Ever year, there are hundreds of thousands of people joining insurance business. At the same time, there are also hundreds of thousands of insurance agents leaving the business. Only a small percentage of insurance agents can stay long in the business. Those who stay obviously do well and in fact many of them are top insurance agents.
What separates the top insurance agents from the mediocre ones? To excel in insurance business, an agent requires more than just skills and knowledge, it is also about having the right attitude and habits.
With billion of dollar spent on products and sales training every year, it is difficult for us to qualify the statement that lack of skills or knowledge is the primary reason leading to poor sales performance. There has to be a more logical reason to explain the root cause of the problem and the likely culprit is attitude and habits.
Most top insurance agents have a similar way of thinking and subscribe to good practices that make them emerge as winners in their business. The 5 common denominators of successful insurance agents are Good Work Habits, Passion, Common Sense, Continuous Improvement and Positive Mental Attitude.
(a) Good Work Habits
Habits have a very important role in our life. Our character is determined by our habits. We form the habits and habits form our futures. Habits are also a key for any business success.
Successful and competitive agents are always mindful that they start the race for the day the moment they wake up from their sleep. Gradually, they program themselves to get ready early everyday so that they can accomplish more things for themselves.
A useful tool to help insurance agents form good work habits is activity management. Activity management allows them plan and record all their daily or weekly sales-related activities such as the number of customers to talk to or meet up, the number of appointments to secure, the number of referred lead to acquire etc.
Having good work habits determines whether you are going to barely survive or thrive in your business. If you do not deliberately form good habits, then unconsciously you will form bad ones. A single bad habit can destroy all you have inclusive of your success.
Love what you do and you will do more. Selling is a process. While it is important to achieve positive outcomes, it is even more important and meaningful for insurance agents to focus on the sales process.
Achieving or exceeding sales targets brings moments of joy and satisfaction, but it is the process of achieving the sales targets that makes the salespeople appreciate what they have gone through and have a sense of fulfillment.
One of the most bizarre things you can ever imagine is to be extremely successful doing things you hate the most. Due to circumstantial factors, there are occasions we are required to do things we do not like at all. We will find all excuses we can get in order to avoid doing that piece of task.
But to excel, you need to change the way you feel about the things you are doing. The turning point begins when you find yourself falling in love with what you are doing. You will then figure out all the possible solutions you can find to overcome challenges you face in the tasks.
(c) Common Sense
Common sense is about people skills and the way we deal with people.
The shortest distance between 2 points may NOT be a straight line. Be it personal or business relationship, there are things that may not be as simple as they appear to be. A simple task may require slightly greater efforts to accomplish simply because there are many other considerations to be addressed before the task can be executed.
Aside from rules and regulations and process and procedures, there are subtle elements known as protocol, cultures, perceptual differences, values and beliefs etc for us to manage before we can get to do what we plan to do. An easy assignment may not be as easy as it seems.
It is important to have a good sense of common sense to handle such situations. It may require some patience and cooperation to get things done. In fact, we may need to apply some techniques and tactics to cope with thorny issues.
When facing a hurdle, crossing the hurdle may not be the only solution. There are numerous ways to take care of such problem. For instance, we may choose to bypass the hurdle or wait till the temporary hurdle is removed.
Jumping across the hurdle may be the fastest way to move from point A to point B, however if we lack the skills or if we are not ready to do so, taking such a risk may result in unthinkable consequences.
Bypassing the hurdle may require us to invest a little more efforts as we need to take a longer route to move from Point A to Point B, yet we achieve similar results. Otherwise we can wait till the temporary hurdle is removed and this requires our patience and time.
Obviously the above illustration is only a metaphor, in reality we need to apply common sense to gauge the payoff we get versus the efforts we put in and the risk we are willing to take.
Essentially the application of common sense helps you smoothen the bumpy road and make your ride an enjoyable one. When it is not possible to move from Point A to Point B using the shortest distance, i.e. a straight line, then a curvy line may be the next best option.
A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. ~ Phyllis Diller.
(d) Continuous Improvement
Nothing endures but change. The business environment is ever changing. The customers’ expectation is ever increasing. Products are ever evolving. We cannot be able to use yesterday’s technology to solve today’s problem.
Only those who know how to stop know how to speed. All first time skiers must first learn how to stop. Learning to stop will help them control their speed down the slopes.
Similarly, in life or in sales business, we need time off to compose ourselves. We need to allocate time to observe new challenges confronting us. Then we figure out what new skills or technology to learn to overcome the challenges before we can move ahead in greater speed and greater confidence.
If a person doesn’t see the weaknesses in himself, he will never be able to seize the opportunity to improve himself. If he sees the shortcomings in himself and yet decides not take any action to learn new stuff simply because he is contented with what he has, we feel sorry for him.
When we realize that we have the shortcomings in ourselves and there is a need to overcome them, we have something to look forward in our life. Be grateful of our imperfection because it makes our life more meaningful.
Every challenge or change in business environment spells opportunity for us to be even better and more competent.
(e) Positive Mental Attitude
Positive mental attitude is an inner strength. We need to have a positive mental attitude to combat the loser’s thoughts within ourselves. Sales business brings both joy and frustration. It brings us joy and satisfaction when we hit the sales target. It brings us frustrations, depression and a sense of defeat when we fall short of the target.
Joy and satisfaction is not a problem and thus requires no action. Frustration, rejection, negative feelings, depression, a sense of defeat and hopelessness is a serious problem and requires attention.
Positive mental attitude is a proactive approach to address rejection problems. Let positive mental attitude be at the frontline to be the first defense to prevent all the negative thoughts and feelings from creeping into our mind.
Positive mental attitude is about looking for the right side of a situation and choosing the positive reaction towards a problem. It is also about how to neutralize or banish negative thoughts we have in our mind by engaging positive self-talk.
In summary, if there is any reason why top insurance agents can do exceptionally well in the sales business, then the said 5 common denominators are the key to their success. The 5 common denominators are also responsible to make top insurance agents forward looking, constantly visualizing success and happier people.
By Xoseph Chu