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3 selling tips … from my dog

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Around this time last year, I brought home a three-month-old puppy named Gus. In the 12 months since, he’s taken on many roles in my life: exercise buddy, bad-day confidante, cellphone-chewing nemesis.

He’s also become a sort of Mr. Miyagi figure, teaching me life lessons both practical and abstract. Without Gus, I wouldn’t be a master at working barf stains out of carpet with Woolite. My appreciation for naps in sunny locations would not be as fine-tuned as it is today. And my ability to lug 50-pound bags of dog food up three flights of stairs would remain a hidden talent.

Thinking about what I’ve learned over the past year made me wonder whether Gus has any wisdom to pass on to producers. And as it turns out, he totally does. Here are three selling tips, straight from my dog:

Slow down. I’m not a fan of walking on deserted, freezing trails in pitch darkness, but a full-time job, a hyper puppy and the end of daylight saving time make it necessary during the winter. I usually try to hurry these excursions, antsy to get inside to a warm dinner, but Gus often has other plans — lingering to sniff every footprint, stick and gum wrapper we happen to find. These delays, though, have caused me to notice details I wouldn’t have otherwise — like that there’s a humongous owl who patrols our neighborhood or, oh, hey, it’s a full moon — and those little things often make my night.

For agents, time can be money. The sooner you help this guy with life insurance, the sooner you can move on to finding the next one. But, many times, it’s worth it to slow down. You might end up scheduling fewer meetings each day, but by spending more time with your clients, you’ll likely notice little, valuable things you wouldn’t have before, like an additional need for a disability policy. And your client will probably appreciate the extra attention — and maybe show it with some referrals.

Drop the schtick. Gus is a terrible predator. When he spots a squirrel or a rabbit, he doesn’t bother with a stealthy sneak-up. He crashes through the weeds and pounces … on nothing, because every animal in the vicinity heard him coming a mile away.

Not that agents are predators, but salespeople of any type tend to trigger a primal fight or flight response in … well, everybody. We’ve all been subjected to just a few too many long-winded telemarketers, cookie-schilling Girl Scouts and cellphone kiosk guys at the mall. If you approach people with a loud, overt sales pitch, you’re not going to fare much better than Gus.

Dream the impossible dream. Predator Gus is also a fan of birds — or, more accurately, of chasing birds. Whenever the flocks of geese that congregate in the park behind our house take off, he stands on his hind legs and jumps at them. There’s no way he’ll ever actually reach them that way. He’s got nothing on Jordan, and those birds are hundreds of feet in the air besides. But do you think he cares? Nah. Not in the least.

That’s a quality you won’t find in most adults. We’re way more realistic … and sometimes that’s to our detriment. Agents often hesitate to cold call, or go after a big case, or ask their health care clients if they might also need life insurance. Yeah, okay, that’s because most of those attempts will likely end in rejection, but you’ll never really know until you try.

Take it from Gus and reach for the stars — or, at least, the geese.

For more from Corey Dahl, see:

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