After completing 4 years in the business, Craig Coffey had beaten the industrys odds for new life insurance agents, where recent industry statistics show approximately 85% fail within their first 4 years. But as he faced his 5th year, he had a problemhe was running out of prospects.
Coffey, an agent with The Bulfinch Group, Needham Mass., had “hit a ceiling.” For the previous 4 years he had been taking on new clients through “extremely warm introductions andbecause I have a good networkthat sustained me for a while,” he says.
But Coffey found himself not meeting enough new people to propel his practice to the next level of production. Part of his problem was that even though he had become his current clients trusted advisor, he felt uncomfortable asking them for referrals. “I was making up objections in my head before my client even raised them,” he recalls.
Now, 12 months later, Coffey has overcome this discomfort and is experiencing a 100% increase in his production over his best year in the business. One of the major factors he attributes this success to is his working with a professional coach.
“By having someone you talk to on a regular basis, you have someone who you are held accountable to for your goals throughout the year,” explains Kelli McCauley, who is a performance coach with MK Performance Group, Encinitas, Calif. McCauley has been coaching Coffey since last winter.
Working with a professional coach is a growing trend among insurance advisors, adds Stan Hustad, a performance coach and president of PTM Group, Minneapolis.
One of the fundamental reasons why coaching is taking off is due to the lack of individualized training and support agents receive from their primary carrier, he says.
“Training is taking a group of people and teaching them how to do something,” explains Hustad. “Coaching is helping you discover what works best for you.”
Hustad explains that many agents will study and learn a specific type of sales systemwhether its focus is on prospecting, referrals or closing. While these systems work well for many people, “if the system youve been taught doesnt work for you, then it doesnt work,” he says.
Agents need to find or develop a system based on their own natural style, and working with a performance coach may help them find it, he adds.
This type of individualized attention to an agents personality is just what was needed to help Coffey expand his practice. When working with McCauley, “we took a more psychological approach to why I had discomfort asking for referrals, and she helped me get over it,” Coffey explains.