<p><a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=3062">Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

Would you believe you could double your sales in less than three months? The way to jump start your business is by getting more leads and closing more sales, of course. The fast track to do that is to look at how the top producers in our business set records for success.  

Though many people never officially take on a mentoring role, they can’t help but lead by example.  I know I’ve been inspired myself. One of my biggest turning points came from meeting Mark Victor Hansen. He showed me how to focus mentally to achieve personal and financial goals that I would have never have thought to be possible otherwise.

I spent the next three years handling more leads and closing more business than I ever imagined possible. It was truly a “quantum leap” and I have continued to discover, through experience and study, many more of the “secrets” that have led to lasting success in this business. 

I think Andy Rooney got it right when he said: “I’ve learned that the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.” By combining the knowledge I learned from Mark and other greats with the success I’ve had building an agency into a top producer with several carriers, I’ve trained and hired a number of agents who have created their own extraordinary success.

In this piece, I’m going to share two of my best tips. I know if you really focus on these simple steps, you’ll find it becomes easier to get leads and close sales, and you will find it’s less stressful. As you build your confidence, it’ll not only become easier, you’ll go from feeling like you have to make a sale to enjoying the thrill of succeeding with ease. Here’s my best tip: 

Build your reputation as “the expert.”

In my report Top 10 Tips to Double Your Sales in Three Months, I made “Decide to master your craft” the very first tip. Once you can confidently guide your prospects to the plans that will best meet their needs, closing sales becomes second nature. Believe me; I had to know my products “inside out” to be able to write over $100,000 in annual premiums in a single week. It’s not magic – it’s focus. And if I can do it, so can you.

When you’re studying the people that set the records in our business, you’re bound to read about Ben Feldman. He set a lot of records, like selling more than $1 billion of life insurance. He was the first man to sell $100 million in a single year, and he actually outsold entire agencies on an annual basis.

Feldman took becoming an expert above and beyond his competition. He said, “Read. Study never stops because publications never stop coming in. It’s read and study.  And think about what you’re studying. Take it apart and put it together. Ask ‘why?’ And know the answers.”

Why do you think only a small percentage of agents regularly outsell the vast majority? In Feldman’s time, he — one man alone — could outsell 1,500 of the 1,800 existing life insurance agencies. Once you put yourself in a position to be perceived by your prospective clients as an expert, you are guaranteed to stand out from the crowd.  Instead of chasing leads, prospects will be calling for your professional advice. Here’s how you can get started:

Action step no. 1: Track where most of your sales are coming from and which products are in greatest demand. That can show you where to start developing your expertise. If you’re just starting out, look for the biggest markets, like Medicare plans. Nearly 3 million people are turning 65 every year! 

Action step no. 2: Set aside a few hours every week to research and study the policies for whatever part of the market you’ve set your sights on, and don’t let distractions get you off track. And, think about why you’re studying. It’s not enough just to know how policies work.

To guide your prospects to the solutions they need, you’ve got to start where they are. Why do they need a plan? What do they need it to do? Which plan will give them the biggest “bang for the buck?”

As Feldman said, “Take it apart and put it together. Ask ‘why?’ And know the answers.” That’s how you get yourself in the position of being perceived as “the expert.” Know what the majority of your prospects are looking for and show them what it feels like to get a plan that gives them more than they hoped for quickly and easily.

Only a few agents are willing to take that simple step to build a reputation as “the expert.” Of course, it takes time and it takes work. But, it’s like planting a shrub versus planting a tree.  It takes more work to get the tree in the ground, but it’s going to grow to new heights faster than you expect. If you put in the work upfront to develop your expertise, you’ll quickly find that you are in a class by yourself – growing above and beyond your competition.

Becoming an expert is a sure way to significantly increase your sales. Once you’ve got a firm handle on that, my second tip will drastically accelerate the flow of leads coming your way. 

Develop your referral network.

When you have that kind of expertise, it’s easy to develop a network with “centers of influence.” This can result in hundreds of leads a year.

Centers of influence are the professionals who advise your clients. They may be attorneys, bankers, CPAs, credit union executives or real estate agents. They already have relationships with your ideal prospects and they are in the perfect position to refer clients to you for health savings account plans, health reimbursement arrangements, long-term care plans, term-life policies and, of course, health insurance, accident plans and critical illness plans.

Action step no. 3: Start asking your satisfied clients, particularly business owners, who advises them. That can open the door to mutually beneficial associations with your clients’ professional advisors. Make contact first with the advisors with whom you share several mutual clients.

Action step no. 4: But, don’t ask for referrals initially. Build a relationship by sending articles and testimonials showing your expertise. Invite them to lunch and refer your clients to them first.

As you establish your reputation with your clients’ advisors, it will actually benefit them to refer their clients to you. They’ll be expanding the service they provide by connecting their clients with an expert who can solve problems and offer professional opinions beyond their own profession – advice that rapidly produces real-world benefits.

I know you are dead serious about taking your business to the next level, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Make this the year that you break through to the next level. Start this week and make it a priority to schedule a few hours every week to build your expertise. You really can close more sales in just 30 days. I know, because I’ve done it.