During my 42 years of insurance sales and management, I was amazed at the social and economic diversity of those who started the journey of becoming an insurance agent. They all seemed to share a desire to be successful in this new adventure. Each had been subject to industry wide aptitude screening and testing. Most were hired based on the interviews they participated in, the results of aptitude screening, personal references they provided, and the gut feeling of those doing the hiring. Some were hired out of a need on the part of the recruiter to meet some kind of recruiting goal which sad to say was too often the norm. One company had the attitude if you throw enough of them against a wall, sufficient numbers will stick to get the job done. A very unfortunate commentary for all concerned.
After your recruiter has told you all about the money you can make, the trips you can earn and the prestige you will receive, which are all true, you would be wise to acknowledge, This is not an easy career. It requires hard work, persistence, dedication, and vision to achieve any degree of success. The warning label which should be put on every application for employment should read, “not for the faint of heart.”
I begin this narrative this way simply to suggest a company can measure what a person can do but they cannot measure a person’s will do. They can measure the size of the dog in a fight but they cannot measure the size of the fight in the dog. Only you can do that!
With the proper tools and sufficient knowledge of your product, any one can achieve success in this business.
This section of our site will give you motivational stories, sales ideas, sales presentations, and sales techniques to assist you on your journey of successful insurance selling. Concepts from other industries, such as customer value management and value selling can be key in building your own sales approach. See yourself on the beaches, golf courses, and ski slopes of the world. Maybe even a cruise or two! You can do it!
Let’s begin with your most important commodity, you! The most important product your company has is not insurance but you. Without you there is no company. Without you there are no sales. Without you there is no success. Andrew Carnegie once said, “Take from me all of my plants, you can take from me all my money, but if you will leave me my men, I will build it all again.” Carnegie knew people built his business. The first and finest product you sell is yourself.
When you look into a mirror, what do you see? Do you see a self-starter who loves the challenge of the unknown experiences waiting in the day? Do you see someone who is socially mobile–able to be talking to the store clerk one moment and then the CEO of the same company the next?
An enemy I had, whose face l stoutly strove to know,
For hard he dogged my steps unseen, wherever I did go.
My plans he balked, my aims he foiled, he blocked my onward way.
When for some lofty goal I toiled, he grimly said me, “Nay.”
One night I seized and held him fast, from him the veil did draw.
I looked upon his face at last, and lo—myself I saw!
The Power of Belief
Ralph Waldo Emerson stated the following: “I have heard an experienced counselor say that he never feared the effect upon a jury of a lawyer who did not believe in his heart that his client ought to have a verdict. If he does not believe it, his unbelief will appear to the jury, despite all his protestations, and will become their unbelief.”
That which we do not believe we cannot adequately say, though we may say the words repeatedly.
The world’s leaders are the ones who have crystallized their thinking and have a power of belief in what they are doing. They are motivating people to their full potential and they make it their business, their dream and their obsession. Therefore, it is immediately conveyed by their presence to all with whom they come in contact.
Do others see this belief in you? How many has it affected this week?
Realize success or failure is determined by you and not some outside source.
The longer I live, the more weight I attach to a man’s ability to manage and discipline himself. The longer I live, the more firmly convinced I become that the essential factor which lifts a man above his fellows in terms of achievement and success is his superior capacity for self-discipline.
Talent plays a part, of course, but talent or aptitude is not the difference. Every day in every field of endeavor we see talented men whose special abilities are wasting away, contributing little to the success of the individual or the good of mankind. And every day we observe others who are less gifted but who accomplish more.
Education is a priceless aid to success, of course, but education is not the difference. The educated derelict is a common sight, and so is the man who has achieved resounding success without the opportunity for, or the advantages of, a formal education. It seems a valid conclusion that while formal schooling is an important advantage, it’s by no means a guarantor of success, nor is its absence a fatal handicap.
Luck is not the difference between one man’s achievement and another’s even though there are those who profess to believe it. It just isn’t so. All that need be said on this point has been said in those classic words, “It’s a funny thing about luck: the harder I work, the luckier I get.”
Is the difference, then, a matter of differing levels of intelligence? I believe not, even though manifestly the man or woman endowed with an unusual intellect, a naturally agile mind, a higher than average intelligence quotient, is fortunate on that account, and thus possesses a running start toward success.
But we have all seen within our own field of observation that the relationship between intelligence and accomplishment is something less than constant. We have all observed that we encounter frequently both the brilliant ne’er-do-well and his opposite number, the man of average intellect but superior achievements.
We are told that the Army, in giving intelligence test to millions of men, has discovered nearly as many instances of high intelligence in overall jobs as in the professions, and about as much brain power on the assembly lines as in the executive suite.
The conclusion is inescapable that high intelligence provides no assurance of success or achievement and that average mentality can and often does achieve far more than average results.
For my part, I have concluded that the quality which sets one man apart from another—the factor which lifts one man to every achievement to which he reasonably aspires while the other is caught in a slough of mediocrity for all the years of his life—is not talent nor formal education, nor luck, nor intellectual brilliance, but is rather the successful man’s greater capacity for self-discipline.
Talent will not stand alone, but talent coupled with the industry and study and personal efficiency which are the natural consequences of self-discipline will produce high levels of achievement. Education without self-discipline is of limited and academic value, but combined with the diligence and sobriety and strong will which are the natural consequences of self-discipline, it becomes productive and practical. Luck doesn’t count either way in the long run, because it ultimately ‘averages out.’ We all know that all the hands dealt in a game of cards over a period of time will be of exactly equal value.
High intelligence is wonderful for those who are blessed with it, but the rest of us have to get by on what we were given when the brains were passed around. We find encouragement, however, in the realization that even superior brain power without will power is of small consequence, while average intellect combined with superior determination can and often does achieve results of momentous proportions.
Yes, I am totally convinced that the essential, fundamental, underlying difference between one man and the next, one of whom becomes a man of achievement and distinction while the other remains a pebble on the beach, is the former’s greater capacity to manage himself.
The man with true capacity for self-discipline can tell himself to get up in the morning and not need someone else sweep him out of bed.
He can tell himself to start a course of study and to carry it through and need no policeman to see that he does so.
He can tell himself to smoke and drink and eat with moderation and make it stick.
He can tell himself to do an honest day’s work and then do it whether someone watches him or not.
He can tell himself to do the truly important things first, so that if there isn’t time enough to go around and something must be neglected it will be the less essential tasks and carry out his own instructions.
He can tell himself do what he says he will do—he can make himself finish the job once he starts, carry out his plans, start on time and be there on time.
He can tell himself to save the first few pennies out of each dollar of income, not just the pennies left over and can resist the temptations which would destroy his financial plans and his economic hopes.
He can discipline himself so well that no one else needs to do so and because he can he proves himself to be a man and not a boy.
…And because he is capable of self-discipline, he surely is, or in course of time he surely will be, a man of satisfying accomplishments and achievements of distinction.
Now, here is the most interesting thing about the capacity for self-discipline: He who wants it may have it.
The capacity for self-discipline is, I believe, the essential ingredient…yet, vital as it is, priceless as it is, you can have it if you want it—if you want it enough.
If you were born without an ear for music, you can’t give yourself that talent by wanting it. If you have no natural athletic ability, you probably can’t be better than a passably good golfer no matter how much you want to be a star. Whatever your IQ was at age four, so they tell us, it will tend to remain constant all your life no matter what you do about it.
But the capacity for self-discipline, more important than any of these is something we can generate within ourselves! And what a happy and glorious truth this is—that the one ingredient we most need is ours for the asking, for the wanting…if We need no special talent…no advanced education, no “luck”, no superior intellect, to discipline ourselves more effectively tomorrow than we did today: We need only the resolute determination to do so.
All we need to do is this: Beginning this very day, stop doing some one thing you know you should not do, and start doing each day some one thing you know you should do!
Then a little later, when you have those two items mastered, try two more… then later two more and then still more.
Stay with it long enough, and the world will be yours!!!
Rivers and Men
All rivers do not reach the sea. Yet they should. It is their destiny but some rivers suffocate themselves in the barren land. Others lose themselves in great level valleys. Others are choked to death with debris, perishing miserably.
Like rivers, all men do not achieve their destiny….like rivers, some
men suffocate themselves in the barren sands of indifference…Or disappear in the mediocrity of little purposes… Or are choked to death by the debris of wrong thinking and living. Their terminal is defeat…Life holds for them only disillusioned old age.
But like rivers, men should reach the sea. Of dust though we each may be, there is within that dust a spark which can lift us on to the glory of achievement, a spark which can be nourished to a flame by the resolution to achieve.
From “Messages from Paul Speicher”
Do The Thing That is Hard to Do
One of the world’s greatest baseball players was the late Ty Cobb. He was his own most severe critic and taskmaster. His goal was to master every type of batting possible.
Cobb once said, “If I have any criticism of today’s baseball players (and I guess that would apply to my day as well), it is that so few will practice what they can’t do.
“The average player only hits one type of ball and won’t go to the trouble of learning to bunt or hit a ball in an opposite field.”
Cobb’s advice to younger players was “Work at what doesn’t come easy for you.”
This secret kept Cobb on top for more than 25 years with a lifetime batting average of .367. It is the same secret which we can probably use to improve our own batting average in life and in aiding us to become Masters in our own field.
It Takes Guts to Be a Pro
People are so weak-kneed and soft these days that it is frowned upon to mention work, struggle, effort, concentration, and doing your best.
But I disagree. I say that inside people they are great and that agitation is motivation–that being abrasive revitalizes–that “know the truth” builds adrenaline–and backbone provides intestinal fortitude–so anyone can become a success in this business of selling.
Many times we might be reluctant to dim the enthusiasm of someone starting out in the world of selling; but if we are honest, we must ask ourselves the question, Is it fair to simplify the job? To paint a glowing picture of compensation and respect to say that salesmanship is the greatest ego smashing profession in the world?
In the first fifty to seventy-five opinion surveys that we have recently received, the thing that everyone liked the least about selling was calling on prospects. This fear is motivated because of our false pride. We are afraid they will strike back where it hurts most–that’s our desire to be appreciated. That is the only reason for call reluctance.
Sales people are just like the army. They travel on their stomachs and this means guts.
I hope someday that someone convinces the trainers, the educators, the statisticians, and the ivory tower characters, that the only thing that builds real sales people is “selling experience.”
Let’s not tell the sales people that prospective customers are sitting around waiting for them. The customer can get along beautifully without them. They have been doing it pretty successfully.
Let’s tell the sales people that the man he is going to call on is already busy—that he has already got his day scheduled with forty other attractions vying for the few hours he has available in his day. Let’s tell him he has got to know more than a presentation. He has to know how to be a good listener. He has to know how to ask questions to make them sound like statements that will get the other man talking so he can learn something about the other man’s business and his attitude—his way of thinking, so he will know how to build up the benefits to fit.
Let’s tell them to be a real salesperson they have got to grow–be different—new—unusual—creative—stimulating and exciting and believable.
Let’s tell them they have got to do all this with on-the-spot inspiration, with intensity and showmanship, without being an entertainer.
Let’s tell them they have got to be able to knock on doors and be turned away time after time, and then they have to have the courage and enthusiasm to keep on going.
Tell them they have to handle all of this mentally without losing courage and physically without getting ulcers.
Your results and your income are going to rise above the level of mediocrity, and you are going to be around next year and the next year only if you have “gutty stick-to-it-iveness”–If you have determined you are going to be a Master Salesperson–a professional motivator and builder of men–a waker of sleeping giants, then ask yourself the question, “Do I have the guts to do it?”
The Common Denominator of Success
What is the one quality all successful men have in common?
Intelligence?–NO! There are a lot of successful men with only average intelligence. Nor is it the individual’s talent or ability. Many a ne’er-do-well has intelligence, talent, and ability in much greater proportions than the highly successful person.
Persistence is the common denominator. The willingness to spend time in accomplishing, the willingness to withstand obstacles, criticism, discomfort, and the ability to overcome seemingly impossible odds.
Is There a Shortcut?
A singing lark at the top of a tree saw a man walking through the woods holding a little box. He asked the man, “What do you have in the box?”
The man said, “Worms.” The lark asked, “How much are they?” The man replied, “One feather.” The lark plucked out one feather and took his worm and went singing to the top of the tree and said to himself, “Why work when it’s so easy to get food this way?”
This happened every day until at last there were no more feathers to pay for the worms.
By now the lark could no longer fly and he was so ashamed of his appearance that he no longer sang pretty songs.
There is no short cut to success—no way to gain strength without effort.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude to me is more important than facts.
It is more important that the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.
It will make or break a company…a church…a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the Attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.
The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our Attitude…
I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you…we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
TWELVE THINGS TO REMEMBER
- The value of TIME
- The success of PERSEVERANCE
- The pleasure of WORKING
- The dignity of SIMPLICITY
- The worth of CHARACTER
- The power of KINDNESS
- The influence of EXAMPLE
- The obligation of DUTY
- The wisdom of ECONOMY
- The virtue of PATIENCE
- The improvement of TALENT
- The joy of ORIGINATING
It’s All Mental
A man lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs. He was hard of hearing so he had no radio. He had trouble with his eyes so he read no newspapers. But he sold good hot dogs.
He put up signs on the highway telling how good they were.
He stood by the side of the road and cried, “Buy a hot dog, Mister.” And people bought.
He increased his meat and bun orders. He bought a bigger stove to take care of this trade.
He got his son home from college to help him. But something happened….
His son said, “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio? There is a big depression on. The European situation is terrible. The domestic situation is even worse.”
Whereupon the father thought, “Well, my son has been to college. He reads the papers and he listened to the radio so he ought to know.”
So the father cut down on his meat order and bun orders. Took down his advertising signs, and no longer bothered to stand out on the highway to sell hot dogs. His hot dog sales fell almost overnight.
“You’re right, son,” the father said to the boy. “We certainly are in the middle of a great depression.
Motivation is conviction. We don’t sell insurance for our own good but for the client’s good. We shouldn’t be in this business unless we’re convinced people need what we are selling.
When we sell with conviction, the client knows it.
Motivation is confidence. The secret of selling anything including life insurance is believing we can sell it. The best way you can believe you can sell is to believe in yourself. When you believe in yourself, you can help others believe in you too.
Motivation is success. Nothing excites me to sell life insurance faster than having just made a sale. I love the challenge of selling and am proud to be a salesman. As salespeople we deal with people who don’t intend to buy. As salespeople we point out the need for our product. And through our personalities, reason, and motivation we convince people to buy. As salespeople we leave the customer happy for having bought the product and this leaves the door open for future sales.
Motivation is money. I like to provide things for my family. I like the feeling of financial security. I make no apology for earning money. But, if money is the only thing that motivates us to sell, we will be miserable. If money is all that inspires us, we won’t be selling for the customer’s benefit but for our own benefit. We won’t be selling from conviction but from the desire to make more money. Sales will begin to fall off because clients will be able to tell what really motivates us.
Motivation is conviction, confidence, success, and money. With these things we can motivate ourselves to go to work- to see the people and to ask them to buy.
From “The Motivator” by Lewis C. Price
A few other things to consider as you prepare yourself for the selling interview. Are you dressed properly for the client you are dealing with? It is easier to dress down than to dress up, so if you think a tie is appropriate and get to the interview and discover it isn’t, you can always remove the tie or roll up your sleeves and unbutton your collar. Ladies, stay away from revealing clothes. You can become a real distraction if you aren’t properly dressed as well. Are your clothes clean and presentable? It would not hurt to research the colors which are best suited for you skin tone. Some can wear yellows and browns where other would look healthier if they were in reds or greens. Is your hair combed and/or your beard properly trimmed? Is your deodorant working? How about your breath (bad breath will end a successful selling encounter as fast as it will end a romantic one). Brush your upper mouth along with your teeth. Use a mouthwash. Don’t have gum in your mouth when in the sales environment. Invest in a good mirror and then use it.
Listen to yourself speak. Are you too loud or too soft? How is your enunciation and pronunciation? Record yourself in an actual interview so you can get a real world experience. Stay away from acronyms or abbreviations. You may be dealing with very intelligent individuals, but the terminology of insurance may not be their strongest suit. Don’t try to impress someone with your depth of knowledge or your technical skills. Most people are uncomfortable around a “know it all.” Sometimes not having the answer right now may be the best way to achieving your sales objective. This may be helpful particularly if you use a second or third interview sales process.
Remember, if you can sell something by saying “blah” don’t say “blah, blah.”
You are prepared, now how about the selling environment?
Is the room temperature comfortable and is it well lit? Are the shades over the windows so they don’t let sunshine come through which makes it difficult to read illustration on your computer or make it so when they look at you they are dealing with the glare coming from the window. They need to be able to see your facial expressions and you need to be able to see theirs. Interesting note, most of the major financial decisions made by a couple in their home are at the kitchen table, so if you can replicate that environment in your office it gives you a subtle assistance in relaxing your client. I know of several very successful agents who have moved a round table into their office, just away from their regular work station, upon which they place all of their sales material just prior to beginning the sales interview. This “in the kitchen” approach allows them to arrange the chairs so there is not a barrier of a square desk between them and the client. It is so much to your advantage to have both husband and wife where you can read their body language during the sales presentation. It makes it so much easier so your head is not on a swivel looking back and forth trying to interpret the response you are getting in the course of your conversation.
This configuration lends itself to not being in a teacher student relationship or attorney to client relationship. It is not you against them but it gives the impression you are all on the same side trying to solve a mutual concern. By removing the sales experience away from your normal work station you are telling your client they have all your respect and attention.
Buyer “blues” is a major hurdle to overcome, so anything you can do to reduce or eliminate elements which cause that to happen is worth paying attention to, i.e., have everything you need to complete the sale on the table at the very beginning of the sales process–computers, calculators, brochures, illustrations, writing material, notepad, pens, and applications. Yes, even the application should be front and center at the very beginning. The client needs to know right up front you are intending to sell something and that you are not there just to educate them. It also keeps you from getting nervous when you know you are about to close the sale. It just becomes a natural process to reach for the application when you begin your closing approach. I once heard it said that reaching for an application in your desk just before attempting a close is like pouring water on a burning fire.
Once the sale is made, move out of that environment as quickly as possible so you don’t compromise what has happened. Express your appreciation for their confidence and trust and then see them to the door.
(All the ideas shared above come from an accumulation of ideas the author gleaned from his years of experience in selling. Where an article had a known author, an attempt was made to recognize that author. Where the author was not known or was the personal thoughts and observations of the compiler of this article, a note of appreciation is extended to them.)