Two years ago, our corporate partner Colonial Life invested in a new position in its national recruiting group to develop programs and tools that would promote the insurance industry to audiences who were not traditionally aware of or actively pursuing careers in financial services. Part of this commitment is to introduce these opportunities to women and educate them on the tremendously rewarding career they can build with Colonial Life.
Getting to know the opportunities has been interesting for us at Après as we’ve discovered the roles to be quite flexible and potentially lucrative. Account representatives at Colonial Life have much opportunity to own their schedule and in many cases work out of a home office while still being part of a very connected team in a local area.
To further tell this story we interviewed a top-performer at the company, who found Colonial Life when she was at a crossroads in her personal life, and with much success, has never looked back.
WHO SHE IS
Elana D’Arciprete, Managing General Agent at Colonial Life
WHAT SHE DOES
Recruits, oversees and coaches 400 account representatives across Alabama and the Florida panhandle (Central time zone counties) who partner with local businesses, public sector entities and nonprofit organizations to provide insurance and benefits education.
HOW SHE GOT HERE
Après: Your daughters were two and 10 years old when you separated from your husband and did a quick analysis that you would not be able to support them on a teacher’s salary. You told us you knew you could “bartend or scrub someone’s house or work at a hotel,” but that it was an opportunity to do more for yourself and your family. So, you responded to a Colonial Life job advertisement in the newspaper. What did it say that compelled you to apply, and what happened next?
Elana: Although I can’t remember what it said word for word, I remember well that it sounded like I could determine my own earning potential due to commissions and still work normal business hours, versus at night when it would be hard to be away from my girls. That, along with some autonomy in my schedule, sounded like a dream to me.
Of course I had absolutely ZERO experience in insurance sales, and no insurance license, so in my mind, there was little chance I would be considered. Still, something made me change the buttons on my only suit and wear hose and heels and show up for the interview. After a very brief meeting, I was offered the job and I signed the contract that day. Still not sure what made me sign it, but so thankful I did. And now one of my daughters works with the company, too!
Après: What’s interesting about your story is that women notoriously don’t apply to jobs that list skills they don’t have (men ignore this and apply anyway). What gave you the confidence to interview for a job you otherwise didn’t have “experience” for?
Elana: I was hungry for more for my girls. I was embarrassed to tell my parents I couldn’t take care of them without at least one, if not two, more jobs because I knew they would help me. I was determined to figure it out as I’d been taught early on to “stand tall and remember where I came from” by my father. I think I got the “stand tall” part and didn’t want to take advantage of the “where I came from.”
If I can encourage just one woman who reads this to step out and bet on herself in this business I will be thrilled. As a matter of fact, I’d be honored to point anyone to the correct local office where they live.
Après: There’s incredible residual value in the kind of sales you do. Can you talk a bit about how your salary income jumped when you began working at with Colonial Life and how “trails” in sales work?
Elana: My income has grown each year in this business. Part of that growth is natural due to renewal (residual) income, which begins after your first full year in this part of the industry.
Here’s how it works: When you sell an insurance policy you earn a commission. Then, every year after that the policy remains in place, it generates a small commission to the person who sold the policy — a hidden beauty as these happen without having to be re-bid or re-quoted annually.
I have never had a year that did not exceed the year before in a sales role with this company. Still sounds like a miracle as I write it, but it’s a fact! The ability to experience the quality of life and quantity of dollars has brought me and my family immense pleasure.
Après: From what we understand, these roles are extremely flexible. Can you explain how?
Elana: We choose our words wisely when we speak with candidates about flexibility because we want them to understand that if they truly want to maximize the income potential in a sales role like ours, they do have to treat it like a full-time position, prospecting new clients and partnering with business owners during business hours while they’re at work. However, when you partner with Colonial Life as a sales person, you work for yourself, but not by yourself. As a result, you create your own schedule and decide how much you want to put into this. At the end of the day, that really means that if you have a doctor’s appointment or your child has an event you want to attend, there’s no one to “check-in” with except yourself.
As independent business owners, our district managers are responsible for their own offices and set the expectations for their teams, including office time and team meetings. The model you’ll encounter the most is a one where our sales reps and assistant managers have an office to work out of if they choose, but are not required to report there. You’ll find most of our sales partners in the office for team meetings and training sessions on Mondays, visiting clients and potential clients Tuesdays through Thursdays, and catching up on administrative work on Fridays, either back in the office or from home.
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