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Practice Management > Building Your Business

How High Performers Achieve Success

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How High Performers Achieve Success


“This is the hardest business to make $25,000 and the easiest to earn $100,000 a year.” So claimed a speaker at a top life producers award ceremony this past year in New York City. Since he had written $1 million in commission that year–up from $750,000 the previous year–the audience was listening.

This gentleman shared his techniques and some of the sales tools he used to help him achieve this great success. As a result, many agents in the room went out and purchased these tools, only to be disappointed in their lack of success. The lesson: A method that works for one star agent doesnt guarantee it works for all.

So what are the guarantees for sales success? To find the secret to achieving even your most ambitious goal, you must first look within yourself.

In my experience working with high potential salespeople, I have consistently observed five steps that high performers regularly apply to achieve levels of success average performers could never attain.

Step 1: Take an inventory of your unique talent. What is it that people consistently compliment you about? What do your favorite clients say are your strengths? What caused your best clients to buy from you instead of another agent? Ask yourself, what do I like to do–that I am really good at performing–in my business?

Research on high performers points to identifying and then building on strengths as a proven path that leads to excellent performance. Assessments can come in handy to help you identify your natural strengths. Your agency probably has a bounty of assessment tools to help you quickly focus in on your strengths. If not, just use the questions above to get your clients, your manager or simply people who admire you to help you ferret out your unique talent.

Step 2: STOP working on your weaknesses! Research on high performers has found that working on weaknesses only makes your strengths weaker as your weaknesses rise to mediocre. High performing salespeople manage their weakness by first determining whether the weakness is harming their potential and then finding ways to manage it.

For example, one of my clients is exceptional at designing and delivering impressive life insurance solutions, but he was unsuccessful at consistently keeping his new client pipeline filled. He discovered his weakness: He was easily distracted by the details of running his practice; administrative tasks would take him all day, which was preventing him from focusing on growing his business. He realized that if he hired someone part time to take care of the administrative details, it would free him up to fully engage in his client building program. His business doubled within the second month of hiring this assistant.

Step 3: Clearly identify what success means to you in your terms. Be specific and ask yourself, what do I really want to accomplish in the next 6-12 months and what impact will that have on achieving my vision for my business?

Many times when I ask this of sales professionals, they will rattle off a standard sales objective. This causes me to ask, “What would it mean to you if you achieve that goal?” After a few rounds of similar questioning they realize their true goal is not to meet a certain sales target or commission level but to be financially sound–so they can have the freedom to pay for their childrens education, donate a significant amount of money to their favorite charity or help their parents out of a financial bind.

Sometimes its not a monetary goal but a passion to erase poverty, keep more money in their clients hands than the IRS, or stamp out financial ruin because of poor or no planning.

Focusing on your true goal will give you that extra motivation to get you through your most difficult days. Your clients will feel the conviction in your actions and will be inspired to send you referrals.

Step 4: Determine your key success factors. Identify the critical things that need to be done regularly in your practice and measure them. Ask yourself, “What specific things need to happen every day that will consistently move me toward my goal?” Some of the most successful practitioners Ive worked with use these four measures and deliberately select the steps that best showcase their strengths:

A) Ability to get clients. Simply put, what have you done today to fill your prospecting pipeline? The best in our industry are always fine-tuning and consistently implementing their prospecting process.

Ask yourself, “How can I be introduced to more people?” Make a commitment for a specific number of weekly client recommendations, regular public speaking engagements to local organizations, or full involvement in a charitable or recreational organization.

B) Ability to satisfy clients. Satisfied clients will do more for your success than any marketing program. What are you doing on a daily basis to make sure your clients or prospects lives are better off having met you than not? Look for ways to provide stellar customer care that causes your clients to rave about you and your organization.

C) Ability to create/replicate systems. This is the secret to effortless success, exponential productivity and time freedom. It involves creating a process that applies to all aspects of your business and then consistently following that process.

For example, every application that gets written goes through the same screening process, all clients get the same top-notch customer care and clients get contacted every six months to revisit their plan.

D) Marketing. Pay attention to opportunities to get yourself remembered and recognized as the agent to go to for high quality, sound and effective insurance planning. Start thinking about ways to regularly get your name, or yourself, in front of current and future clients.

Some effective methods are newsletters, sending your clients articles that pertain to their passions and hobbies, holiday cards, and client appreciation events. Many agents write informative articles highlighting their expertise–your primary carriers home office may even have a staff of ghostwriters who could help you get started.

The beauty of identifying these key success factors is that they help you decide what to do every day, as well as help you avoid, or at least manage, distractions.

Step 5: Establish your own board of directors with you as chairman of the board. The most successful people in our industry have appointed a board of directors. Your board should consist of people who really care about your business and want you to thrive. This may include your banker, your attorney, your CPA, a local business owner, a coach, your spouse and a mentor. These are people you can go to for feedback, advice or just to vent your frustrations. Your board members can offer a different perspective on how to navigate through challenges and maximize success. Many times they will introduce you to new clients and provide access to organizations that would not be an option without their personal introduction.

As you follow these steps, you will discover what many high producing agents have found: The secret to success lies within you. To be truly successful it must come naturally, so build on your strengths and the results will surely follow, many times in ways you did not imagine. And before you know it, you will be the producer accepting the award for outstanding performance and sharing who and what helped get you there, starting with yourself!

is a principal of MK Performance Group, an executive coaching and leadership effectiveness firm that specializes in working with high potential leaders within sales organizations. She can be reached at [email protected].

Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, May 19, 2003. Copyright 2003 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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