One-shot-wonders in business are not unlike one-hit-wonders on the music charts. Basically, a person starts out with a bang, but is unable to replicate success ever again. As Andy Warhol once said, “In the future, everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

Are you guilty of a one-shot-wonder effort in your insurance career? Before you say “no,” stop and think about how many times you’ve allowed a mediocre result to stop extraordinary effort.

Here are two examples:

  • Jane carefully assembles a list of 500 prospects. She plans a marketing campaign which involves postcards, emails and phone calls over a six-month period. However, when she mails the first postcard, only four prospects respond. Discouraged, Jane abandons the entire campaign.
  • Tom’s sales presentations are well-received, and he’s able to get cases through underwriting. What he can’t seem to do is close cases when it’s time for clients to sign on the dotted line. He follows up with each client three times before giving up. Isn’t that enough?

Jane and Tom are both guilty of one-shot-wonder efforts. They’re starting strong and finishing weak. Jane doesn’t realize that the first time prospects hear from her, they won’t be ready to take action. The buying process takes time and Jane needs to have faith, execute her plan and allow the cumulative effect of several marketing touches to influence her prospects.

Likewise, Tom has lost sight of how many follow-ups are needed to achieve success. He’s not alone. It turns out that only 10 percent of sales professionals follow up with prospects more than three times. However, 80 percent of sales are made between the fifth and twelfth contacts, according to a survey by the National Sales Executive Association.

If you’d like to be successful for more than 15 minutes, here are some rules to follow:

  1. Stop searching for the silver bullet. The only silver bullets in business are hard work and perseverance. Everything else is sheer luck, and will not be duplicable.
  2. Embrace follow-up, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Professional growth spurts most often occur when we’re out of our comfort zones.
  3. Continuously cultivate your talent. Proactively read, train and try new techniques. Believe that every failure simply strengthens your foundation for future greatness.
  4. Determine the activities in your success formula and hold yourself accountable for completion. For example, now that you know the statistics about follow-up, require yourself to follow up 12 times on every unclosed case.
  5. Appreciate the journey. If you take time to listen to your clients, find mentors, study processes and embrace discomfort, you’ll grow more and earn more.

Most insurance professionals start strong with the best of intentions. However, only a rare few finish strong — developing duplicable success formulas; building strong client bases; and realizing their full potentials. Don’t settle for a one-shot-wonder career. Do the work and claim your destiny.

For more from Daniel C. Steenerson, see:

Passing the success torch: lessons learned from 3 sales gurus

The DI window of opportunity

3 underwriting success secrets for DI agents