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Want to connect with clients? Take this tip from an ex-NFL star

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Life insurance, the old saying goes, it’s bought; it’s sold.

The same might be said of you. When meeting with clients and prospects, you’re not just showcasing the skills and expertise needed to persuade them about the value of product or financial plan; you’re also seeking to establish a professional and trusting relationship that will endure.

And the best way to do that, says Bo Eason, is to tell a story about you: using the personal narrative to communicate to listeners a defining moment in your life that will create immediate intimacy and trust and lead to professional success.

Eason, a stage performer, author, motivational speaker and former NFL player, told his own personal story during a feature presentation on Saturday at NAIFA’s 2015 career conference and annual meeting, being held in New Orleans Oct. 3-5.

“When you tell your personal story in a one-on-one meeting or seminar, all of a sudden people become connected to you and follow you,” said Eason. “In the financial services world, this is the key to the kingdom if you want to go straight the top. Because the one thing that differentiates you from every other advisor is your story and your ability to tell that story.”

A childhood dream

Since the age of 9, said Eason, he aspired to become a great defensive back or safety in professional football. With that singular goal in view, he pursued a physical regimen in high school that the role demanded: practicing running backwards as fast as players on the opposing team could run forwards.

Then, at age 19, he applied for football scholarships at multiple colleges, and was turned down by each one. He eventually gained admission to the University of California, Davis, and tried out for the school’s football team.

The first day at practice didn’t go well. The coaches told him that was he was too small and slow and would never play for the school’s varsity team. That meant no scholarship, nor eligibility for the perks that came with a slot on the team, including free housing and meal tickets.

Eason was unfazed. Acting as if nothing had happened — and withholding the bad news from his parents — he slept on campus in his Ford Courier pick-up truck, eating peanut butter and stale hot dog buns, then returned to the football field the next morning.

His reappearance, said Eason, was met with an initially hostile reception. But one of the team coaches had a “soft underbelly” and, allowing him to remain, gave him a frayed freshman uniform and an oversized helmet that didn’t match that of the varsity team.

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Eason then set out on a month-long routine: practicing separately from the team and retiring at night to his Ford pickup. Then, during the season’s opening game, he was dismayed to learn that is his locker didn’t have a game uniform, as he was expecting to play. The coach reminded him he wasn’t on the team, but, softening once more, gave him an old Jersey to wear on the sidelines of the field while the game was in play.

Eason dutifully did so until he discovered that he and the team captain were wearing the same No. 2 jersey. At a propitious moment, he got the captain, Darrell Goss, to agree to trade places with him, believing that he be would mistaken by the crowd — and the coach — for Goss.

Taking to the field at the last moment for a kick-off to the opposing team, he raced downfield. Then, rather than hurling himself into the opposing wedge blockers, he catapulted himself over them and tacked the kickoff returner.

The stunt secured Eason a spot on the varsity team. Four years later, he became a first-round NFL draft pick, playing first for the Houston Oilers then the San Francisco 49ers. During five successful years in pro football, said Eason, he competed against and besides some of the greatest players of his generation.

Running with your own story

As a financial advisor, said Eason, you’ll achieve greater success in your practice by telling clients inspiring stories from your own life experiences. For it’s the compelling narrative that will help you establish a personal connection with the client, build rapport and close the sale.

“With my story, I can go anywhere and establish a personal connection with the listener,” said Eason. “You can do the same. You have to know your own defining story in life and share it with people.”

To be effective, he added, the story must speak to your character and have universal appeal. It must also be “physical.” The body language you use to tell the tale will have greater power over listeners than the words alone.

“People will believe about 50 percent of you say,” said Eason. “But they will believe 100 percent of your body language because body language doesn’t lie.”

See also:

Fear of giving away too much advice online?

6 reasons prospects won’t make a decision, and how to overcome it