Like most anything else you undertake in life, failure and rejection are an undeniable part of working in the insurance industry. No agent ever closes every appointment. In fact, sometimes a prospect will cancel an appointment and you don’t even get the chance to make a pitch, which can be especially discouraging.
Unfortunately, most agents don’t handle rejection and failure well.
Often times, as insurance professionals, we let it affect us way too much, killing our momentum, planting seeds of doubt and creating a negative ripple that can continue much longer than it should, if we let it.
Some agents may think the biggest obstacles–the ones that feed rejection and failure–have to do with how they approach different parts of the insurance sales process. Some agents don’t like working the phones, or knocking on doors, or trying to learn a different market.
It’s natural to procrastinate when we don’t want to do what we perceive to be an unpleasant task.
However, while we may think these failed tasks are the reasons we experience setbacks, the truth of the matter is the biggest contributor to our rejection and failure can be found by looking in the mirror.
Like it or not, you are our own worst enemies. Negative self-talk and perceptions will undermine you in countless ways.
Changing your internal script
Many insurance agents spend a lot of time trying to avoid failure, rejection and negativity. But, to be successful, you must do just the opposite. You must embrace those outcomes as part of your reality. You might scoff at the idea initially, but in a nutshell, here’s why it works.
It’s not an event that defines whether YOU’RE successful or not. It’s how YOU react to the event that determines the ultimate outcome.
To illustrate the power of how we can either be our best asset or our worst enemy, consider the case of two independent agents, Bob and Sam.
Bob started one evening with a no-show on an appointment after making a 45-minute drive. Instead of shrugging it off as something that happens from time to time, he half-heartedly called his other appointments for the evening to confirm, not using any of the scripts or systems available to him. As a result, they all canceled, leaving him with a completely unproductive evening.
Steve also started his evening with a no-show. But instead of getting discouraged, he followed up on a lead nearby, door knocking and getting in to see a prospect, which he eventually closed. He then went back to his original no-show to diligently follow-up to find out that his prospect was stuck in traffic and couldn’t answer his original appointment confirmation call. He not only got in to see the second prospect, he also closed the sale as well.
Two agents that started the evening with a no-show, but who finished with completely different results because they reacted differently to the same situation.
What you can learn from failure
What can you learn from failure?
Perhaps Randy Pausch summed it up best in his book The Last Lecture:
“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”
Here’s the key to being successful, not only as an insurance agent, but in life. The more you experience failure, rejection and negativity, the better it makes you.
Also, news flash for the doubters reading this. Don’t play the victim card, failure and rejection happen to all of us!
Setbacks give you more experience.
They help you to learn how to cope with adversity and disappointments. And ultimately, more experience leads to more confidence and conviction on your part. It takes time and it can take several failures for valuable lessons to take hold. But in the end, it all ties together.
However, it only works if you are mindful and take time to understand the benefits that each failure will give you.
Failure is what frees you to experiment, learn and grow, as long as you are open and cognizant. Put another way, if you are fairly successful as an agent, there’s less incentive to try new approaches, scripts or systems. While you may be doing pretty well financially, you could actually be leaving money on the table.
Unfortunately, many agents can’t see past the money that they lose when they don’t make a sale. They don’t fully grasp that failure is an opportunity to become more educated in long-term ways that will far outweigh any short-term monetary loss.
You have to learn what works and what doesn’t
Throughout our lives, we’re taught not to fail…that failure is bad.
But stop and think about it. At one time or another, we all fail. That’s because you have to be bad at something before you can be good at something.
Think back to your childhood. Unless you were a prodigy, it took years to learn how to hit a baseball the right way, or to sink a 15-foot jumper with regularity. How many years of piano lessons did it take before you could master playing a challenging piece at a recital?
You weren’t good at these things at the outset, so in a sense there was a degree of failure attached. But you got better by practicing your craft, learning new techniques, like choking up on the bat, holding your hands properly for the right release on a basketball, or curving your fingers so you could hit the right notes on a keyboard with precision.
The bottom line: failure is tied to whatever you’re doing in this life.
And, selling insurance is no different than learning how to hit a baseball or learning how to play the piano. If you aren’t achieving the success you are seeking in the insurance business, it’s because you haven’t put in the time and your mind isn’t right.
It doesn’t happen overnight, you won’t get lucky, you aren’t any different than anyone else, you just haven’t made the commitment to be a top producer. It’s as simple as that.
The agents who win the awards or qualify for MDRT year over year aren’t hitting these milestones by accident. They understand the process of what it takes to succeed, and they don’t deviate.
There is no such thing as failure
If you are open to the idea of embracing failure and using it to help you grow, once that fear goes away, you can then start to believe that there is really no such thing as failure.
There are only results.
By shifting your mindset, you shift your perception. You begin to understand that some results are better than others, but that every event, whether it’s a no-show or a no thank-you, has the opportunity to be a teachable moment.
Taking time to reflect and analyze how you can put outcomes to work for you is a form of success. Failure only comes when you quit. But if you have conviction, commitment, purpose and diligence, you will become successful.
When you don’t get the results you want, learn from it. Don’t get defensive, lay blame or complain. It’s a waste of time. Instead, pay attention to what doesn’t work and what does work. Your maximum success depends on what you say, when you say it, and how you say it for every appointment.
Be aware of future failure traps. There are only so many objections you can run into out there. When you get a rejection, try to figure out how you can overcome a negative response. You know that the insurance industry is a numbers game and every failure will bring you one step close to your next success.
Here are some immediately actionable tips to help you become a better insurance agent.
- Stop stacking negativity. Stacking is when you start stacking all the negative things in your life on top of each other…more than you can possibly control at any one time. Stop immediately. Negativity snowballs, making it that much harder to be open to learning from failure and rejection.
- Take action, start doing. The best way to overcome fear is to take action. Confidence is a muscle and it must be exercised. The first time you try out a script, it may not end the way you want it to. But, by the time you have used the script 15 or 20 times, you’re going to be an expert with several successes under your belt. It’s going to get easier. It always does. That will build your confidence. The key is to get started.
- Burn the boat. When conquering land, the ancient Greeks would sail their armies to battle, and would burn the ships to ensure they had commitment from their soldiers. Simply put, commit to put the time and effort into your career. Do not make it easy to back pedal on yourself.
- Surround yourself with support and positive people. Find and tap into people to rally around you and pick you up in the tough moments. Seek a mentor; someone with more experience than you who is willing to share their knowledge and expertise. Review each week’s appointments with your area supervisor, production consultant or your team. This allows you to speak out loud instead of internalizing any issues. Bouncing ideas and information off others can make a big difference in your bottom line. It can be the best way to learn from your failures.
- Act with a higher purpose and give it everything you have. Providing people with insurance can impact their lives like few other things can. You must know and believe that you are helping people to protect their futures.
- Take yourself out of the equation when failure occurs. If you have applied everything that you have learned, and done the best job that you can, but a client still does not buy from you, then understand there was probably some unseen reason on the part of the client. If you’ve done your job well, then shrug it off and move forward.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t forget to have fun. Balance in your life is important. It’s healthy, and if you are happy, you will enjoy better results in your job.