By Cliff Kiel, Purchasing Power’s National Vice President of Sales. Connect: 

Believe it or not, you are actually the biggest threat to your own professional and personal success. That’s the message from Jack Singer, president and CEO of Psychologically Speaking. If you didn’t catch his talk at Benefits Selling Expo in May, or see Kathryn Mayer’s May 19 article in, I wanted to share it here.

Singer says the way for brokers to differentiate themselves from just a “sales professional” to a “world-class professional” is to create a winner’s mindset with “linguistic nutrition.” What you say to yourself has to be nutritious, not poisonous. We’ve all heard this before — our enemy is that voice in our head. When you tell yourself you “can’t do this,” you have to change that mindset or you won’t be able to do it.

Here are the ways that Singer advises you to do that, so you can become a “champion benefits professional.”

  1. Recognize, and silence, your inner critic. There is a thing called “imposter fear” that hinders success. It’s about being afraid of what can happen. Brokers and agents, for example, might fear competition is getting stiffer, someone won’t bite on your sales pitch or PPACA might doom your business. To silence that concern, the first step is to acknowledge that that inner voice exists and that it’s not OK. Second, whenever you receive positive feedback, as soon as you can, pull out a notebook and write down what that person said. And those times when your inner critic is taking over, read it and it will evaporate those feelings.
  2. Think mental toughness. Simply put, you have to grind through when things are tough, Think to yourself, ‘I have to start prospecting because sooner or later someone is going to benefit from what I’m offering.’ Don’t let stuff get you down. Bounce back from setbacks. As soon as you recognize a negative thought, get it to stop. Thoughts are habits and they come back.
  3. Repeat an identity statement to yourself. Don’t be humble about your gifts and what you can, and do, offer as a benefits professional. Know you have value. Think about what your gifts are and repeat it to yourself daily. Tell yourself, ‘I am an excellent benefits professional and here’s what I’m good at.’ Repeat it to yourself over and over again.
  4. Focus on the process, not the outcome. This may be one of Singer’s most significant points. Though the ultimate outcome a benefits professional wants — closing a sale — is important, you can’t get to it without focusing on the process. Take charge of the process. Singer proclaims that people who worry about outcomes are those who won’t get them. He says if you worry about commissions, approvals, and closing the sale, then you aren’t thinking about the right thing. If all you’re worrying about is the outcome — if I’m going to make a sale — you take away the process which leads to the sale.
  5. Make a great first impression. The first seven seconds, Singer says, are critical in making a great first impression to clients. Most importantly, you have to remember to be an active listener and to focus on clients, and not on yourself. Smile, maintain eye contact, ask them questions about their life instead of selling them something. Take a genuine interest in them — whether the church they go to, the football team they like or their children. If you do that, they will read that interest and they will trust you.
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