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Practice Management > Building Your Business

How to Be a Complete Failure at Insurance Sales

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Being bad at prospecting and selling sometimes seems as if it’s at least as difficult as being good. It actually takes a lot of work to be an advisor or agent and yet be bad at sales. Think about it. You have to be consistently bad at so many things: time management, prospecting, product knowledge, business etiquette, customer service, follow-up, relationship building, and organization. That’s a lot of bad habits you’ve got to form.

Hey, some advisors just have a knack for being bad at sales. They make it look so easy – and if you’re looking to join their ranks, use these quick tips to get on the fast track to nowhere.

Leave your business cards at home

If you do use business cards, be sure they are dog-eared and dirty. But really, why do you even need them? You might as well leave your cards in your office, home, or car. If anyone is really interested in contacting you, let them take the initiative. They can always Google you.

Don’t send thank-you notes

No one does that anymore, so why be old-fashioned? Plus, buying stationery is a pain, and writing notes with a pen is a drag. If you really must thank somebody, just send ‘em an email and be done with it.

Talk to your clients only when you want something

Why else would you talk to them? Do not keeps tabs on your clients as they experience changes in their job, business, marital status, health, income level, family, and lifestyle. You can be sure they will confide in another advisor who will relieve you of their business. Let someone else be the hero.

Avoid calling prospects

Why call people who don’t want to be called to talk about stuff they don’t want to buy? They’ll just insult you, right? If you have to do it, put it off for another day if at all possible. So what if some advisors are successful at cold calling? Chalk it up to luck; there’s certainly nothing systematic about it. It’s not like they have some magical script that gets them on the prospect’s good side.

Don’t develop a plan

As we all know, life’s more fun when you fly by the seat of your pants. It can get boring when you take the time to make a to-do list or follow a set routine. Writing business plans? Marketing plans? What a waste of time! There are plenty of things that are a lot more fun. Enjoy the moment!

Get in the habit of not returning phone calls

All these callers can drive you nuts. And it’s not like having a client service system is going to double your revenue, right? If it’s all that important, they’ll call back. What’s great about this technique is that eventually, people will stop calling and the problem will pretty much resolve itself.

Don’t ask for referrals

Referrals may well be one of the best ways to get more clients, but isn’t it scary to put yourself on the line like that? It’ll seem like you’re begging. And you don’t want to bother your clients. If they like you, just trust that they’ll refer others without your involvement.

Avoid professional development

Aren’t you done with school, already? Besides, there’s always someone who knows more than you, and you can call them if you need to. Leave the self-help CDs and classic business books to the top producers. The same goes for getting a good mentor or coach. You already know what to do, right?

Don’t follow up on sales opportunities

If prospects, clients, or referral sources were interested in working with you, they would get in touch with you. There’s no reason to express interest in working with them or getting to know them better. And whatever you do, don’t try to build rapport or solve their problems.

Never give referrals to well-respected business people you know

They might get the wrong idea and refer you business right back. Referring business to others is one of the best ways to build relationships, gain credibility, and create ongoing referral streams. Who has that kind of time?

Don’t perfect your presentation

Bring plenty of brochures and paperwork to overwhelm your audience – the more marketing collateral that describes your company’s history, mission, vision, core values, recognition, reputation, clients, testimonials and financial status, the better. It’s always a nice touch to deliver a lengthy PowerPoint presentation describing every aspect of your company, as well as its products and services. (Remember to look at the slides rather than at your audience!) A thick three-ring binder works well too. Don’t worry about being charismatic or developing your public speaking skills, either. People like you the way you are – especially your competition.

Don’t ask for the business

It’s almost always obvious why you’re there anyway, so why state the obvious? Don’t bother to find out the client’s needs or their reactions to your presentation. It’s much better to leave the sales meeting not knowing what the prospect thinks, wants, or expects – that is, if there are next steps. Tomorrow is another day.

Sell hard

Everyone is a prospect–they just don’t know it yet. Introduce yourself as an advisor to everyone you come in contact with, particularly in social situations. Let them know what you are selling and how much they need you. Tell them how you can lower your fees and guarantee your work. In fact, practice your selling scripts on your family and friends first. They always appreciate that.

Certainly you can think of more ways to be horrible in sales, but you get the gist. I guarantee that if you follow these tips, you’ll be a complete failure in no time.

Michael Goldberg is a speaker, author, consultant and the founder of Building Blocks Consulting. or


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