Moving Up in the Marketplace

Over the past 12 years I have trained and worked with over 160,000 salespersons, sales managers and executives. Based on that experience in over 30 countries I am seeing an unfortunate trend. First, most people who join the financial services industry fail. And if they don't fail, they never achieve a leadership position in sales. Most are just average performers. This does not mean they are failures, it only means they have not figured out a basic principle.

The principle is how they should behave in their marketplace. The majority of the salespersons are transaction sellers. Their primary interest is to make a sale. Many even sell in one appointment. Financial service and products have become very complicated and the selling of them requires specific knowledge, skills and abilities. Some salespersons are just product pushers. When their companies release a new products, the salesperson tries to sell that product to everyone regardless of the customer's need.

The minority of salespersons, the leaders in our industry, are interested in building a relationship. They understand if they take the time to develop a relationship with the potential client, they will eventually buy and become a customer. They will sell the products but their focus is on meeting the needs of the client.

Remember a product is nothing more than a solution to a need that is uncovered in a planning process.

In every country there are three markets; the lower, middle and upper markets. As a financial advisor, if you wish to move up in your markets you will need to move away from the transactional sale and move towards the relationship sale. The middle and upper markets understand the value of advice. The middle and upper market customer wants advice first, then they are prepared to buy the product.

Those highly successful salespersons in the financial services industry sell much larger policies or products and receive much high commissions or bonuses. If you want to succeed, truly succeed, then you must adopt behaviors that are acceptable to the upper markets.

If you are happy with your results, then don't change anything. BUT if you want to change your results, then you must change your behaviors.

Remember - Success is a Choice!

My plan for 2012

After being in this world of God for more than 6 decades … I have come to realize that I have no control of what happens in this world. So rather than express my hopes about the world, I express my hopes for me. I don’t hope to be, NO I plan to be … a better world citizen, a more thoughtful husband, to be a more patient father, to be a more valued friend and a lover of mankind. I plan to give more and focus less on getting more. 2012 will be a year for me to be a better me. Please join me and make it our journey to offer more to this fractured world. You and I can make a difference!

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, It’s about learning to dance in the rain!

A new year and a new chance! Seize it! The end of December is a wonderful time to refocus your life and your business. But to do that you need to let go of all the old baggage you are carrying, so that you make room for the new. You are like a glass filled with water to the very top with your experiences, emotions, your cherished beliefs, etc. You need to empty yourself and let go to make room for new plans, ideas and attitudes. I am in the midst of doing exactly that. If I can at 65 can do it, you certainly can. Go for it!

The Learning Circle - Reflection, Learning, Planning & Action

For the past 12 years I have trained, consulted and coached almost 160,000 managers and team members. I have employed numerous methods to assist individuals and teams to build their capacity. I believe every true professional is interested in improving their knowledge, skills and abilities. I am always looking for simple, yet proven methods to build capacity.

Capacity building is difficult under the best of circumstances. For it requires great self-discipline and adoption of a proven methodology. It should be obvious to one and all, professionals are better disciplined than the amateurs, in any profession. Basically professionals adopt better habits.

As a professional trainer, I am constantly reading about other international trainers and global methods that contribute to building capacity. Many methods are hollow (without substance) or are so complex, the learner gives up too soon, before they reap the benefits of the system.

Over the past year I have been part of a team that is applying, what I think is a very sound methodology to increase individual and team capacity. It is called the Learning Cycle.

The Learning Cycle has 4 parts; Reflection, Learning, Planning and Action. Take a moment to draw a circle, then on each quadrant, write the four words; reflection, learning, planning and action. Please do this now!

Reflection - to effectively reflect on your past performance (of the individual or the team) you need to detach your self from your ego. On your circle, between action and reflection, write the word 'detachment'. To successfully reflect you must detach and focus on what you have done well and what you need to change. Forget about what you did wrong. When you focus on negatives you dis-empower yourself and your team. When you focus on what you can change you empower.

This model is called the Plus/Delta. On a separate piece of paper draw a line down the center of the page. On the left top draw a plus (+) sign. On the top right draw a triangle (Δ) symbol. The (+) represents what you did well. The (Δ) represents the Greek symbol, the Delta, which means change, what would you change. Now take a few moments and record on the left what you have done well in the past week. Then on the right side, record what you need to change.

Learning - to effectively learn from your past performance you must be willing to search. On your circle, between reflection and learning, write the word 'search'. If you are not learning, you are not growing and if you are not growing, then you are dying (intellectually). You need to clearly understand your strengths and weaknesses. You must constantly search for new learning about yourself or your team.

Planning - to effectively plan, you must love. On your circle, between learning and planning, write the word 'love'. We use the word love to express a thirst to do better. People don't plan to fail, they just fail to plan. Love or passion to do better gives each of us a competitive advantage.

Action - to effectively act we need to have courage. On your circle, between planning and action, write the word 'courage'. This is the critical and crucial point of the learning cycle. This is where many individuals and teams fail. They know their strengths and weaknesses. They know what they should do to improve, but they just don't act. I find it curious that they have time to do it wrong but not enough time to do it right. Find the courage to act.

So there you have it. A simple method called the Learning Cycle; reflection, learning, planning and action. Reflection requires detachment, Learning requires search, Planning requires love and Action requires courage.

If you, on a weekly basis apply the learning circle, you will eventually become the individual and/or the team you were destined to be. Build your capacity on purpose, not by accident.