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5 Elements Top Annuity Producers Possess - My Two Cents

I ran across this article in LifeHealthPro and thought it hit the nail right on the head.

5 Elements Top Producers Possess

In the article it says, "A recent study examined the performance, personality, skills, and attributes of 79,747 salespeople from 4,317 organizations and found five elements that all top salespeople had in common.  What I have done is taken the elements they identified and then interpreted how they each relate to top annuity producers."

Allianz

Jack Marrion, President of Advantage Compendium, then goes on to make his comments about this study and how they apply to annuity salespeople.  I personally think Jack is a genius and I hate to even consider adding value to his comments but I thought it might be helpful for the partners I work with to give some feedback based on my experience working with multi-million dollar annuity agents.

1. Possess Selling-Related Knowledge

Top Producers Waste Less Time with Bad Prospects

Jack Marrion says, "Knowing who is a receptive prospect was the most important factor in being a top producer. Top producers identified the prospects that were most likely to buy and ignored the rest. They didn't waste time making presentations to prospects that don't have the authority to buy."

This is so true!  I can't tell you how many times I see agents milking the same dried up cow.  You can't make grape juice out of raisins.  It's simple, get more annuity leads and you won't be desperate.  A good annuity marketing strategy allows you to chose your clients, not chase them.

"Top Producers are Knowledge-brokers that Have Know-Why, Know-Who, and Know-How"

Jack Marrion also says, "Top producers are perceived by prospects as knowledge-brokers in that they possess information that is unavailable to others-----due to connections, background, expertise--and they will use this information to benefit the prospect."

Study, study, study!  Chad and I spend a minimum of 5-8 hours per week reading and studying annuity product and financial information.  Google everything you don't know about but should, bookmark your resources, and read, read, read.

2. Adapt

"Top Producers are Adaptive Sellers Who are in Tune with a Prospect's Emotions"

According to Jack, "Top producers match the selling strategy to the needs of the prospect. They rank high on emotional intelligence. When top producers feel a fact-based presentation isn't connecting with a prospect they will change to a story-based."

This is all about on-the-job training.  If I had a dollar for every time an agent asked me for a copy of our presentation like we had it on a flip chart.  Good salespeople are students of failure.  Why didn't this work?  Why didn't I connect with that client?  Why didn't they understand?  Success is the return-on-investment for failure.  If you are reading this I probably don't have to tell you that there is no opportunity to capitalize off of failure more than in the sales business.  Those who succeed are those who mitigate the chance of repeating their mistakes.  Be observant of what you do right and what you do wrong when you are selling.  Write down the good, bad, and ugly.  Repeat the good and remember the bad so you don't repeat it.  There is no flip-chart for success in annuity sales.

3. Cope with Ambiguity

"Top Producers Cope Better with Uncertainty"

Jack says that, "The sales process is one of ongoing uncertainty and top producers face just as much uncertainty as everyone else. The difference is top producers have developed coping mechanisms that permit them to function is spite of the uncertainty."

This is one that I personally struggle with, just ask Chad.  I am a total control and planning freak.  The reality is that nothing ever works just like you want it to.  You will never have your expectation met and every time something is going perfect all you have to do is wait a few minutes for it to change for the worse.  If you are like me, I have two suggestions.  First, get over it!  Except that your expectations will not be met and be happy if they are.  Salespeople are the worst on this issue; they cry for justice and fairness like children at times.  The best you can hope for is to work with people that have integrity and always make every effort to fix any problems that develop.  If there was one word to describe this business it would be "change".  Second, go to Amazon and buy the book, "Who Moved My Cheese".  Sometimes I am just flat out amazed at the temper tantrums some agent have over what turns out to be a vary small issue.  Don't be one of those agents!  Learn to go with the flow and make adjustments without getting emotional about it.  Things that seem bad don't always turn out to be bad and at the very least they are not usually as bad as they seem.  Focus on the solution, not the problem.

4. Have a Higher Cognitive Aptitude

"Top Producers are Smart"

Jack Marrion points out that , "Top producers have above average IQs. This does not mean that one needs to be Albert Einstein to be a $10-million annuity producer, but it does mean there are no dummies in the top ranks."

Not everyone can be a genius (I know I never will) but everyone has the choice to be smart (see the second part of #1).  Also, don't just be smart, be wise!  Smart is the acquisition of knowledge; wisdom is knowing what to do with the knowledge.

5. Work Engagement

"Top Producers Work"

Jack concludes by saying, "Top producers are self-motivated and proactive. Because of their drive, top producers tend to be leaders in other areas of their lives as well."

I will put our calendars up against anybody's.  If you are proud to show me your calendar then there is a pretty good chance you will become a top producer.  Also, Chad and I both have leadership roles in our business, but also in other organizaions like our churches.  Find a leadership position in some other facet of your life.  It will help prune your character and build your confidence.


Source: "Drivers of sales performance: a contemporary meta-analysis. Have salespeople become knowledge brokers?" Verbeke, Dietz & Verwaal. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 39: 407-428; 2011.

Indexed Annuity Leadership Council

The Indexed Annuity Leadership Council was formed by a group of four life insurance organizations, NAFA and producers to educate consumers about indexed annuities. The IALC is committed to providing complete and factual information about the use of indexed annuities as a part of any balanced financial plan.

This organization hosts a great Blog filled full of useful information for you to share with your clients at http://indexedannuitiesinsights.com.


Variable Annuities: Right Guarantee, Wrong Product

Bill Broich: National debt opinion, Writing internet annuity articles, Medicaid planning, TIAA-CREF annuitization options study, Annuity sales suitability, Bankers Life survey, Variable annuities (Same guaranteed lifetime income focus with the wrong product), indexed annuity case prep.

Open Mic archived audio is available for contracted agents.  To find out how to partner with us Click Here.

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Allianz - The Truth About Fixed Indexed Annuities

Under the leadership of Gary Bhojwani, Chairman, Allianz has been on a blitz media campaign singing the praises of our annuity products on CNBC and other television and print media sources.  In support of that effort, Allianz has also been producing some really nice client handout materials.  It's great to see a carrier take an active role in

One such handout is linked below:

The Truth About Fixed Indexed Annuities - Allianz

Allianz

Your Annuity Business Plan: How Dreams Become Reality

Have you ever heard that most people spend more time planning a vacation than their retirement?

I have a new one.  Most annuity agents are not business owners and they spend more time planning a vacation than developing a marketing plan and setting goals.

Our partners hopefully don’t reflect that statement and I know for sure most of you don’t.  Here is an email I got from one of our partners today.  What you see in this email is how dreams become reality.



Hi Anthony,

Just thought I’d give you a little update on the state of our business. July was a good month (although not as good as we had hoped).  We ended up with $725k in annuity production in July. We’re currently at $2,374,926.91 YTD.   Last year our total production was only $1,431,468.06.  Our goal for 2011 has always been $5 million (we’re a little behind). One thing that’s hurting us is cancels. We’ve taken over $200k in cancels for July and over $800k in cancels for the year.

Our goal is to start  Safe Money Radio sometime in the fall. Our cash reserves (approximately $16k) are getting better, but still not to where we feel comfortable making the move. We’re currently on auto-pay for annuity leads from Annuity.com; we also commit to 20 Pre-Qualified Annuity Leads per month. Of course we also have miscellaneous expenses and are in the process of adding health insurance. We’d like to maintain our current marketing while adding Safe Money Radio.  Our goal is to have 3 to 4 months of expenses in cash reserve. Once are on the air, I really see 2012 as being a blow-out year for us.


By the way, you sell big you lose big.  In July We had over $800K in cancels.  $400K from Bret Roby and $400K from Chad Owen.  When Bret got back from his mission trip in Africa he immediately went out and wrote a $200K case and when Chad got back from his vacation in Florida he wrote a $200K case the next day during a policy delivery. The $56K in chargebacks have already been covered by other issuing business.  When you get hit with cancels focus on the future, not the past.  It’s not what you lose but what you gain that matters. 

As you can see from the email above this partner is at least on track to double last year’s annuity production and may very well hit his goal because a good growth plan is exponential.  Not bad for an agent that got their insurance license just a few years ago!

There is more to being in this business than just buying an annuity lead; you have to have a plan. If your marketing vehicle is in park, now is a good time to put it into drive.