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Al Granum's- One Card System

In all likelihood, if your insurance sales leadership is any good at what they do, you will have trained on the Al Granum's One Card System.

In 1987, I was living in 3-bedroom apartment, tending bar and shucking oysters at a restaurant in Towson, Maryland, known as the Crease, when I met this pot-marker, broad nose, Marlboro smoking, loudmouth Iraqi. He would come to the Crease nearly every night I was working. He would order a couple dozen raw oysters, Maryland Crab soup and an Old Milwaukee beer in the can.

I would bust his chops by saying, “If you are going to drink crap beer, at least drink National Bohemian (Natty-Broh). After all, it was a Baltimore brewed local beer and was served on tap at the Crease. Over time, we struck up a friendship. He was a Milwaukee Brewers fan, and I loved the Baltimore Orioles. His name was Zaki. His girlfriend called him the 'Waki Zaki from Iraqi" In today's world, he would probably be on the terrorist watch list.

It wasn't too long before he started his recruiting efforts. No, it was not to join al Qaeda but rather to come into to his office meet his business partner and General Agent, Robert Elton. He and Robert Elton had both relocated from Milwaukee where they ran a successful insurance agency for John Hancock Financial Services. Their new goal was to rebuild a crumbling, aging, and retiring sales team for John Hancock in Baltimore, Maryland.

At first, I wanted no part of selling insurance. Plus, I told him that about a year earlier, I had interviewed with Prudential and had taken the "LIMRA Career Profile" and the scores came back poorly. In fact, the scores were so bad, I was told that I would never survive in the insurance industry.

It took a few more attempts but I finally scheduled and interview and started the 'recruiting' process. At the time, John Hancock used a different career profile organization, not LIMRA, but rather Merit. I took the exam profile and with some coaching from Zaki, I scored slightly above the marginal limits to be hired.

I was bummed. Why did the LIMRA Career profile say I would fail, and the Merit profile indicate a low possibility of success in the insurance business? I had the people personality. I had the aptitude. I had the passion to make money and the desire to get out from behind the bar. So, what was the problem? Anyone want to guess? I'll give you a hint.

It is what every insurance and financial services company in the industry looks for in a recruit or hire. Yep, you guessed right.

"... how many people do you know and how many friends and family members can you possibly sell insurance to?"

In 1987, this was called the Project 100. Today, it's the Project 9000.

This is basically a questionnaire form that provided categories for which the agency sales management can identify a market niche', centers of influence, and others that would be ideal candidates to sell insurance products.

The agency sales leadership would train the new agent prospect on phone scripts, canned in-home sales presentations, and referral language. The newbie agent would start dialing for dollars and attempt to set appointments with those individuals on the list of Project 100. As appointments were set and joint sales meeting commenced, some of these joint sales calls would come to fruition, others, not so much.

You would think that working behind the bar in a very popular restaurant, I would know lots of people and have many friends to sell insurance to. Unfortunately, or fortunately, most of my friends and family were hundreds or thousands of miles from Baltimore, Maryland. You see, I attended a private boarding school with students from around the world and graduated from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.

The best I could do was a Project 10. Of the 10, 2 were my parents, 3 were my roommates with no money and the rest were my girlfriend's family and friends. I was screwed.

Totally depressed and thinking bartending was to remain my profession for the foreseeable future, I received a call back for another interview. However, this interview was with the General Agent, Bob Elton.


I shined my loafers, ironed the only white shirt I owned and donned my light blue Seersucker suit. Just prior to the interview, I entered the office restroom and mastered the half Windsor knot with burgundy knit woven tie that I had just purchased the night before from JC Penney on a credit card that was maxed out at $300.

I arrived about 15 minutes early and waited to be called into the interview. I was announced into the GA's office, which was beautifully decorated with awards, credentials, and family photos. The furniture was mahogany and certainly not from IKEA.

Mr. Elton was pleasant and asked me all sorts of interview questions. About halfway through the meeting, the subject turned to my lack of contacts and how few people I knew in the Baltimore areas. As I 'explained' my situation and why I have so few contacts, Bob looked me straight in the eye and said, “We are going to take a chance on you.

Although every career profile indicates you will probably fail, we like you. However, you will follow our training regimen and you must understand this business is a numbers game and numbers don't lie. And, if you follow our training model, in a few months, you'll be able to buy a really nice pair of Florsheim dress shoes.” I was already sweating like a Democrat at a Sean Hannity book signing; this got my blood boiling and now I was ready to prove LIMRA and Merit was wrong about me.

The goal was I, along with my sales manager, Waki Zaki from Iraqi would start filling the funnel with prospects. These prospects would come from envelope licking, ‘snail mail’, orphan policy holders, door-to-door canvasing and cold-calling, otherwise referred to as Dialing for Dollars every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning. As contacts were made, I was to feed them into the One-Card System.

I got into the One-Card System. It made sense and the numbers held true to form, 10-3-1.

However, what I hated then, I hate now. Dialing for dollars. I avoided this at every turn. I bitched, whined, moaned and made one excuse after another as to why this didn't work for me.

My sales manager Waki Zaki made it clear. If I was not going to dial for dollars, then I needed to figure out how to fill the funnel and keep the One Card System flowing.

Remembering the second interview with the General Agent, Bob Elton and how numbers don't lie, I decided I needed to pump up the numbers with other areas of prospecting. I quickly learned that if I sent 100 snail mail letters, I would receive a certain number of "replies" for prospects. Therefore, I increased the number of outgoing letters, postcards and flyers. Next, was networking. This came nature to me. I joined several charitable organizations, senior organizations and business groups. John Hancock has many orphan policyholders that needed service. During policy reviews, I mastered a referral technique that resulted in a minimum of 3 referrals for every application for insurance of financial services I submitted to the company.

Over the next couple of years, I developed a niche market, Long-Term Care and from 1994 through 2000 I was recognized as one of the top long term care writers of insurance in the country.

In 2001 I accepted a position with Prudential as a Regional Director for Brokerage Distribution. Over the next few years I went on to join MetLife where we built one of the industry’s most successful brokerage sales distribution groups. In fact, we were so successful, MetLife closed sales. Who would have ever thought you could oversell a product line? In 2009 I joined Transamerica as a Regional Sales Vice President where I remained until 2016 when the company leadership once again blew up independent distribution and thousands of employees were laid off.


In 2018, my business partner and I created Adaptive Marketing Group, LLC. a digital solutions marketing company that specializes in the insurance and financial services industry.

As I look back on my career, I've come to realize there are two absolute truths to the insurance industry. The Al Granum's One Card System works. Today it is utilized in nearly every Contact Relationship Management software, (CRM) from high level integrated platforms such as Salesforce, Redtail and Act to inexpensive or free CRMs such as Hubspot.

Many internet website design companies, such as have integrated a basic CRM into their platforms. Regardless, it is essential for every agent to communicate their messages effectively and successfully to their prospects and clients; they must have a turnkey marketing platform. Their content must also be creative and appeal to their targeted markets. Lastly, the CRM or communication tool must be easy to use and, if possible, have a plug and play or turnkey platform.

Therefore, Adaptive Marketing Group not only used WiX as the company's preferred website hosting provider for agent site design, but it is why we have now entered into a partnership with Constant Contact. The company is a leader in content delivery and trusted partner in helping small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals work smarter.

Let us show you what Adaptive Marketing Group, LLC and our partnerships with WiX and Constant Contact can deliver to you, the insurance professional.


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