To be perfectly candid, we did our best to avoid John at times because we knew what was going to happen if we were spotted.
John Flaherty was my General Agent when I became a novice life insurance agent as a 24-year old in 1968. It was a less sophisticated, simpler time back then prior to Al Gore’s creation of the Internet. I had begun selling on a part-time basis in order to supplement my meager income as a teacher of English and speech at St. Edmond High School in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
"Let’s practice the talk, Bill." Too late. John had found me. I was headed for the hot box as he critiqued my delivery.
Cornered, I pretended to be happy about the opportunity to practice my sales talk for the millionth time and replied, "Sure, John, be right there."
‘The talk’ is what we used in virtually every sales interview. Its correct title was (now politically incorrect) The Hundred Man Story. If given today—it would accurately be known as The Hundred Person Story.
The presentation was designed to demonstrate what will likely happen to 100 men born on the same day 65 years later. Our source for the story was an actuarial table based on Social Security data gathered by the U.S. government. A certain number, we assured the prospect, will die prematurely; some will become disabled; and the majority will reach retirement age with various degrees of financial security. Most of the men, unfortunately, will not have enough money for themselves should they live or for their families should they die. Job One for us was to convince our prospects that if they didn’t purchase cash value life insurance they would be among the 85% who would wind up "dead or dead broke."
Utilizing the waiver of premium feature, we were able to show that buying this ‘put and keep account’ (the life insurance contract) would ensure financial piece of mind whether the prospect lived, died, quit or became disabled. I loved the simplicity of the talk because it was logical, emotional and truthful. Frankly, the same presentation would make sense even now—four decades after I first learned it. And thanks to John Flaherty’s persistence, learn it I did!
After demonstrating the need for life insurance using The Hundred Man Story and asking fact and feeling questions—it was a logical progression to ask for (close) the sale.
Looking back, I am grateful that John Flaherty forced my colleagues and me to practice that talk until our heads hurt. I often joked that someone could wake me up at 3 a.m. and I could present it flawlessly and with great enthusiasm. Because I knew it so well, there was no fear in making a presentation or asking the person to buy. After all, why wouldn’t I want my prospects to be in the top 5% of people who had properly planned for the vagaries of life mentioned in the talk?
How does this tale relate to you? Simply in this way. You will be most successful as an entrepreneur if you know exactly what you are going to say about your product or service and how you are going to say it.
My recommendation is that you develop and practice a story that makes sense, is truthful and has a powerful impact on the person to whom you are talking. Find someone who will put you in the ‘hot box’ to hone your presentation skills.
One of my favorite sayings for people in sales (and I contend we are ALL in sales) is, "Ad libs are for amateurs!"
Become a pro. Decide how to best make a presentation that fits your personality and learn to deliver it with passion and sincerity. You will be well paid for your efforts.
Bill Sheridan—Sheridan Writes See my bio under Guest Authors
Bill Sheridan—Sheridan Writes
See my bio under Guest Authors
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