Quantum Leaping Your Career: Part OneApr 29, 2016
In the early days of my Producer Training Camps, we’d have brand new producers— literally just licensed and in the business for only a few months—as well as 30-year-plus veterans who were still committed to improving. I’d always tell the younger producers to pay very close attention to what we were going to talk about in the camp because if they did, what they learned was going to quantum leap their careers by 10 years or more.
Naturally, that would get their attention! And naturally, they wanted to know how. I’d tell them: “Because I’m going to share all the dumb things average producers do to shoot themselves in the foot.”
I’ve been developing these strategies and behaviors for a very long time. So what are some of the best lessons that I have learned and shared with producers that allow them to quantum leap their careers and not be just average?
A problem left unattended becomes a crisis.
We’ve all done it. We see a problem on an account or in a business relationship that we deliberately ignore, hoping it will go away. Well, guess what? Problems don’t go away—they escalate into a crisis. More important, we’ve found that if you address and resolve problems as soon as they appear (a) the problem is gone and (b) your proactive approach strengthens your relationship with the person at the root of the problem.
Problems are often disguised as opportunities.
Just about every problem I ever had came disguised as an opportunity. None of us would ever deliberately do something stupid to create a problem, lose money or waste time on an account. Therefore, when we get an opportunity, whether it’s a new account or an investment, we need to scrutinize it in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. Upon closer examination, what looks like a great opportunity may actually be camouflaging a big problem.
Speak less and listen more.
Once younger producers get the product knowledge and sales skills, they like to do all the talking. One of the toughest things we have to teach them is to not share all the knowledge they’ve acquired. They need to learn to speak less and listen more. Especially during their first or second appointment with a new prospect, they should be listening 80% of the time and speaking just 20% of the time. That’s because if you ask the proper open-ended questions, prospects will start telling you what they really want, what they value, what they believe, etc. Conversely, producers who just spew their knowledge (show up and throw up) are going to turn off the prospect, who has heard it all before.
Hone your questioning and presentation skills. Without a doubt, these are the two most important skills to develop. The best salespeople are truly the best questioners. They not only know how to ask the best questions, they actively listen to the answers to find out what’s really going on.
Presentation skills are closely tied to questioning skills.
You rarely see a highly successful producer who is not fast on his or her feet. And if you’re a terrible presenter, you’ll never get your message across. While not everyone possesses the factory-installed equipment to give Oscar-worthy presentations, they can polish the way they communicate their message. It’s a matter of attending presentation training, reading books on the subject and video taping yourself giving a presentation.
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