Our Insurance Pro Shop® was founded in 2000 by my father Lew Nason. He was a successful insurance sales agent who was often referred to in our industry as “The nine-out-of-ten guy!” Lew was identified thusly because he routinely closed nine-out-of-ten sales. But, as sales and marketing training were provided less-and-less by insurance companies, broker dealers, or annuity packagers, the requests for him to speak and train nation-wide grew so numerous that he founded the now famous Insurance Pro Shop® and became a full-time ‘instigator’ on how to improve sales and client services using proven methods that have changed with the times. The following article is based on the questions I receive most often as Director of the IPS.
Why do so many agents and planners struggle for years and remain only average producers?
Because they remain the product of their circumstances! Their circumstances dictate who they are and what they do. They are influenced by the sum total of their environment. These circumstances mold their self image. They accept this. They settle for this. They do not realize that they can change their circumstances for the better. They can vastly improve any circumstances. They all have this ability – this power. They need to follow proven sales systems. But most use no system at all. They do not know how to accomplish appropriate change in the circumstances that dominate them. It is a shame that today they are expected to be successful almost by accident.
How is it possible to close nine-out-of-ten sales?
By doing everything right, long before you get to your close. By targeting only highly logical prospects in the first place. Aim for intelligent prospects. By taking the time and care to qualify your prospects in advance. By being as precise as you can about this. Then focus in on their expressed needs and desires! By always doing complete fact-finding and cross-checking to be certain about what was really best for their circumstances. Often it is appropriate to gently but accurately inform and educate by explaining on the spot. (Using simple ‘5 Minute’ presentations) Most times I found that it was best to fulfill one primary want/need first to gain their trust. And, then later work with them to ‘find the money’ to fulfill all of their needs and wants. They were more receptive to this.
I always managed to place my mind channel parallel to that of the prospect so that I would not approach them from the perspective of a salesman, but from their own point-of-view. Once they became satisfied clients they then felt both secure and appreciative. They were now comfortable in providing me with leads (referrals) from among their personal contacts. The goal was always to help the client ‘bring home their bacon’ and of course I wanted to be worthy of forming long-term relationships.
Serious Hard Times Are Upon Us All
How has the consumer changed in recent years?
Charles Dickens could write another Bleak House about our present times. Massive recent changes have impacted the USA consumers. Our citizens feel vulnerable, betrayed, exploited, and they have lost their trust starting with the federal government. It is not necessary or realistic to target only the wealthy. But our middle class is now being pushed and squeezed from all directions, even to the point that threatens their continued existence. Once cost-of-living prices go up history shows us that they never go back down.
And our cost of living in the USA keeps rapidly increasing. Your prospects have been further jaded by the unpunished corruption that Wall Street and the banking industry ‘masters of the universe’ types got away with due to their incestuous relationship with Washington. These ‘over-the-top ego centered’ executives allowed their personal greed to triumph over their character, honor, and morality. No one representing the people has had the courage to pursue justice for the people. Presently this unfairly punishes all agents and planners, a group that had nothing to do with our massive economic downturn. Agents and planners are also victims.
Consumers trusted and played by the rules only to be shafted. They lost jobs, investments, retirements, homes, and more. Technological progress and economic downturns quickly changed consumer realities and habits. Negative experiences or images of once trusted institutions have altered consumer faith and expectations. Our citizens have been forced into record numbers of bankruptcies. Major mortgage companies have routinely told their clients that they were modifying their loans while they were in reality moving ahead with record numbers of foreclosures, many of which were illegal. And these mortgage giants got away with this. Outright crimes by mortgage companies have gone largely unpunished.
The regulatory agencies once created to protect consumers have only aided and abated the financial giants and corporate special interest in their greed, exploitation, and self-serving. Our lack of political leadership at the White House, and by both political parties, has combined to bring a loss of confidence to our citizens regarding the federal government itself. Now they fear the feds. Many think the feds are their enemy.
Consumers know that special interests now own what was once our federal government and the special interests are allowed to exploit Americans at will. American citizens, in great numbers, no longer believe our political system actually works as originally intended. The system no longer works! Americans are now suspicious of all financial entities, such as banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies, mutual funds, hedge funds, and so on. Rightly so!
Today greed and exploitation run amuck from coast-to-coast. These are the victimized people you must face, sell, and serve. Actually they need your services now more than ever before but many of them are so bitter, or even hostile, that it is now far more difficult just to get their attention. You just might be the last person left who truly has their best interest first and foremost. But you will have to work harder to get them to believe this.
Have the many recent changes in the world of financial products and services affected the Insurance Pro Shop®?
Yes! Those major changes have impacted the IPS enormously! They are the reasons that the IPS is now so strong. These same influences are impacting you. Free ‘quality’ sales and marketing training dried-up. Affordable sales and marketing training became unavailable. Markets rapidly changed and new laws appeared. Agents began to struggle in large numbers. There was a big trend, or movement, toward becoming financial planners. The numbers of agents began to rapidly decline. The agent associations and the financial planning association, including the largest of these, began the hemorrhaging of members eleven years ago.
Get Away From the Cold
What new development most stands-out for you?
Our planners and agents are more stressed and challenged than ever before. You are well aware of this. They deserve affordable, practical, and qualified sales training opportunities, plus they deserve a place where they can ‘get away from the cold,’ not have to guard against being exploited, and not be conditioned to push only certain products. This should be a place where they can relax, interact, and above all gain exposure to the current proven sales methods with the high-class peers of their profession.
During the time period of the last eleven years, the appearance of self-styled and high-priced guru sale consultants began to grow rapidly. Many struggling motivational speakers became sales ‘experts,’ but are without any significant qualifications. So our agents and planners now have ‘tougher’ or more cynical and demanding clients, plus various types of self proclaimed ‘experts” are now actively attempting to take advantage of them.
They are promised everything from “I can make you a millionaire in a few months!” to “We have discovered the quick-and-easy magic formula for your instant massive sales success!” Or “We have trained many countless thousands who became huge financial successes!” One financial consultant claims, “I will give you the DNA of sales success!” But mostly they only exploit those earnestly seeking to improve their production. Most time proven basics remain applicable today because they are still effective, but many new and even experienced planners and agents are not fully aware of these and how to apply them.
In our history there have been many great names in financial sales training. We are following in the legacy of these great sales training talents such as Jack Kinder, Gary Kinder, Clyde Bedell, Claude M. Bristol, Frank Bettger, Charles B. Roth, and the late Maxwell Sackheim. Sackheim once reigned as the all-time direct mail champion, according to the Direct Mail Marketing Association. Max Sackheim founded the Book-of-the-Month Club. He left his direct mail reference library to Forrest Wallace Cato. He was later replaced in DM results by David Avrick.
Loren Dunton the founder of financial planning also left his financial planning library to Cato. Today at IPS events, Cato speaks on how to create, establish, and maintain your desired image as the leader in your sales area.
In recent years, during this present recession that closely resembles a total depression in many regions across our nation, it is far more difficult for agents and planners to ‘bring home the bacon.’ And it is equally difficult for their clients to ‘bring home their bacon.’ So we all have to work harder. Yes harder! At the IPS we do not offer any magic formulas or instant solutions! Plus each of us must work more carefully, and smarter, and improve our time management, and practice only habits that are well-proven to provide the best results for these changed times and markets.
Here is a recent advisor success story… “Lew & Jeremy, I wanted to say thanks for all your efforts in making my business stronger and more effective. I have to tell you that, while using the tools and knowledge I’ve acquired from your training and programs, I just completed the four most successful months of my career. Working with you and Jeremy has given my business a whole new perspective. It’s exciting to see folks respond to the techniques you teach and how they can protect their families and/or plan their retirement. Thank you for making me better at helping people. It’s a pleasure learning to be successful working with you and Jeremy at the Insurance Pro Shop! P.S. I’m looking forward to seeing you at the September TAST Boot Camp. Brad Stewart, RFC, CFLA, June, 2014 (15 years in business)