Every producer at one time or another has dreaded the idea of prospecting and has struggled with figuring out an effective system for building their business. In studies of successful people in our industry, it has become clear that those who reach the Top of the Table have similar characteristics. First of all, they have discipline. They have a plan, and they work their plan. All of them have confidence and have overcome the fear of rejection that nags many producers. Confidence breeds success and success breeds confidence. So where do you start? In my role as President of an IMO, I have had the privilege of working with some of the best and most prolific producers in the industry. In this exclusive article, the Top of the Table producers share some of their ideas and methods for prospecting successfully.
Use Centers of Influence
Working directly with attorneys and CPAs is the most effective way to build your business. Most agents make the mistake of focusing their center of influences on a wealthy prospect, rather than on the professionals who help them make decisions. The goal is to become a part of the decision-making team. Our experts all agree it’s difficult to create relationships with attorneys and CPAs. This is a long-term strategy, but vital to long-term success. At least twice a month, try to take an attorney or CPA to lunch. Always be prepared with an idea to discuss. Always follow-up with a thank you, and continue to nurture the contact whenever a new idea or concept becomes available. Professionals like to work with other professionals.
Become an Expert
Regardless of whether it is long-term care, tax-sheltered annuities, estate planning, or life insurance, you must know your topic cold! Establish yourself by studying your subject, getting the proper credentials and writing articles that have depth. Knowledge is a confidence builder. According to one of our Top of the Table producers, “There is nothing better than standing in front of a room of prospects and knowing there isn’t a question they can ask that you don’t know the answer to.”
Perhaps the most prolific producer I work with is also our most disciplined. He has a system that works, and he works his system. The mental discipline that he develops comes from his competitive nature. Like an athlete, he looks at prospecting like a pro ballplayer views stepping up to the plate. You will get some singles, a few doubles, and an occasional home run. But often times you will make an out, or your client will say no. Stay focused and do not deviate. It does not mean you did not recommend the right thing for that prospect, and there is always another at-bat or prospect just around the corner.
The most cost-effective way to build your business is through the referral process. But, most producers do not ask for referrals. Do not overlook this area. Some of our Top of the Table producers do not have to prospect at all anymore because they get all the business they can handle from referrals. This is a problem we should all have to deal with. To get started, try a simple change in the way you run your meetings. Try using an agenda that outlines all of the topics you will discuss with the prospect. Include an area for “other ideas” in case the prospect wants to add a suggestion. However, the last item should be simply stated: “referrals.” This simple idea will help you to develop the discipline to ask for the referrals, as it is part of your agenda. At the same time, your prospect will see it up front and not be surprised when you ask for the referrals. Remember, you cannot get a referral if you do not ask for one.
Everyone Is a Prospect
The most common characteristic of the Top of the Table producers is that they are proud of their work and love to tell people about what they do. Everyone they meet is a prospect, everyone who asks them what they do can be sure to get a definitive, concise answer. Too many times, new producers fumble around when asked what they do. Again, confidence in your work and passion for your ideas will breed success. The people around you that know and respect you will want to know what you do. Tell them, and watch your business start to grow.
Know Who You’re Dealing With
Customer intimacy is an often-overlooked area that good producers don’t miss. Data taking is an area of weakness we see constantly. Profiling potential clients and existing clients does make the difference between some success and great success. Knowing what a prospect has, what they want, and how to achieve it are important steps for a producer to master if they want to grow their business. The best prospect is someone who is already a client. Do not overlook your existing clientele in the desire to grow your business. Annual reviews in a systematic format can lead to additional sales and another opportunity to ask for referrals.
It’s Impossible to Know Everything
All of our top producers agree: no one person can be an expert on everything. It is important to align yourself with people and resources that can help you be successful. All of them noted that a good Insurance Marketing Organization (IMO) can be vital to helping you create long-term success. Product knowledge, concept information, prospecting systems, software support and good service are vital areas that can be provided by a solid IMO. The best producers will tell you that not all IMOs are the same. Align yourself with a company that has your best interests at heart. Good IMOs have the resources that can make a huge difference in building your business.
In conclusion, the best of our industry have all mastered the techniques of prospecting. It is never a good idea to try and reinvent the wheel. These ideas are all tested and effective. Add a few of them to your practice and you will no longer have to fear that dreaded word again: prospecting.