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Why Did the Prospect Cross the Road?
By Rodney Ballance

What seems like a lifetime ago now, when I was a young man just back from my time in the military, a long-time family friend named Bill Swindell approached me about buying life insurance. His approach was one of caring and true thoughtfulness for my future, but he was talking about life insurance. I was like most young people, ten feet tall and bulletproof. The last thing on my mind was death.

Every time I’d see Bill he’d ask me about making an appointment to discuss how life insurance could take care of my financial future. He would even tell me “If you start a plan now, you could have over a million dollars by the time you’re 55”. His words haunt me now that I’m at that age.

I got to the point where I would literally cross the street if I saw Bill coming. I remember ducking into the hardware store one day when I saw him walking toward me. Hiding behind the nail bin, I just hoped he wouldn’t see me. Looking back, I regret going to such lengths to avoid hearing what he had to say, but I do know for a fact that I’m not the only person who feels that way.

Looking back on my career, I hate what I did to Bill and the fact I never bought anything from him. Has anything like this ever happened to you? Either as a prospect or as an agent, have you ever avoided or been avoided? If you’re like most of us, you have to answer yes. With that in mind, let’s ask “Why did the prospect cross the road?”

Rodney Ballance - International Financial Leadership Association

Don’t tell me what I should do! Be honest. Isn’t this the way most of us feel about almost anything in our life? How can someone else know what my desires or my ambitions are, before I share those thoughts with them? Approaching someone with a solution to a problem they don’t even know they have is like wearing a big radioactive hazard sign on your chest. People will avoid you at all costs.

If you’re wondering why it’s so hard to get an appointment, take a close look at what you’re saying to the prospects. Salespeople with a limited range of products to sell will almost always lead off with how great their product is, even if the prospect isn’t at all interested in that product. I believe this is the most popular reason the prospects cross the road.

What is he/she selling now?! I’m sure you’ve known life insurance agents who jump from one idea to another, just because they fall for the hype of the company pushing a specific “solution”. Some agents go through their list of family and friends with one type of insurance or another, and exhaust their potential for new business. By the way this is because they don’t know how to prospect.

Out of desperation the agent responds to an E-mail from someone pushing another niche market product, and they go through their list all over again with a renewed excitement for this product. Some of the existing clients buy because they like the agent, but naturally there are fewer purchases than the first time around. Eventually the agent burns these clients out, and they start to cross the road as they see him or her coming, because they’re afraid of what the next sales pitch will be.

I’m not in the market for insurance! No one wants to be sold anything that we’re not already thinking about buying. If you’re not in the market for a new set of tires for your car, the advertisements on the radio or a flyer on your windshield at the grocery store are more of an aggravation than an attraction.

Why would we, as insurance professionals, try to drive a square peg into a round hole every time we get close to a new peg? Sooner or later the pegs will get tired of your attempts to push them into something, and start avoiding you all together. The biggest problem here is that they will tell everyone they know about your sales tactics, and they too will cross the road every time they see you coming.

This Guy is pressured to sell me something! We’ve all been there. It’s Friday afternoon and I’m on the last appointment of the week with way too few sales. This appointment is our last chance to earn enough money for groceries. I’m stressed to the max, and I’m trying not to let it show.

It doesn’t matter how hard you try to keep those emotions bottled up, the people sitting across the table from you can pick up on it faster than a dog can smell a steak cooking on the grill. They sense that you’re trying hard to sell them, which only serves to push them away. You’re branded as a “high pressure salesperson”, and they will cross the road every time they see you coming.

Quote - The More You Learn The More You Will Earn

The only solution to this problem is LISTENING! God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. As humans, and especially as financial professionals, we must train ourselves to listen to the concerns people have before we try to offer a solution to them. If you walked into a doctor’s office with a sore throat, and before you could say what was wrong he recommended an X-Ray of your arm, would you have much confidence in that doctor?

Unfortunately we’re recommending strategies and products without first hearing the patient’s complaint. We will never fix their problems if they don’t first recognize they have a problem, and trust you can offer a viable solution to their personal and specific issue or concern.

I’ve been blessed with a successful career as a life insurance professional because I was taught early to ask questions and “actively listen” to people. I’ll write more on active listening in a later article.

For now though, please try to help people stay on your side of the road. You would hate to be the reason someone got hit by a car crossing the street just to avoid hearing your latest sales pitch. On the other hand, some other agent would probably thank you, because a close encounter with death will definitely get them thinking about life insurance. Then they’ll call someone who is happy to listen.


Rodney Ballance, International Financial Leadership Association


“Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is
knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.”

David Star Jordan

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The purpose of this message is to get down to the basics - to clear the air surrounding the entire subject of money. To do this, I’m going to have to get absolutely elementary. And while you may already know most of the things I’m going to say, I think it’s important that we remind ourselves just exactly what money is, how much of it is enough, and how to earn the amount of money we need to live the way we want to live, now as well as in the important future years.

To begin, let’s dispel the old myth, once and for all, that money is bad or unimportant. It is not bad, and it is important - it is vitally important. It is just as important as the food and clothes it buys, the shelter it affords, the education it provides, and the doctor’s bills it pays. Money is important to any person living in a civilized society. To argue and split hairs to the effect that it is not as important as other things is absurd. Nothing will take the place of money in the area in which money works. That’s all there is to it.

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What is money? Money is the harvest of our production. Money is what we receive for our production and service as persons, which we can then use to obtain the production and services of others. We can quite often accurately gauge the extent of our production and service by simply counting the amount of money we receive for it.

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Are You Tired Of Being Ripped Off?

Are you as tired, as I am, of hearing about all the supposed ‘fool-proof’ marketing and sales systems, that guarantee they’ll generate a flood of high quality prospects overnight? Systems that promise you’ll have people beating down your door and begging to buy your products! And, you will make a ‘bazillion dollars’, while working at home in your ‘skivvies’!

Maybe you’ve actually been ‘hood-winked’ into buying and trying one or more of these ‘Magical’, ‘Get Rich Quick’ marketing and sales systems. Did it work? How did it make you feel? Did you feel used? Taken advantage of?

The unfortunate part is that all of the companies selling these supposed ‘fool-proof’ marketing and sales systems know exactly what they are doing. They know the majority of salespeople are struggling just to make a living. They know that most salespeople have a serious problem that is causing them a lot of anxiety, pressure and pain? It’s the fear of failure. It’s the fear of not being able to provide for one’s family. They also know that most people want and are looking for instant gratification and success. It’s human nature, today. So, these companies will do or say whatever is necessary just to get salespeople to buy their marketing and sales products, with no regard as to whether it really helps them or not.

They know that by using ‘Over the Top’ tactics they can scare the heck out of you. They know that by making ‘Outrageous Claims’ they are appealing to the salesperson’s greedy human nature.

The problem is that their systems teach you to use the exact same tactics on your prospects to get them to buy your products and services. These tactics are not real selling. They’re a scam and a rip-off. They leave a bad taste in the buyer’s mouth. And, it is exactly what everyone fears will happen to them when they talk to a salesperson. It’s what gives all insurance people a bad reputation, and what makes them just one step above a used car salesperson.

These advisers have learned that the keys to success in this business is not about using
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The truth is that real selling is about helping people to buy what they need and want. It’s about helping people to better their lives. It’s about identifying their concerns and problems and then helping people to develop a real solution. Real selling is not a conflict or battle of wits. Real selling ends up with a ‘Win-Win’ proposition for the prospect and the sales person.

Unfortunately, most salespeople have a hard time sorting through all the companies out there to find someone to teach them to market and sell their products and services, the right way. And, even if they are lucky enough to find right company, they soon discover it requires a lot study and hard work to succeed. So, they invariably start looking for a short cut and they end up falling prey to one of the less than ethical companies making those outrageous claims and promises.

However, for the few people who take the time to find the right company and then work hard to learn to market and sell the right way, the rewards are wonderful. People will start to see you as a trusted advisor, instead of just a sales person. They’ll seek out your advice. They’ll buy from you over and over again. They won’t procrastinate. Price is no longer a main issue. They will refer you to all of their friends and family. And, you’ll be working fewer hours, with much less stress. And, you’ll be making a great income.

Best of all, when you learn to really help people to get what they want and need, you begin to feel good about yourself and your sales profession. It’s no longer a job. It becomes a career and a calling.

Jeremy & Lew Nason
Trainers, Coaches & Mentors

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This is only step one in the planning  process,
step two the life insurance review will generate another smaller, but nice sale.
Brian H. - PA

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