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Four Sales Tips to Make You More Successful in 2018

Posted By John Chapin, Thursday, February 1, 2018

 

Tip #1: Stop working smart and get back to working hard.

Most salespeople use “working smart” as an excuse to avoid hard work, especially the traditional methods of prospecting such as cold calling. They think work smart means work easy. As a result, they look for shortcuts and safe alternatives to prospecting on the phone and in-person. They try to prospect via social media and e-mail and kill so much time looking up information on prospects, that they don’t have time to make the number of calls necessary for success. While there are times you want to look up information on a prospect, use e-mail, and be on social media, the average salesperson takes it way too far because all of these are easier than talking to a live human being and facing possible rejection. In one case a new insurance agent was spending two hours looking up information before he made his initial call on a prospect. Instead of making the necessary 25 calls a day, he was making 2. Ouch!

Stop looking for the easy button: the half-the-work, ten-times-the-leads scheme, or the next break-through prospecting method, and stick to the tried-and-true: lots of calls in-person and on the phone. Hard work. The most successful salespeople work the hardest and spend the business day talking to people who can buy from them, not working on a sales letter, their phone script, social media, cleaning their desk, or doing research. Again, there are times for social media and technology. Just don’t get in the habit of using them at the expense of talking to the number of people you need to talk to in order to make the number of sales you need to make. Also, don’t do it during prime calling hours.

Tip #2: Get your daily dosage of fear, pain, and discomfort.

Every single day you need to be stepping out of your comfort zone, doing things that scare you, and growing personally and professionally. The good news is that many of these things overlap so usually one or two activities will fit the bill when it comes to this tip. Again, for salespeople it is typically cold calling, or making that particular call that for some reason they’re afraid to make, that is the most fearful and uncomfortable. The better you get at handling fear, discomfort, and mental pain, the better and stronger you and your business will be.
 
Tip #2a: Cold call every day.
Okay, you saw this one coming, right? This is tip 2a because again, for most people following this tip will give you your daily dose of tip #2.
 
As a salesperson cold calling is more than likely the thing you dread most and the most difficult thing you do. If you get great at cold calling, most other things in you sales career will be a breeze. Also, while you may be great at getting referrals, using LinkedIn for leads, and have more business than you can handle, you should never stop cold calling. Why? Nothing keeps you as sharp as cold calling, nothing builds your intestinal fortitude like cold calling, and nothing will give you more confidence and success than being able to cold call and get the interest and attention of a complete stranger. Also, no matter how many people you know, there may be a time in life in which you can’t rely on your LinkedIn Network, Facebook friends, a center of influence, or your uncle. Like my friend who had to talk his way into a secure area reserved for executives during a mass shooting, there will be a time in life when you have to sell a stranger. Or as my first manager Don Roche Jr. used to say, a true salesperson can sell the stranger on the street first and foremost.
 
Tip #3: Stop wishing it was easier.

The person you become over the span of your life will pretty much be determined by the obstacles you’ve had to overcome and whether or not you overcame them. Believe me, if you want to do anything significant with your life, you don’t want the easy road. There are no challenges or growth on the easy road. The easy road does not build persistence and resilience, which you when need when life gets tough, and which you need if you’re going to be successful in business and life over the long haul. This doesn’t mean you hope for tragedy to befall you, it means that when you run into plane delays, personal issues, professional obstacles, and anything else that life throws at you, that you accept them as part of life on planet Earth. No amount of wishing will make them go away. Rise above any negative feelings, move on, and realize that you’ll probably grow and learn something in the process. What stops most people from reaching their dreams is their inability to mentally overcome everyday roadblocks and problems they encounter along the way. They simply get beaten down until they give up.
 
Tip #4: Get back to the basics.

Put people first and always do what’s best for them.
Have annual, monthly, and weekly goals, break that down to daily activity, and get those daily activities done no matter what.
Spend 80% of prime-calling time prospecting, presenting, and closing.
Get great at selling, knowing your product, and your solutions.
Build relationships and your network.
Work hard… okay, and smart, but make sure it’s intelligent work that builds your business, not easy work that has you looking for the sales version of a unicorn or Bigfoot.

Tags:  2018  agency  agent  insurance  Sales  success  tips 

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6 Ways to Sell More Insurance in 2018

Posted By John Graham, Thursday, December 28, 2017

by John Graham, PropertyCasualty360.com, December 21, 2017

The Savvy Agent Recognizes the Importance of Understanding How Clients Think

The new year is a great time to focus on how best to meet the insurance needs of your current and potential clients.

Here are 6 insights that are sure to give your sales a boost:

1. Understand why clients complain.

Some agents may unwittingly create conditions that result in client complaints, either directly or on social media. It can come as a surprise. “I just don’t understand it,” one agent said. “I thought we had a good relationship.”

Winning an account is a form of courtship. It’s a time when agents are particularly attentive, wanting their prospects to feel special. Then comes the hand-off to an account manager. “Betsy is the best,” the agent says. “You’ll really like her. But if you ever need anything, just text me.”

How does the hand off make some clients feel? Let down, rejected, ignored. This can cause pain that’s not unlike physical pain, according to UCLA psychologist Dr. Naomi Eisenberger. Her research indicates that the source of both physical and mental pain is in the same centers of the brain. Complaining can be a way of relieving the pain.

2. Figure out how clients think.

Whether it’s a modest home or a high-value one, owners are proud of it. It’s theirs. Translated, this means they want the personal attention that comes from an insurance agent going through it. If the agent says, “I’ll drive by” or “We know the neighborhood,” it can be disappointing. Small business owners are no different.

While efficiency says it may not be necessary to tour a home or small business, it can be short-sighted if an agent wants to build a lasting relationship. It’s also the way to learn more about new customers, as well as help with loss control, and a way to let a client know you care.

The savvy agent recognizes the importance of understanding how clients think, particularly in terms of what has significance for them.

3. Be aware of why clients leave.

Getting the news of being “fired” by a client, often comes surprise to agents. “I sure didn’t see that coming,” the agent says. “As far as I know everything was OK.” If agents contact the former client to find out what happened, they are given the usual reason, “We got a better price.”

When an account walks, price may be the trigger, but not the cause. Chances are that some type of discontent was brewing with the client and another agent appeared and asked, “May I give you a quote?” With a copy of the declaration page in hand, it was easy for the agent to come up with better coverage at a lower price.

In reality, the client was thinking, “I pay all this money and what am I getting for it?” Here’s the message: With an intangible such an insurance, the only value is perceived value. Clients don’t think about insurance; it’s out of mind. The agent’s role is to vivify insurance — to bring it to life and to reinforce its value. Not once, but consistently.

4. Know when to ask for referrals.

Even though referrals can play a key role in helping agents gain credibility with prospects, deciding when to ask for them is a strategic decision. Unfortunately, agents can make the mistake of asking for referrals at the wrong time — just after winning the account.

Think about it. During the selling process, the agent’s attention is on ways to get the account, such as improving coverage, closing gaps, and reducing insurance costs. Then, when the sale is locked up, the agent turns the spotlight on himself by asking for referrals. That may not sit well with a new client.

There’s a better time. Before going after referrals, demonstrate that selecting you was a good business decision by performing in the client’s best interest. When an agent does this, it’s time to spend the “capital” you built up and ask for referrals.

5. Recognize when clients are ready to buy.

Just because you want to be a prospect’s insurance agent and make a compelling presentation doesn’t mean the prospect will change — even if they are less than satisfied with their current agent.

Why is it that so many people have trouble making decisions, even those that can benefit from them? Researchers Jeffrey Quinn and Wendy Wood at Duke University found that regardless of age, “47% of behaviors reported in participants’ diaries…were classified as habits given that they were performed every day and just about in the same location.”

In other words, the old saying that we are creatures of habit is correct. Making changes doesn’t come easily, including insurance agents. This is why the continued cultivation of prospects is essential. Just because they say no, it doesn’t mean never.

6. Give clients what they expect.

No matter who they are, they expect an agent to take initiative, be responsive, and understand what they want. In a recent panel discussion on the future of the grocery store, Scott McClelland of the San Antonio-based H-E-B Grocery Company summarized the issue in six words: “Never underestimate the demand for convenience.”

It’s these same words that drive Amazon’s unequalled success. They are the reason why it has tens of millions of customers who pay the company an annual fee to get free delivery and other perks.

It’s important to understand that an insurance agent’s major competitors aren’t other agents. It’s Amazon and it sets the bar for your clients.

Tags:  2018  insurance  sales  understanding clients 

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How to Build Relationships in Your Organization and with Vendors

Posted By John Chapin, Friday, December 1, 2017

We all know relationships are important with clients. If you own the relationship with a client account, you most likely own the business. Just as important as client relationships are the relationships within your organization and with vendors who help your business run smoothly. Problems in these relationships usually lead to problems in client accounts, which could result in lost business. You also spend a good amount of time with vendors and co-workers, so the better your relationships with them, the more pleasant your work life will be. All of that said, how do you ensure good, solid relationships within your organization and with vendors?

3 Steps to building strong relationships

Step 1: Follow Steven Covey’s Habit #5: Seek first to understand.
In order to build a relationship with someone you have to get into their world. Here are some ways to do that with vendors and people you work with.

 

a) Ask them: What can I do to make your job easier? During my first week at Diebold Banking Equipment, I approached each individual in installation and service and asked this question. When they realized I was willing to work with and help them, they in turn were willing to work with me and help me.

 

Ask vendors this question too. You want to make their lives as easy as possible. An example of this is with insurance agencies I work with. They ask their carriers what a perfect submission looks like and then do their best to achieve that. Also keep in mind that your objective is to be a great customer for your vendors. Be easy to work with, make sure your interactions with them are good ones, and thank them when possible.

 

b) Talk about their favorite subject. In other words, talk about them, their family, kids, pets, and related subjects. Try to keep the conversation positive and upbeat. While you may have to talk about someone’s cancer treatment or illness, you want to keep most conversations focused on good things going on in the person’s life. Also, be careful not to one-up people. If someone is talking about their daughter playing soccer, you can mention that you daughter plays soccer too, letting them know you have something in common with them. Just don’t talk about your daughter being a superstar or shift the conversation from their daughter to yours. Ask about activities they’re involved in such as bowling leagues, softball, golf, etc. Make sure to listen more than you talk. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them at least in that proportion. Drop in some of your own personal information so they have something they can connect with you on but again, make sure they are talking most of the time and be careful not to out-shine them. Remember everyone’s favorite radio station: WIIFM: what’s in it for me. Focus on that when you talk to people. What do they want and what are they interested in?

 

c) Let others be right, let them go first, and make them feel important. Everyone’s number one need, provided they have food, shelter and the basics, is to be recognized and to feel important. Most people are mirrors. When you let other people be right and let them be first, they’ll do the same for you. They’ll also be much more willing to work with you.

 

d) Use Dr. Tony Alessandra’s Platinum Rule. The Golden Rule is of course: Treat other’s the way you want to be treated. It’s effective more than 90% of the time. To get closer to 100%, use the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they want to be treated. Ask for preferences regarding communication and other business protocols. Don’t assume that your preference is everyone else’s preference.

 

Step 2: What gets rewarded, gets repeated. When I worked for Diebold, I used to give $5 and $10 gift cards to people in the installation and service departments. I also gave them baseball tickets and other gifts. On special occasions, during the holidays, or when they really went above and beyond, I used to give more expensive gifts such as jewelry or their favorite alcohol. Based upon rules and regulations you may or may not be able to do some of these. Either way, you must acknowledge and thank them for helping you and doing a good job. Stop by their office, thank them for what they just did for you, give them a small token of your appreciation, and ask about their favorite subject.

Here are some other ideas for rewarding people that don’t cost anything:

  • Send an e-mail telling the boss what an asset they are to the company. Make sure you copy them in.
  • Send a handwritten thank-you note.
  • Call them on the phone and thank them or stop by in-person.
  • Build them up with sincere compliments.
  • Praise them in front of their peers or higher-ups.

Step 3: Treat co-workers and vendors like one of your top accounts. A great way to build relationships internally and with vendors is to give them the same extra-special treatment that you give your top accounts.

Here are some ideas:

  • Send them birthday cards and holiday cards.
  • Give them holiday and birthday gifts.
  • Study their areas of interest so you can have intelligent conversations with them.
  • Give them books, articles, and other items related to their areas of interest.
  • Pass on articles and other information about their high school, college, and hometown.
  • Pass on good articles and information you come across about their kids, spouse, relatives, or their related interests.
  • Find articles and other stories written about your vendors’ companies and industries, and occasionally discuss some of this information with them.
  • Pass on items of religious and political interest.
  • Give gift certificates to restaurants and stores.
  • Give tickets to sporting events, shows, dinner events.
  • Contribute to one of their favorite charities.
  • Make a small investment in their business or something else they are involved in.
  • Give vacations or trips to trade shows and other industry events.
  • Get creative and come up with other great ideas to turn co-workers and vendors into loyal partners and great friends.

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to:www.completeselling.com  John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: johnchapin@completeselling.com

Tags:  insurance  relationships  sales 

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