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Is Your Message Vanilla?

Ever wonder why you dont get more referrals? Ever wonder why, when money wasnt the issue, a prospect didnt buy from you? It may be because of your message. (or lack of one!)

Often Ill ask an agent why someone should do business with them. Their answer often goes something like this:

I have good products/services, competitive pricing, and give good customer service.

Thats a good answer, but if I went down the street to your competitor and asked them the same question, what do you think their answer would be? Same answer.

You see, its a vanilla answer. It really doesnt say anything. In fact, I doubt whether a prospect would even consider doing with you without those benefits being present. Its like saying, Were honest. As opposed to what??? Its expected.

Just take a look in the Yellow Pages under Insurance. What youll find is a collection of ads which state the obvious or dubious: In business for 27 years, we carry Auto, Home, Disability, Business, Honest, blah, blah, blah Vanilla. Do those ads generate calls? You bet. Are the calls from serious buyers? Are they calling just to shop price? (after all, what else is left after a vanilla statement?) Are they the kind of client youre looking for? Do you KNOW who youre looking for? Do you know who your ideal client is? Do you know why they would want to do business with you?

My experience has shown that if youre not known for something, then youre not remembered at all. If you dont put a stake in the ground, if you cant say why you do what you do, if you arent clear about what sets you apart from all the others, then you arent remembered.

How can you change all that? Its simplebut not easy. You need to start by defining your purpose. You need to be clear as to why you do what you do. Its not so much the mechanics of it all, but rather the meaning behind it. An inappropriate purpose statement would be, I help people protect their assets by offering a wide range of insurance products. The statement is dull, mechanical and has no energy behind it. It doesnt offer you a reason to get up in the morning, nor does it attract anyone. A more meaningful statement of purpose might be something like, I help people build a secure financial future. Better, but not very dynamic. How about, I help my clients painlessly avoid financial surprises. This last statement may not be the best statement of purpose for you, but it DOES have several aspects which make it a great purpose. For one, its a bit provocative it causes someone to ask about it. Another aspect of it is that it addresses the Why of what you do, rather than the What. Finally, its stated in a way which certainly sets you apart from vanilla competitors. You get remembered.

A great exercise to help you appreciate what sets you apart from others is to ask five people who know you (not family!) for five things about you that make you a great agent. Youll be amazed at the answers youll get. Youll hear things you always knew, youll hear things that you knew but didnt think that anyone else recognized, and youll hear some wonderful things about yourself that you werent even aware of. These traits and skills make up the core of what sets you apart. By incorporating who you are with why you do what you do, youll eventually arrive at a statement of purpose that will catapult you towards great success.

In addition, youll want to spend some time identifying or redefining who your ideal clients are. The more clearly you can define who you want to target, the better youll be able to identify where to find them, how to find them, and what youll say to them. People you network with will also end up with a clear picture of who you work with and that will allow them to make better referrals.

Once you decide on the statement of purpose that best defines you and what you do, you need to incorporate it into everything you do. You need to speak it, breathe it, and live it. Make it the opening of your elevator speech. Consider putting it on stationery, on a website, on your business cards, and in ads. When you network with people, make it the focus of what youre about. Become memorable. People are attracted to someone who stands for something. Why are they so attracted? Because so few people can state what they stand for. The more clear you can be about your why, the more compelling your work becomes. The more compelling your work becomes, the more self-motivated you become. The more self-motivated you become, the more good things happen for you. And best of all, not only will you win, but all the people youve helped along the way win because theyre better off for having done business with you.

Make a decision to put in the effort to develop a clear purpose and a clear understanding of what sets you apart. Youll be glad you did.

About the Author: Written by Michael Beck, The Insurance & Advisor Coach. Michael, an Executive Coach and Recruiting Activist, helps insurance and financial professionals succeed faster and easier. He can be reached at 866-385-8751 , or
Visit , , or to learn more.
Permission to reprint with full attribution. 2006 Exceptional Leadership, Inc.

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