Does the industry really need all these coaches, consultants and speakers?
By Corey Weiner
The situation at hand
The sheer number of coaches, consultants and professional speakers pontificating to the investments and insurance producer via workshops and other training is overbearing. And whether such programs deliver what they claim to is questionable, to say the least.
Everyone knows the financial services sales business has high turnover. Everyone knows sales people, in general, experience much rejection; which is trying to one's ego and self esteem over time. So why does such a competitive industry see so many who claim to have all the answers to the perpetual $64,000 question: How to get and keep profitable clients?
Maybe because everyone and his brother has an opinion — and no black and white answer exists.
Just like clients chasing higher returns and lower risk exposure, financial salespeople chase higher earning potential via a higher quantity of profitable clients. Insurance and investments is a tough business. One essentially sells a concept and paper contract with numbers on it. The occupation's inherent challenges have remained constant forever.
Devil's advocate question
What if all the coaching, workshops and e-books for insurance and investment professionals are akin to self-help for depressed people? Someone selling answers to those addicted to seeking certainty for their futures in a world where such things do not exist.
Observe the five most recent articles on the notion of sales, marketing, referral building and prospecting for new leads and one notices the same gist paraphrased over and over: use the Web, offer something educational or of value, ask questions and listen intently for opportunities to serve that client.
Sort of similar to the training taught to all new producers involved in selling services, yes?
So why all the coaching and training workshops focused on financial professionals? Because secrets promising more clients, prospects, referrals and bigger transactions get advisors thinking. Producers experience plenty of rejection. Most are vulnerable folks fixated on not losing everything. Regardless of the industry, many sales people hear how you're only as good as your last sale from their managers. Do you think real estate, pharmaceuticals, advertising sales, corporate recruiting are any different?
The reality is . . .
If it were easy to garner referrals and write big tickets, coaches and trainers would be out selling clients instead of training others.
Technical training and direct introductions to clients aside, the rest about referrals and pleasing clients is the same record that has been playing since the 1970s. Save yourself time and aggravation unless a coach, consultant or trainer has a direct system for talking to clients.
Most useful concepts for selling financial services were published decades ago. Therefore, paraphrasing Zig Ziglar, Napoleon Hill, W. Clement Stone and Abraham Maslow is unoriginal.
The workbooks mapping out how to cultivate leads by ongoing prospecting and developing spheres of influence have changed little in 40 years. The “cheerleader articles” are shared on social media because they are easy to digest. Who is going to disagree with keeping a positive attitude and seeking to help clients, for example?
Pat Billera is a retired general agent teaching the 2-15 life health and variable annuity course at Goldcoast Insurance School in Florida. Mr. Billera was a top producing regional manager in the country for Mutual of Omaha for years. He said he liked to hire baed on good character and integrity. He used to interview new producers by inviting himself to their home, because he could tell much about their self-esteem and character by observing a new hire in her/his natural environment.
Ron Ridlehuber, former president of AIG American General, says the same thing: integrity, intelligence, successful attitude. All the sales training is the easy part. Top industry managers know human decision-making behavior has not changed all that much over the years — and this includes financial producers.
Is there a smarter solution to all the coaching and sales expertise training?
Of course there is.
1. A personal continuous improvement regiment of self enrichment.
2. Understanding human decision-making behavior, i.e. what motivates someone to seek professional insurance and investments management in the first place.
3. Developing and refining what works or what has worked historically in similar markets for peers when it comes to prospecting and closing transactions.
The sheer number of experts, bloggers and book authors going around selling training to insurance and investments professionals is astonishing. What if all the “expert advice” confuses more than it helps?