Yogi Berra reportedly said “you can observe a lot just by watching.” If this is the case, then I’ve been able to observe a lot by watching the best practices of top life insurance professionals. Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune of working with some of the best agents in our industry. Through watching them in action, I’ve been able to observe universal practices that make them so successful.
Certain qualities are commonly shared among these agents. Vision, hard work and persistence are important, but specific activities also make the best producers a cut above the others. During trying economic times, more than ever, these practices will separate the top agents from the rest of the pack. The following are 5 best practices that can be universally adopted by agents seeking to join the ranks of the most successful.
1. Working with professional advisors
When I started in the industry 30 years ago, some sales trainers sought to teach agents how to work around attorneys and accountants. They classified it as a competition for the client’s affection and business, and the goal was to end run the other advisors. The simple truth is that most top agents I work with are masters at culling the cooperation of professional advisors. They nurture a relationship of trust and teamwork, and help the professional understand that the agent can help rather than hinder.
Behind the scenes, the agent constantly works to demonstrate how his or her personal relationship skills can help the advisor team break through the client’s natural resistance to accepting advice. If any one skill most demonstrates the successful execution of this strategy, it is the agent’s ability to understand the professional advisor’s world.
The successful agent knows how the accountant is paid, what the attorney’s potential liability may be and how they both run their practices. Instead of seeing these professionals as “deal killers,” they realize these advisors want to keep the client well advised and out of trouble. When the agent offers information, service and trustworthiness, both the accountant and attorney see the agent as an ally.
2. Using scripts
The most successful producer I’ve ever worked with was a walking Wikipedia. This mega-agent, a former college professor, mastered the art of using scripts. He took the information needed to sell life insurance, both the factual and emotional, and mentally categorized this knowledge into bite-sized pieces.
When working with a client, a comment or question would trigger the agent to pull up the appropriate script and deliver it succinctly to the client. Because the agent had done his homework and knew the subject matter and had systemized his sales skills, he was able to watch body language, anticipate objections, and always be one step ahead.
When producers tell me they don’t believe in using scripts, I can only think their failure in the business is an inevitable outcome. It dooms the agent to reinventing the wheel with each sale, requires defensive selling, and simply wastes too much valuable time. The game is more often won by those who prepare and execute than by those that rely on mere talent to win the day.