What is stopping you from learning better ways to prospect and sell?Article added by Jacques Werth on January 27, 2012
Jacques Werth

Jacques Werth

Media, PA

Joined: November 27, 2006

Why do agents hope and believe that they can improve by using the same sales methods that have not worked for the vast majority of hard working agents?

About 40 salespeople attended an recent introductory seminar our company hosted. During one of the question breaks, an insurance agent named Jake asked, “If I take your course will I make more money?”

I told him that our sales process had been successful for many agents who had the discipline to use it exactly the way we teach it. I also stressed that we have no control over what agents do once they’ve been taught. That is their responsibility.

At the end of our presentation, though it was obvious he was apprehensive, Jake was one of the salespeople who enrolled.

Jake had been an insurance agent with one of America’s top companies for over four years. He was working over 50 hours a week and was often depressed. He doubted his capabilities. They had two small children and his wife had to go back to work at a law firm because he wasn’t earning enough for her to be a stay-at-home mom.

After Jake altered his methods, everything started to change. Within a few months, his productivity had more than doubled. He was making fewer appointments but most of the prospects he visited became paying clients.

Then, he cut back his working time to 40 hours a week and his productivity kept increasing. He began to feel good about himself and was enjoying his work. He was looked up to by most of the other 11 agents on his team, and many of the other 50 agents who worked in that office. When he was making prospecting calls, other agents would gather around his desk to listen to what he was doing.

Then came a jolt. His team’s sales manager called Jake into a private meeting. It was obvious that he was angry. He said, “You have to stop prospecting and selling that way and go back to the way we taught you.”

Jake was incredulous. “Why should I do that?” he asked. “For the first time in over four years I’m making good money. It’s because I've learned new methods of prospecting and selling.”

His sales manager said, “You’re just on a hot streak. It happens to agents once in a while. But in the meantime, you’re disrupting my whole team. I won’t allow that. Either stop or I’ll have the company cancel your contract. Your residual commissions are currently around $3,000 a year. If you leave, you won’t get any of those residuals.”

Jake said, “I understand and I need a couple of days off to think it over and talk to my wife about it.”

It was a Tuesday. His sales manager said “You have until Friday to give me your answer.”
Jake stayed home for the next few days while his kids were in school and daycare. He called the local offices of dozens of other major insurance companies. Each time he called, he asked to speak to the agency manager. When he reached them he told them his name, and said:

“I’ve been an insurance agent for four and a half years and I’m now bringing in three or four new clients a month. However, I use an unusual prospecting and selling process. My methods are legal, ethical, and pass compliance standards. But they are very different from the way most agents sell. Am I the kind of agent you want working in your office?”

Most of those agency managers said no. However, Jake made just five appointments with agency managers for the following two days. Three of them offered him jobs. He selected the agency manager that he felt he could trust and respect the most. On Friday afternoon, he went in to the company where he had worked for over four years and cleaned out his desk.

Jake's prospecting and selling skills continuously improved at the new agency. Within the next six years, he became one of the top agents in a company of over 11,000 agents.

Questions:
    1. Did you know that, according to the Life Insurance Marketing Research Association (LIMRA), of the thousands of agents that are hired each year, over 90 percent leave the business within four years?

    2. Did you know that the average insurance agent who is still in the business after five years earns less than three times the annual poverty level standard?

    3. With those kinds of turnover and income rates, do you believe that insurance companies know how to teach agents to prospect and sell effectively?

    4. Why do agents hope and believe that they can improve by using the same sales methods that have not worked for the vast majority of hard working agents?

    5. What is stopping you from learning better ways to prospect and sell?
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