We're starting a new effort to bring time-tested sales and marketing advice to the attention of new readers in the life insurance, annuities and benefits markets.
The truth is that financial professionals have been doing a lot of what you're doing, or trying to do, now since the days when Joseph persuaded the Egyptians to sock some grain away in preparation for hard times. We don't happen to have any of the papyrus versions of Joseph's sales manuals (or the knowledge of hieroglyphics to translate them), but we do have this great article, by John Chapin, about guiding principles for new agents.
We first ran this article on April 19, 2013. The main thing about the need for life insurance and annuities that has changed since then is, really: nothing. People are still about as unprotected and unprepared now as they were then. And figuring out how to go about meeting their needs is still daunting, and necessary....
Success in any venture begins with the proper mindset. As a new insurance agent, there are five key “truths” about the insurance industry and your role in it that will help ensure you have the correct mindset and the best chance at success.
Truth #1: You are a salesperson.
In order to be a successful insurance agent over the long haul, you have to accept your role as a salesperson and you need to be good at selling. No, sales does not mean selling someone something they do not need, or otherwise manipulating or taking advantage of someone. When you sell, your objectives are to help people, to be a trusted advisor, and to educate and lead people down the path they need to go. For example, if you are talking to a qualified prospect with a young family and you don’t convince that person to protect the family with life insurance and something bad happens, it’s your fault that person’s family is not protected. You did not do your job as a salesperson. The bottom line is: you need to get great at selling by both making sales a study and by finding out what the most successful agents do, and then doing the same things.
Truth #2: You are running a business.
You are self-employed in your own individual small business. You are your only job security. If you do your job well and generate sales and profit, you will have a job and a business, if you don’t generate enough sales and profit, you will be out of business looking for another job.
As a business, your highest priority is: making a profit and staying in business. There are only three activities that will ultimately make you money: prospecting, closing and servicing accounts. Those three activities are where most of, if not all of, your prime selling time should be spent. If you can’t pay someone to do the other non-profit-generating activities and thus have to do them yourself, you must do them off-hours, not during prime calling time.
Note: While your highest priority is making a profit and staying in business, this is never done at the expense of taking advantage of another person or doing something that is not in their best interest.
Truth #3: You can’t wing it.
This relates to both your activity during the day and your interaction with prospects and customers. You must have a plan to follow every day. It’s imperative that you know how many calls and contacts you need to make in order to get the prospects and the sales you need.
See also: Don’t fear the phone
When you talk to prospects and customers, you need to know exactly what you’re going to say. Script out everything. This will ensure that you say exactly what you need to say in as few words as possible, while using the most effective words possible. Once you have your scripts, practice, drill and rehearse them until they are second nature and flow naturally. You don’t want to sound canned or unnatural.
Truth #4: You have to work really hard.
You have to be a self-starter and you must be willing to push yourself harder than anyone else will push you. As Zig Ziglar, the famous motivational speaker, once said, “The harder you are on yourself, the easier life will be on you.” Of course the converse is also true. You want to work smart, follow the best practices of the successful agents and not reinvent the wheel. But in the beginning, you simply must work hard until you figure things out and build a successful business.
You must put the hours in and be willing to do whatever it takes. Once you have your daily plan in place and know how many sales you need to make and how many people you need to contact, you have to work hard to carry out that plan and make those numbers a reality. You have to be willing to cold call and do other similar difficult, unpleasant activities if that’s what it takes. By the way, these are the activities that the failures rarely or never do. Your objective is to be known as the hardest working person in the office.
Truth #5: You must take 100% responsibility for your business.
If your sales numbers are dismal, own them, take responsibility for them. See your results as a warning sign that you need to make some changes in your activity and your approach. Don't make excuses or blame anything outside of yourself, such as the economy, the market you’re in or the people you work with. You are completely responsible for your success or failure.