Experienced insurance advisors are often jaded. They have faced good times and bad. They have endured bad deals. And they have been bitten by empty promises.
Naturally, even the most successful individuals have a strong streak of skepticism. They might be slow to trust, and they are even slower to believe someone when they say that they can deliver them new business opportunities. Granted, this hesitancy is well-founded given the volume of marketing gurus all claiming to have the secret key to massive success if only you sign up for their 6-week online course.
At the same time, however, your skepticism could mean missing out on a real opportunity. Sometimes, you need to drink the Kool Aid to take a full swing at what could be a big chance to grow, but how do you know when to be hesitant and when to commit, especially if the advice feels unintuitive at first?
In our work, we have seen time and time again that the top advisors have coaches — business, sales, leadership, and so on. Yet, we see many advisors resistant to the very idea of seeking advice from an expert.
If we look at sports, we see this dynamic playout time and time again. The best coaches in the world typically demand total trust from their athletes. The coach sees the bigger picture — accounting for strategic factors and blind spots that athletes themselves might miss. John Wooden, the renowned coach who won UCLA 10 championships in 12 years is well-known for started each practice year with a lesson on tying shoelaces.
Wooden believed that improving how his athletes tied their laces would reduce injury and improve performance, and he did it every year. Even in the 60s and 70s, his college athletes were experienced basketball players with clear athletic gifts, towering over Wooden like Kareem Abdul Jabbar (one of Wooden’s athlete’s as well) towered over Bruce Lee in Game of Death.
Today, we can imagine young athletes scoffing at a short old man telling super athletes that they should change how they tie their shoes, but the athletes who trusted them went on to win championships.
In our world as an appointment setting firm, we often recommend that our clients work with our sales coach before taking new meetings. To many, it sounds about as silly as relearning to tie your shoes after an already successful basketball career, but for us, we see the difference it makes in returns. The clients who trust in the process resoundingly close more business than those who do not.
In a world of fly-by-night marketing gurus, how do you decide which experts to trust? Here is the process we use:
- Do your research. Someone’s reputation isn’t a guaranteed indicator of trustworthiness, but if reputable people trust the person you’re vetting, that’s a really good sign that perhaps you should do.
- Ask for references. Most experts are more than happy to connect you with their clients so you can hear from a business owner like yourself what it’s like to work with an individual or a company.
- Be clear about expectations and milestones. When your potential partner can talk in concrete terms about likely results—based on years and years of work with other clients—you can better gauge your return and evaluate the relationship as it develops, matching milestone for milestone as you go.
Trust doesn’t have to be “blind trust.” Do your due diligence to confirm that the expert is indeed an expert, then once you have decided to work with them, give the relationship a full swing. Don’t show up and only do part of a practice. If the coach suggests starting with your shoelaces, listen. You just might find yourself racking up more wins than ever as a result.
John Pojeta is the vice president of business development at The PT Services Group. He researches new types of business and manages strategic initiatives and corporate-level relationships to expand exposure for The PT Services Group. He came to The PT Services Group in 2011. Before that, he owned and operated an Ameriprise Financial Services franchise for 16 years. Contact him at [email protected].