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Conduct a performance post mortem to drive your success in 2015

By Jim Ruta | December 02 2014 11:18AM
How can I make next year’s production better than this year’s?

The usual performance advice is to plan the year ahead. The idea is that an annual plan creates performance. “If you fail to plan you plan to fail” or “If you fail to plan you plan to panic.” Choose your favourite. It’s still wrong.

Unfortunately, planning is not enough. There is something missing. It’s the reason so many don’t get 20 years’ experience but just one year’s experience 20 times over.

To make next year’s results better, you must learn from last year and act on it. To do that, you need some important inside information BEFORE you do any “planning”. Armed with this information, your planning is more practical and effective. That means it might actually work next year.

You need a Performance Post Mortem – an internal debrief on last year’s successes and failures. Without it, you’ll likely keep making the same plans, the same mistakes and the same excuses.

Analyze your year and your business with these questions. Your answers help sharpen your business focus and rearrange your resources and activity to maximize your results. It’s the foundation of high performance and a fast start in 2015.

  • What worked? Analyze your marketing, prospecting, sales approach, product choices, audience and service system for successes last year. Do more of that next year.
  • What didn’t work? Identify those strategies that failed you last year. Decide if it’s a weakness you can’t handle or an implementation issue. Either implement better or stop doing what doesn’t work.
  • Who helped? Some people build you up, stretch your thinking and make you better. See them more often.
  • Who didn’t? Some people beat you down, hold you back and keep you struggling. See them less often.
  • Best sale last year? Not the biggest sale, the best one. Look for more opportunities like these and build them into your business.
  • Best client type last year? This is your natural audience. You can work with people you like and who want to work with you.
  • Most popular policy or service? Something you sell returns more than you invest in it. Find yours. Key on it.
  • Biggest gap today? Performance gaps are not just production holes, they are huge time-wasters. If you need to learn something or hire someone to fill a gap, do it.
  • Strength to capitalize on? Do more of what you are good at. You will do better.
  • Problem or habit to eliminate. Do less of what you aren’t good at. You’ll have more time to do what drives income. And, the best way to resist temptation is to avoid it. You know what that means for you.
  • Easiest work last year? We minimize our greatest strength as a business driver because it’s too easy. Instead, acknowledge it and use it to drive your performance. It is the highest and best use of your talent.

Your answers to this debriefing give you a roadmap to your best business and better performance. Debrief yourself on last year before you do any planning and you’ll be far more productive.


I would like to make as much money as I can as a life agent. What is the best way to sell large permanent life insurance policies so I can maximize my income?

Income in the life insurance business is ironic. The harder you chase it, the less likely you are to catch it.

For a long term, sustainable income, it’s always about doing good to do well. On the other hand, chasing a buck is a good way to get into trouble. This is truer today than ever. The industry has invented so many interesting ways to screw up.

Thinking about your income first gets you considering products, performance and price before protection. So, rather than protecting client needs with the right amount of protection first you may go instead for your favourite kind of policy (like the permanent life insurance you mention).

This way, clients may end up with a good product but are woefully underinsured. You could say that you’re building up a great program over time. But, your client may not get the time to build up a great portfolio with a series of super plans. Then what?

Disaster, that’s what. I heard a horror story the other day that lays out the problem clearly. An agent got a call from an acquaintance looking for a second opinion on another agent’s proposal. The pitch for this high income but low asset young family was for a $50,000, 20 Pay Life policy for $200 per month. Nothing else. Just a great product for Dad. Nothing for Mom or anyone else.

The incentive was the great return on the proposed policy. There was no consideration for the protection his family needed. The prospect had his doubts about the proposition and made the second call, fortunately for him and his family.

The problem was the prospect earned over $200,000 per year and had no insurance. His surviving family would be setting up trust funds for the children if something happened to him with that plan. It was an estate disaster waiting to happen.

The disaster was averted. Dad bought $3 million. Mom got $2 million. But now, the portfolio makes sense. If it takes at least $1 million of insurance to replace every $50,000 of income, $50,000 of coverage was just wrong. The client even happily spent more than originally planned to do what was right for the family.

The lesson is that the new agent made a good commission even though he wasn’t chasing it. The agent who wanted the big commission, got nothing. It’s almost biblical.

It’s also the way it ought to be. Help clients take care of their needs first and your income will take care of itself. Try to take care of your income first and you won’t have any clients.

The correct order for making insurance recommendations is protection first, premium and then product. Help your prospects in this order and you’ll generate all the income you want. You won’t have to chase it either. It will chase you.

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