It’s tough being a financial professional. For every way you can succeed, there are countless obstacles you must overcome. From staying current on product knowledge and regulations to dealing with difficult or unhappy clients, your training prepares you for many of these challenges. However, the biggest threat to your career is also the one that goes unspoken: the continuous rejection and negativity you face while prospecting.
Many people say, “Nothing happens until a sale is made.” While there is some truth to this, I feel you have to start at the beginning: Nothing happens until an advisor asks a prospect for an appointment. And until advisors fully understand their purpose, they will lack the commitment and inspiration required to overcome the daily rejection.
Motivation is not enough to succeed in this business. You need to be inspired. While motivation is self-driven, inspiration drives you! This was really made clear to me in Philadelphia at the Million Dollar Round Table meeting, when Max Moyo, in his great main platform talk, said, “If you never find your purpose, then your pain in this business and in life is for nothing.”
Your unique purpose is to make sure the money outlives the people. You must help your clients insure against what can go wrong to gain the luxury to invest in what can go right.
Let’s discuss your value proposition. The advice you provide and the products you sell are worth far more than what your clients pay for them. Price is only an issue in the absence of value. You represent intrinsic value, meaning your worth is not measured by how much money you make but by the size of the problem you can solve.
You can protect the innocent when someone dies prematurely so people have peace of mind. You can provide a worry-free retirement with an income they can’t outlive so they retain their independence. You can protect that income if they are sick so they maintain their dignity. Finally, you can provide a legacy when they die. You tell me a profession that solves problems bigger than these! You not only have to know this, you have to believe it.
Changing the way you see things
Your beliefs are what drive your behavior. If your desires (or goals) don’t sync with your beliefs, you will always manifest your beliefs. If you don’t believe that you do something worthwhile — that clients can truly benefit from seeing you — then you can be subject to something I know no one talks about in financial services. It’s called low self-esteem.
Carter Woodson said, “When you determine what a man shall think, you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.”
All chronic production issues are behavioral. Therefore, you have to create a mindset that celebrates the impact you have, and can have, on your clients and prospects. There are many ways to do this, but here are a few of my personal favorites:
1) Focus on the benefits, not just the commissions. I’m sure if I walked into your agency, I’d see commissions and AUM on the wall. But most people reading this article do not know the face amounts of the policies they’ve helped put in place.
At a LAMP meeting a few years ago, Abraham Ekstein and Shrage Posen of Brooklyn Financial were on the main platform. Not long into their talk, they spoke about how they had $12 billion of face amount in force. Now there is an organization that has its priorities straight! This is an organization that has created a culture focused on benefits. Anyone in that organization can be proud of this fact.
Another example of this enlightened management came from John Baier, managing partner of the New York Life agency in Edison, N.J. During his kickoff in July for the second half of 2013, he congratulated his agency on achieving the goal of $10 million in commissions the previous year. But he went further, saying his agency had $18 billion of life insurance in force, insuring 79,000 people. He then challenged his agency to get to $20 million in commissions. He shocked them by figuring that if they achieved this commission, the agency would have $33 billion of face amount in force, serving 130,000 people! Articulating your goals to include benefits and clients served helps keep you connected to your significance. When you change the way you see things, the things you see change.
Jeff Gruhen, a big producer in the Philadelphia area, was experiencing difficulty in his business. Despite substantial production over a number of years, he was questioning his commitment. But after he read my book, he began to see things differently. He realized that if all his clients passed away that night, the greater Philadelphia area would receive more revenue than it would if it sponsored the Super Bowl.
NAIFA helped change the perspective of our business, too, when its leaders told Congress that the life insurance industry pays out $1.5 billion per day in benefits, comparable to the $1.9 billion Social Security pays out each day. We need to focus on the benefits we provide, not the commissions we make.
2) Go to MDRT every year or work hard to qualify for it. This is a meeting that not only provides the best sales and prospecting ideas the industry has to offer, it celebrates the impact on clients. Where else can you gain insights like the Max Moyo quote mentioned earlier in this article? Personally, that one quote was worth the price of admission.
3) Watch the LIFE Foundation videos with your agency. It’s even okay to see the same ones multiple times. These are not for entertainment — they are designed to put you in the right frame of mind about your impact on others.
4) Have beneficiaries attend your meetings. Turn it into a regular occurrence. The key is not to make it an event, but part of the very fabric of your culture.
See also: Motivating Words from Joe Jordan
5) Open yourself up to people and events that serve others. Inspiration is all around you if you truly listen. I have been personally inspired by Pope Francis. He is not only the first Pope from the Americas and the first Jesuit Pope, he is also the first Pope Francis — Pope Francis I. The name is modeled after Francis of Assisi of the Franciscans, which is an order dedicated to the poor. Breaking away from the privileged clerical norms, the character of Pope Francis was best represented by his kneeling down to wash the feet of a dozen young inmates in March 2013.
There is a famous prayer attributed to St. Francis that is a great meditation and reminder of our commitment to others. This is the one I use:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
I don’t think of this prayer as Catholic, Christian or even religious. You probably could have heard something like this from Gandhi or the Dalai Lama. I use this meditation to get in touch with my purpose. You can use the same one or choose your own.
With these actions, you will create the right mindset and a personal culture that celebrates the impact on clients. The next step is to take your newfound energy and purpose and create action. Positive thoughts don’t always lead to positive action, but positive action always leads to positive thinking. Using the simple Daily Contact Commitment, you can complete the Wheel of Fulfillment, building a life that is rewarding and prosperous.
Prospect with the Daily Contact Commitment
One of the systems I used successfully throughout my career is called the Daily Contact Commitment. The Daily Contact Commitment is a promise to yourself: You do not go to bed until you have asked X number of people to see you on a daily basis.
You pick the number represented by “X” depending on your current experience and activity level. For people starting out, it can’t be less than 10. This does not mean sending an email or a letter — it’s a contact. You either have to pick up the phone and dial or ask somebody to see you in person.
See also: Cold calling, Part 1: The don’ts
There are many ways to choose what your specific number is for the Daily Contact Commitment; mine was seven. I did not go to bed unless I asked seven people a day to see me. I’d be working out in the morning, and if I saw someone lifting weights, I would ask him to see me. I turned it into a game — one down, six to go. And then I started focusing on how many people I could ask to see me before 10 a.m. If I was ahead of schedule, I might ask 10 people on a given day. If I accomplished more than my objective, that meant I had an edge for the following day.
- Inspiration starts with purpose. It automatically drives you — even when you may not always feel motivated — to live a life of significance.
- The other component of inspiration is commitment. You can only manage your effort, not your results. If you legitimately ask your quota of prospects to meet with you and they all say “No,” then you still had a successful day.
- The Daily Contact Commitment is not just a process; it’s a reaffirmation of faith in your purpose. As Colin Powell said, “Purpose is the destination of a vision. It energizes that vision, gives it force and drive.” Committing to meet your quota every day reaffirms that what you do is worthwhile and for others.
The important thing is to maintain your mental spirit — to know that if you achieved your number, you had a productive day. You know that if you are continually asking people to see you, appointments and sales will follow.
You can’t control whether someone will grant you a closing interview, buy from you, or even see you. You don’t control underwriting, interest rates, product features or the stock market either. The only thing you can control is your own effort — that you will get on the phone and ask somebody for the appointment. If you do that, you will progress forward, and your psyche will gain strength. Thinking positively may not create positive action, but positive action always creates positive thinking.
Living a life of significance
In our business, we spend the majority of our time focused on planning and setting our goals. We also dedicate our efforts to learning how to achieve our goals by developing our skills and product knowledge. But we never spend time on why we are in this business. We are here to deliver value to others by providing them with independence and dignity. We are here to help people retire safely and securely, and we make sure that the money outlives the people.
Victor Frankel wrote, “He who has a why to live can endure almost any how.” People don’t buy from you because of what you do, they buy from you because of why you do it. When you believe in your “why,” you will be believed.
Challenge yourself to commit to asking “X” number of people a day to see you for an appointment. Sure, appointments will be broken, illustrations will be wrong, forms will be lost, and you will encounter problems. But these are real problems, not the imaginary ones that can be deadly to your success.
Take responsibility for your life and your practice. Your practice is what it is; you made it what it is, and it only changes when you change.
For more from Joe Jordan, see: