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Practice Management > Building Your Business

How To Be a Sales Professional

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As you begin your career as a sales professional and a self-employed business owner you are in the position to experience the advantages that come from a virtually unlimited financial opportunity. And by “virtually unlimited” I mean your success is only limited by your willingness to put in the activity necessary to grow in our industry.

Most people get in our industry because they want to build a book of business, not just to make immediate, temporary income (first-year commission). They want to build a permanent income through renewals.

There are two challenges to building a book of business that grows permanent income through renewals. First, you have to write business that stays on the books past that first year. Sounds simple, but this is where new salespeople often do not make it in the business. Most new salespeople do not make it not because they don’t do the right thing. And they don’t make it because they don’t do enough things. Most new people in our industry don’t make it because they don’t do enough of the right things, enough of the time.

Second, you have to stay in the business past the first year, or you have to stay with a carrier past the first year of business you put on the books in order to earn the renewal. That means you have to work through your learning curve issues and not jump ship for the “next” best thing. Everyone thinks the grass is greener on the other side. After you have changed sides enough times you begin to realize that the other side is not greener, it is just fertilized with a different brand.

What do you have at stake?

In order to succeed in our industry you have to have something at stake. And when I say something at stake I am speaking less of the time and effort you put into the business. I am talking about your ego and self- esteem. You have to be willing to take emotional risk, to be willing to experience rejection in order to shorten the learning curve to grow as a sales professional.

Here’s a story: A frozen-fish processor had trouble selling a new line of frozen fish because they tasted “flat.” The company tried to keep the fish fresh, including holding them in tanks until just before processing, but to no avail.

Then someone suggested: “Put a predator in there with themthat should keep them fresh.”

This idea worked like a charm. The fish kept moving and retained their vitality.

You have to keep moving forward in order to keep your vitality. You always head in the direction you’re facing. So always look forward and you’ll most likely keep moving forward. Most new salespeople focus on the things that did not work rather than the things that did work. It matters less what others do, it matters most what you do…next.

Fight for it!

“The only person who likes change is a wet baby.”

There are two basic rules of life as a sales professional:

  1. Change is inevitable.
  2. Everybody resists change.

Much of the world has its defenses up to keep out new ideas. Thus, you need to become a warrior and do what’s necessary to succeed.

Sometimes, this means fighting your way past the obstacles you encounter. And often the biggest obstacle you face is in the mirror.


All new salespeople are looking for that one technique, that one phone script, that one close that will shorten the learning curve and ensure success.

Technique alone is not enough. Application of a new technique in a practice or pressure situation is required to turn the technique into a skill and then improve it. Knowledge does not create experience; however, experience does create knowledge. Often a new salesperson wants to know everything about the product, have all the rebuttals down, know all about underwriting before they are willing to prospect, make a presentation or attempt a close. The truth is you won’t know “how” you will sell until you get in front of a prospect. Knowledge does not create experience, yet with experience you gain knowledge. So I tell new salespeople to go out and make as many mistakes as you can as fast as you canthat will shorten the learning curve.

Your prospects will ask you all the questions you need to learn in order to grow your skills. The first time not knowing an answer cost you a sale means you’ll learn the answer. However, studying to know all the answers will not help you build your business before you run out of time, family support or money to grow past the learning curve. And with your prospects, always do the right thing because that is the right thing to do. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know, get the answer and always fall forward.

So to learn this business, follow these steps:

  • Pick one lead source
  • Pick one lead type
  • Learn one primary product
  • Learn one ancillary product
  • Learn one sales presentation
  • Learn one primary close

When you can make enough money selling one product and one ancillary product to pay your mortgage, car payment, utilities and put braces on your kids teeth then branch out and add to your portfolio.

Here’s wishing you all the success your willing to work for.

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