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SUCCESS Interviews

A Guest Blog by Forrest Wallace Cato

Today, I’m giving my weekly message over to Wally Cato, the acclaimed publicist and writer, who interviewed me, Tom Hopkins, and before his recent passing, Zig Ziglar.  A longer article containing the following excerpts appears in the latest Insurance Pro Shop® newsletter.  While our interviews were primarily focused on helping financial advisors, they should offer value to any professional.

Keep REACHING…
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The Late Zig Ziglar Says…

Cato: What is your key advice for people trying to sell financial products and services on making difficult decisions?

Zig: People often say that sales motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why I recommend bathing often. Money isn’t the most important thing in your life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on your ‘got to have it’ scale. Every choice you make has an end result. Not doing what you should do is a choice. Not investing in yourself can be your choice. But these are bad choices for you. Sometimes you need to face adversity in order to force yourself to make the right choices in becoming successful. ‘Failures’ make the choice to do little or nothing that is significant. They don’t improve their skills. They do nothing more, nothing new, and nothing additional or different.

Cato: What is the main cause of most failure?

Zig: The chief cause is trading what you want most for what you want right now.

Cato: Can a sales agent improve by doing the same things over and over again?

Zig: If you are doing the right things, then yes! If you are doing the wrong things, then no! There is little improvement you can make from doing nothing, or from doing nothing more. You don’t have to be great to start. But you do have to start and continue with the right habits in order to become great.

Cato with Sandy and Zig

Sandy Schussel Says…

Cato: What do clients expect from their financial planner (advisor)?

Sandy: When I make the decision to hire a financial planner, my expectations are different than many planners might think. Sure, I want him or her to be an expert in the field. But given the choice of an expert planner who appears to like and care about me, or one who doesn’t, I’ll take the one who does every time.

A few of your clients might be watching the performance of their investments relative to the market. Most, however, don’t really know—or care—whether you’ve created the best possible plan, are delivering them the best possible performance on their investments, or even if you’ve set them up with the best possible insurance and annuity products. They want to know that they’re important to you. Dale Carnegie referred to this as being impressed, rather than being impressive.

Cato: Does an advisor have to motivate his or her clients?

Sandy: Some clients are already motivated. They want help with retirement. They know they need insurance. Unfortunately, these are the exceptions. The rest need to be motivated to do what’s right for them. A client who thinks he is prepared for retirement or believes he has enough life insurance is not likely to be motivated to do what you know is best for him.

All of your logical reasons why a client needs to have something won’t motivate a client. Nobody will take your recommendation unless he feels that it is something he wants or needs. That gives advisors at least two motivational jobs: First, to be passionate about what you’re recommending (clients will buy your passion long before they buy your solution); and second, to ask the questions that need to be asked so that they can see their need for what you’re recommending.

Cato: How much of an advisor’s work is to inform and educate his or her clients?

Sandy: Everywhere I speak, I hear advisors tell me that their job is educating their prospects and clients. Informing and educating is a part of the job, but it’s just one part. Your first tasks are establishing rapport and thoroughly understanding the client’s situation. After that, you can prepare and present a plan or solution. You should certainly inform and educate your client as to what went into the analysis and choices you’ve made, but what they really want is leadership. Too many advisors give clients a choice based on the information, when what clients really want and need is a clear recommendation based on the information. Invite your clients to learn, but lead them to the right solution.

Cato: In what ways do you recommend that an advisor strive to protect his or her clients?

Sandy: There has been a lot of controversy lately over what kind of advisor has what kind of fiduciary responsibility, and what that means. There’s also a lot of confusion about such concepts as “suitability” and “risk tolerance”. Only when someone’s account has suffered a significant loss does his real risk tolerance surface.

All the Continuing Education in the world won’t do more for you than understanding the answer to a simple question: Does what I am recommending best serve my client? If the client is going to pay a “back end” charge to switch, will she be better off when that cost is considered? Does the small client with a few dollars to invest really need a $5,000 plan?

We need to protect a risk-averse client from market volatility, but we also need to protect him or her from our own need to make money. If what we’re proposing best serves the client, it’s right. If not, it’s wrong. The best way to protect our clients is to ask this question of ourselves, again and again.

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Wally Cato is an internationally renowned speaker and “Legendary Publicist” to the Financial Services Industry, who has made placements on 60 Minutes and 20/20, interviewed five US Presidents in the Oval Office, and co-authored or ghost written a total of seven books appearing on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

(615) 547-4668 - forrestcato@gmail.com - www.CatoMakesYouFamous.com

DOWN with The Elevator Speech…

I was listening to an old interview with Michael Port last week, and I smiled when the subject of “elevator speeches” came up.  “We hate giving them,” he told Louise Crooks of BlogTalkRadio’s Keys to Clarity, “And we hate listening to them.  Why, then,” he continued, “Do we keep making them?”

Despite plenty of sales training to the contrary, I happen to agree with Michael…DOWN with the elevator speech!

Don’t get me wrong: You do need to be crystal clear about three things I sometimes refer to as the Universal Marketing Questions:

(1) Who do you work for? (Who’s your “target market”?)
(2) What do they need? (And why is it important?)
(3) Why should they buy it from you? (What’s your unique experience or impact?)

I also believe you need to be bold and compelling.  That’s why I’ve replaced the “elevator speech” with my notion of the “audio billboard”.

In my seminars, I sometimes ask:
“If you were cruising down the highway at 65 miles per hour and you saw, up on a billboard, what you usually tell people in response to a question about what you do, would you slow down to read it…or would you drive right past it?”

The usual answer is, “I would probably drive right past it,” but that’s obviously the WRONG answer.

What you don’t have to do is blurt out your billboard in some ”cutesy”, one-sentence, automated statement.  Your audience is, after all, not filled with mechanical “prospects”, but with real, human people.  In his radio interview, Michael went on to explain that describing “what you do” should be part of a conversation—or as I like to say, part of a human-to-human conversation.

Here’s a sample of a conversational “audio billboard” exchange:

John: I’ve been talking a lot, Peter.  What do YOU do?

Peter: Well, John, do you know how a lot of people fall behind on their mortgage payments?

John: Of course.

Peter: Exactly…which means that there’s a serious danger they could lose everything they’ve worked for their whole lives.

John: It’s sad, but it’s happening a lot, with the job market the way it’s been.

Peter: Yes!  And that usually means that unless someone can help them work something out with the mortgage company, they have to live in constant worry and stress, right?

John: I’m sure…

Peter: Well, I step in and help them work something out with their mortgage companies so that they can stop worrying and get on with the rest of their lives

The template for this conversation is:

Person: What do you do?
You: Do you know how…? [Mention your target market.]
Which means… Which means… [Mention the importance of the need you fulfill.]
Well, I… [Mention your impact.]

Using a simple but meaningful conversational format like this, you move from the dreaded “elevator speech” to an “audio billboard”—within a short, human-to-human interaction.

Remember to be a person, and you won’t drop down the shaft.  You can keep your conversations bold and clear—not “cutesy” and forgettable—if you just keep REACHING…

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Handling Objections: A Strategy for Referrals!

You worked your way up to asking a client for a referral and, after a bit of squirming, you made the request…only to hear an evasive response:

I can’t think of anyone.
I don’t know anyone.
I never give referrals.
Let’s see how things go for a while.
Everyone I know is already working with someone.
Everyone I know has no money.
Everyone I know is old like me.
I can think of some people, but let me talk with them first.
I never discuss finances with my friends.
Give me some business cards and I’ll pass them around for you.

While a great deal of what I teach in my Mastering Client Referrals program is how to discuss introductions in a way that trumps these evasive responses (such as asking to talk with specific people instead of the buckshot “who do you know?…”), objections will come, no matter what.

But we can also break down what’s really happening when we get these “ANRs” (Automatic Negative Responses).  The “I can’t think of anyone” objection just needs some direction from you.  Over the years, I’ve found that most of the others are smokescreens for the four real reasons clients raise them:

1.  They’re not sure how you’ll deal with people to whom they might refer you.  Will you stalk or badger them?  Will you try to pressure them into buying from you?

2.  They don’t yet fully trust you.  The old adage that clients need to know, like, and trust you has truth to it!  This trust comes when clients feel you’re fully serving their interests and that you care about them.

3.  They’re not sure how their friends, family members, or associates will respond to being referred.  Even if they trust you to be the kindest and gentlest of professionals, they worry whether the people in their lives will resent being referred.

4.  They’ve had a bad experience with referrals in the past.  There’s always a perceived risk that an unsuccessful referral can damage a friendship.  If there’s already a story in which that was the case, the client will be even more uncomfortable with making new introductions.

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It is important not to try to have a pithy reply for any of these responses.  Instead, you want to find out more about the underlying objection, in the following sequence:

1.  Ask permission to explore.  “I’m sorry if my bringing this up has made you uncomfortable.  Do you mind if I ask you why?”

If the response is “I just don’t know you well enough” (which might have been expressed at first as “Let’s see how things go for awhile”), you can say something like this:

“I would love to build the kind of relationship with you where you would want me to help your friends and family members.  What do I have to do to make that happen?”

2.  Explore.  If the response is that your client has had a bad experience, ask her to tell you about it.

If it is concern about how you’ll deal with her friends, or how they’ll react to you, move directly to the next step.

3.  Reframe.  Point out the positive experience this client has already had with you.  Then ask, “Would it help if I explained to you how I would approach and work with a friend or family member?”

Explain your process, highlighting the help you’d provide and the lack of any kind of “sales” pressure.

4.  Move ahead, or leave the door open.  Ask if the explanation has helped.  Depending on the response, either go back to asking about people who might need your help, or simply ask permission to talk about introductions again in a few months.

The important thing to remember is not to fight objections, but to ask about them instead.  For better results, just keep REACHING…

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SERVE, and Grow Rich

My friend and colleague, coach and author Steve Chandler, recently wrote this:

“Most people try to move toward wealth in embarrassing, clumsy ways.  They have cynicism programmed into them from an early age.  So they want a course called Manipulate and Grow Rich, or Network and Grow Rich or Win People Over and Grow Rich.”

“They see companies like Apple, Amazon, Nordstrom, Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines, and Google, and they think ‘I need a big, clever idea like that!’ or ‘I need diabolically opportunistic branding and positioning!’  When that doesn’t work, then they think it’s time to suck up to powerful people…polish some apples and lick some boots!  Why?  Because it’s Who You Know that makes you rich!”

Yet all the while, there is a spirit that runs through all radical wealth creation…and we’ll keep it simple by calling it service.  All the individuals and companies I have worked with in the past 30 years revealed to me this underlying truth: wealth comes from profound service.”

If you’re working on your Business Plan for 2014, make sure it includes serving your clients profoundly.  If it does, this will be a great year for you.

To get specific, here are a few of Steve’s (and my) tips:

1.  Stop Pleasing and Start ServingAs children, we are conditioned to please.  “Were you a good girl, today?” Daddy asked, and what he meant was: Were you sweet, passive, obedient and not too vocal about your opinions?  Never did we hear him ask: “Were you bold and powerful?”  Or, “Were you courageous?”

Adults were the people with the money and power.  If we pleased them, we’d get that ice cream or that allowance.  As a result, too many of us learned to default to pleasing.  We want our clients to think we’ve been a good little boy or girl, so if we think there will be resistance to what we believe serves them best, we choose what will please them instead of what we believe they should do or have.

If we served instead pleasing, we would astonish our clients, instead of simply being “a nice guy”.  We would be making a real difference in another person’s life.

2.  Create Agreements, Not Expectations.  We become anxious because a client or prospect hasn’t done what we think they “should have” done.  Expectations belong in the recycle bin, along with ideas like a “no” answer being a rejection.  To fully serve and grow rich, you don’t need those anymore.  In fact, they will slow you down and give you a life of disappointment—even causing nagging and persistent feelings of betrayal.

If you want a client to do something, create an agreement.  Agreements serve because they are creative collaborations that honor both people.  They are like a co-written song.  Expectations, on the other hand, live and grow in us like cancer.  Nothing good can come from them.

3.  Don’t tell a client she’s wrong.  Proving that your client’s or prospect’s view or understanding about the world is wrong—no matter how ridiculous her opinion might be—is not serving.

Listen for the value in what she is saying before you respond.  Recognize the merit, and acknowledge that you see it.  Agree with the “objection” rather than trying to overcome it with a humiliating argument.  Instead, agree with her, and find a way to “reframe” how she’s seeing it.

“I understand that you don’t believe in life insurance, and if I saw it the way you’ve explained you do, I wouldn’t believe in it either.  What I do believe in is making sure my family has money at the most critical time that I won’t be able to help.  If we didn’t call it ‘life insurance’, wouldn’t that be something you’d want your family to have?”

Make 2014 the year of profound service, and it’s bound to be your best.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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Don’t Forget the Most Important Person

If you’re like most people, you found yourself juggling all of the things you had to do this past month, including social obligations and gifts galore, and you may have left someone very important off of your list by mistake…YOU!  If you could have anything in 2014, what would it be?  And why don’t you have it yet?

When we don’t have what we want, we tell ourselves stories about why we don’t.  These stories usually involve our circumstances: Not enough time, not enough money, not enough education, the wrong kind of education, etc.  Or, they involve the people in our lives: Friends who don’t understand us, spouses who are overbearing, children who are demanding, sick parents, etc., etc., etc.

I often upset my workshop attendees and clients by calling the people or circumstances we blame for holding us back exactly what they are—excuses.  Not having money, time, or training may make getting what you want more difficult, but people whose circumstances are far worse than yours have overcome these obstacles by the sheer force of their commitment.

Make Time

A simple “resolution” you can keep this month is to commit to giving yourself an hour’s worth of time to figure out what you want and what’s keeping you from having it.  During that time, ask yourself these Five Questions as part of a “SWOT” Analysis:

1. If you and I were to meet three years from now, what is the absolute minimum that will have to have happened in order to allow you to say your life is terrific?

2. What strengths do you already have that you could leverage to get you there?

3. What weaknesses will you have to acknowledge?

4. What opportunities can you take advantage of that will help you along the way?

5. What are the hardships and obstacles you’ll need to overcome to get to that point?

If you do this analysis before the end of the month, you can make plans you will keep for the New Year.  Make time for yourself, and you’ll be able to maintain your holiday spirit all year round, even as you work hard to keep REACHING…

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CONCEIVE It, BELIEVE It, ACHIEVE It!

A few years ago, I was asked to give the keynote address at the Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration of Princeton Toastmasters.  I decided to speak about Napoleon Hill’s discovery in the 1930s that the wealthiest and most successful people of his time were all following the same Simple Success Formula:

If you conceive an idea for something that doesn’t exist in the world today—an invention, personal wealth, fame, the success of your business, or anything else—and you believe it is possible, and pursue it with passion, it will become a reality.

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe,” Hill wrote in Think and Grow Rich, “The mind can achieve.”

Or, stated simply: “Conceive It…Believe It…Achieve It!”

Thomas Edison conceived that electricity could be a safe, economical source of power for lighting homes and stores, towns and cities.

Andrew Carnegie, the original “Slumdog Millionaire”, conceived as a boy that even a starving orphan could rise through the restrictive societal structure of his time to become wealthy and influential.

Both of these men conceived it, believed it, and achieved it.

In 1993, an unhappy lawyer who had spent a year battling cancer and complications from treatment that left him disabled and bankrupt conceived of an idea for a career—as a speaker, coach, and author—that was nothing like the one he thought he was chained to for life.  He dreamt of helping other professionals who were struggling—or completely burnt out, as he had been—find their true calling and success.

But for years he didn’t believe what he had conceived, so nothing happened.  A full five years later, in 1998, it was having joined Toastmasters, and having built confidence as a motivational speaker, that helped him believe in the reality of his dream career.  The belief became so powerful that soon, nothing could stop him.

Now, over 15 years later, I visit firms and organizations throughout the country doing what I love.  I coach individuals who are going through equally challenging life and career transitions as I once experienced.  And I’ve written two books and countless articles, sharing the lessons that I’ve learned with an audience wider than I could have imagined.

The main one is this: You can have anything you want…You can be anything you want…You can do anything you want.  If you conceive it and believe it, you’ll achieve it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help to find the right track and to keep yourself on it.  Until you conceive of doing that, or until you believe you can, keep REACHING…

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A TALE OF TWO ADVISORS

A favorite hypothetical of mine:

Let’s imagine two professionals in the same field.  We’ll call them Advisor A and Advisor B.

We’ll give them the same educational background, the same training, the same resources and connections, and even similar personalities and work ethic.

But when we put them out in the field, I can promise you that one—let’s say, Advisor A—will do better than the other—our unfortunate Advisor B.

If we made them practically identical in every aspect, the only factor that could account for the difference in their performances is that Advisor A would be taking more of the kind of action he needs to take than Advisor B is taking.

But if their work ethic were the same, how could their actions be any different?

The simplest explanation is that for each, the way his world is occurring to him will be different: the way he views his work, the way he views the people he interacts with, and, of course, the way he views himself.

Advisor A might see his work as being important to the people he works with—something they need in their lives.

He might see the world as a safe and friendly place where what he has to offer is welcome.

He might see clients and prospective clients as open and interested in doing what they need to do for their families.  And he might see the people he works with as good people, who are there to support him.

Advisor B—the less successful advisor—might have a different view of his world:

 Dangerous

Maybe it’s a difficult, unfriendly place, where you have to struggle to succeed.

Maybe he sees himself as a “salesperson”, who “bothers” people.

Perhaps he sees clients and prospects as closed and deceitful, and he sees the people he works with as being there to make his life difficult.

When Advisor B feels he is not succeeding, he tries to imitate what Advisor A is doing, or he enrolls in yet another course to learn another way to do what he already knows how to do.  He experiments with the latest and most advanced strategies and language nuances, and finds that none of it works for him.

Of course it doesn’t.  All of his effort is like trying to take the apples off of someone else’s tree and tape them to his own, withering tree stump.  It’s not the same, and it won’t yield any new, ripe fruit.

If you identify with Advisor B in this hypothetical, you should understand that it is a mistake to try to solve your work performance problems with more information.  You already know enough to succeed.  What you need is a transformation—an alteration in how your world is occurring for you.  Your “inner game” needs fixing, not your “outer game”.

Strategies and language nuances may help a little, but until you view the world as a place where taking action is easy and fun, you will continue to struggle.

If you’re not taking enough action because you are uncomfortable or overwhelmed, don’t spend your time, energy, and money on another course to learn new ways of doing the same thing.  Instead, get to work on your view of your world.

How different would your practice be if you believed that finding new prospects is easy?  That people are grateful for the help you offer?  That it’s OK to tell them what you believe, even if it might upset them?  That you bring value to everyone you speak with?

Change your inner game and you automatically change your results—but only always.

I always believe in game-changers, so contact me if you’re in need of one.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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I had been limping around for three weeks with a pain across the top of my left foot that didn’t seem to be getting any better.  I made it through five straight days on my feet for two workshops and an active vacation, but the pain did not subside.  So, I finally decided to visit a local orthopedist.

It was good for me to go through this experience, because as often happens, it reminded me of why I do the work I do.

I called the doctor’s office and an unhappy-sounding scheduling assistant treated me as if I was a huge interruption to his day.  He was abrupt, unsympathetic, and annoyed when it took me a couple of seconds to give him precisely the information he demanded.  He advised me that the doctor I wanted wouldn’t be available in this century, and offered me some alternatives.  And he became noticeably agitated when I wasn’t satisfied with the first available appointment.  After all, who did I think I was?  HE worked for a DOCTOR and was VERY busy.  I was just one more bother in his bothersome day.

The Gatekeeper

Actor Frank Morgan as “The Gatekeeper” in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

When I arrived at the office, the staff was annoyed that I didn’t notice the big hand-written sign at the window on the right that says “Sign In Here”, and that I thought it was okay to approach the busy person sitting behind the desk on the left instead.  When I got back to the person on the right, she handled our entire transaction—from the clipboard to the insurance card and picture ID—without ever looking up to see my face.

Believe it or not, your staff may be treating people like this—and no matter how good you are at what you do, or how kind and considerate you might be, your clients are thinking, “I’m not coming here again.”

Maybe, as it was in the case of this doctor, there are so many people waiting to see you that you can afford not to know how your staff is behaving.  But if you’re like most professionals, it matters to you that clients who have experienced something like this aren’t staying with you, and that they will tell others to stay away, as well.

If you want to grow your practice or business, you need to be certain that you’ve spelled out for your staff how to handle the phones and how to greet people, and you need to be sure that they’re following your system.  This means listening in on a prospective client or patient call, and having someone report to you about how they are treated while they’re waiting for you.  Don’t assume because you’re being treated well by your assistant that he or she is treating your clients in the same way.

It also means spelling out the basics for your team with a formalized procedure that includes, at least, all of the following points:

1. Identify the office and yourself.  Everyone who answers a phone should use his or her name.

2. Be pleasant.  No matter how frenetic your office might be, every caller deserves to feel that he or she is not an interruption in someone’s busy day.

3. Offer to help.  The identification should be followed by “How may I help you?” or “How may I direct your call?” or—well—anything that’s genuinely helpful.

4. Don’t rush the caller.  No matter how busy you are, clients want to ease their stress, not to confront yours.

5. Own the call.  Until the caller is connected elsewhere, the person answering the phone is responsible for the caller’s experience.

These are just some of the basic rules.

Nearly an hour later, when I finally got to see the orthopedist, I found him to be extremely competent, and a genuinely nice human being.  He advised me that I had fractured a bone, but I wasn’t willing to face his staff for the follow-up appointment.  I ended up taking my foot elsewhere.

Referrals come from clients who tell stories about the “magical” service they are receiving.  If you’re not certain that you and your staff are making magic in your practice—right out of the gate—you can always contact me.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

The GREAT Little Marketing Secret: Send a Note Card.

Thank clients for their business.  Thank them for referrals.  Remind them about their appointments.  And do each of these…with a handwritten note.  Find an excuse to send a note card to people you meet, people who provide services to you, and people who you serve.

We have all become so accustomed to communicating by email, text, and other electronic and social-media means that the lowly note card—handwritten, hand-addressed, hand-stamped, and delivered by “snail mail”—has actually become an item of immediate interest and delight when someone is shuffling through her junk mail or bills.

While there is a cost-factor, and a small amount of labor in selecting stationery, buying stamps, writing, and posting the card—not to mention tossing an occasional mistake into the trash—the potential rewards are great.

One of my clients—Peter, a financial advisor—was telling me a story about how he thought his light gray suit was ruined when someone spilled red wine in his lap at a networking event.  He was amazed that the Dry Cleaner was able to get the stain out entirely, leaving the suit as good as new.

“Send him a note, thanking him for getting the wine out,” I told him.

Peter protested that a handwritten note was overkill.  He had thanked the owner personally when he picked up the suit.

I explained to him that the owner probably received dozens of complaint letters each year—people sending letters to complain about damaged shirts and demanding reimbursement.  The seemingly outdated “Thank You” note, I told him, would surprise and flatter the owner and, in the long-term, help Peter’s business.  Peter was skeptical, but he sent the Thank You note, with one of his business cards enclosed.

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A week later, Peter called me, unable to hide the excitement in his voice.

“When I walked in with my shirts yesterday,” he started, “My note and the business card I enclosed were taped up on the wall near the counter.  The owner thanked me for my note and asked me about my business—something he’d never done in the three years I’ve been bringing my clothes to him.”

“But wait!” he exclaimed, “It gets better.  I told him what I did, using the audio billboard you helped me to develop, and he asked me if I’d be willing to talk with him about his situation.  And all because I sent him that note!”

Peter eventually started working with the Dry Cleaner, who turned out to have other businesses, and a significant amount of assets.

“It won’t always work like that,” I warned him during one of our later sessions, “But it will open doors for you if you keep doing it.”

Make it a point to write three note cards a week—to anyone you can think of, and for any reason.  Enclose a business card, and don’t be afraid to follow up when the opportunity arises by asking if your note was received.

You don’t need a note card to contact me for help.  However you go about it, reach out, and keep REACHING…

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P.S.  Peter sent me a handwritten note to thank me for helping him land this new client.  I was thrilled to receive it, and would be just as thrilled to refer him to anyone who needed his brand of help.

Mehdi Fakharzadeh is one of the most successful insurance sales agents in history.  At 92, he is still taking on and servicing clients.

Mehdi achieved his success despite starting out with a severely limited grasp of the English language and American customs.  Now, at the top of his industry, he is famous throughout the world—with a following in over forty countries.  A Chinese admirer changed his own first name to Mehdi, and at least one other inspired insurance agent gave that name to his son.

Individual Coaching

At an Insurance Pro Shop seminar a few years ago, I had the honor of being asked to speak alongside Mehdi and the renowned publicist Wally Cato.  Here are some of the Lessons I learned from Master Mehdi that day:

1. Doing the right thing for your clients results in more business and referrals.  Mehdi does not attribute his success to any skill of his own—he believes it is his karmic reward for giving what he can to everyone he comes into contact with.  His belief in this regard, and how it humbles him, shines through him as he speaks.

2. Love what you doMehdi told his audience that selling insurance is his hobby.  He is up at 4 a.m. eager to start his day and doesn’t stop until his wife calls him to tell him to come home for dinner.

3. Be prepared to give them what they ask for, but always show them what you believe they should have.  Mehdi talked about how he increases the size of his sales, and helps clients at the same time, by presenting insurance policies at signing time for amounts greater than what he had previously discussed with them.

“They always try to buy less than they should,” he told his audience. “I present to them what they really should have, and often, they agree when they see it.”

4. Make them clients first.  What do you do when a client doesn’t want what you believe is right for him?” a workshop attendee asked.  “I give him what he does want, of course,” was Mehdi’s reply.  But he continued:

“I wait two or three years [until we have a good relationship and my client trusts me],” he explained, “And then I show him a chart that has on the left side what he bought, and on the right side, what I believed was right for him.  I ask him which plan looks better now…and he always points to the one on the right.”

None of this can happen, Mehdi told his audience, unless the person in question becomes a client first.

5. Never give up!  A consistent theme in everything Mehdi spoke about was his persistence“Whenever there is a problem,” he told his audience, “I sit down and create a solution.  There’s always a solution.”

6. Talk “Nonsense”.  That’s what Mehdi calls his delightful way of engaging people in conversation.

“If I’m going up in an elevator and I push ’4′, and the other man pushes ’8′, I say, ‘You must be twice as good as me’.  When he asks me why I say that, I tell him that 8 is twice as good as 4.”

Mehdi reminded his audience that day that it makes people feel good when you’re having fun.  As further proof that Mehdi walks his talk, he invited me to spend an afternoon with him at his office to pick his brain, and bought us lunch at his favorite Chinese restaurant—asking nothing in return.

Give first, talk small, and think big—and contact me for help with doing the right thing.  Love what you do, and keep REACHING…

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