TALE OF TWO INSURANCE CAREERS

Two agents, same path, different results, what made the difference?

Once upon a time on a sunny summer morning, two young men started new careers as insurance agents in small agencies.  These two agents were both driven, smart and ready to attack their new career with excitement and vigor.  They had both graduated with the same degree, with honors, from the same university.  Both were filled with dreams of a lifestyle where they could support their families comfortably and make it to every kid’s sports game, recital and performance. They knew they would make a huge positive impact on their families, agencies & communities.

Recently, these men ran into one another at the same Big “I” conference 6 years after that summer morning.  They both were still very much alike, both were happily married, had beautiful young children, and had protected some of the biggest and best companies in their communities.

But there was one difference…

One of these young men was working 70 hour weeks, going back to his office nearly every night after the kids were in bed just to fight to keep his clients from moving to a competitor, sick of spinning his wheels.  The other had a larger book of business that organically grew more and more profitable while spending most of his time helping people in his community & enjoying time with his family and friends.

If you’re like me, when you hear a story like that you wonder, what made the difference between those two men?  Evidence proves that one didn’t have superior knowledge, talent or perseverance.  It isn’t that one person has the excitement and vigor for this career and the other does not.

In fact, they can’t be different because both of these young men are me, only 6 years removed.

I can tell you from direct and unmistakable experience of building two totally different books of business.  The difference between the first “me” that felt stuck and the second “me” that is free, is one simple thing.   This ONE THING is easy to say but hard to actually do.

Understanding this ONE THING has made all the difference. I’ve personally tested two sales philosophies. I built two different books of business, one through cold calls, price comparisons and competition, and the other through referrals, problem solving and consultation.  Now I know that understanding this ONE THING is what changed my trajectory towards real long-term success and freed me from the agent vs agent civil war.

I have built a system around this ONE THING that allows others to mimic the “free me”. I know this may sound pretentious, and I share this not to toot my own horn.  I share this because I have a vision of a day when only specialist, consultative agents thrive, and the bad habits of price quoting, apples for apples comparisons and all the other bad industry habits are a thing of the past.

With this vision in mind, Agents of TrACTION has been formed.  An ELITE day to day training and support system for independent insurance agents that feel isolated, unsupported or stuck spinning their wheels.

Come see our story at www.agentoftraction.com.

We’ve only just begun adding huge value to our agents.

We look forward to helping anyone that catches this vision and wants more out of their career then perpetual economic war.  All you need to do is…

Take ACTION & Become ELITE

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IS PRICE SELLING DESTROYING OUR INDUSTRY?

Anytime I hear the words “can you ‘quote’ me the cheapest thing possible?”… My arm-hairs raise and I have to hold back my scowl.  

Time to go gecko hunting.

I can’t help but wonder how destructive price driven advertising really is to our seemingly complicated and intangible industry.  

So, I’ve done what any sane insurance agent would do. I have villainized this concept.  

I call this monster… PRIC (pronounced: prik).  

We’ve never had visual contact of it because it never leaves it’s secret high tech “caveman” lair, but its influences are seen every day all over the country.  It spreads its destructive message that price is the only thing that matters through manipulative propaganda in every media outlet.  Once this destructive message is implanted in its victims, its telepathic powers take over, leaving its victims so narrowly focused that they become defenseless when attacked by other villains or even when simple accidents happen.  

It’s influences, sadly, are widely ingrained at all levels of insurance companies, agencies, agents and customers.

Until we find its lair and can destroy it directly, we are left fighting off its influence with the victims one by one.  Our reconnaissance of its activities has given us good intel on how to help its victims and prevent others from falling under its trance.  Though its technology is powerful, we have found that it is lazy and undetermined.  

Direct contact and proper education will break down its influence over time and prevent others from being phsyco-manipulated by its powers.

As we educate our clients and solve true coverage problems, instead of “quoting apples for apples,” we will see these victims come out of their price-driven trance.  It is our duty as Agents of TrACTION to strengthen and fortify the minds of those we love.  Let’s make sure they are strong enough to ward off the evil influences of Pric and its message of laziness and destruction.

Take ACTION & Become ELITE

ARE OTHER AGENTS FRIEND OR FOE?

I cringe when I hear from insurance agents the phrase,

“it’s not a dog eat dog world… it’s an eat your children world.”

That’s not a world I want to live in. I love my kids.

Please don’t subscribe to that thought, It will drown you in a never ending bloody battle. There is a better way.

I know because I’ve been there. I started my career seeing every other insurance agent as competition. It got so bad I even made up a super-villain of one in particular. His name was “Shm-ooze”.

Shm-ooze was that salesman that wore a perfectly tailored suit and slicked back gelled hair that looks like it would snap off in 20 degree weather. I imagined that the Bluetooth headset, that never left his ear, was actually a wearable ooze containment device keeping his green ooze body inside his suit. One button on the Bluetooth released the suit and allowed him to slip his way past any door and get his face in front of any target. He would fill them with slimy empty promises that he never could fill because he didn’t have the products or systems to do so.

It would kill me knowing that my clients would leave for all the promises, only to come back the next year, frustrated, disillusioned and hardened, saying frankly, he wasted their time and mine.

After years of fighting shm-ooze I tried a different strategy.  

I created a solid relationship with him.

I invited him to family parties, took him to lunch and showed him I could help him create value for him and his clients.  He eventually turned to the good side and we have partnered up in some instances, allowing him to be a rainmaker and me to take care of our clients the way they deserve.
 
As Agents of TrACTION, we find ways to have personal relationships with our “competition” outside of a business setting.  I’m always surprised how much substance other agents have that allows us both to grow and succeed together.  Will it work every time, probably not, but that is the fight I’m more excited to get behind then the old agent vs agent Civil War.

Take ACTION & Become ELITE

DON’T GET _________

This simple phrase has made me more money in insurance than any other phrase I use.

My wife accuses me of being a little simple minded sometimes, and I respond, yep, I know, isn’t it nice.  
With that in mind, I have used one phrase in my insurance career that seems to solve every client’s problems.  This phrase, when used properly, is a magic bullet.  I’ll give you this phrase and show you how to use it.Grab your pen and paper and write this down because it will change your career forever.The Phrase is….

Drumroll please………..

Don’t get In an accident  (could also be replaced with)
                 Sued
                 Hurt
                 Hacked
                 Etc.

Nuf said, problems solved, issue resolved, insurance sold!!!!

I wish you could see the sheepish smile on my face as I write this.

But in all seriousness, it works.  Here’s how.

When a client asks, should I get comp and collision coverage on my truck?

Reply:  Just don’t get in an accident. (make sure you say it with a smile)

When they give you the spiel that insurance is just a necessary evil so get me the cheapest price possible.

Answer: Just don’t get sued, then you don’t need it.

Obviously you must pick your targets with this magic bullet but, when you use it properly, just watch, one of two things will happen.

They’ll lighten up and listen to what you say,

or 

They’ll storm out of your office and find someone else they can whine to.

Either way, it’s a win for you. 

Leave comments with some other magic bullet phrases.  I’d love to hear yours.

Take ACTION & Become ELITE

AGENCY OWNERS ARE OUR FRIENDS, EGO IS THE ENEMY

Captain EGO: A superhero parable-

We found a well respected individual in our organization that has developed superhuman invincibility.

Captain Ego is one of our fearless leaders.  He is due very high respect and appreciation for what he has done in the 40 years of tough guy insurance work.  Over this time he has developed skin so thick that nothing can penetrate it.  His superhuman power allows him to be invincible to attacks from outside forces.  But this power also comes with a dark side.


Our environment is changing so quickly with information, technology and new threats.  Captain Ego’s superpowers of becoming impervious to outside threats also makes him unable to comprehend and process this new environment in a way that will drive success for those around him.  

The threat of trusting others is one of the most difficult ideas to get through to Captain Ego.  He still feels that his way is the best way, and is unwilling to allow other agents to run with their talents, especially if they are different than his own.  Unfortunately, this is slowly hurting him from the inside.  It is sad to see a leader and trusted adviser deal with the negative implications of this power.  Even though he has great talent around him, he continues to work harder and harder.  He fights the requests to slow down by his family, his co-workers, and his own better judgement, while those talented agents around him get more and more frustrated, knowing they are not allowed to live up to their potential.

Respect is a valuable ally with this tough Superhero friend.  Here is how we help Captain Ego cope with this debilitating disease.

1- Offer respectful solutions to problems (don’t try shoving the medicine down his throat)

2- Ask for trial periods to implement the solution

3-Take initiative, with respect, and show that your ideas can create value.  He will soon adopt those ideas as his own and allow them to continue.  

Over time, you will see a lasting impact that can benefit Captain Ego and all others around you.  The ideals of patience and persistence are part of his skin and will eventually allow your idea’s to get through to him.

Take ACTION & Become ELITE

HELP CURE THE “JACK OF ALL TRADES DISEASE”

What makes insurance people think we can understand the vast world of legal and financial documents we call the insurance industry?  Unfortunately too many agents have the Jack of All Trades, master of none syndrome.  Let’s put a name to this unfortunate disease.  We’ll call them the Jackov Family. They have been valued members of our society for many generations. Their alien genetic mutation allows them to be changlings. The Jackov’s are able to switch from insurance agent to realtor to tax accountant to banker to investment adviser to music store clerk. You know, anything to try to make money.  In the last generation their genetic mutation has taken a turn for the worst.
Sadly, this family has been slowly dying off. Every time they change into another professional, their arteries stretch thinner and thinner until it tears, creating tiny drops of interior bleeding that will eventually kill them.  Being spread too thin has become an epidemic that has actually spread into agents outside of their family as well.  It is a scary disease that we must treat as quickly as possible.

Our technical team has been working tirelessly to create a cure.  We have developed a device called the focus ray.  This gun is non-fatal but it kills off the other profession options that are actually slowly killing them, thus allowing their true profession to thrive.  This focus ray has been slowly helping.  

Now, As Agents of TrACTION, we have a responsibility to build relationships with members of this family and help them make up for their lost abilities.  

With our help, they won’t need to squeeze every penny out of each of their clients.  

Their new found focus is slowly helping them realize the power of referral teams to handle their client’s needs.  They are slowly starting to heal from the internal wounds these changes have been causing.  It is a long road to recovery but this focus and teamwork within and without their family can bring them from the brink of extinction and allow them to truly develop into powerful allies in our fight for a better world.  

Take ACTION & Become ELITE


PERCEPTION OR REALITY, WHAT’S MORE IMPACTFUL?

Do you know that agent that thinks image is everything and sells that way too.  You know the one that can sell anything to anybody, weather it’s actually the right product or not.

I used to get frustrated with them.

Now I just feel sorry for him.

He still hasn’t realized that it is long term relationships and trust that builds an insurance practice.  I have dubbed this bad sales habit with the villain name “DoubleMouth.”

He is the equivalent to Two-face in the Batman series, or for the younger readers, good cop/bad cop in the lego movie.  He is brilliant at drawing people in with his good side, offering an aromatic array of promises.  This aroma leaves his victims in a trance that renders them unable to say no to him, even if the promises seem too good to be true.

Obviously, broken promises inevitably follow, but as soon as he senses that his victims are breaking from his trance, another side of his mouth opens and he sprays a venomous poison of deceit that leaves his victims skeptical of the entire industry.  This is how he has been able to con many clients, companies and community leaders to follow him and leave the non-followers skeptical and angry at any agent that might try to help them in the future.

This dangerous villain must be stopped before he continues to poison the general public’s opinion of our industry.  As Agents of TrACTION, we must commit to the philosophy of under-sell & over-deliver.  When someone gets more from us than they expected, the poison is slowly washed out of their eyes and they are able to overcome this villain.

Cleansing takes patience, but will build a much stronger group of clientele that are willing to trust you and the industry again.  Simply put:

BEING TRUSTWORTHY is the only way for our industry to regain TRUST…….how profound!!!!!!

Every agent must do their part, we need all the help we can get.

Take ACTION & Become ELITE

INVISIBULL, THE MUSCLE

Every Supervillain needs some “muscle” to do the dirty work.  Invisibull is just that.  Large, intimidating and pushy, Invisibull uses time-share presentation type tactics of manipulation and force to get his victims to submit to his will.  He will push and push until they lose the will to say no.  Once in his prison, the insurance program he puts in place is confusing and complicated, leaving his victims either thinking there is no other option for them, or not willing to do all the work to try to quote out all the different companies, effective dates and policy types.  Once he is in this power position with his victims he then disappears until they feel brave enough to try to get away.  Little do they know, he is lurking in the corner, invisible, watching every move they make, ready to charge back in and subdue them once more.  Blocking markets without really giving them a chance is one of his strongest weapons.  Every attempt to escape just leaves his prisoners feeling more and more powerless.

Whenever we encounter Invisibull, we have to resist the temptation to fight him using his same tactics.  This will just leave you in a bloody battle where no one really wins.  The key to beating him is to outsmart him by turning his tactics against him.  Help his victims understand the frustrations of not knowing what their policy really is.  Simplify their program and educate them on what a good insurance program should look like.  This sometimes takes time and patience until they are strong enough to break free of his chains, but once we realize that our clients must have the power to beat him themselves, only then do we successfully unlock their ability to weaken his grasp.

Einstein once said “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”

Keep that in mind and you can outsmart this tough and powerful villain.

INSURANCE ISN’T “BORING”, “CONFUSING” OR “UNETHICAL”?… IS IT???

Looking back 12 years ago, senior year of college, newly married and my first kid on the way, welp, it’s time to grow up and find a career, I told myself.  No way I was following my dad to be a roofer. And besides, I knew exactly what I wanted.

1-The ability to have a strong positive impact on people and my community,
2-make enough money to support a family and give them opportunities to thrive in whatever direction they wanted,
3-time freedom and mobility so I could be a participating member of my family, not just a financer.

Luckily, I was able to find all of these ideals by looking past the “label” of Insurance and selecting it as a career. I’m very happy with that decision.

After a successful 12 years in the industry where my three career goals are being realized, I definitely see the yin & yang effects ringing blaringly clear.  For all of the great things about the industry, we definitely have matching demons.  The stigma of Insurance as boring, confusing and unethical is hard to overcome when bad habits of some agents and companies in the business fit the stigma perfectly.

I’ve seen too many people out to make a quick buck without really knowing the troubles they are causing down the road for themselves, their clients and the good guys of the industry.

I know what you’re thinking…..

“it is what it is”,

“take the good with the bad”,

“you can’t change people”,

blah, blah, blah.

Who am I to think I can change anything in a multi-trillion dollar world-wide industry.  I’ve given into these thoughts for too long but I can’t do it anymore.

I’ve hit my tipping point, my suffering’s coup de grâce.

It’s time for ACTION.

If not me, then who?

One night, after losing a good account to a young agent that guilt-tripped my long time client using the pathetic “I’ve tried for three years to get your account with no success, can you just BOR it to me to give me a chance” sales pitch.  My wife was sick of me venting, you know, pointing out all of the crap in the insurance world(not healthy, by the way.)  So I escaped from my industry frustrations with one of my favorite TV series Marvel’s Agents of Shield, a group of normal people with superior training & skills that are charged with finding, understanding & documenting inhumans, good or evil, for the greater purpose of preventing catastrophe, progressing society and protecting the human race. I couldn’t help but feel like I was just like them for the insurance industry.

You know, finding, understanding and battling alien lifeforms.

Then it dawned on me

”I could be Agent Phil Coulson,

an unassuming leader with a knack for cutting through the crap and boldly driving the right agenda forward for the benefit of all, for no better reason than….he cares, and it’s the right thing to do”

HELLO ALTEREGO.

So in all my unassuming glory I’ve created Agents of TrACTION.  We’re building a team of highly skilled, educated & trustworthy agents that can mentor and train each other to build habits that create a more viable and sustainable industry for years to come.  Agents of TrACTION can go out and fight off the evils that are tearing down our industry: greed, mistrust, hyper-competitiveness, confusion, boredom, lazy-selling, etc.
Our mission is to recover and preserve the perception of our industry as it truly is… a noble business that:

  • takes care of people in their worst moments
  • spends millions of dollars preventing catastrophes locally and worldwide
  • and is the catalyst for consistent growth in every sector of our economy.

As agents, we understand the power we hold. It is now time to help the public see it this way.

Idealistic…….Yep,
Dangerous…….Yep,
Nearly Impossible………Yep

Not a job for a weird and geeky insurance agent…..

Sounds like a job for a team of superheroes!


HOW TO BUST THE 5 INSURANCE MYTHS

Have you ever told someone you were an insurance agent and they got uncomfortable, like you were some mythical creature that was about to suck their blood?

(OK, maybe I’m the only one because of my intense Dracula-like widow’s peak)  

But if that has happened to you, then apparently our industry has a problem.  It seems to be the same problem that keeps new people from joining the industry in the first place.

The problem isn’t that our industry breeds vampires,  

the problem is,

people think it does. 

That’s an industry messaging problem.  So let’s demystify the myths that plague our industry’s perception.

Myth #1- You have to be a fast talking salesman that works 10+ hours per day to be successful.

Truth- The long-term residual income factor of this business requires that you build relationships through listening, problem solving, and serving your clients.  Most successful agents I know are able to spend time making a real difference in their communities and that is what creates their success.

Myth #2- You must devote 7-10 years to the business before feeling financially successful.

Truth- Your past experiences and failures can greatly accelerate your success as an insurance agent.  They help you relate to specific niches of people which builds trust quickly.  When people trust you, you can start seeing success almost immediately.

Myth #3- I will have to sell products that I don’t personally believe in.

Truth-The best agents specialize in one or two areas of expertise and they choose that area of expertise based on passion, trust of the product and connection with people in that market.  There are so many directions you can take your career that if you don’t believe in a product, don’t sell it.  It’s that simple.

Myth #4- I can’t work in an industry that takes money and doesn’t give it back when it is needed.

Truth-Most non-paid claims are due to the agent not offering the right coverage. As an agent, you can do something about the insurance injustices by ensuring your policies are written in a way that holds the insurance company’s feet to the fire when your clients have a loss.  Yes, there are ways to do that.  Here’s the simple formula.

1-Get to know your client’s risks in detail,
2-Be truthful with underwriting so your policies are underwritten correctly,
3-Build programs with the right coverages and proper limits,
4-Check and understand the exclusions,
5-Fight for your clients.

(notice that none of these steps have anything to do with premium)

Myth #5- I don’t want to be the bad guy in a claim situation.

Truth- When you do your job correctly you prevent most of these situations, but, if they do come up, you have the ability to fight for your clients.  When you fight your client’s battles with them, you gain more trust then anything else.  It’s up to you if you want to be the superhero or the villain.

We have an amazing industry that creates more good in this world than people realize. What other myths do we need to debunk about our industry.