By the time someone reaches the stage in their career where they own their own insurance agency they are generally an experienced, accomplished sales professional. When you’ve been in sales for a number of years I find that sales presentations become second nature. Really, most people can probably do them on “autopilot”.

 

That is potentially a very significant problem!

 

I’m an instrument rated pilot and fly frequently. I’m relatively experienced and I fly using my instrument skills pretty often. I practice a lot. I think I’m fairly accomplished.

 

So, you can imagine my shock recently when I went flying with a friend to practice some instrument flying and performed very poorly! That day was some of my worst flying ever! Why did this happen to me?

 

I was in a stressful environment, not because I was “under the hood” but because I was flying with someone I really wanted to impress with my abilities. This was the start. But the real issue was that I had not practiced “hand flying” the plane in instrument conditions for a number of months. On “autopilot” I was fine! But under unusual conditions, and without any recent practice, my performance was, to be generous, not good!

 

As sales people we face the same issue. Perhaps we are in front of a prospect who has a business we don’t understand. Maybe the prospect is a really difficult personality. Perhaps we just haven’t done this in a while. Whatever the cause when you can’t sell on autopilot, and must revert to thinking it up as you go along, disaster lurks!

 

The fix for flying, and selling, proficiency is regular practice. Even for old grizzled veterans like us! And practice, to be beneficial, needs to include new, unusual and tough challenges to keep us sharp. Some ideas are role playing with younger producers while asking them to imitate their toughest prospects. Maybe practice with a colleague who is someone whose good opinion you value. How about asking a good, trusted, customer to help you by throwing you curve balls.

 

I think we all need more practice than we get. Some of us never practice at all. But it’s critical to our success as sales people and the better, tougher, more realistic the practice the better!

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