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  • Writer's pictureChris Burand

Planting Seeds

“You’ll never accomplish anything if you care who gets the credit.” Gerald Weinberg, The Secrets of Consulting

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Harry S. Truman

“A man may do an immense deal of good, if he does not care who gets the credit for it.” Father Strickland (1863)

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When I was young, I remember my grandmother planting seeds, both literally and figuratively. She liked a good garden (best snap beans ever), but she was also planting seeds in the minds of people she visited, hoping those seeds would grow and help them live more productive lives. It was my first observation of sales in action. It was also my first experience of how conviction, truly believing in something, can motivate an otherwise very traditional, old-fashioned woman (she never learned to drive). She believed so much in her product, she overcame her call reluctance.

A couple of times recently, I have had people approach me to say what a difference I made in their lives. In one case, I thought my consulting advice had been a total failure. It turned out that my advice was solid, but my timing was really bad. They applied my advice five years later to great success. Plant a seed and hope people come around when they are ready. And if they give you credit or the sale, that is awesome. But if it is their own idea by then, that is great too.

One obstacle I see in our industry is that so many people do not want to sell. They have great call reluctance. Many believe selling insurance is equivalent to selling hot air. The professionals in this industry must overcome this high wall by educating new employees about the real value of insurance, the real protection provided by solid coverage. I had a young person tell me that insurance was mostly just for rich people. I shared that insurance is actually more important for poor people. Rich people can generally recover from a claim, however painful the claim may be, they will at least partially recover.

But for a poor person who is just barely getting by, who manages to finally accumulate a little wealth, and who loses it because they did not have adequate insurance, they almost certainly will take years and years to claw back the wealth they’ll lose. Insurance is not about the dollars protected, but the percentage of wealth protected relative to the person’s livelihood. If I am an agent and a poor person or a retired person loses their home or their savings, or even their vehicle, their ability to continue on with life is questionable and I’d not sleep at night. If it is someone making $500,000, losing a house sucks, but they can at least afford an apartment while getting back on their feet.

Insurance sold correctly, is the greatest protection against life’s unexpected catastrophes and claims. With the right insurance, people’s lives are less interrupted whether their personal lives or their businesses. They can keep providing jobs, building great products, and providing important services where without insurance, they’d declare bankruptcy. When you sell insurance correctly, you are selling both financial and emotional protection. You are only selling hot air if you do not take the time to learn the product and learn each individual client’s needs, and then matching the two.

For some people with call reluctance, the belief that what you are doing is not selling, but helping, is enough to overcome call reluctance. Another key for helping overcome call reluctance is to not expect immediate success. When planting seeds, it is unreasonable to expect a harvest the next week. A really good rule of thumb in sales like insurance is the sale sometimes takes three years. Often the timing is just not right to expect an immediate impact. Sometimes the situation is as simple as the insured is not ready to fire their broker. I recently witnessed a situation where the broker had screwed up coverage so seriously the insured had no coverage, and yet he still would not fire his broker. He was not emotionally ready for a divorce.

Sometimes the situation is more complicated. For example, the decision maker cannot fire the incumbent because doing so would make the decision maker look bad. This is a common situation in larger companies. Or maybe you do not have the right market at that moment. Or maybe the client has an ongoing claim to be resolved first. Or maybe any of another dozen reasonable reasons.

But if you take the perspective of serving people, helping them, and planting seeds, you will eventually have a silent sales pipeline. You might not even know how the prospects entered the pipeline. You will harvest a sale though regularly and when the time is right.

This does not mean sitting and waiting. Like any crop, care is required and in this case, a person must be constantly out meeting people and helping them understand their coverage needs all day, every day until that pipeline begins pumping out sales. To do this, you must learn your coverages at a deep level. No one needs to buy insurance from an amateur.

You must plant a lot of seeds because some will never sprout, some will take forever to develop, and some will blow away. This means making contacts by the dozens however best fits your personality, whether cold calling, seminar selling, network selling, or whatever other environment fits your personality. And regardless of which environment suits you the best, truly and honestly believing in what you are selling will be conveyed to the audience. Combine this attitude with quality and everyone wins.

Insurance sales should not be: “Hey – you need insurance, and you have to buy it from someone, and you probably want to pay the least, so give me a chance to find the cheapest insurance possible.”

A quality insurance sale is about identifying the customer’s true risk exposures and then offering them solutions, including policies that provide coverage for those exposures. And sometimes that requires simply planting the seed and not caring if you are immediately credited with a sale.


NOTE: The information provided herein is intended for educational and informational purposes only and it represents only the views of the authors. It is not a recommendation that a particular course of action be followed. Burand & Associates, LLC and Chris Burand assume, and will have, no responsibility for liability or damage which may result from the use of any of this information.

None of the materials in this article should be construed as offering legal advice, and the specific advice of legal counsel is recommended before acting on any matter discussed in this article. Regulated individuals/entities should also ensure that they comply with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

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