Selling to friends and family is a key step towards success

By Jim Ruta | January 24 2017 07:00AM

Photo: Freepik

I’m new to the life insurance business. My manager says I have to sell my friends and family. Do I really have to?

Many prospective candidates for the insurance business have flatly refused to sell to friends and family. They usually put it to me like this, “If I have to depend on my friends and family for sales, I won’t do it. I want to make it without their ‘help’.

And, being young and foolish, I often made a point of working around their friends and family. But looking back, I wish I had been more resolute about this requirement.

No, you don’t have to sell life insurance to your friends and family to be a successful insurance advisor in the sense that you can make it without selling a handful of friends and family. Those sales won’t make you a leader. They are just a small part of a long, successful career.

But, here’s a better question: “Why wouldn’t you at least try to sell your friends and family?” All successful insurance advisors, like you hope to be, are inspired by the proper application of the product. When they are inspired, they are inspiring to prospects. That’s what makes them great. People catch their enthusiasm and do what they wouldn’t likely do on their own.

My question is this. “Are you personally inspired enough by what you sell to inspire your family and friends to take advantage of the product?” If you don’t believe sufficiently in the value of life insurance that you want everyone to take advantage, you are on a track for mediocre, not magnificent.

There is already too big a crowd at mediocre. Aim for magnificent instead. Be an ICON.

Unless you believe enough in life insurance to want to share it with everyone you know and that includes family and friends, you will never have more than average success. If that is good enough for you, this is the wrong business for you.

A corollary to selling friends and family is buying the product yourself. Some advisors take a wait and see approach to buying it themselves. “I’ll wait and see how I do before I buy.” No waiting required. You won’t make it. I promise.

Another point. Financial advisors are recruited for their contacts. The maxim is “If you don’t know anybody and don’t care to, you won’t make it.” You are selected because of your contacts and ability to generate them. If you then refuse to make use of them, you are tying one hand behind your back and missing out on your best advantage in the business. It’s a critical mistake.

Besides, once you start in the business, your friends and family will use you as an excuse not to see another advisor. It’s the dreaded, “I have a friend in the business” objection. Make honest people of your friends and family and at least give them the opportunity to say no to you.

So, I take it back. Unless you are prepared to sell your friends and family, you will never be an ICON. That means you will never be more than average at this. That aspiration is no way to start this business.

How can I improve my closing ratio to make more sales?

Trying to improve your closing ratio is what’s killing your sales. Thinking that you can improve your closing ratio beyond about 1 in 3 is to violate the rules of the game. It’s like a major leaguer aiming to be a .500 hitter. It just doesn’t happen over the long run. If you are already that good, closing ratio is not your problem.

Ok, if you are striking out almost every time – if you never make a sale, you have a problem, but still not likely a closing ratio problem. But, you probably do need some help. But that’s basic sales help. It’s not closing ratio help.

Apply the “ICON Protocol” on your sales process and get some coaching:

  • Inspire yourself and the people you focus on to attract them to listen to you.
  • Communicate that idea effectively and consistently so prospects are compelled to buy.
  • Organize your presentation and business to repeat the success process every day.
  • Numerate the sales mission critical activities so you continually improve your results.

Back to closing ratios. Thinking that a better closing ratio is what separates you from more business is just wrong. The best in the business – the ICONs of the industry, don’t do much better than one sale for every three cases opened. They know that success is the natural consequence of large numbers of prospects, fact-finders, cases opened and closes attempted. You simply must have the numbers to have the sales.

This reminds me of something I used to say to new prospects: “Mr. Prospect, before we begin, I just want to say that I usually only sell one in three and the last guy just bought. I think you’re safe.” That always brought a chuckle and we were off on the right foot.

Here’s another closing story. I worked with an advisor who bragged about his closing ratio. “Jim, my closing ratio is almost perfect. I close at least nine out of ten prospects. I don’t need any help” My response surprised him. I bet it surprises you. “That’s too bad. If you lowered it, you would sell more and earn a lot more.

Here’s what I mean. When you have a 90% closing ratio, you are obviously only closing the easy ones. You aren’t taking chances on tough prospects and tough cases. You make the easy pitches and take the simple cases. You aren’t asking for the big decisions and the big premiums to solve the big problems. You take on easy prospects, easy decisions, small premiums and smaller problems. Nothing to be proud of there.

I told him, and I tell you the same thing. Take more chances with challenging prospects. Ask for more appointments with hard-to-see prospects. Ask for bigger decisions and premiums. Lower your closing ratio and you will be much more productive and profitable. Guaranteed.

Mercifully, he listened to me. A year later, he lowered his 90% closing ratio to 33%. But, in the process, he more than tripled his income. He went from average to awesome because he started asking more and failing more – yet he still helped more and sold more.

You can do the same. Don’t worry about your closing ratio. Just close more.