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Small ideas to make big changes


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Boost production, learn to delegate and close the deal.

Prospect up. Focus on your top 20 clients for introductions to new people.

Process. A systematic process or game plan will eliminate inefficiencies and keep you focused on productive priorities.

Preparation. Customize material you use with each prospect’s interests, goals and objectives.

Preview. Thinking of movie previews and automobile showrooms, we created a “showroom example” of what we do to share with prospects. A preview will quickly determine if you have a prospect for your services or not.

Patience. Time allocated to relationship building produces trust and allows us to educate our prospects.

Persistence. Dress up, show up and see the people —again and again and again.

Passion. With it comes greatness but without it, at best, mediocrity.

Prosperity. What is your prosperity factor? I use a formula that says if one allocates 20 percent of their capital over a seven-year period into a safe financial instrument, where the money cannot ever be lost, the yield from that capital will create an income that will prevent our client from ever having another bad financial day for the rest of their life — even if they lose the other 80 percent.

Professional. Be a pro and let it show — in your dress, language, meeting room environment and preparation. Take care of the details and the results will look after themselves.

Priorities. There is no substitute for prioritizing your daily activities. Do the hard ones first and the rest will all seem easy.

— Bruce W. Etherington, CLU, CH.F.C.
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, 48-year member



Know your audience and how they use social media. People in their 20s and 30s use apps, email, Instagram and Facebook; those in their 40s prefer email, phone and Facebook; people in their 50s prefer phone and email; and those in their 60s prefer phone. “Selecting the best method of communication is always important in marketing,” said Naoki Masuda, a seven-year member from Tokyo, Japan.

Ask clients for a little nudge on Facebook. “I request the client tag me on Facebook with a brief comment, but not directly suggesting the product or the fact that I have done business with him or her,” Masuda said. “I watch what happens to it. If anybody ‘liked’ it and seems to have an interest in what I do, I may ask the client to refer him or her to me.”

Ask clients for a boost using Twitter. “I might ask a Twitter user to post ‘Just met a guy in Tokyo. He gave me valuable advice on my insurance plan. I’d be happy to refer him to you if you are interested,’” Masuda said.



You don’t need to wait 25 years to look like an overnight success. Try these client experience ideas to have prospects begging to become part of your clientele.

  • Create a fun map to the office.
  • Have staff confirm appointments.
  • Make sure you have easy parking, meticulous waiting area, soft lights, piped music, TV.
  • Have a beautifully presented tray of refreshments available. Remember their drink from the last time.
  • Clients must not wait for you.
  • Have perfectly prepared paperwork.
  • Have them met by positive staff in a happy office environment.
  • Don’t rush their appointment — they’re entitled to your time.
  • Make it easy for them to communicate with you.
  • Create an app. Through this they can phone you, email you, see their investments, research your services and have a countdown clock to their next appointment.
  • Send birthday greetings from everyone in your office.
  • Send branded invitations to speaker events.
  • Send out branded tax guides and news updates.
  • Send small birthday and Christmas gifts, like chocolate-covered strawberries, on special occasions.

— Tracey Karen Diana Devonport
Houghton, South Africa, 23-year member



The first step for many advisors who want to increase production is to narrow their markets and become very focused on who they work with, said Randy L. Scritchfield, CFP, LUTCF, a 33-year MDRT member from Damascus, Maryland. Target markets can be defined by income, age, net worth or other measurables.

“Another way may be to narrow your products. I have worked with someone for over 10 years who does this,” Scritchfield said. “He specializes in long-term care insurance. That is all he does. And most people are candidates for what he does. But partnering with him was an interesting application for me.”

Scritchfield eliminated long-term care insurance from his product list by sharing the cases with his business associate. Once he did, he started helping more clients with long-term care than ever. Scritchfield also recommends looking at your marketing materials, website and brochures. If they are conveying what you specialize in strongly enough, they will motivate the right prospects to reach out to you. They will also turn off some people.

“If your marketing materials are strong enough to turn the right people on,” Scritchfield explained, “they should turn some people off that are not the right fit for you.”

True specialization gives you a higher income by being more effective and focused. And it provides more peace of mind, Scritchfield said.


Hire an assistant as soon as you can, then learn to delegate. It’s not a cost; it’s an investment in your business.

— H. Larry Fortenberry, CLU, ChFC
Jackson, Mississippi, 41-year member

Getting started. Download the free Instagram application to your smartphone. Take five minutes to do the tutorial. Connect with your contacts who are already on Instagram, and invite all others to join.

Browse the day’s posts. “Like” some photos and comment where you want to. Younger clients are steering away from email and often reaching to social media to save time while maintaining their connection to their circle. It’s a great tool to use to find commonalities and content that can inform you of a client’s life events, travels, etc.

Take a minute. My average time connecting and keeping track on Instagram is one minute per day. For me, Instagram is a great way to maintain a presence and a connection with clients, contacts and people in my circles with a limited time commitment. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you will be posting, connecting and creating a social media presence that will keep you at the forefront of your clients’ minds.

— Matt Joseph Murphy, EPC
Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 5-year member



Successful producers have three important habits, said Ed Tate, author and speaker on professional development.

  1. Top producers are great storytellers. “A fact wrapped in a story is 22 times more memorable than the mere pronouncement of that fact,” Tate said. “Stories and examples are the building blocks of presentations.” If you want clients to remember your message, tell them a story about how you helped someone just like them, Tate said. He creates memorable stories by using the PAR formula: n Problem. “That reminds me of a similar problem of one of my clients. Let me share a story …”
    • Action. “These are the actions they took.”
    • Results. “Here are the results they achieved.”

  2. Top producers begin with the client. Their conversation starts with the client’s dreams, aspirations and goals, before they ever talk about themselves. When advisors begin by making presentations about their products and services, prospects are often thinking, “So what? Who cares? What’s in it for me?” Tate said.

    “Your prospects will not say this verbally. However, this is what they are thinking,” he said. “You must answer these silent client questions before you ever talk about your products, services or yourself.”

  3. Top producers use effective questions. Tate suggests the following:
    • Begin with “what” or “how.”
    • Head questions in the direction of the client’s goal.
    • Keep the conversation and sale moving forward.
    • Have the client talk more than you.



Some 35 percent of sales are lost to client procrastination, rather than to the competition, said Charles D. Hollander Jr., the founder of Red Flag Advantage, a performance-based consulting and training firm. His advice to close the deal:

  • Slow down — diagnosis trumps presentation. “Most advisors spend 10 percent on the beginning of the sales cycle, and 90 percent trying to give information to close the deal,” he said. That ratio should be flip-flopped. Make sure you’re not giving more information than you’re getting.
  • Remember that people fix big problems, not small ones. “When a potential client understands the risk of staying the same, the decision to buy takes on a compelling urgency,” he said. “You have to make sure they understand all the problems.”
  • Your job is to help clients navigate change, not sell things. “Fall in love with your clients, not your products.”
  • Help them understand the cost of the absence of your products and services, not the benefits of owning them.
  • Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself and change your sales process.


I can’t overemphasize how important it is to work with both the husband and the wife at the same time. You’ll be more successful by making them both feel equally important and part of the process.

— Jeffrey Ryan Tovee, CFP
Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 5-year member

People tend to give back to others what has been given to them. When participating in a conversation, by providing others with attention, information and respect, you will likely receive the same from them. Be the first to give, and be sure what you give is personalized and unexpected.

People want what they can’t have. That’s why advertisements that promise “limited time only” are so effective. Since people are more apt to take action when they know what they stand to lose, rather than what they could possibly gain, when negotiating, it’s important to not only tell people the benefits they’ll gain, but also what they could lose if they don’t move in your recommended direction.

People typically follow the lead of those they perceive as credible experts. Unfortunately, some advisors mistakenly assume others will naturally recognize their expertise. Before you start negotiating, provide information about your accomplishments, credentials, background and expertise.

People feel compelled to be consistent with their prior behaviors, opinions or actions. When negotiating, you can activate the consistency principle by recognizing a prior commitment and linking it to your current request. If possible, take it a step further by getting the commitment in writing, because people tend to live up to what they write.

Social proof
People often rely heavily on others for cues on how to think, feel and act. Hence, the “proof” of what is correct isn’t grounded in facts and statistics, but in the social environment. To use social proof effectively in a negotiation, it’s important first to present testimonials from others. The more similar the testimonial providers are, the stronger your case will be perceived.

— Robert Cialdini, Author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”



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