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Checking Up On Ourselves

The decades roll by, but the old advice is still just as sound.

By Lara P. Good, CLU

Over the last century, Advisor Today (formerly Life Association News) has been dispensing good advice on how to stay motivated and grow as a professional. We have chosen a motivational article from our archives—July 1932—to show you that good advice never goes out of style. For more great advice from your insurance forebears, be sure to read this month’s cover story, “The Best Sales Ideas From the Past 100 Years”. —The Editors

One of the best ways of determining what’s wrong with a man is for that man to make an examination of himself.

Analyzing why some men fail and some men succeed, we find that all of us possess certain characteristics which are good or bad, and our success or failure generally follows our rating in this list of different characteristics.

All of us have our good points as well as our bad ones. It is well to make a list of these good and bad points and set them down as a constant reminder for the purpose of improvement or correction. Our good and bad points are, after all, a matter of training, and training, for convenience of this discussion, can properly be divided into four general classifications: physical, vocal, mental and educational.

Physical training
Under physical training, the first and probably the most important thing is one’s appearance. The failure of a lot of people to get on in the world is probably due to their carelessness in their personal appearance. The salesman calling on someone for the first time will unquestionably be sized up. Therefore, first impressions should be good. Carelessness in appearance conveys the idea of carelessness in one’s work.

Voice training
Probably the most important thing to consider in the training of one’s voice is the careful attention to the effectiveness, forcefulness and pleasantness of speech. Does your voice carry courteousness and consideration to others? Does it carry feeling? The successful salesman—and we are all salesmen to the extent that we are constantly trying to sell ourselves to others—must use his voice as the pianist uses his keyboard. He may bring harmony or discord, depending upon the ability to “tune in” with his prospects.

Mental training
In the mental training of a salesman, we have a number of things to consider. Will power is essential. It is the electricity that runs the human motor. It would seem that most people have more “won’t” power than “will” power, because when something goes wrong or contrary to their wishes or desires, they are ready to lie down on the job and quit. Will power is the determination to carry through.

Economy of time is an important factor. How do you use your time? Remember that your time is worth exactly the value of the work you are doing. If you are writing a letter on a typewriter with the “hunt and pick” system when you should be in the field selling, then you are just a $10-a-week typist, and the proper economy of your time would be to hire your letters written.

Do you exercise good judgment or are you accustomed to making snap judgments without the consideration of all the factors? How is your ability to size up people—read character? How are your powers of discrimination between good and bad prospects? Do you let unimportant details clog your daily routine with unnecessary work? Are you willing to have others comment on your bad points? People, as a general rule, are too sensitive. Many people accept all criticisms of themselves as insults when what was really intended was an aid in the regulation of their weaknesses.

Education and training
This seems to be the age of technicians or specialization. Nevertheless, a man who has a good general education or a knowledge of other subjects more or less kindred to his vocation, or who is well–informed along the subjects in making him a better citizen, would naturally be head and shoulders above another who lacked this training.

Time was when a man “was unto himself a thing apart” but that is no longer true. As a matter of protection to himself, his family and his business, he must know sufficient about politics to be a good citizen; enough about business to safeguard his own interests; enough about law to keep out of jail; and enough about economics and sociology that he may contribute his part to the common good and the betterment of mankind.

In the question of technical knowledge, it is not only necessary that he be fully informed in connection with his own business, but that he be able to put into practical use that information which he has. A life insurance man may be a walking actuary as far as knowing all of the ins and outs, the whys and wherefores of how rates are made, why and where insurance first started, the rates at each age and how companies handle business, but unless he can apply his knowledge to practical use, in other words, tell the story in a simple, interesting and understanding way of what the different kinds of life insurance policies will do for his prospects, he will never make much of a success as a life insurance salesman.

There is no question but that some men inherit from their parents keener minds and better judgment than others, as well as stronger physique, but every man can at least improve that which was given him if he is willing to pay the price.

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