Sales statistics—the number of no’s you have to hear before getting to yes—can be kind of grim. Is it possible to succeed at it, while also having a good time?
According to Morris Sims, the head of New York Life’s advisor training, having a good time may actually be the key condition to succeeding at sales.
That is because an advisor doesn’t get good at his job until he can finally reframe what he’s doing from trying to impose a sale on a reluctant prospect to nobly helping people take care of their vital financial needs.
Sims is in a position to know, having spent nearly 30 years at New York Life, 17 of them as head of NYLIC (New York Life Insurance Co.) University, whose robust advisor education has earned the firm recognition by Training Magazine as one of the top corporate trainers, and not for the first time.
The New York Life exec has both personal and professional experience in the importance of proper motivation.
“I was trained to be an engineer, but after doing it for five years, I wasn’t liking it, I wasn’t having any fun,” the former chemical engineer told ThinkAdvisor in a phone interview.
Sims found selling life insurance to be much more fun, and has also found that success awaits his field agents — who also sell mutual funds and variable annuities, among other investment products — who ultimately make that same discovery.
He cites the example of one agent who had no previous sales or financial services experience, having been an elementary school teacher.
“She was kind of a slow start — in fact a very slow start,” Sims recalls.
“After about four months, she was questioning whether it was the right thing to do to stay in this business,” he continues. “But when she focused on how it was really about meeting with people and helping them with their problems … her business flourished.”
She started reaching out to the network of affluent people she knew in her community, and reached her firm’s chairman’s council multiple times as well as being named her office’s Agent of the Year in a ceremony to which Sims accompanied her.
The breakthrough this agent made was the realization that “it all comes down to relationships,” as Sims puts it.
“If you don’t like meeting new people every day, then chances are you’re not going to be successful doing it,” he says. “You’ve got to like helping people meet their needs for future financial success. It’s not the easiest thing in the world because folks today are a little more cautious talking about their finances.”
Indeed, those grim sales statistics mentioned earlier are a daily reality. Sims, who interestingly notes that each of New York Life’s 119 nationwide offices has varying ratios, offers something of a composite: