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The 3 pillars of selling

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Selling is an art as well as a science. And, fortunately, the selling process is learnable. It doesn’t matter how well you have performed in the past. You can learn how to achieve your sales goals by mastering the following critical success factors: (Give yourself a grade of 1 to 10 in each category.)

1. Prospecting. One of the first key performance indicators and critical success factors in selling is prospecting. This is your ability to get face-to-face or ear-to- ear with qualified prospects who can and will buy your product or service within a reasonable amount of time.

A score of 10 means you are fully occupied, every hour of every day and that you have so many prospects you can’t take on even one more. You probably have an appointments secretary who keeps a backlog of people who are eager to talk to and buy from you.

A score of 1 means you are a lonely person. You sit around the office like the Maytag repairman. You don’t phone anyone and no one calls you. You probably drink a lot of coffee, read the newspaper, play on the Internet and chat with your friends much of the time.

It is easy to give yourself a grade on the subject of prospecting. Just calculate what percentage of your time spent each day with prearranged prospects. If it’s 50 percent, give yourself a 5. If it’s 70 percent, give yourself a 7.

2. Establishing rapport, trust and credibility. The second key area is establishing rapport, trust and credibility. People will not buy from you unless they like you, trust you and believe you are their friend and are acting in their best interests.

A score of 10 in this area means you are a positive, cheerful, high-energy individual with a warm, empathetic personality and that you get along wonderfully with almost everyone you meet.

A score of 1 means you may get to see or talk to people once, but after that, they never want to talk to you again.

3. Identifying needs accurately. The third key area of selling is identifying needs accurately. The biggest mistake you can make when you meet or talk to a new prospect is to assume you already know what a prospect needs and is willing to pay for. Each prospect is unique, special and different from all other prospects. He or she has special wants, needs, hopes, fears and desires. In the initial stage of your conversation, your single focus is to ask questions and listen carefully to ascertain whether or not a genuine need for what you sell exists in the prospect’s mind and heart.

A score of 10 would mean you have a series of careful questions, from the general to the particular, which you go through one by one to clearly ascertain whether a prospect needs the product or service you are selling. At the end of your questioning process, it is abundantly clear to both the prospect and yourself that the prospect can use, benefit and pay for what you are selling.

A score of 1 means your approach to each prospect is random. You ask whatever questions pop into your mind and say whatever falls out of your mouth. For you, every sales call is a new adventure. You have no idea what is going to happen or how it is going to turn out.

Give yourself a grade on these three key areas of selling and think about how you could become better in each one.

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Brian Tracy is the CEO of Brian Tracy International, which specializes in business training, and the author of the best-selling Psychology of Achievement. For more information, go to


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