9 Steps to Achieving Success

You can ask 10 different people what “success” is and you’ll get 10 different answers. However, most people agree about how you arrive at success, the destination, regardless of what your definition of the term is.

In my 40+ years working in the insurance industry, I’ve made my share of mistakes and learned my share of lessons. I’ve been mentored by some wonderful people and watch a boatload of people succeed. I’ve seen people fail to achieve their desired outcomes, as well.

Eleven years ago, I made a list of what I believed to be the required elements of success. That list included:

  • Attitude
  • Research
  • Resources
  • Essential knowledge, based on your goal(s)
  • Relationship
  • Organization
  • Time management
  • Money
  • Paying attention to other people

Some people will tell you luck plays a role in success. And maybe they’re right. But I tend to believe my father’s take on that perspective:

Why is it that successful people seem to have a lot of good luck? Successful people make their own luck by putting themselves in so many good situations good luck seems to follow them. Ergo: the harder you work, the luckier you are.

Donald F. McHenry

I believe a person’s mental attitude and relationships are the two most important elements of success. But I have an opinion about all 9 of those elements.

The nature of your job, occupation, or profession doesn’t matter. Your tenure at what you do doesn’t matter either–whether you’re a newbie or an expert. What matters is that you can take these 9 components of success and apply them to your job, occupation, profession, or task and accomplish your goals.

Launching a marketing campaign? They apply to you. Starting a new business. Ditto. The same holds true if you just want a fresh perspective on what you’ve known all along.

I discuss these 9 elements of success in my book, Taking the Mystery out of Business. The book is available right now on Amazon in both eBook and paperback.

What do YOU view as the fundamentals to success?

Spotlight on Matt Medeiros

I interviewed Matt Medeiros recently for Episode 3 of my Podcast, Taking the Mystery out of Insurance. Matt specializes in content marketing, from blogging to podcasting, all the way up to email capture automation and social media. Essentially, Matt can do anything to help a business or professional build an effective brand.

He’s a man of many talents, generous with his time, always willing to help others. I’ve known Matt for more than 20 years. In fact, I was his first business client–he built a computer for my first insurance agency when he was still in college!

Slocum Studio is a business Matt established with his father and, through that business, Matt and his associates helped me design a couple of websites and create two logos. Currently, one of his ventures, SouthCoast.fm helps entrepreneurs in the South Coast of Massachusetts build their businesses. He also works for Pagely, which provides Managed WordPress Hosting.

To learn more about Matt and what he does, or to reach out to him for help with your content marketing needs, visit him at CraftedbyMatt.com or on Twitter at @MattMedeiros. You can also listen to Matt’s interview on the podcast to pick up tips about what you DO want to do, and what you DON’T want to do, on your website and with social media.

Later in the week, I’ll be publishing 2 short video excerpts of the podcast on my YouTube channel.

The Person Who Mentions Price First Loses Control of the Negotiation

I’ve always had a problem with buying or selling anything based solely, or primarily, on price. You want to know why? Because each of us places a different value on every product or service.

Note: For a more detailed version of this blog post, listen to Podcast Episode 1 (4/21/2020).

To be an effective and successful salesperson, you need to know how your clients and prospects value whatever it is they’re buying. Why are they buying it–because they have to, or because they want to? How well do they understand it–both in terms of what it does, and what it doesn’t do? What are their expectations–not only about the product they’re buying, but about how you’ll be providing service?

Tossing a dollar amount at someone means nothing in the absence of context.

Over the years, I came up with a really good way to gauge how people valued their insurance. I started with a story, then offered my absolute best, top-of-the line, super-duper insurance policy. It didn’t matter what type of insurance I was talking about.

If you use the same concept, it won’t matter what type of product or service you sell, either.

The most important thing is to tell a story about an individual (not your client or prospect) with the same product or service your client is thinking about buying. Illustrate the negative consequences that might result if the individual didn’t buy the RIGHT product or service, or the right options and features.

An insurance salesperson would provide a scenario involving a claim, such as an auto accident, a house fire, or an explosion in a manufacturing plant. A car salesperson might provide a scenario involving a car breaking down, or a truck that didn’t have all the features a buyer might need.

Then, after this unnamed individual (who is NOT your client) experiences the horrible scenario, you ask your client what he or she would want their product or service to perform if they WERE the individual starring in your story.

When your clients answer that question, they tell you how they value the products or services they’re buying.

When I was actively selling insurance, I’d quote the most comprehensive insurance policy with the highest limits of coverage. Yes, my clients were shocked when they asked the price and I told them what it was. But I’d explain:

This  is the most comprehensive, top-of-the line insurance policy I can sell you. I certainly don’t want to offer you anything subpar. When I prepared the quote, I had no idea about what you wanted your insurance policy to do for you, or what YOU think is the best type of policy. Now that I do, all we need to discuss is what you DON’T want your policy to do and, together, we can design YOUR version of the “best” policy.

At this point in the negotiation, all I had to do was discuss the available policy features and options, and which ones the client/prospect felt were important and unimportant. Same thing with the amounts of coverage. Then, when we did start talking price, clients had a much better idea about what they were buying, what VALUE they placed on the product, and to what extent they were willing to pay out of their own pockets in the event of a claim.

When you mention price before your clients do, you’re handing them control of the conversation … and the interview. They choose the story they want to tell and, I guarantee you, they’re going to skip over the confusing chapters and get right to the one about “Price.” They’ll also skip the words they can’t pronounce, all the small print, and all the stuff that YOU know and they don’t. The framework of what gets discussed, and why, will be much narrower in scope than if you, the person with the knowledge and expertise about the product, tell the story

Clients seek the advice and services of insurance professionals because we have a whole lot more technical and hands-on experience about the subject of insurance than they do. If they think they can handle the purchase all by themselves, they buy online. So, when a client seeks you out, all you have to do is be a little creative to showcase that knowledge … and to provide the framework to ask them what they want, and tell them the whole story.

 

What the Coronavirus Stimulus Means to You

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law to help Americans and U.S. businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Although I’ve downloaded the 247-page bill, I haven’t read all of it yet. However, here are some of the major provisions that might affect you and your family.

The $1,200 and $500 each adult and child, respectively, will be receiving. First of all, not everyone will be receiving this money. The stimulus gives a tax credit to those who filed federal income tax returns in 2018 and/or 2019. So, if a person DID file a tax return in 2018 (or already this year), the tax credit will apply and money will be sent.

Secondly, the $1,200 and $500 amounts are based on the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI) shown on that 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return. The amount is a $1,200 tax credit per individual and, once the taxpayer’s income exceeds a specified amount, the tax credit is reduced. AGI thresholds are:

  • $75,000 for individual taxpayers
  • $112,500 for taxpayers filing as Head of Household
  • $150,000 for taxpayers who file jointly

My understanding is that the tax credit is reduced by 5% of so much of the AGI that exceeds the above thresholds. Once I read the enter law, I’ll have more info for you about that.

The $600 additional weekly unemployment benefit. The federal government is funding additional unemployment benefits … with limitations. The $600 weekly amount is paid over and above the amount paid by the state, but only in accordance with specific provisions. Some employees will only be eligible for the extra benefit for being unemployed between April 5 and July 31, 2020. Others will be eligible for benefits for a longer period.

The expansion of benefits will apply to the self-employed, independent contractors, people with a short work history, and a few other categories of workers. However, these individuals must meet requirements pertaining to COVID-19, including being diagnosed with coronavirus, being a caretaker for someone with the virus, or losing one’s job because of the pandemic. Other conditions also make a person eligible for unemployment benefits, as well.

Special provisions about retirement plans:

  • Rules for required minimum distributions (RMDs) have been waived for certain retirement plans in calendar year 2020
  • The 10% premature withdrawal penalty for certain qualified plans is waived for distributions from retirement accounts for taxpayers with issues related to COVID-19 (this applies to IRAs, 401(k)s, qualified trusts, qualified annuities, and some defined contribution plans)
  • Certain NON-COVID-19 Medicare telehealth services were expanded

As I read and learn more, I’ll share it here, as well as on my podcast and You-Tube channel.

3 Ways Insurers are Helping Policyholders Affected by COVID-19

The insurance industry is an “essential” business during the coronavirus pandemic and all the related upheaval social distancing and self-quarantining has created. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to continue working in the industry are finding as many ways as possible to help those who can’t work, or who can only work limited hours, and are suffering financially.

Please check with your insurance agents and insurance companies to see what assistance is being made available to you. Here are 3 types of help you should be able to obtain immediately with respect to your current insurance policies. In many cases, these actions are MANDATED by federal or state law.

  • Health insurance companies are waiving patient cost-sharing in the forms of deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance
  • Insurance carriers have suspended the issuance of cancellations for failure to pay premiums when due–for a certain time period (i.e., until May 1)
  • Some insurance carriers are allowing people to extend the due date of premiums due on renewal policies for a certain time IF they call the carrier at a designated phone number to make arrangements

Each insurance company will be responding differently based on a number of factors, so call your agent or insurer to find out what type of assistance is being offered. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has created a Coronavirus Recourse Center on its website, which can be found here.

Many insurance companies, agencies, and other professionals are publishing and broadcasting all kinds of information to help but take care to be sure you’re listening to a reputable source. As we often see on social media, some individuals thriving on exploiting others.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have about, and I’ll get you an answer.