The first year I entered the life insurance business, it was a race for survival. The year was 1982, I was 22 and had no training or experience. To greatly compound the issues at hand, I also had very little money -- with $5,000 as my total seed money.
The seeds I planted were very expensive lessons in what didn't work. The good news was that I quickly learned enough from my mistakes and realized that one should first reach a low level of success. At least it was enough to keep me in the business, so I could make more mistakes and learn from them also.
Fast forward to 1996, when I was having a conversation with my wife about my disappointment in our income. Although my selling success with long term care insurance (LTCI) was enough to put us comfortably in the middle class, I still was not satisfied. I told her I just wasn't seeing enough prospects and that I knew I could dramatically improve my closing ratio.
Next, I made a big mistake. I decided that I would put my insurance career on the sidelines and go sell cars with my friend, Jeff. The great thing about mistakes is that they are great teachers and seldom irreversible. Six months into this endeavor, I was more miserable than ever and knew this was not the answer I was looking for. Seldom, if ever, is the grass truly greener in a new, unrelated venture. You simply have to make a whole new set of mistakes that teach you what works and what doesn't, which takes time and money.
After deciding to return full-time to my insurance career, I had a growing desire to figure out the burning question on my mind: "How do I break out to a higher level of consistent success and income?"
My turning point
I was once again complaining to my wife about not reaching my financial goals, and she asked me a simple question. She asked when the last time was that I lost money on a seminar. After some thought, I said I didn't think it had ever happened. She then suggested that I do two seminars monthly instead of one, to which I responded, "But that will cost twice as much, and I'm not sure I can find the time to be efficient at working all the potential leads since I am a one-man-show." She then said words to the effect of "either put up or shut up!"
Since my wife is persuasive and has a way with words -- and because I love her -- I decided to follow her advice. In retrospect, it was a profound decision. At that time, I could not have imagined the level of success this simple choice would allow me to achieve.
I thought to myself, "If I am going to spend all this money on marketing, I had better be sure that I can close the prospects I see." This also was a turning point and represents my willingness to spend money to increase my skills. So, I did some research and immediately enrolled in Tom Hopkins' Selling Boot Camp. I also read everything that had been published by Brian Tracy and Zig Ziglar, and bought most of the tapes Nightingale-Conant offered on selling. I learned a lot and began to increase my knowledge and skills, but I still needed help connecting the general sales ideas to the specific products I was selling.
Within a few more months, the year now mid-1997, I had another turning point -- I discovered indexed annuities. I added one slide in my long term care seminar about this product and was shocked to have half of the audience request an appointment to learn more about the annuities. I then called several big annuity producers to see if they would share their wisdom on what made them successful. One individual told me that people care more about your confidence than your competence. This was an eye-opener for me, and I began to proclaim more boldly the tremendous value found in an idea that allows safe participation in a risky stock market.
Now I was so busy trying to meet with all the prospects I was generating from my indexed annuity seminars, I couldn't keep up. The next turning point came when I realized I had to hire my first employee. Since I was working out of my home, I was concerned about who I could trust to work with me in the same location as my family lived. I ended up hiring my sister-in-law. Hiring someone to help me turned out to be an excellent decision, as I no longer had to open my own mail, pay the bills, answer the telephone or confirm appointments; and I had a built-in helper for my evening seminars.
With my workload lightened, I increased my seminars from two a month to four a month, generated by two mailings, each offering two dates to attend. It occurred to me that I was spending more time in front of prospects and less time doing those tasks that I should have hired someone else to do years earlier. A lack of confidence in myself had held me back in the past, and I realized that I couldn't expect others to believe in me if I didn't believe in myself. By that time, the money began to flow, so that I was in a position to conduct as many seminars as I wanted.
One day I answered a knock at the door and found a man by the name of David standing there. I did not know him, but he said he knew me as a result of the large numbers I was putting up in indexed annuity sales. He wanted to work for me selling annuities. For two weeks, I turned him down numerous times but, thankfully, he never gave up. David was coachable and was quickly a huge success, with many months of income in excess of $50,000. From this experience, I decided to formally begin sharing with other advisors what life and business had taught me. After several years of tutoring 12 captive advisors with great success (each averaging $3 million annually), I decided to start a national marketing organization to make my business practices accessible to a larger number of advisors across the U.S.
Today, we are blessed with 1,200 advisors, allowing the company to be the number two marketing organization for American equity, and expect to continue growing our premium beyond the $400 million mark.
The following events became major turning points in my life and career:
1. I became so dissatisfied with my income that I decided to do something about it.
2. I significantly increased my seminars and marketing.
3. I quickly sought the help I needed with my presentation and closing skills.
4. I added the very lucrative indexed annuities to my client solutions.
5. I did not try to be the jack of all trades, but focused my attention on annuities.
6. I hired someone to handle clerical duties, which allowed me to concentrate on sales.
As a result of the above decisions, I was able to maximize my time in front of prospects with enough consistency that my last sale was often just hours before my next presentation, which greatly increased both my confidence and my closing ratio.
Think about this -- if you see just two prospects per day and have a closing ratio of only 25 percent, you can earn $720,000 for the year.
Here are the numbers broken down: Two prospects daily = 40 per month. A 25 percent closing ratio would mean 10 sales. With a $100,000 per sale average, you would write $1 million per month, making $12 million a year. With a street level commission of 6 percent for the first year, your paycheck would be $720,000. I call this the 2/25 rule. It is entirely possible to have this kind of success if you put into practice the six turning points I talked about.
It took me several years to accomplish the six steps above. Most everything of value does not happen overnight. I want to encourage you to start now. There is no better time to begin realizing your goals and dreams than now. I wish you confident selling!