Success is rarely the result of a single trait or capability. It most often occurs when the right combination of action and character align. We’ve all seen a variety of people with different capabilities and traits who are successful, but we’ve also seen those who lack the right stuff fail.
What are the traits which tend to lead to greater success in sales?
1) Genuine curiosity. While curiosity may have killed the cat, it’s necessary to succeed. Curiosity—the eagerness to know about something or to get information—is an instinctual trait that serves producers, their agency and their clients well.
Curiosity is a leading indicator of future success because it shows that the individual does not take what they see or hear at face value. Instead, they seek a deeper understanding and are willing to invest time to find it.
The curious aren’t always the easiest to work with or manage. They ask “why” often and don’t settle for fluff answers. They dig until they are satisfied and then use their findings to make more informed recommendations, presentations and decisions.
2) Leadership. This is probably the No. 1 trait lacking within our industry. Producers are often fearful of leading. They can confuse leadership with better relationships with underwriters, access to markets and value-added services, and they may shy away from recommending solutions for helping their clients achieve their goals and objectives. The preference, instead, is to offer options, placing the decision-making burden on the client.
In survey after survey, buyers indicate that they want to work with sellers who can teach them something new and help them make more educated decisions.
3) Belief and gumption. The role of the producer is that of a change agent. As such, it is their job is to develop new business by creating a case for why a prospect should do business with them and their agency versus any other option in the marketplace.
A great producer truly believes they have a better, more effective approach and that the client is at greater risk if they don’t follow it. They also have gumption—the ability to remain strong and true to their approach when their prospects endeavor to follow a less effective, more commodity-focused method of bidding and quoting.
Producers with both belief and gumption recognize there are no perfect prospects. They must create the perfect prospect by helping them discover what a more effective process and business relationship looks like.
They also know when to walk away.
4) Long-term vision. There are sellers and then there are consultants. Producers who solely focus on the revenue they can earn are the former; producers who help their clients embed better business practices and achieve more favorable outcomes are the latter.
It can be easier to focus on short-term wins—to snag and bag a sale and make promises without worrying about following through. To be a consultant, a producer must have their eye on the bigger prize: long-term relationships, a steady stream of referrals and the experience gained through years of focus and commitment.
New or young producers are often valued for the immediate revenue they produce instead of their commitment to building a book of business that is profitable and resistant to competition over time. Correcting this flawed thought process requires a supportive agency environment.
5) Humility and empathy. There’s enough arrogance in the world, especially in sales. Some producers feel that demonstrating humility and empathy is a sign of weakness, but that could not be further from the truth. Genuine respect and caring for another person’s life and business never goes out of style. It’s also in short supply. No one will ever choose a competitor over you because they were more arrogant.
Humility and empathy draw people closer to you. They are emotions that demonstrate humanity and prompt your prospects to drop their guard and share. When you convey them genuinely, they allow others to see you as an individual, rather than a promoter.
Susan Toussaint of Oceanus Partners, a ReSource Pro Company, provides agents and brokers with strategies that help them more effectively pique the curiosity of business owners and decision-makers and lead them away from the flawed process of bidding and quoting insurance, toward a more effective client engagement strategy.