Dear Sales Team:
We are having a relatively strong 2014, but our performance can and should be better. Sales of individual life insurance are flat, while our retirement product line is sizzling. Our annuity products, which are delivering notably lower results for our clients due to the low market rate environment, are still selling strong because clients want guarantees.
You get all of this. But in a belief that “this is varsity” and the competition is gaining on us, we need to ramp up individual and group efforts. In that regard, I have come up with the following plan of action for your review.
Many of us have learned what happened in the wake of the Watergate break-in. Documents were stolen, and things got messy. President Nixon had to resign, and somehow a few of the perpetrators ended up as radio talk show hosts. Anyway, that got me thinking …
When was the last time you broke into the human resources department at any client company? I’m not talking about breaking the law and using a crowbar, but what about creating a presentation that you can offer on “Financial Planning and Protecting Your Assets”?
Some people within our firm think this is above them. That’s nonsense. I want to encourage you to call your best clients, ask to speak with the top dog in human resources and explain that as a public service you’ll offer a 50-minute seminar on the title above – and not change a word.
Why am I being so dictatorial? First, it’s my nature — you work for me. Second, notice that the title of the seminar doesn’t mention life insurance. People won’t show up if we use that phrase. You know better than I do that no one wants to face their mortality. But “Protecting Your Assets” gets everyone curious. Are you talking about those supersecret offshore bank accounts? Starting a limited liability corporation? An umbrella policy in case someone drowns in my pool? Intrigue your audience and then follow the obligation we have to discuss those subjects, closing with the most important gift we bring to others: protecting families.
Now, you’re saying, “Boss, this isn’t new or dramatic. People have done this for decades.” True. But I’m not talking about hosting this at a country club — break into HR, have the seminar at the work site and skip the sandwiches. Remove the sales tag. Make it informational and inspirational. Tell them “Here’s what smart people are doing today to protect their future.”
At Watergate, no one left a business card behind. So, guess what — I don’t think you should bring a single business card. Have your phone number appear on the last of your PowerPoint slides and be sure everyone has paper and pens before you begin. Watch to see how many write it down. Explain you didn’t bring cards because you respect the audience. Watch the reaction.
Finally, a thought about your presentation. I’ve shadowed a few of you on recent sales calls. It’s embarrassing to see what some of you are using. So, I want you to buy a book called Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. That book is being used by our competitors because it explains how with a few modest but powerful changes in design you can take a sales presentation from boring to sizzling.
Carlos, our sales lead in the northwest territory, took his traditional sales deck of 40 slides down to eight — eight! The deck has photos with few words, so the audience focuses on listening rather than looking for typos. Our compliance folks almost called for the death sentence because they couldn’t figure out what he was presenting. Good work, Carlos — you’re my Agent of the Month.
So, here are your marching orders. First, remember that Nixon was a crook but he was also one savvy dude. Don’t break in — just lean in — get to know HR and make them a partner at your client’s workplace. Redesign your message with simplicity and powerful graphics. Be elusive and forget the hard sell — become an information expert.
We have a noble calling. We help people buy products that we know for a fact cannot replace a life, but they can ensure financial stability for a family who suffers a major loss. You can read this memo and forget it, or you can make this an action plan and reaffirm why I hired you in the first place.
P.S. One of Nixon’s favorite movies was “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” I think I know why. Remember the scene where Paul Newman keeps asking Robert Redford “Who are those guys?” That’s what I want to happen when you leave the presentation without handing out a single business card.