6th Sense Proposals

Topics such as "How to sell like hell," "Presentations that change the game" "Break the rules, make new rules, and be heard through the noise" "The Comp Contrarian - become a Workers' Comp Guru" "Change the conversation. Capture the account."

TV, Email & Twitter

Author PrestonDiamond , 9/11/2012
It started with TV. TV fascinated us with pictures. Then, the evolution of color. Who still has a black and white TV or would continue to watch if the picture went out?

Along comes email and all but wipes out how we communicate.Twitter emphasized our thirst for instant gratification and brevity in communication.

I'm an old insurance guy. I do not remember taking email or Twitter when I went to an insurance company sponsored school in the 60's. Heck, I don't remember even taking a class on how to present the technical stuff I learned at the company school.

What is my point?

1. To communicate with today's buyer, be brief, be specific, be colorful, communicate in pictures, and provide instant gratification. A tall order, but you have little choice.

Let's add one more critical factor when you communicate. Tell a story. That may be the only thing left over from our ancestors in how we communicate and it trumps all else. When you weave a masterful story you buy both heart and mind of your buyer. And you need both to make the sale.

What do you say when asked what you do?

Author PrestonDiamond , 8/31/2012
if you answer:

  1. I'm in the insurance business, your grade is a "zero"
  2. I help employers crush their insurance costs rates a "5"
  3. I help employers protect their balance sheet and improve their P & L, scores a full 10.
  4. The answer must allow the conversation to continue the way you want it to.

Crushing costs captures attention.However it may lead to "give me a quote."
Helping create revenue for employers helps you break from the pack and should set you up for more dialog with this valuable business owner.

Changing the conversation helps you continue to advance the sale and ultimately write more business.

To get the right answers you must ask the right questions

Author PrestonDiamond , 8/24/2012
In the questioning part of your sales process, do you ask buyers how they train their salespeople?

What answers do you think you may hear? My guess is you will not hear, "we train our sales force to sell on the lowest price."  You want your prospects to think about how they train their salespeople to sell as a first step to overcoming only selling on price.

I knew an agent who wrote a book on "How to Sell On Price."it ended in Chapter 11.

Your prospect will most likely talk about the value they bring. This allows you to zero in on your value in helping your clients enrich their business... it is OK to bring up cost before the buyer brings it up. You know they are thinking about anyway...maybe above anything else you are going to talk about.

"You know in today's economy Ms Buyer, we all want value and what is economically best for our company. So let's strategize together for a bit about your company, your marketing plans and your company's future. OK?"

With excellent listening, you should hear plenty of fodder to help your potential client enrich their business life.
If you bring them $10,000 revenue per year, will that overcome $4,000 price difference?

My guess. A very good chance.

Non-Optional Behavior

Author PrestonDiamond , 8/20/2012
by Preston Diamond

For success in 2013, not understanding and acting on subjects covered in today's Wisdom Letter, to quote a long time friend, Roger Sitkins, is "non-optional behavior." 

Insurance does not sell insurance. Today's world is one of instant, not long tail, gratification. An employer who has not suffered many losses, does not have the same thought process as one who has suffered.
How can you bring more instant gratification to your potential client? It is an easy answer. Enrich their business life. Many Wisdom Letters have addressed this. It's now time to close the knowing doing gap and put it into 2013 action. Before you ever visit a new potential client, determine at least three ways you can help enrich their business lives before you visit and even before you talk to them the first time. 

Again, discussed before. Do business owners care more about making money or saving money? You know the answer. Yet most producers still focus on saving money on insurance. Why? Your clients think that is the only way to buy insurance. Enrich their business life quickly. You'll overcome saving a few thousand on premium and do the right job you can be proud of. (I cannot even type the Q word) Yes, you have to get the insurance cost. It simply does not have to be a Q against another agency where lowest price wins. Also, enrich business life allows you to charge what you are worth. That only happens if you know what you are worth. Do you? 

Do you want to be memorable or professional? Easy answer here. Professional melds into the crowd. (It is even hard to define professional) Memorable stands out. OK, be professionaly memorable. Just stand out. Please. 

Is it better to spend $1,000 on "drip marketing" or $1,000 on a memorable seminar? Is it better to spend $1,000 on telemarketing or $1,000 on a memorable seminar? 
Answer: Invest in seminars. But, do it and create a buzz in the invitation. Create a buzz during the presentation. Create a buzz in the community. Have a follow up plan ready to implement before the seminar. 

Before you call on a potential client, do they know you better than you know them? You need to know all about them. Yes. However, they should know more about you through a mutual introduction, a seminar invite, a short talk you gave to a local civic club etc. Turn the tables. Make sure your potential client knows a great deal about you to welcome you with excitement, not with, "Oh no, another insurance person." 

That said, every agency should "employ" an intern to do research on potential clients. Information is easy to gather. Gather it before a producer visits so any questions asked are meaningful and the potential client knows the answer is one that could not easily be found by some basic research. It wastes both employer's time and producer time asking to gather info that is readily accessible. Shame on asking that question. 

Every agency must manage claims. That is the only reason anyone buys insurance. yet, we delegate this critical function to a third party over whom we have no control. Make it happen in 2013 either in agency or outsourced. 

Next producer agency hires should be a nurse. Think about it. Except for white collar businesses, more than 50% of all premiums employers pay are for people insurance. WorkComp and employee benefits. Envision a nurse on appointments with producers. Do your chances of capturing the WorkComp and employee benefits increase? Even on a 100 employee plus white collar employer, think of the impact of a nurse on benefits and wellness initiatives.
(Shameless plug... make 2013 your best revenue year ever by attending a Benefit and Wellness Institute and WorkComp Institute.) 

Final must do in 2013: Producers must invest in their own success. Which manual says agency owners must carry the entire financial burden of education and revenue growth opportunities for its sales staff?
So producers, would you rather do it all for a bit more new and renewal commission or invest in your future success by financially sharing with agency owners and... 

o Have an intern do your research and provide little known info that stuns your buyer and advances the sale? 

o Be able to take along a nurse to visit potential clients with you to change the entire dynamics of the appointment and advance...and even close the sale 

o Fulfill your promises to every buyer when you tell them, "when you suffer a disaster, our claims advocate, Ginny and her team, will be on it 'before the sun sets the day it occurs.'" 

o Investing in your own success by taking education courses not funded by agency owners

It should be an easy.

Make 2013 your best ever. Plan now for what you know you must put into action. After all, change will come. it is simply success that is optional.

Pres Diamond 
Institute of Benefits and Wellness Professionals 
Institute of WorkComp Professionals 

The Olympics and Selling Insurance

Author PrestonDiamond , 8/14/2012
By Preston Diamond

Usain "Leo Lightening" Bolt, Michael Phelps, Gabby and the other brilliant gymnasts, diving, men's and women's basketball, beach and regular court volleyball, rowing and the other water sports, a 4 X400 meters runner finishing with broken leg. (he attended college in Western North Carolina so big press here) plus kudos to all your favorite Olympic athletes.

Whatever your sport's passion, it all comes down to scoring and winning. When your individual and team wins, you feel good. Lose, and well, we all experience different emotions.

Is it not the same for you producers? You have to score by earning the account. The more you score the more Gold Medals you win. Translation: the more money you make.

But wait. Scoring and winning takes practice. My guess is that few of us practice with the same zeal as any Olympic athlete, or for that matter not with the same zeal you practiced playing any organized sport in high school.

Scoring and winning means entering the event. (calling on potential buyers) Scoring and winning takes, well, keeping score.

How many of you keep score? How many of you know you have to make 4 presentations to score once? How many of you know you have to present to $3,000,000 premium to 
achieve your production goal of $100,000 new revenue for the 12 months in a year? ($3,000,000 at 10% gross commission = $300,000 X's your producer share of 35%. = $105,000.) 

With so much (truly only limited by your work habits) money available to you, and so much good you can do for employers and homeowners, is there any reason you can't motivate yourself to continually keep score and practice as though winning at each client contact means as much to you as winning does to an Olympic athlete?

Let's make it real simple: Whatever your revenue goals, do you keep good enough score to know if you will win the Gold Medal?. 

A good friend, Ted Baker of Advanced Automation and I have discussed this off and on for years. Then a few months ago, Ted called to say he is working on a simple tool for producers to keep score. 

He emailed the prototype. We talked a few more times, edited, edited and edited some more, and voila, Ted completed his Client Revenue Accelerator.

It's typical Ted. A job very well done.

Today's world is very simple in its complexity.

1. You have more competition today 
2. There will always be someone better, so you have to get better. You have to disrupt the status quo. You have to change the rules and make new rules. 
3. You need better data to make more informed decisions. 
4. You need accountability. 
5. You need continuous training and deliberate practice. 

Check out Ted's Client Revenue Accelerator. While this link will alert Ted we referred you, we receive no compensation of any kind. Simply the satisfaction you're serious about keeping score. The Revenue Accelerator is for individual producers or the agency team.  

So, it is up to you to make the decision to keep score and win more. Oh, oh, I smell a tag line. 

Keep Score. Win More. Make More™ 

Many Wisdom Letters focus on our true job: Enrich our clients business lifestyle. We do it through educational content and tools to make our client's life's better and easier. 

That's the purpose of alerting you to Ted's client Revenue a way for you to keep score so you get better and make your clients better. it improves you and your clients business life style. 

Purchase Ted's Revenue Accelerator or not. But definitely practice and keep score. Win and feel good. Avert losing and the feeling that comes with it. However, we all will lose at times.  

Losing simply means to learn the lesson losing teaches. If disappointment in not getting the order doesn't spur you to practice more to do better next time you surely have not learned the lesson. 

And, many times it is lack of practice.

If you listened to the Olympic interviews of athletes who won Silver in 2008 you heard how disappointed they were. They were as one as they stated Gold was their only option in 2012. 

If disappointment jump starts additional training and practice, you gained the true purpose of this Wisdom Letter.  

Remember to check out  Client Revenue Accelerator.

Pres Diamond 
Institute of Benefits and Wellness Professionals 
Institute of WorkComp Professionals 

Driving revenue in the door is number priority number 1

Author PrestonDiamond , 8/10/2012
My ears did a double take chatting with a restaurant owner the other day. Burned on his brain in every education class in culinary school  was "watch food costs."

He startled me by saying, "driving revenue in the door is priority number one, Pres. Without revenue, not much to manage," stated Randy.

So, is your number one goal to drive revenue in your agency's door? If not shouldn't it be?

We'll keep these posts short to cover but one topic per post. No overburdening with too much. Short so you can implement between posts.

Number one then is:What is your specific strategy to increase revenue?

Take your entire team on a one day "Advance"* and figure it out.

* Retreat would be the common word, except it means to "drop back." How can you increase revenue by dropping back. So, I used 'Advance", going forward.

We'll attack the multiple ways to increase revenue starting with the next post.

Lurking Litigation

Author PrestonDiamond , 8/7/2012
By Preston Diamond

Many of you asked for the reports on Lurking Litigation and Driving Revenue in Employer's Doors. 

Driving Revenue was highlighted in the Wisdom Letter two weeks ago. We are now formatting it as a report and will distribute when complete.

Let's address how to move your prospect/clients into buyers when talking about lurking litigation. We will then produce and distribute the report.

Do the words Lurking Litigation catch your attention? They do mine. The point is to grab your buyer's brain to wake them up so they listen.

When (never 'If") you are sued doesn't offer the immediacy of "lurking litigation." And you want your buyer to act now. Lurking urges action. It also notes the litigation may be around the next corner or the next day.

Your appointment then is to discover that lurking litigation. Analyze is too technical a word. The words, "Risk Management" are too common and many business owners don't think they apply to them. These words also keep you in that sea of sameness with your competitors. Your appointment then is a discovery appointment.

The next to last "requirement" to break from the pack focuses on carrying copies of your agency's policies with you. When you demonstrate you carry EPLI, Cyber Liability, D & O etc, you are advancing the sale. You are reserving a piece of real estate in the buyer's mind. We've been through this many times. Demos and samples sell. (Buying a car without test driving. Turning on the TV before you buy a new set etc) Showing your policies sells...let the buyer see the Dec Sheet with limits/SIR's etc.

Included in your demo arsenal are easy to understand stats shown in picture form... bar graphs for comparison. (Pictures jump start the brain...that means you are now purchasing additional real estate in the buyer's brain to continue to advance the sale) For example, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports claims reached a 14 year high of 99,932 for fiscal 2010. Compare via bar graph claims for the past 5 years. Compare the cost of simply defending a claim.

The last requirement is to talk "plainspeak." Simply stated, to be moved toward a favorable decision, your prospect must understand her problem. If she has never experienced a problem, her mind is telling her she may never face the problem.

Bonus requirement: Collect example of lawsuits filed in your home area to show what happens locally.

...and to end this prelude to the report, you are commissioned to discover (if you have not already) a local attorney and HR Pro who know and understand all that is going on in the field of litigation...lurking litigation.

They become your partners to present seminars/webinars/news alerts and expert advice to your clients and prospects. More buying real estate in your prospects and client's minds. These folks can also give you typical local costs of defending. More brain real estate purchasing power.

We'll turn lurking litigation into a report and distribute to those who requested it. It's not too late to request. Simply hit reply and request Lurking Litigation. 

Pres Diamond 
Institute of Benefits and Wellness Professionals 
Institute of WorkComp Professionals 

What is your job?

Author PrestonDiamond , 8/1/2012
Simple sells. So, keep your job description simple.
Also, your job must not swim and then drown in the sea of sameness as your competitors.

So when someone asks what you do, simply answer, "I help business owners protect their balance sheets (the insurance part of what you do) and help them Improve their P & L, enriching their business life."

Be ready to continue without wading back into that sea of sameness.

More on this next time.


Three simple power questions to start the conversation

Author PrestonDiamond , 7/27/2012
Key to any question to advance the sale is to make sure you can't find the answer on the buyer's web site or any of the buyer's marketing material.

1. What's your employee turnover like? Great question for EPLI, WorkComp and benefits. Excess turnover (your definition of excess) leads to claims/increased costs in both insurance and productivity. The answer positions you about how much you'll present about these three subjects.

2. How do you measure if your customers are satisfied? Do you think how they measure may be connected to how they will measure how satisfied they are with you? Allows you to present to fit their expectations. (Be sure you can perform to those expectations or walk away)

3. How's your cash flow? Can you help improve it? Can they pay premiums timely? Challenge buyers so they know you care. No softball questions allowed.

To get the right answers you must ask the right questions.


Author PrestonDiamond , 7/24/2012
by Preston Diamond

Last Wisdom Letter we visited the multitude of ways producers "conquer" to get appointments and how many times have you heard "create pain, remove pain, earn the order." Does that create a lifetime client? Only until your client suffers more pain and your successor relieves the pain. 
Personally I'd rather enjoy a gift from the next salesperson who calls on me. Not a material gift. A gift, without me knowing it’s a gift, that creates a true partnership with that salesperson. 
No need to wait. Here's the end story. 

1. As a good friend and business associate, Don Phin of relates about a mutual client, "His sole purpose of the first appointment is to determine how to make his prospect feel good about him/herself." 
Inflict pain or make buyer feel good about herself? Answer seems so clear, does it not? Make the buyer feel good about herself and you've started a relationship ready to blossom. Go for the "pain" and you've got a restless buyer. 
Banish boring. Create excitement and fun. 

2. Always maintain the same two mindsets. 
Work hard to find ways to make them feel good about themselves. 
Continue to treat them as "prospects." That way you continue to earn the renewal. No room or time for complacency, because complacency kills. 

3. Turn common sense into common practice. Amazing how we forget about common sense in business because of the latest gizmo that helps us more than our client. 
Keep promises. 
Respond within a time frame your client expects. 
People first. Paper second. Easy to want to finish the paper project at the expense of taking the call and not letting it go to voice mail, continue to talk to an internal team member while client waits on hold, and many more situations that take place daily in our offices. Simple stuff. Just not easy. 
Phone, don't email, when phone is the appropriate medium to communicate. 
Practice listening skills so you truly hear what your buyer means when she says it. There is no stronger reason why each prospect/client visit should include at least two agency members. 
We think what we want to say next rather than exercising non-judgmental listening. 
Avoid words that undermine your credibility, such as "to tell you the truth" or "to be honest." 

4. Show how much you care before you show how much you know. An Advisor who will present at the Institute's Birthday Bash rarely talks insurance during the first visit and mostly not during the second. 
Network clients so they generate wisdom and even revenue from each other. 
Give to get. Do you deserve the order if you have not given first? 

5. Admit the negatives. Tell the buyer you're not the agency for her if you know another agency that can do it better. Every policy is full of Swiss Cheese. Don't hide the holes in what you present. 

6. What do salespeople you deal with do that drives you crazy, makes you angry or suspicious.? Do you know that about your prospect? 

7. List the reasons why you would buy from you and why you would not buy from you? Do all agency employees buy their insurance from your agency? Is it an OOPS? 
Does your agency team know what values you bring clients? 
Are those values in harmony with the values your clients say you bring? 

8. What lessons did you learn from every prospect who remained a prospect? What, you did not keep records to help you improve? 

9. Oh, oh. Are sales goals self-defeating because you worry too much about "closing" and not enough about caring? Stop thinking about results and just act like you do every day with your friends. 
I have the honor of working with a number of producers on a regular basis. I'm continually amazed about how our conversations about life differ in tone then our conversations about insurance. When 
we talk about insurance why do these good men and women seem to sound "all professional" and not at all human like they were 3 minutes before? 

10. Insurance does not sell insurance. You do. In the commercial insurance field we focus on, people buy people. 

11. The more you control, the less you succeed. Create understanding so your buyer can make an intelligent financial decision. (You hope that is you) 

12. When your buyer expresses an objection, take it as a sign you were not very well prepared. How many new objections do you hear these days? Raise all objections you expect to hear. 
When you buyer hears their thoughts coming out of your mouth, you win. 

13.When you do get that rare objection, answer it with a captivating story of how you solved that objection for another client, not boring non- stimulating facts
Preston Diamond is  president of 6th Sense Proposals, an agency consulting firm based in Ashville, NC. For more information, please contact Preston at 6th Sense Proposals, Box 5437, Asheville, NC 28813; phone: (828) 274-0959; e-mail:; Web site:
Reproduced, with permission, from The Wisdom Letter.