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Persistence drives success of 10-3-1 formula

By Jim Ruta | April 23 2014 10:00AM
There are so many definitions of the traditional 10-3-1 formula. What does it really mean and how can it help me?

No business formula is more misunderstood than this one. Some people think that 10-3-1 means that ten calls lead to three appointments and one sale. With that in mind, they mechanically make the calls and then wonder why the sales don’t come pouring in.

But this is a misinterpretation of the formula. For instance, some agents think calls are “dialings” and since it’s harder than ever to connect with someone over the phone, ten is too few. Some think that 10 leads (just names really) are good enough to plug into the top of the funnel and it’s not. Some think three set appointments are “seen” appointments but everyone knows that many are routinely cancelled or postponed. Finally, that one sale seems as elusive as ever so the whole formula is cast in doubt.

The likely father of the formula was the late Al Granum. I was fortunate to have known him personally. Talking to him and his associates over the years about 10 – 3 -1, I know that many advisors have misinterpreted the formula. That’s what causes the confusion and disappointment.

10-3-1 is a strict formula. It means, starting with 10 qualified prospects (People you know have a need, appreciate it and can buy) can lead to 3 booked appointments. Those booked appointments will result in the acquisition of one “pocketbook” (or wallet), but over time, not immediately. There is always a time delay, Al said.

This time delay means that success is the natural consequence of having enough of the “10s” to make the formula work. That takes consistent and persistent activity. It’s like compound interest really. You can’t stop and start if you want it to work for you profitably.

Having just 10 qualified prospects doesn’t necessarily lead to 1 pocketbook either. The formula is based on averages of large amounts of data. That means zero pocketbooks can result if you only have 10 qualified prospects. Truly, you need 100s of them over time to make the numbers work for you.

The challenge is getting 10 qualified prospects. It can take many calls to make a connection. And that’s what gets the formula working.

Acquiring a “pocketbook” leads to multiple sales. From one wallet, a buyer can make many purchases – life, CI, DI, LTC for him/herself and also for partners and family. The formula can mean many individual “sales” just from one qualified prospect. This is why it’s worth following honestly. Lying to yourself about its reality will not help you.

Traditionally, a parent is the qualified prospect, booked appointment and wallet. The family provides the opportunities for multiple sales. In business, a senior owner is the key to the firm buying multiple policies for multiple reasons.

Al’s extensive research over many years gave us a good sense of this. His rules still apply today if you understand them. Even in his day, he knew that it took multiple calls (with good, appropriate pre-approach mail) to make a contact and potentially book an appointment. He also knew 50% of appointments were postponed or cancelled too.

Selling insurance is a lot of work. Misleading yourself into thinking just 10 calls are enough to make a sale is a mistake. It hardly ever is.


I’m overwhelmed when I hear of top agents having 15 or more appointments every week. What does it really mean?

It’s exhausting just thinking about doing the math here. Imagine the number of leads it takes to generate the number of sales calls it takes to make actual contact. Then, the number of contacts it takes to make an appointment and the number of scheduled appointments it takes to get a kept appointment. You have to wonder how anyone could keep it going. It seems daunting, and it would be if you were just starting out and had no business to work.

Here’s some insider perspective. First, for top advisors, all appointments qualify as sales appointments in the sense that they can find business anywhere. So, all their calls are “sales calls”. Second, top advisors routinely contact all their existing clients for update appointments. They also have staff to make some of the calls too. (Ask me about my “Courtesy Call Technique” handout that makes it easier for anyone to call.)

So, the prospecting required in this case is nowhere near as onerous as it seems. It’s not a walk in the park either mind you, but it isn’t the way it looks at first glance. What’s more, top advisors routinely take significant time off to recharge so this isn’t a 50 week a year project.

Let’s refine the idea then and rethink the situation. Now, when you include a significant number of review meetings and follow ups (some made by staff) plus new sales calls that derive from existing business and only do this 40 weeks per year, the job is much smaller than it appeared. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

Anyone can do anything for a while. It’s the long haul that really counts. That’s why I recommend “The 3/40 Performance Week” – working diligently 3 days per week for forty weeks a year. That’s an approach that anyone can maintain.

Here’s what I know from real world experience. Almost any agent who can maintain 9 legitimate client meetings (either reviews with sales potential or new prospect sales calls) per week for 40 weeks annually will likely double their production. Yes, this usually means booking 12 to 15 appointments per week but for just 3 days. Book them Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday so you can work “on” (administration and support work) your business, Mondays and Fridays. Set regular appointment times that make sense for you and then double book the ones that are the least secure. Use your own averages and work the expectations.

It’s called the 3/40 Performance Week because it’s about “performing” 3 days a week and choosing the 40 weeks per year that work for you. Book vacations first and then plan your performance days around them. That will make you most effective.

So, don’t worry about what other agents do. Know you do have to be very busy to be very successful but you don’t have to drive yourself crazy. Set the appointment schedule that you can maintain and you will always do your best.

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