In my opinion, asking for help is the most taboo topic in our industry these days. If our egos weren’t so huge, maybe I wouldn’t have felt the need to share my thoughts on the subject. But anyway, everyone should sit tight and prepare to be knocked down a peg or two—myself included.
We all talk big. Sometimes, we hold ourselves in such high esteem that I’m surprised we’re all still able to breathe the same air down here on the ground.
“If it weren’t for me on the case,” we’ve all said, “it would have never gotten approved.”
I admit that I’ve said things like this from time to time. Like the rest of us, I can get a little righteous, but the point is that I try not to let the feeling stay with me for too long.
I am not the largest producing agent out there, nor am I the smallest, but I truly believe I put together the best-case scenarios whenever possible. I hate spending other people’s money, so I am always sensitive to what I quote. Even if I know the client needs to put out $1,000 per month of premium for their life insurance policy, I still feel for them. Obviously, if we were doing our job correctly, policies would sell themselves. At least that has been my experience in many cases.
So, things being what they are, when exactly is it time to ask for help? How about every single time? Easy answer, right? It probably isn’t what you expected to hear from a seasoned agent. But that’s really the case. I ask for help on almost every single case I do. The more the merrier. In fact, our industry is probably one of the few in which there’s no such thing as “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
Believe me when I say that this inclusive approach will pay off. The only thing holding you back from asking for guidance and assistance is ego. Every agent I ever brought into the business got the lecture about “checking your ego at the door.” But, in the everyday scheme of things, it’s easy to lose sight of that advice. In other words, it’s okay to occasionally flaunt your own achievements and show your stuff. But, for the most part, leave the ego outside.
In the better part of my 20-year career, I can count the cases in which I did NOT ask for help on two hands—one set of five for each decade. The help I ask for could be as minimal as asking one question about a medical condition or ratings to a full blown, “I have no clue what to do with this one, please help me design the entire case” type of situation.
The bottom line is that we all need guidance from time to time. If you really think you are “all that,” then be my guest. Fly solo, and without a safety net, until your heart’s content. But here’s my first question to anyone reading this article;
“What does your 60-month persistency look like?”
I’m not talking about the 36-month measurement, which most carriers use. I’m talking about 60 months. That’s five years folks, and I’m proud to say that my statistics come in at 98 to 99 percent. I’ve been told that the industry average is around 70 to 75 percent. And I bet that is on a good day. Worse still, some agents report that they’re lucky to retain 60 percent in any given year. I work hard for what I have. There is no way I am giving back 35 to 40 percent every year.
I would like to take all the credit for my excellent numbers, but I simply can’t. I still owe a debt of gratitude to select brokers out there as well as some really great carriers and underwriters I know. There are even a few field VPs who know their stuff. Thank you to them as well. Your brutal honesty in keeping me focused is worth more than its weight in gold. So fellow agents, I have adopted 2014 as the “keeping it real” year. Don’t ever think for a second that you know it all. Get real with yourself. You don’t know it all, and that’s not a bad thing. Let’s face facts. A real policy sold translates into real commissions and real trails! Happy selling, and don’t be afraid to admit you need some help.