10 common mistakes most agents make and how you can fix them
By Lew Nason
Insurance Pro Shop
Be honest with yourself. How many of these common mistakes are you making?
A few weeks ago we featured an article, 10 traits of insurance sales superstars. The article centered on the 10 common traits of the highly successful people we've studied and worked with. This week we are going to review the 10 primary reasons why agents, advisors and planners are not earning the incomes they want in this business and what you can do about it right now.
1. Always looking for shortcuts.
You will start succeeding when you realize that your success comes from mastering the fundamentals. There are no secrets, no shortcuts and no magic bullets.
Success takes patience and determination. The get-rich-quick mentality is a disease, just like drinking or gambling. It can ruin your life if you don’t stop it, and you won’t make any real progress towards your goals until you give it up.
2. Spending all of your time studying products.
Product knowledge is dramatically over-emphasized and misused in the sales process. As a result, selling often becomes nothing more than pitching and presenting.
Studies show that 80 percent of training dollars spent annually are on product knowledge training. Agents, once filled with this product knowledge, are eager to share this information. Their focus then becomes totally on product, and not on identifying and solving the prospect's problem, which is where it belongs.
3. Failing to treat sales as a profession.
Professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers and CPAs all have one thing in common — they are continually studying to maintain and increase their proficiency. Yet how many insurance agents are continually seeking opportunities to increase their skills? Many have the attitude, "I've been selling for years, what more can I learn?"
Top performers in every profession are always looking for ways to sharpen their skills and gain the fine edge that leads to consistent success. The top sales performers study an hour each and every day to improve their marketing and sales skills.
4. Not approaching and staying in front of the people you already know.
Who do you trust more, someone you already know or a complete stranger? Then consider, do you honestly feel and believe that you are really helping people? Are you focused on making a positive difference in people's lives, instead of just making a sale? Then who are the first people you should be helping? Do you want your friends, family, neighbors, clients and prospects to call you when they have a problem and need your help or advice? Or do you want them to call your competition down the street? Who is going to take better care of them, you or a stranger?
5. Expecting overnight results.
When you aren’t seeing immediate results from your marketing and sales efforts, are you trying to come up with new ideas, instead of following through and mastering the fundamentals that are proven to work?
Most of us would never build a home without a strong foundation, yet most businesses are built without a solid foundation. There is no marketing plan. There is no defined value proposition. There is no defined and documented ideal prospect, no identified sales process and limited real branding.
6. Selling a product or sales idea instead of solving a problem.
Are you focusing on selling instead of helping? If you want to increase your sales, then help your prospect to identify and understand what they really need. Focus on their needs, and keep your own goals and agenda out of the conversation.
7. Talking too much and poor listening skills.
We all love to talk about our products or sales ideas and how great they are. In reality, we need to focus on listening to our prospects’ needs, concerns and challenges. When we listen first, we will be able to understand what is driving their buying decision.
Prospects will tell you what they want, the problems they face and what it takes to have them buy — we just need to take the time to truly listen.
The key to successful sales is the ability to meet prospects’ needs and create relationships with clients that keeps them coming back to you as their expert in what it is you do or sell. Only after you have listened and taken the time to understand the why of the issue, will you be able to solve their problem.
8. Not practicing.
Many of us enjoy participating in sports. All of us love to win. In order to consistently win, we must practice.
Consider champion tennis players like Nadal and Federer. How much do they practice? Yet, most agents are winging it in every part of the sales process.
Do you have an elevator speech, referred lead talk, appointment script, etc.? How often do you practice your sales skills, such as asking the right questions to drive the sales conversation? In the past month, how many times have you practiced your appointment script? To turn what we know into action takes disciplined regular practice. We improve by mastering the fundamentals.
9. Not seeking help or coaching.
Most of us know everything we need to know about how to increase our income. Unfortunately, for most of us, knowing is of little value. For example, we all know that exercise is beneficial, but do we do it? We know that eating more vegetables is good for us, but do we?
Those who are truly committed to being their best get a coach to keep them on track. No athlete could ever make it to the Olympics without a coach. Many successful business owners, executives and salespeople have their own executive coach for the same reason.
Professionals have coaches and amateurs do not. Coaching helps the best get better, the good to become great and the struggling to break through.
10. Lacking confidence and passion.
Often the difference between selling our exceptional products or not is tied to our level of confidence. If you allow yourself to get caught up in the prevalent news of a “struggling economy,” you may freak out and not project yourself as the confident professional that you are.
Remember that desperate people never get dates. Similarly, desperate professionals rarely get sales.
You are good. So are your products and services. Be confident and exhibit sales skills that help you sell your products. Sales requires passion to be successful. As the owner, you know your brand better than anyone else, but if you aren’t passionate about selling, your efforts won’t work.
Be honest with yourself. How many of these common mistakes are you making? Starting today, focus on fixing just one of these mistakes. You'll be amazed at the good things that will happen.
To be notified next time I post an article, please click the “Follow” button below my headshot in the top left corner.