I ran across this article in LifeHealthPro and thought it hit the nail right on the head.5 Elements Top Producers PossessIn the article it says, "A recent study examined the performance, personality, skills, and attributes of 79,747 salespeople from 4,317 organizations and found five elements that all top salespeople had in common. What I have done is taken the elements they identified and then interpreted how they each relate to top annuity producers."
Jack Marrion, President of Advantage Compendium, then goes on to make his comments about this study and how they apply to annuity salespeople. I personally think Jack is a genius and I hate to even consider adding value to his comments but I thought it might be helpful for the partners I work with to give some feedback based on my experience working with multi-million dollar annuity agents.
Jack Marrion says, "Knowing who is a receptive prospect was the most important factor in being a top producer. Top producers identified the prospects that were most likely to buy and ignored the rest. They didn't waste time making presentations to prospects that don't have the authority to buy."
This is so true! I can't tell you how many times I see agents milking the same dried up cow. You can't make grape juice out of raisins. It's simple, get more annuity leads and you won't be desperate. A good annuity marketing strategy allows you to chose your clients, not chase them.
Jack Marrion also says, "Top producers are perceived by prospects as knowledge-brokers in that they possess information that is unavailable to others-----due to connections, background, expertise--and they will use this information to benefit the prospect."
Study, study, study! Chad and I spend a minimum of 5-8 hours per week reading and studying annuity product and financial information. Google everything you don't know about but should, bookmark your resources, and read, read, read.
According to Jack, "Top producers match the selling strategy to the needs of the prospect. They rank high on emotional intelligence. When top producers feel a fact-based presentation isn't connecting with a prospect they will change to a story-based."
This is all about on-the-job training. If I had a dollar for every time an agent asked me for a copy of our presentation like we had it on a flip chart. Good salespeople are students of failure. Why didn't this work? Why didn't I connect with that client? Why didn't they understand? Success is the return-on-investment for failure. If you are reading this I probably don't have to tell you that there is no opportunity to capitalize off of failure more than in the sales business. Those who succeed are those who mitigate the chance of repeating their mistakes. Be observant of what you do right and what you do wrong when you are selling. Write down the good, bad, and ugly. Repeat the good and remember the bad so you don't repeat it. There is no flip-chart for success in annuity sales.
Jack says that, "The sales process is one of ongoing uncertainty and top producers face just as much uncertainty as everyone else. The difference is top producers have developed coping mechanisms that permit them to function is spite of the uncertainty."
This is one that I personally struggle with, just ask Chad. I am a total control and planning freak. The reality is that nothing ever works just like you want it to. You will never have your expectation met and every time something is going perfect all you have to do is wait a few minutes for it to change for the worse. If you are like me, I have two suggestions. First, get over it! Except that your expectations will not be met and be happy if they are. Salespeople are the worst on this issue; they cry for justice and fairness like children at times. The best you can hope for is to work with people that have integrity and always make every effort to fix any problems that develop. If there was one word to describe this business it would be "change". Second, go to Amazon and buy the book, "Who Moved My Cheese". Sometimes I am just flat out amazed at the temper tantrums some agent have over what turns out to be a vary small issue. Don't be one of those agents! Learn to go with the flow and make adjustments without getting emotional about it. Things that seem bad don't always turn out to be bad and at the very least they are not usually as bad as they seem. Focus on the solution, not the problem.
Jack Marrion points out that , "Top producers have above average IQs. This does not mean that one needs to be Albert Einstein to be a $10-million annuity producer, but it does mean there are no dummies in the top ranks."
Not everyone can be a genius (I know I never will) but everyone has the choice to be smart (see the second part of #1). Also, don't just be smart, be wise! Smart is the acquisition of knowledge; wisdom is knowing what to do with the knowledge.
Jack concludes by saying, "Top producers are self-motivated and proactive. Because of their drive, top producers tend to be leaders in other areas of their lives as well."
I will put our calendars up against anybody's. If you are proud to show me your calendar then there is a pretty good chance you will become a top producer. Also, Chad and I both have leadership roles in our business, but also in other organizaions like our churches. Find a leadership position in some other facet of your life. It will help prune your character and build your confidence.
Source: "Drivers of sales performance: a contemporary meta-analysis. Have salespeople become knowledge brokers?" Verbeke, Dietz & Verwaal. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 39: 407-428; 2011.