This is the fourth and final installment in our series on 40 ways to grow your insurance business in 2018. To put the sales tips & growth hacking strategies in place, you need to be creative, strong, and persistent.
Let’s talk about how to build your mental, personal, spiritual, and creative strength. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of growing your business, these tips will help. Like physical exercise, building your mental and emotional fitness takes work. It takes routine and repetition to make new habits a part of your daily life. But once you do, you can be more creative, more patient, more inspired, and more at peace with each and every decision in your life.
If you missed a previous installment, click here for part one (sales tips), here for part two (growth hacking), or here for part three (organization tips). Now, let’s look at 10 strategies for becoming the best, most inspired version of yourself.
1. Make Time to Think
There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.
Back in post one of this series, we suggested scheduling time to sell. Now, we’re suggesting you schedule time to think. In a business, there’s always more you can do – more calls, more marketing, more reporting. There’s always more you can do at home, too. Spend more time with your spouse or kids, volunteer in your community, or take a class. But none of those things involve spending quiet time alone, just you and your thoughts.
If you thrive on the energy of others, this might seem like a difficult task. Sit quietly, without your phone or anything to distract you. Try to silence any worries or voices in your head reminding you of all the stuff that needs to get done. If this is hard, try to picture a calm, quiet scene. Breathe slowly and deeply until all you’re thinking about is that calm scene.
Then, and only then, start focusing on the way you feel. Are you happy? Unhappy? What do you want? What do you need? Are there “gut” feelings surfacing that answer a question you’ve been wrestling with? Sometimes, we need to get away from the influences surrounding us and pay attention to what our mind and body are really telling us. If you can learn to draw out this feeling (and trust it), your decisions will lead you to a place of greater happiness and achievement.
2. Ask for Help
It can be hard to ask for help. Either we think we can do everything, we want to do everything, or we just aren’t used to asking someone to lend a hand. In the long run, this holds you back from growing your business. Who can help lighten your load? Are there ways you could exchange time, energy, goods, or services with a partner?
If you’re having trouble asking, think about the cost-benefit analysis. What’s the worst that could happen? They say no, and you still have to complete the task. You were planning on doing that anyway! If they say yes, you just removed a roadblock and can move forward. Plus, you can build relationships by asking for and providing help when asked.
When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.
Here are a few situations where asking for help can pay off:
- Having trouble finding new leads? Ask someone in a related industry if you can talk to their clients about life insurance. This may lead to a fruitful partnership.
- Need content for your blog or social media profiles? Ask your clients! Who did they insure and why? Or ask the question on social media at large: what do you know (or think you know) about life insurance? Take the answers you get and create content out of them. You could also find a local partner in a related industry and ask if they’d like to contribute content in return for potential referrals.
- Not sure what specific steps to take to grow your business? Ask someone to mentor you. This might be a successful person or agency in our industry, or someone who’s killing it in a different industry. Your mentor might be someone you don’t actually know, but whose content you can follow online (Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Gary Vaynerchuk, etc.).
3. Learn Something New Unrelated to Your Business
The health of your brain is much more about your actions than your age.
We already talked about learning to use technology better in order to improve your business. But it’s also a good idea to challenge yourself outside of business. Learn a new language, take up a new sport or pastime, or try a new hobby. Learning to play a musical instrument can create new neurons in your brain, according to the Global Council on Brain Health. You can take a class in a subject that always interested you, from painting to car repair to archaeology. If your local community college doesn’t have anything that interests you, OpenCulture.com has a huge list of free online classes taught by professors from universities like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. (You’re not graded, don’t worry!)
If you’re worried about keeping your brain sharp as you age, study something that involves visual comprehension, short- and long-term memory, or math and calculations, advises Harvard’s health blog. According to a study published in 2014 in the Annals of Neurology, learning a second language (even if you learn it as an adult) may slow cognitive decline.
4. Become a Better Listener
Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends.
This tip is applicable in sales and in your personal life. When you’re on the phone with a client, do you really listen to what they’re saying…or are you listening for a good place to cut in with a sales pitch or product placement? In real life, do you listen when your friends and family members talk about their day…or are you secretly going over your to-do list in the back of your mind?
Listening is a skill. It seems basic, but there’s a difference between listening passively, listening in order to absorb the information, and listening in order to further a conversation. The kind of listening that furthers a conversation requires more of you. You need to engage multiple senses to keep your brain stimulated, in case the other person’s speech pattern or subject matter isn’t enough to keep you engaged.
Engaged listening means reading the other person’s lips, changing your body language to be more open, giving quick verbal responses, or asking questions for clarification. Taking notes or repeating information aloud after the conversation can help solidify it in your memory, if that’s also required. The next time you’re talking to a client or a family member, monitor the type of listening you’re doing. If you’re not fully engaged, double-down by refocusing with more than one sense.
5. Take a Step Forward with Technology
Your day in the office is busy from beginning to end. There’s no time for play or experimentation. When you hear recommendations for new apps or programs or devices, you may shrug them off because you don’t have the time to evaluate them. Or you just may prefer the old-fashioned way of doing things.
But what if one of those programs or devices could really streamline the way you do something? What if it helped you do more of something you love? When you use an app or other technology at home, you get comfortable with it in a whole new way. An idea or technology that intimidated you in a work context may be the perfect solution after you learn to incorporate it into your home life.
Change equals self-improvement. Push yourself to places you haven’t been before.
Start by looking into apps or programs built around a hobby or interest of yours. For example, search “football apps” or “knitting apps” or “how to bookmark recipes online.” You could set up a Google Alert for your alma mater or your favorite musician. You could start listening to a podcast about history, gardening, or Game of Thrones (yes, they exist). The bottom line is that you’ll be more motivated when it comes to your favorite things. Tie technology to one of those things, and you’re likely to have an open mind when it comes to trying something new.
6. Make Things Fun Again
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been.
Remember when you were a kid and simple things made your day? If you don’t experience pure happiness much anymore, it’s time to seek it out in new ways. Jot down a few things or experiences that made you feel this way growing up. Were they small treats, like a new comic book or a popsicle on a summer day? Or were they experiences, like a trip to the beach or an amusement park? Maybe it was discovering a new band, or changing up your hairstyle or clothing.
Once you remember what made you happy, you can try and replicate it. A candy bar probably doesn’t have the same thrill as it did in sixth grade, but maybe you’re looking for a similar culinary indulgence. What kinds of new foods or desserts can you try to give you this feeling? If it’s an experience that elevated your mood, make a list of places near and far that you’ve always wanted to visit. Don’t forget places in your own city or neighborhood. Sometimes the closest attractions are the ones you overlook most often.
Connecting with other people can also re-inspire those childhood feelings of happiness. When was the last time you played a board game? Or went out with just the guys/ladies? These kinds of connections happened frequently when we were kids—we were in school with our friends all day long. Now, we work all the time and have chores to do at home. We have to make time for the kinds of connections and fun activities that used to happen naturally.
7. Know When You Need a Challenge
Challenges are scary. It’s always easier to sit still. After all, stress is bad for you, right? But a challenge may reawaken your creative instinct or your competitive spirit if either of those things have seemed dormant lately.
You’ve got to have rules to live by, and one of mine is always say yes. Put yourself in danger of something amazing happening to you.
A challenge may mean a competition, friendly or in earnest. Pickup games, weekend leagues, contests, races, you name it; there are plenty of ways to push yourself to see what you can achieve. Maybe you need a personal challenge, like doing something that scares you or taking on a task that forces you to learn a new skill (hello, kitchen renovation). A challenge may even require a job or location change, if you truly feel like you’re stuck in a rut.
8. Communicate Better & More Frequently
Those who seek a better life must first become a better person.
Your job depends on communication. Our entire industry is built on relationships. To maintain and grow a steady client base, you need to create stronger relationships with your best clients. Well, the same is true in your personal life. Those relationships need nurturing, too.
Make a goal of reconnecting with an old friend, or checking in with a relative you haven’t seen in awhile. This strengthens your existing relationships, and it also benefits the other person. You never know when they’re in need of a simple hello, or someone to ask how their day has been. The more empathy you display in your personal life, the better you’ll be able to relate to clients and prospects.
9. Assess What’s Working…and What Isn’t
Change is your friend not your foe; change is a brilliant opportunity to grow.
Let’s say you’ve taken the tips in this 4-part series to heart, and you’ve done two things to branch out. You’ve reached out to other local professionals to ask about partnerships, and you’ve embraced using Facebook to talk about insurance. Now let’s say one of those partnerships has brought in a dozen referrals, but despite all the time you’ve put into Facebook, you get nothing but crickets. Or, let’s reverse the situation. What if you’re getting a trickle of referrals from Facebook, but none of your partnership efforts have panned out>?
What should you do?
It’s time to step back and assess your efforts. You have to ask yourself a few questions:
- Did you have reasonable expectations for the time it would take, and the results you expected to achieve?
- Would a little more research shed light on the situation? In the world of digital marketing and social media, for example, algorithms and best practices can change on a monthly basis.
- Is it a cost-effective use of your time to continue trying to reach this particular goal? Are there other ways to reach this goal?
Once you’ve evaluated the situation, don’t be afraid to pivot. If you’re thinking of a pivot as a failure, it’s not. It’s a decision to deploy your resources elsewhere. In the tech industry, companies use the phrase “fail fast” to describe the testing and release of a new product that often isn’t 100% ready. By gauging initial consumer interest, they know whether it’s worth spending the time and money to improve and then market that product. You can use the same logic when trying something new, and evaluating whether you should keep it going.
10. Embrace Your Age & Experiences
A lot of the tips we’ve shared are about learning new things, pushing your boundaries, and getting out of your comfort zone. But it’s also important to embrace where you are right now, and all the twists and turns that brought you there. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you think about what it takes to grow your business: finding and converting leads, or getting started with digital marketing and social media.
If you start feeling insecure or hesitant, remember that there was a time when you didn’t know anything about insurance. You didn’t know how to sell or manage a client base. But you learned those things, and now you do them really well. Use the same courage and tenacity to grow your business that you used to build it in the first place. Your experience should give you confidence – let it show!
If you need reminders of what you’ve achieved, make them visible around your home and office. Hang up your awards. Print out compliments you’ve received from clients and put them where you’ll see them. Or turn them into a screensaver for your phone or computer. A little praise goes a long way. The next time you’re not sure whether to take that new business opportunity, attend that conference, or learn a new piece of software, remind yourself of what everyone else sees in you – a confident, capable businessperson. You got this!
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.
That wraps up our last post in this series on 40 ways to grow your insurance business in 2018!
Which tips resonate most with you? Have you used any to help inspire new growth and creativity? Tell us in the comments!
Missed a post? Check out the rest of this 4-part series: