SALES Q&A WITH
Do you have projects
Of course I do. My work is
one project after another. I tried to visit Sir Arthur C.
Clark in Sri Lanka for an interview. I was in the great
man’s office but he was unable to get a flight to his home in
time for our meeting. I had a similar experience with the great
management guru Peter F. Drucker. Once I was scheduled to
interview comedian Jerry Lewis but he was too ill to meet
with me at the scheduled time. What a gentleman! He paid my
hotel bill. Rod Steiger, the academy award winning actor,
promised me repeatedly that we would do a book on his life,
career, and thoughts about acting, but we both stayed busy and
never started that project. Of course there were many other
occasions when, for one reason or another, I failed to complete
like boxing, dictates that we remain flexible and adjust
accordingly so that our wins outnumber our defeats.
What mistakes do you
see agents and planners make when they use your guide to promote
They get a big positive
media exposure and they are very proud and pleased. They
merchandise and exploit this skillfully. They bask in the
recognition, enjoy the attention that results, and feel so
satisfied that they wait too long before executing their next
image-building project. They should have at least two projects a
month, every month. They should not wait four or six months
before making their next image-enhancing effort.
Can agents and planners
be sufficiently creative – to build their own images?
Yes, but they depend on me
too much for usable ideas. They stick with the five hundred-plus
ideas in my course and tend to ignore the unique and original
opportunities right before them. I’m not there so I am not aware
of these. They should recognize publicity opportunities and take
advantage of them. Only they know best why they are unique,
special, and even precious.
They must communicate this.
Suppose their dog wins a
championship, or a small aircraft crashes in their backyard and
they rescue the pilot. Whatever! They can have great media
exposure opportunities right in their face yet never see them.
The president of a piano company, now bankrupt, once told me,
“We never had one big publicity opportunity to promote - not in
the entire history of our company.” On the wall behind the
company president was a picture of Abraham Lincoln playing one
of that company’s pianos. Of course this guy inherited his
position from his father.
What do you think when
you meet an agent or planner for the first time?
After I listen to most
agents or planners I am envious of them because I know they can
earn tons of money and help lots of folks.
What do you think is
the greatest hope for future advisors?
Our youth will never
accept the prevailing models in Wall Street, medicine, old
folk’s homes, banking, and so-on. Existing corruption and
exploitation runs rampant and obvious in the USA today. Agents
and planners are unfairly blamed for the self-serving on Wall
Street. More-and-more planners and agents will help citizens
better protect themselves and help bring transparency and
accountability to our economic process.
can cut a greater figure. But only if you start?”
Forrest Wallace Cato
Most likely you have
interviewed and known more of the world’s great sales
super-stars than any other person in history. What do the
greatest sales achievers of this era all have in common?
My dream job was to visit
one world sales leader a month and learn all I could from that
person. I became friends with most of them and we began
life-long relationships. I strove to earn their trust and win a
spot in their hearts. I learned what they liked to eat, their
hobbies, how they relaxed, what they read, what books were in
their library, and if they often shined their own shoes (They
do!). I traveled with them. Our families went to restaurants,
movies, and concerts together.
I paid attention and
learned much. I always remembered that I was in the presence of
one of the world’s most successful sales super achievers. A few
people I visited were fakes, not true sales masters at all, but
guys who wanted to position themselves as sales stars to get
speaking gigs, sell their financial software, get a job at an
association, or get training sessions. The fakes were more
interested in other objectives than in selling insurance or
Each of the greatest sales
stars always looked immaculate with neatly styled hair, shined
shoes, perfect fitting suits, carefully coordinated jewelry,
shirt and tie. Gradually I noticed that each was sophisticated
and cultured. Each was interested in some aspect(s) of history.
Each was well-read. Always they wore knee-length socks. Each was
active and skilled in self-promotion and maintained their
desired image All were well-rounded. Their success at selling
enabled them to live fulfilling, engaging, and successful lives.
Every one of them had
their favorite writers. All were interested in good health
habits. (Mehdi Fakharzadeh has more good health tips than
anyone on this planet.) They had their favorite music. (You
should see Lew Nason’s varied music collection.) Each had
a sense of fashion and style. Each had interesting personal
collections, enjoyed people, and sincerely cared about others.
All of them had many personal friends. They loved their families
When I went with them on sales calls I could tell that new
prospects knew they were respected, and established clients knew
they were valued, appreciated, and cared about. There was
affection there. The highest ranking sales champions are not
just sales people.
None of the great sales
talents were limited to sales knowledge only. They were all
outstanding conversationalist and wonderful to talk with. They
were relaxed. They put you at ease. Each had a countenance that
was comforting plus unassuming. They enjoyed their work. Each
also enjoyed active and well-rounded lives, even in retirement.
You would equally have enjoyed a backyard barbecue or touring
the British Museum with any of them. You would be delighted if
one of the sales super achievers sat next to you on an airline.
They would enjoy being with you. They would sense your worth and
value you. They would ask for your thoughts, opinions, and
ideas. They were always seeking new ideas on how to sell more,
better, or with improved efficiency. They always looked for new
ideas on how to promote their image. They considered one (image)
necessary for the other (sales).
They also all had a gift for making others feel valuable and
appreciated. Possibly I should have mentioned this
Do the old sales rules
If you mean rules like
“plan your work and work your plan,” or “isolate the objection
and cover it,” then I believe they are timeless and still
effective. But, with the computer age plus new tools and new
products for harder economic times come many new rules and new
sales techniques of the sort taught by the Insurance Pro Shop®.
What mistakes do you
I make the same mistakes
that I fuss at my beloved agents and planners for making. These
include but are not limited to:
Resting on past
Not recognizing a
Forgetting to wear
Making quick and
Not being sufficiently
It is these little
mistakes that cost us so highly.
What recent changes are
noticeable in celebrity image communications?
We used to ‘push’ facts at
targets and they could filter that or not. Now we ‘pull.’
Everyone has an iPhone or a Smartphone. Now targets can filter
all content and ‘pull’ what is relevant for them. We’ve gone
from sending news releases and hoping some media will use them
-- to knowing where our targets are pulling their info from and
being there. It’s more about what targets want, than what I want
or hope my targets want. Today websites are interactive to
deliver more details. You do not want un-relevant sites ahead of
you in Google results.
Relevancy is your key.
Can anyone and everyone
become famous in their market area?
No. Some professionals do
not ‘see’ the connection between ‘fame’ and ‘super selling.’
They lack the specific intelligence, the courage to try, or the
will to act. Competency is needed to execute and manage an image
building program and if they don’t understand this then they are
not going to do this. Their competition will do this and ‘clean
their clock’ in the same market place.
Forrest Wallace Cato
arranges for insurance agents and financial planner (like you)
to serve on the boards of corporations, foundations, charities,
and other organizations. He is former Editor-In-Chief of Trusts
& Estates: The Journal of Wealth Management and Financial
Planning magazine. He is International Editor of Advisor
magazine in China. His column is carried in The White House
Connection. Cato is a senior fellow in Financial Planning Media
Advocacy at the Al-Habtoor School of Business in Dubai (United
Cato is an award-winning
author, editor, op-ed writer, critic, essayist, speaker,
biographer, speech writer, and financial sales researcher. Cato
wrote the Introduction to the classic book How To Sell Your Way
Through Life by Napoleon Hill. This is one of the
best-selling books in history. Hill wrote the all-time
best-selling motivational volume, Think And Grow Rich. In total,
Hill has sold 161-million books world-wide.
Howard Penn Hudson,
Publisher of Public Relations Quarterly reported to PR
professionals, “Cato is the ultimate media insider for financial
advisors. Steven Spielberg gave Wally an “Indiana Jones” hat.”
Cato works for agents and planners, helping them create,
establish, and maintain their desired images as the leaders in
their market areas.
Cato is credentialed as a
recognized member of the national media, authorized to use the
press facilities for covering the U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate,
and White House in Washington, D.C. He has interviewed five
Presidents of the United States.
“Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is
knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.”
David Star Jordan