Duh is right. Everyone in selling or managing a sales team knows that one of the most important keys to selling more is getting in front of more people. I was talking to a prospect yesterday about this very thing. There have been some changes internally regarding compensation to those that refer business. The question on the table was this: How do we continue to get referrals from our partners even though they won't get paid for them anymore?
As we talked, we arrived at the bigger picture: How do we get in front of more people and how do we continue to drive new business revenue in spite of this internal change? We explored several different strategies that could be implemented. It reminded me of a pivotal conversation about prospecting that I had years ago when I was new to selling.
In 1988, I, like many other new life insurance agents, was trying to figure out how to get in front of more people. Dave Zimmerman, our General Agent at National Life of Vermont, took me to the GAMA (General Agents and Managers Association) Christmas meeting where I sat next to Ron Rose.
I asked Ron, a successful seasoned veteran, “As a newer agent, what is the best way for me to find prospects and make money?” Below is the discussion we had.
"Tony, If I had your family locked up in a closet and told you I was going to kill them all unless you wrote a piece of business in 24 hours, who is the first person you would call - someone you know or someone you didn’t know - to take an application?"
"Someone I know", I replied without hesitation.
"Someone you just know or a friend?"
"A friend," I responded quickly.
"Who would you call next?"
"Someone else I know." I said, still confident.
"Then who?", he prodded.
Not sure what to say, I replied, "Maybe someone I do business with."
"Then?", he continued.
"Someone that someone I know knows," I answered, a little more uncertain. These questions were not answering MY question.
"And then?", he asked again.
"Someone I don’t know... anyone I could stop and talk to on the street... call on the phone... anyone!", I stammered awkwardly, wondering what he was trying to get at.
And then he delivered the final blow. "So, why then do you spend so much time cold calling today?"
Somewhat stunned, but finally understanding, I replied, "I don’t know; that’s a good question."
Finding prospects is not difficult. Taking the time, getting past the discomfort of calling people, making prospecting a priority is the challenge; that IS what is difficult. So, let me help.
Suppose I had your family, those people that you hold near and dear to your heart, locked up in a closet, and if you didn’t close a piece of business in the next 24 hours severe harm would come to them, what would you do?
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