My company has interacted with thousands of life insurance agents. Many are financially successful. We observe that those who are not successful also lack a skill that is fundamental to success as an agent. We call it “feeling for the other”.
Those agents who lack this skill, like most people in society, see everything from their point of view. However, financial success in our economy depends on seeing things from another’s point of view – on feeling about others.
How you define success
Let me give a general example before I describe how this sense of others determines the agent’s success or lack of success.
We hire telemarketers for our business. During the interview process, I ask candidates to tell me about their previous positions and why they are no longer in those positions. I often hear these responses:
» I am no longer in this position because I was not earning enough.
» The company moved, and I didn’t want to move.
» The company had layoffs.
» This was not a good job for me.
These people answer the question from their point of view. Few of them realize that they have the opportunity to answer this question in a way that will make them more attractive to me as an employer. They could answer as follows:
» I am no longer with this company because I am looking for more opportunities that your business seems to provide.
» The company moved and I decided to only pursue remote positions. Your company seems to be a perfect fit for my desires and the value I can provide.
» My company fired my entire department even though I was in the top 20% of performers, as I would be at your company.
» My previous position was not a good fit for me, but your company has an environment where I can make a significant contribution to your goals.
In other words, instead of taking the opportunity to show empathy for others by explaining why they should be of interest to me as a new employee, they miss the opportunity and explain only from their perspective why they are no longer in their previous position.
Now let’s see how this applies to life insurance agents.
I want prospects for IUL
Life insurance agents approach our company looking for prospects interested in indexed universal life. But this desire to find prospects interested in IUL shows no sense of otherwise. Let me explain.
If we ask a thousand people at random “What is IUL?” maybe two out of the thousand can tell us. In fact, in a nation of 197 million adults over the age of 21, Google reports the following number of average monthly searches on its search engine:
How to buy an IUL — less than 100 searches per month.
What is indexed universal life — less than 100.
Where to buy IUL — less than 100.
My question to these insurance agents is “How can anyone be interested in IUL when they don’t even know what it is?” Agents who have an IUL prospect request only see the world from their perspective and have no idea how others see it . I argue that this failed sense of the other may be the sole determinant of financial failure.
Strong feeling for another
Here is an anecdote from a very successful agent who had a strong feeling for others. Jack asked us to find him leads who were interested in 11 different financial products and services.
We asked him if he sells all 11 products and services. He replied, “No, I only offer a few of these services. But I know that when a consumer responds to an offer of information about a financial product or service, they don’t understand that product or service or how it works. Their interest expresses some financial uncertainty or concern, and I am happy to speak with anyone interested in alleviating their financial concerns.
So instead of looking for leads who were “interested in IULs,” this agent looked for leads who had financial insecurity. As a result, he had a full calendar of meetings and substantial income.
Let me give other examples.
An agent is interested in finding new prospects. His email address is [email protected]. If I navigate to the annuityadvisors.com site, the website does not exist. It never occurred to this agent that a potential client could see his email address and go to that domain to see his website. Not finding the website, the potential customer jumps to the immediate conclusion that this agent must be a flight attendant and not a true professional.
Agents spend a lot of their time calling potential customers. How many have considered caller ID appearing on a prospect’s mobile device?
Many don’t know the following fact: The information that is displayed on a potential customer’s mobile device is determined by their mobile operator. The display will be different on an AT&T phone versus a Verizon phone versus a T-Mobile phone. The only way to standardize caller ID display is through services called branded caller display. Yet most agents never consider that their number could show up as a “spam caller” or “telemarketer,” and that’s why prospects don’t return their calls. This is another example of lack of feeling for the other.
If we extrapolate this agent’s poor sense of others to their marketing and sales performance, we can conclude that this agent will not be very successful. Their communication is from their point of view, which makes it very difficult to sell anything to anyone.
Poor language facility
Closely related to sensing others is the awareness that language helps you make a first and lasting impression on others. We are quick to judge each other based on how well we use language—the ability to listen accurately and respond appropriately.
The Human Engineering Laboratory at the University of Central Florida concludes, “If you’re not making enough money, maybe it’s because you don’t know enough words. More than any other known factor, vocabulary can often predict financial success!” The 30,000 vocabulary tests conducted each year by the Human Engineering Laboratory prove that big incomes and big vocabularies go hand in hand.
The Human Engineering Laboratory started in 1922. In its 101 years, it has consistently found the same results in its tests. Here is one such study.
A number of graduates selected by a large company as executive material were hired to start working for that company after graduation. Each senior was given a set of vocabulary tests. Five years later, all those who scored in the top 10% on a vocabulary test became executives. Not a single person who tested in the bottom 25% is a CEO!
The institute’s research does not explain why vocabulary is linked to success. Is it because those who read a lot have a larger vocabulary? Is it because potential customers have more respect for and trust those with large vocabularies? we don’t know
I suspect that so much of our communication with potential customers is so dependent on the use of language that those of us who are fluent in the language and vocabulary are better at interpreting what the prospect wants and expressing how we can be of service. .