apple…

Monika
Well that’s not the problem we deal with. We’re on the online side.

Sunil
The online problem that I may have, she is the one that will be contacting that person.

Monika
So she goes on Facebook, she goes on LinkedIn, she does all of your social, which is a good thing that you have somebody doing something like that.

Sunil
And she’s good at it and I’m still being old fashioned and I don’t want to learn…

Monika
You don’t see the value in it at all?

Sunil
I do see the value…

Gabe
But she does a great job and she’s very valuable.

Sunil
Somehow I got a virus in my Apple computer Thursday or Friday. I was on the phone for 2 hours and I’m going “I shouldn’t be, she should be” but since I got the guy on the phone he won’t let me get off. Those kinds of problems, I let her be on the phone while the person corrects it because when a client is calling I can’t do anything when I’m talking to this guy. So technology wise, I don’t know if there’s anything I can stump you with.

Monika
Do you have any questions?

Sunil
I’m trying to learn what you do. Maybe you can tell me from an insurance side, being an independent agent, what is there for the person like me that can help me increase a little bit of the business.

Gabe
I’m going to tell you, nothing will ever take the place of the networking that you do. I’ve had plenty of other companies and plenty of other customers that were insurance agents and because of the fierce competition online, most people do lead buying from…

Monika
…they don’t do much Adwords because it’s really expensive per click.

Gabe
Your a very atypical insurance niche, however I will say, the people that have figured out how to take that customer service level and turn their philosophies into some sort of structure online for the customers that do want a self-service, they make tons of money. Those are the bigger ones when the software gets bought.

Monika
Right because they can do everything on the website. They can go in, they can check the rates, it reaches all the portals. He’s built out an insurance website before where you have somebody log in. All the portals of the different types of companies that you work with are interconnected. The APIs attached to it, that way, when somebody comes into the system to log in, they fill out all of the prerequisites they need to fill out and it will automatically generate them the quote…

Gabe
There’s lots of systems out there like that. It’s just a portal.

Sunil
That would be something that I would be looking at.

Monika
In the growth pattern, yeah, eventually.

Sunil
People have asked me to look at that and I told my wife, before I came here, that she needs to contact you and Gabe and see. We said we want it done professionally. We don’t want to get it done from somebody…

Monika
Like you said, “you get what you pay for.” Ladies and Gentlemen: we are done for today. We hope you enjoyed the show. If you do have any questions, always remember you can call us at 404-369-0738. We will field those calls and get you the answer on next week’s show. If you want to reach Ringer Consulting Group, please call us at 404-369-0009. Have a great day!

Read 878 times Last modified on Monday, 11 July 2016 10:31

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