With the new year nigh, it is once again that time to assess and reassess, to plan and prioritize, and to make extraordinary resolutions for the future. In reality, resolutions are simply goals. So in the spirit of this period of goal setting insanity, let’s delve a little bit into how to set feasible goals (for the purposes of business of course, fantastic and incredible journeys may still be applied to your personal resolutions ).
If you have read about or attended a seminar or class on goal setting, the SMART mnemonic will most likely have been encountered. Generally, as applied to goal setting, this stands for: S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Attainable, R – Relevant, T – Time-Bound. The objective of applying this concept is to apply focus and constraints to a goal, rather than having it be very open ended and vague.
As an example, let’s say the goal is to attend NAA University to increase your skills, knowledge, and earning potential. Instead of setting your goal as “To attend NAA University,” employing SMART allows a more compelling goal, such as “To have passed the NAA University exam by June 1, 2012.” It’s a small change, but it has a specific objective that is measurable and attainable, relevant to your career, and bound by time limits. Making this adjustment allows objectives to be set to achieve the goal via proper planning and time management, whereas being ambiguous leaves open multiple opportunities to let the goal slip through your fingers or be left until the last moment, where things would need to be rushed.
When establishing your goals use positive expression. Doing so will aid in making the work involved with achieving it a positive experience, and each time you reference that goal will leave a constructive impression on you. Using the above example, “To have passed the NAA University exam by June 1, 2012” will have a more encouraging bearing than “Don’t fail the NAA University exam when you’re taking it this spring.” Be aware that sometimes you may need stronger language to help give the motivation you need to achieve a goal. By strong language, think of altering our example to “I will pass the NAA University exam by June 1, 2012.” Altering the wording in this manner can help to eliminate potential escape loopholes and excuses.
Record your goals somewhere and place them in a visible spot. Putting them in ink, so to speak, will help to cement and hold you accountable for them. Remember your time management techniques and don’t be afraid to prioritize multiple goals and make an actionable plan to achieve them. This is frequently overlooked, but leaving out this step is sabotaging your efforts. Have your plan together and stick with it!
While it’s important that your goals are realistic and attainable, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with stretch goals. These are excellent for developing skills and your character. Remember that it is okay not to meet a goal too. Strive to meet or exceed them, but realize it isn’t always possible, and simply take what you can learn from the experience and use it to further empower your efforts on the next one.
From all of us here at National Agents Alliance headquarters, Happy New Year! We all look forward to continued fun and success in 2012!
In keeping with the time management theme of late, let’s talk a little bit about taking your time and the quality versus quantity debacle. Certainly you don’t want to waste what is available to you, but cutting corners and rushing is not the way to maximize your time either. For many, that may actually cause your time management plan to morph into a time consumption plan.
A common misconception of time management lies in the belief that for your plan to be realized you must be accomplishing more than others each day. However, one of the underlying fundamentals of the concept is to work in a more organized and efficient fashion, ensuring that the time you spend generates quality as opposed to simple quantity. Your plan could allow you to accomplish more per day, but it should simply allow you to work more economically. It could allow you to burn rapidly through as many things as you can handle per day, but it should afford you all the time you need to provide superior quality results in whatever it is you are doing. It could allow you to jam pack your schedule with numbers of items that would make your peers faint, but it should give you the visibility into your schedule to determine what needs to happen today, and what can be slated for tomorrow, or even next week.
This isn’t to say that you should not challenge yourself and strive for superior results. You absolutely should, and National Agents Alliance certainly encourages that! Just be sure to visualize your efforts in the proper manner, targeting how things should be and not allowing haste and urgency to be your motivators. While they can provide you with potent determination, they are also causes of high percentage of error, no matter what it is that you are tackling. Giving yourself the proper time to analyze and solve an issue at hand is what will allow you to build an enduring solution, whether it is in terms of a policy for a client, finding a quality recruit, or forming a business plan. Doing so eliminates the need for task repetition, which can be a terrible time consumer.
Be aware that initially some things may not come naturally and things may seem slow, but the error prone nature that haste and urgency can cause would be counter-productive. Allotting the time to work properly with high quality results will help develop exceptional business practices and also increase your knowledge and experience. A more natural flow for things will come with that growth in your skills, and with that will also come speed. The key here is that it will be with quality, not at the expense of it.
So be sure to direct your time management efforts correctly. Allot your time for quality, not simply quantity. Increase your knowledge by accessing information at NAAtv or through the carrier information pages at NAALeads. President’s Club will also provide you with access to extra information and resources if you are ready for that next step!
Previously we touched briefly on a couple of the thousands of different time management items. Today, let’s take a quick look at some of the common pitfalls of time management techniques that can twist and warp them into time consumption techniques.
One of the most common time management techniques is to list out your tasks. Not only does this break down exactly what needs to be done in order to meet your goal, but it also helps keep track of the tasks involved so that they aren’t forgotten. This is an item that can and should help you in organization and saving time, but has the potential to burn up as much, or even more time than it saves! As with so many things, a balance is necessary. Spending an exorbitant amount of time plotting out every detail and recording each tiny little event will rapidly take you down the path of this activity becoming a burden rather than an asset. You will need to find that level of involvement where your tracking has enough detail to be productive and informative for you and your decisions, but not so exhaustive that it a) uses more time than it saves, or b) becomes a chore and drives you towards procrastination or other time wasters.
Another common time management boon is to consolidate all of your appointments and activities into one planner system. Obviously this puts all needed information into one easy to reference place. You will eliminate double bookings and other schedule duplications, eradicate the need for checking different sources, and abolish that flustered feeling of having to look all over the place just to get your day laid out properly. All great benefits. Then, suddenly the phone accidentally gets dropped into a puddle, or the computer gets a virus, or Jim over there spills his coffee all over your day planner. Did you make a backup copy of your calendar and store it somewhere accessible?
It is an incredibly easy thing to overlook, especially with the reliability of software and computer systems today, but all it takes is one small accident to make that item unavailable to you for an indeterminate amount of time. With Outlook or other digital calendar systems it is very quick and easy to make a backup, so use that capability and get a copy stored somewhere other than your primary access point (a flash drive, online service, etc). With a pen and paper system it is a bit more effort, photocopy perhaps, but have a backup plan in place or should that little accident happen you will be up the proverbial creek without a paddle!
As touched upon previously, remember yourself as well. Be sure to take the time to get the nourishment and rest that you need, both in body and mind. Reading is always a great pursuit to keep your mind active, and here at National Agents Alliance we encourage you to dive into that endeavor frequently. If you need some material, check out the shop and see if there is something that piques your interest.
The ability to work well with people is key when you are looking to make the leap from average to great. Life is full of interactions with others. Your attitude and your ability to be positive in all situations will affect your relationships and ultimately lead to your success. Below are a few principles to follow when finding the right attitude and building a thriving business:
- Practice makes perfect – The more you do something the better you become and the more success you will achieve. High aptitude comes from doing; acting on the things you learn by using National Agents Alliance and its abundance resources.
- Mentorship with NAA –Mentorship is a two way street in improving aptitude. While it is vital to your personal growth and leadership to follow mentors, it is equally vital that you mentor others. The more you share your knowledge and experience selling, the more room you create to increase your own knowledge and experience. One of the best ways to keep learning is to teach and be a role model for your downline agents. National Agents Alliance is here to help. It is a major element to our company’s foundation and we help you implement into your business foundation.
- The Right Direction – Your passion must be led by direction. You cannot have burning passion for your work but lack the direction to guide your passion. Passion is what will get you through the hardest times at work and in everyday life. It gives you the energy to burn the midnight oil. It pushes you to go the extra mile and give 110%. However, this energy must have a direction or path. Without direction, your passion in life goes all over the place and will lead you only to frustration. Your efforts are not concentrated and you will not be able to complete your priorities with that 110% passion. At National Agents Alliance we lead our agents in the right direction so make sure you’re using your upline and our wide variety of training to guide your passion on a path that will take you to the top.
- Action – Having a belief is important when building a successful business. It is important to align your game plan with your beliefs. National Agents Alliance has a belief that is based on action, effort and positive energy. Have a plan of action on how you can help others achieve their goals and at the same time achieve your own success.
Remember help is a click away so make sure you’re utilizing our websites. We have many sites that you can utilize for training purposes, finding events, reading other agents experiences, finding the right book to read from our online store, giving us feedback on our support site, or adding a comment that will help another agent in the future. Interaction is key and the more you do it the better leader you will become.
While exploring what to write in the sales blog today, we happened upon another blog that listed out some great ways to make sales. One of the ideas was to display attractive images of your products. That seemed fairly straightforward, and it’s a reasonable assumption that an attractive item will indeed help with sales.
So in this picture we have a wonderful insurance policy, all rolled up and ready to play. It is perfectly built, and contains all the different features that its’ potential owner could possibly want or need. As a matter of fact, it has absolutely been custom tailored to meet their exact specifications. Really, the only way that it could be any better is if it were neatly wrapped around the middle with a golden ribbon that was tied into a small bow on top with folks saying “Ooh!” and “Ah!” over it with great big googily eyes. There were rumors of an annuity that had been crafted in the very same manner and actually did have the golden ribbon with bow! Apparently she is quite capable of eluding the paparazzi though, and unfortunately no photos could be located of this incredible creature…
What exactly is going on here? Well, the roundabout point is that in this business there is no luxury of having an aesthetically pleasing product. Papers that you have to sign don’t make mouths water like chocolate does, nor do they make someone want to book a vacation like a picture of a pristine Fiji beach would. There is one thing that sells the items that are in your portfolio, and that is you. You providing the client with the information that they need about what can be offered, and you asking the questions that get you the facts you need to build them the perfect policy described above (ribbon and bow optional).
As always, remember all of the different resources that National Agents Alliance provides you with in order to help with this. NAAtv has all kinds of resources for training and keeping you up to date on what is going on here at corporate headquarters, and HotSpots will hook you up with information on where you can attend meetings for up close and personal information with some of our top people. Even here and in our other blog we try to give some useful nuggets of info for you to use as well.
Give yourself a pat on the back for the work you’ve done this year in providing your services to your clients. In fact, have a nice hot chocolate too, ‘tis the season after all. Finally, “Why,” you are wondering, “is this post called ‘Insurance and Bacon’?” Quite simply, bacon goes with anything.
Merry Christmas all!
Asking questions is the most effective method to get the information that you need in order to develop the proper policy for your client. It’s also the best way to get the information you need about furthering yourself and your business. For a lot of individuals, simply the act of asking for information can be difficult, just keep in mind the benefits that it brings you and the client and push forward with them.
Remember that asking questions to find out about your clients situation and needs are necessary in order for you to assist them best. Initially this may feel a little awkward, just keep in mind that this is the information that will allow you to tailor a policy for your client, and gently remind them of that if it appears they are a bit shy. In the same vein, sometimes responses to those high value questions may be vague. In that case, be sure to ask for clarification. Light urging with a “Tell me more,” or “Could you please expand on that?” will do wonders to continue things moving. Of course, practicing some of the techniques of putting your client at ease will help both you and the client get past any uncomfortable stages.
Asking about a client’s concerns is a bit of a touch and go point. If you believe that you can address what you feel may be the concerns, this can be a very helpful item that affords that opportunity. Leaving the question unasked risks the chance of being blind-sided by potential issues later. However, while you do want to address concerns, in terms of sales, you don’t want those to be forefront in the clients mind, but rather the benefits instead. Knowing your client and products and putting them together well should mitigate most concerns, and certainly putting together the proper policy is paramount and urges this particular question. Just be aware that by doing so, you will need to be able to sufficiently address the issues or it could backfire on you. National Agents Alliance will help stack the odds in your favor, do it by using the training available to you!
As you wind up, don’t forget a couple of other important questions. Remember to ask for referrals. Even if you can’t help this particular client, they may know of someone that you can, do not be shy about this! Should things go well, consider asking for a testimonial of your work. Having a reference from an existing client is always great to showcase to other potentials and will help increase your reputation. Should you wind up not making a sale, here is a perfect opportunity for you to turn a negative into a positive: Ask the client what it was that influenced their decision. Let them know that you are always looking to improve and that this will help you in the future. Be sure to take the criticism positively and do what you can to influence it in the future. Some things you will be able to address directly, others may be out of your hands, but at least you will have the knowledge of what provided a hurdle in this particular case.
So remember, questions are good. Don’t be afraid to ask them as they are an integral part of your business, just be sure to ask the correct, and high-value ones!
One of the potential pitfalls of any business is mismanagement of your time. It can come in many different forms, but two of the most common are on opposite ends of the spectrum: Procrastination and being overwhelmed. Neither one is good for your business or your health!
Procrastination usually results from needing to do tasks that, for whatever reason, are not enjoyable. In order to combat something like this, schedule yourself a couple of 10 minute blocks within the day to focus on doing those tasks. By doing so, you may find that accomplish enough to push yourself a little further, and knock even more chips out of that tiresome chore. An alternative is to attempt to find a way to make the tedious into something fun. While this is a good idea as a long term solution, take care not to turn the activity into even further procrastination, or you will end up just digging a deeper hole for yourself!
Remember to also try and limit your distractions, especially when doing an activity that you are prone to putting off. It’s easy to lose focus and convince yourself that you need a break, and it is certainly a good idea to take a break – when you need one! When you need one, it will help revitalize and center you. When it is simply an excuse not to do work, it will negatively reinforce the procrastination habit, and be a detriment to your overall goals. If a dull task is also a time consuming one, break it up into smaller pieces and reward yourself for completing each objective.
Overwhelming tasks require some of the same approaches. Certainly consider breaking them up into smaller, manageable pieces that will not be so daunting. Limit your distractions so that you can focus and not need to repeat portions as that will only extend what is already something that is complicated to handle.
Be sure to consider the state of your body. This is easy to forget, but when faced with what seems an overpowering obstacle, it is very easy to overextend and get worn down. Remember to set aside time to properly rest and refuel your body. These are essential components to your concentration and focus, not to mention overall well-being! Don’t neglect these important factors. A degradation of body and mind will be counterproductive to nearly all you are striving to achieve, so be sure to take care of both.
Should you find yourself unsure of exactly what it is that is absorbing your time, think about keeping a journal of your activities for a few days. Review it and make note of areas where your time could be better spent, or areas that need focusing and utilize the resources National Agents Alliance provides to your advantage.
Barron’s Insurance Dictionary defines persistency as the “Percentage of life insurance or other insurance coverage remaining in force; percentage of policies which may have not lapsed. The larger the percentage, the wider the persistency.” It is a part of sales that is often overlooked. To be profitable in insurance, it isn’t enough just to sell your product to one person; you should also try to retain your customers.
Now, think about persistency for a moment. What’s the very first thing that pops into your head? Most likely your answer would not be marriage. I mean, what would persistency have to do with matrimony? They seem further in relation than your cousin and a kumquat.
But the relationship between a client and an agent is just that, a relationship. It takes courtship, compromise, and commitment for any contract to be signed. Nevertheless, walking down the aisle and saying your “I dos” isn’t the end of the marriage. Marriage is really a commitment and, in several ways, same goes with a client. If the client doesn’t feel you care, there may be a rift … or maybe “divorce.” In the world of insurance sales, that means cancelled contracts, which may result in the dreaded charge back.
In order to have great persistency, then, you should treat your agent-client relationships with pride. Your customers trust you, they’ve created a resolve for persistency with you, and they anticipate being treated as such. Here are a few methods to keep them happy after the contract is signed.
Keep in contact. Communication is crucial to a good relationship. Keep that bond powerful by reaching out to your customers. Express care for them outside of the context of the company. A simple birthday card or phone call can do wonders. If you’re trying to find an automated answer, NAA’s KIT letters can go further toward showing your clients just how much you care.
Earn their loyalty. When you love someone, it’s usually not just for one reason. It would be their sense of humor, their personality, or their smile. In terms of your clients, the relationship also needs to be multi-tiered. Having multiple contracts with them is a wonderful approach to retain persistency. The more policies they through you, the more likely they are to retain their policies and ask you for advice about future investments. When you help a customer once, they are just a customer. Help them again and they become a valued client. Help them a third time and you have a client for life.
What do you do in the event that the passion of this relationship has cooled and you’ve recently been “divorced?” It is possible to still salvage your relationship by contacting the client and asking why they cancelled. A small reminder will help them remember why they signed up in the first place, or perhaps it will reveal different problems you could help them with. Rekindle that spark of passion and you might be able to save the relationship.
Remember; persistency is a lot like a marriage. You’ve already devoted to one another. Through any time to show your customers how much you care, and seek out opportunities to “romance” them further, you’ll have a lengthy, fruitful relationship together.
One of the greatest time investments that you can make is in performing community service. Not only is this something that can increase awareness of you and your business, enhance your reputation, and fill you with positive energy, but it is also something that can make a lasting difference in the lives of people in your neighborhood and surrounding areas.
There are a tremendous amount of organizations that attempt to make a difference in peoples’ lives every day, and chances are high that they could all use some help with skills that you have to offer. From youth coaching to soup kitchens, the difficult economic times of late have impacted nearly every one of them. Many of these programs could use any kind of support that can be offered, especially around this time of year when the need for them becomes even more obvious.
The returns of doing this kind of work are generally obvious, but consider what helping your community can do for you: The positive energy will translate directly to your work, impacting everything in good ways. The associations you can build with so many people by dishing out soup for those in need. Teaching positive life lessons to children who are learning to play basketball under your coaching tutelage. The extra one on one time with your son or daughter while building a habitat house that would otherwise be spent in front of a TV. Plenty of other community members will be out there with you, helping you to positively influence the future of your community, and gaining respect for you.
In providing aid to your community, everyone benefits. Our lives are busy, but consider donating some of your time to a cause that is near to your heart—Contemplate making it a resolution for the upcoming new-year. If you have trouble finding a good local cause, check your local public schools. Many state cutbacks have left them lacking in a lot of programs, and they could use a volunteer or two also.