When I entered the life insurance business in 1956, I was told that the most important asset one should develop in order to become successful in insurance sales is conviction. Conviction about the value of the products we sell and the worth of the services that we, as agents, provide. Indeed, salesmanship had been described as the ability to transfer conviction from seller to a buyer. In the intervening 51 years, I have observed that one outstanding characteristic of people who are top producers is a deeply held belief in the work they do and the importance of the products they sell.
Occasionally a “flash in the pan” comes along with impressive sales results and where “making a buck” is the only motivation. But in most cases that individual is hawking a gimmick and seldom ever persists. It is hard to sell what you really don’t believe in for very long.
But how do you acquire conviction when you are new in the business? Some come into our business as second or third generation life insurance people and, since they have lived with our business their whole lives, bring with them an inherited conviction. Others may have experienced tragedy in their own lives, the death of a father for example, and have seen the magic of life insurance at work, thus conveying a measure of conviction. But for the vast majority of recruits, including me, we start from scratch with little or no knowledge or conviction about this great business.
In my own case, conviction came slowly at first. Knowledge of our products and their application came more quickly from study and company training programs. In the early days, I was grateful when people bought from me and I had the inherent feeling that the sale benefited me more then the buyer. I now realize this as evidence of a lack of deeply felt conviction. I suspect that the subliminal reason was that I was a bit shy in prospecting in those early months. But gradually this all changed as I witnessed how our products benefited others and I realized how vital our message was to families and businesses.
I had a lot of help along the way. In the first year or two it is not likely that you will personally witness very many instances of our products in action — for it is only over time that you will see the results of your own sale and activities. I acquired most of my early conviction vicariously by listening to the experience of others who had been around longer. This occurred most often at local life underwriter monthly meetings. Through the experiences of a variety of speakers and from numerous companies, I came around to understand the full measure of the services and products we provide. I had read about such things in books and in training manuals, but there is no substitute for hearing it first hand from someone on the firing line. I will always be grateful to those producers who, in my early years, shared their experiences and helped to instill in me the convictions about our business that I still hold today.