Lighten Up, Get Jazzed, Have Fun With Your Products And Services

Shutdowns and big layoffs continue to plague the business sector. Its enough to get insurance professionals down.

Indeed, many are down. Lately, Ive been hearing “down in the dumps” tones in the voices of a lot of people with whom I speak. Ive been noticing some slow-mo responses to new ideas and opportunities, too.

There is almost a jerkiness about some of the product talk, as in: “I, um, havesomething here youthat you, ahmight want toum, see.” Others seem too quiet, very flat, or oddly apologetic: “Yes, we have thatwe could, well maybe we could, if you wouldnt mind.”

Yikes! What gives here? Do industry folk no longer like their products? Do they not have any fun with them? Do they now see their products and jobs as boring?

Times are hard, yes. But thats not a reason to crawl under a rug. Instead, shake a leg. Dust yourself off. Put some sparkle back into your presentations.

I mean, if you have a nifty insurance product to sell but you and maybe the staff and executives at your provider lack the pizzazz to present it well, what are the chances that anyone will listen (let alone buy)?

Pretty slim, Id say.

When we consumers are plunking down hard-earned dough, we like to feel good about our purchase. That includes not only feeling good about the product but also the person selling it to us and the company providing it.

You are the product conduit, whether you are in the field or the home office. It is your job to turn on the product lights for all to see.

Does that mean everyone on the staff should go around yukking it up with customers, oozing state-of-the-art chat on a dog-tired whole life policy or smiling incessantly without reason or meaning?

Not at all.

Some corporate leaders, sensitive to the harm that doldrums addicts can do to sales, sometimes push the happiness envelope, of course. They flat-out require upbeat client interactions. Hence, the proliferation of all those “Hope youre having a great day” salutations and “have a nice day” good-byes.

Unfortunately, although such requirements are well intended, the result often falls far from the tree. Happiness chatter, unless truly felt, has the impact of a gnat–small and annoying.

A more effective solution might be to take an introspective approach to the attitude problem. Specifically, spend a few minutes thinking about your own attitude and the messages you may be sending to those around you about your products and services.

Be objective (if you can), and perhaps invite a trusted friend or colleague to help you. This exploration may lead you to find that you yourself are part of the problem.

You may find you are so worried about a) the economy; b) the sales slowdown; c) the glass ceiling; d) your hangnail; or e) et cetera, that you send a dejected message to everyone around you. This is often inadvertent, but it happens, frequently without you even being aware.

Unfortunately, since emotions tend to be contagious, your personal dejection can spread like a virus. The morale of the whole shop can slide down the tubes right along with your own.

The good news is, if you are part of the problem, you can be part of the solution. You can trigger a chain reaction on the upbeat side. After all, upbeat emotions are contagious, too. Take a let-it-begin-with-me approach to the problem.

During your time-out to think, for example, why not see if you can turn your mind to more positive thoughts about your products and client solutions. Here are some ideas:

–Pull out your newest product or service offerings and mull over whats new, different, or useful about them. Think about the customer needs that such features address. Consider whether you have any clients–or know where to find clients–who have such needs. In short, make an intentional effort to see the opportunities the product may open up for you. Be realistic, but open-minded.

–Let yourself feel how the products good points might affect your customer. Dont ignore its potential drawbacks, but do be sure to recognize its subtle allure as well as its stated benefits.

–List the key trends you are seeing in the economic situations of your clients. Next to the trends, write down the needs those trends are creating in your customers. Then write down specific customers (or customer types) that may have those needs, and products and services you have that can respond.

–Let yourself see how good you will feel meeting those customer needs with your solutions. Picture the clients positive reaction–and yours.

–Evaluate whether and how such trends, needs, and solutions fit into your businesses overall strategic plan. If its not a good fit, consider scrapping that offeringor maybe adjusting your strategic plan a little bit.

–If you dont feel upbeat by this point, you probably havent yet found a need or a solution you can work with. So go back to the first suggestion and try another product. Dig in. Youll get there.

The point is, by looking at what you can actually do–with existing products, firm, staff, providers, and customers–you can create for yourself a more optimistic frame of mind. Youll start thinking more about productive activity and less about debilitating downturns. As this happens, your attitude will soar, inspiring those around you.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the famous American essayist from the 19th century, once said: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

I agree. Let the business turnaround start with the turnaround in your own head.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, February 4, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


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