In 1867, Secretary of State, William Seward agreed to buy Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. Seward was criticized and called crazy for spending so much money. Newspapers call the purchase Seward’s folly and Seward’s Icebox. The purchase passed the senate by one vote.
As it turns out, that was probably the best $7.2 million the US Government ever spent.
We remember Seward for the purchase. We can’t remember any of his many critics.
A Finnish composer said, “pay no attention to people who criticize. No statue was ever erected to a critic.
How much of your time do you spend criticizing?
When you criticize, especially when you have no control over the situation or worse, the situation doesn’t affect you, what does it do to you? It zaps your focus away from the important things you want to accomplish. Second, it drains your energy and criticism accomplishes nothing.
I remember hearing someone say don’t come to me with a problem unless you have a solution. The same is true with criticism. Don’t criticize unless you can solve or change the situation.
Next time you start to criticize, remember Seward’s Icebox.
There were two construction workers eating lunch. One opened his lunch box and yelled at the top of his lungs, “Oh no, not peanut butter sandwiches again!!”
This went on for several days before his coworker said, “If you don’t like peanut butter sandwiches, tell your wife not to pack them anymore.” In which he replied, “You leave my wife out of this. I pack my own lunch.”
It’s a funny story. But how often do we keep complaining about a problem we’re able to change?
Rather than complaining or blaming someone else, look first at yourself and ask, “Am I the problem? What can I do to solve the problem?
If you find yourself unhappy with a situation ask yourself, “Who packed my lunch?”
I love what I do and love working with new sales people. One of my occasional frustrations is when sales people, especially new sales people want to focus on different markets and sell everything.
One of the secrets of successful sales people and successful sales organizations is FOCUS. They know their market and they are focused on that market.
Joe Gandolfo, a great life insurance salesman, said that when he started in the business, he memorized a script and he could only sell a $5,000 or $10,000 Life paid up at age 65 policy. He thought that was a great way to start. It was simple and he couldn’t get confused.
The four greats that I write about in Sales Lessons from the Masters, all focused on one product or one market. The greatest life insurance salesman of all time, Ben Feldman, sold whole life in the business market. He didn’t do group insurance, pensions, investments, etc.
Early in my career, I was fortunate to do some work with National Teacher Associates. NTA focused on the sales of cancer insurance to teachers. It was one product and one market with a scripted sales presentation. After a week of training, agents were ready to sell as experts with confidence. That was the reason NTA could bring new agents into the business and help agents who failed with other companies become successful.
My roles include both being a coach and sales trainer. The key to being a great trainer and coach is getting people to do what they already know but aren’t doing.
John Wooden is considered to be the greatest college basketball coach. He won 10 national championships in 12 years. Other coaches have had great players but no one has come close to that record.
Wooden said everyone wants to do the new thing. No one wants to do what is necessary.
Every once in awhile, I will have a long-time sales veteran go through my training and say, “Ken, your training is great fundamentals for a beginner but I am a veteran and I don’t need the fundamentals.” My response is that’s great but are you doing it?
Here’s my question for you. You know what to do but are you doing what you know?
You can outshoot Michael Jordan, if you shoot and Jordan just holds the ball.
What does this have to do with sales? Watch 14-year-old Caleb Maddix explain in the quick video below.
Are you standing there just holding the ball? Do you wonder why others with less talent are making more sales? Do you wonder why others are passing you by in your career? It’s because you are standing there holding the ball. You are not taking risks. You are not taking chances.
Watching the video, I thought of the greatest hockey player ever, Wayne Gretzky. He said, “you miss 100% of the shots you never take.”
Ready to shoot? What chance or risk are you ready to take to change your life?
Joe Gandolfo, who personally sold a billion dollars of life insurance in 1974, said the secret of success in selling life insurance is to see lots of people.
By seeing lots of people, getting the no’s and yes’s, you are sharpening your sales skills. Each no gets you closer to yes.
The president of a life insurance company introduced Gandolfo as having 16 years of experience when he only had 8. Gandolfo was confused at first. It hit him that if he sees 500 people and the average agent saw 250 people, he had twice as much experience.
Gandolfo’s words of advice to a beginner (and it applies to experts as well), ask every person you meet, “would you have any objection to me reviewing your life insurance?”
I encourage every agent I work with to ask that question to everyone they meet.
One agent I have been working with has generated lots of prospects by asking everyone that question. He even did it while delivering t-shirts for the union local. And by asking that question he sold 3 times his monthly goal.
The advice is simple and it works. You just have to do!
Start asking everyone, “Would you have any objection to me reviewing your life insurance?” and find out how it can boost your success in selling.
Can you believe there was a time when overnight package delivery did not exist?
Overnight delivery is something we take for granted today. There was a time it was nonexistent and overnight delivery seemed like a crazy idea. We can thank Fred Smith and his commitment for next day delivery.
When Fred Smith was in college, he wrote a paper that was the idea for Federal Express and overnight package delivery. His professor didn’t think the idea was feasible. The professor thought the idea was ridiculous that no one would pay for overnight delivery when they could use U.S. Mail.
In 1971, in the middle of a recession, Fred Smith started FedEx. He took all the money he had. The first day of business, they planned to transport 167 packages. That day, they delivered seven packages. Five of the packages they sent to themselves. They had only 2 paying customers.
He had a tremendous amount of money on the line – we are talking airplanes and shipping services.
Most people would have been ready to quit after the 1st day. Fred Smith’s response was, “that is excellent, we figured how to send two packages. Now we just have to increase the numbers.”
The first few years FedEx was on the verge of going under. Most people would say, you better do something else.
Fred Smith understood that failure was not an option. He changed the method of package delivery and became wealthy in the process.
How can you apply Fred Smith’s commitment to improve your life?
Garry is CEO of Kinder Brothers International. My guess is that over the years, Kinder Brothers has trained more successful agents and managers than anyone else in the Life Insurance Industry. Garry and his team understand the importance of fundamentals in building a successful sales career.
Garry and his brother Jack have written a number of books on selling through the years. One of my favorites is Garry’s book, “50 Lessons in 50 years.”
One section of the book is lessons from Earl Nightingale. Here’s one of the lessons:
Illustrations don’t sell
Rate books don’t sell (who remembers a rate book?)
You don’t sell with numbers
You sell with ideas, concepts, stories and pictures.
Garry heard Earl Nightingale say, “Ideas and concepts are what change people’s lives.”
You, as agents and brokers must continue to show consumers their problems and solve those problems with ideas and concepts. It is up to YOU to communicate the ideas and concepts. You are not easily replaced. YOU change people’s lives.
A minister was trying to prepare a sermon. His son was driving him crazy.
The minster had an idea. He picked up a magazine and found a map of the world. He tore it out and cut it into little pieces.
He told his son, if you can put it back together, I’ll give you $10.
The minister thought it would take most of the morning. Ten minutes later his son had finished the puzzle. The minister was amazed. There was the map altogether.
The minister asked, how did you do it so fast. His son said it was easy. There was a picture of a man on the other side. I put the picture of the man together and turned it over. The son said, “I figured if I got the man right the world would be right.”
The minister said, you’ve given me a sermon idea, if a man is right, his world is right.
If you are unhappy with your world and want to change it, you start with yourself. If you are right, your world will be right.