In the spring of 1998, at the age of nineteen, I became licensed to sell life, health, and disability insurance. My father owned and operated an employee benefits brokerage and gave me my first sales job in the family business. (Yes, insurance sales. How exciting, right?)
I started my sales career with a desk, a phone, and a long list of businesses to call. After hundreds of phone calls and weeks of hearing “No” to my well-crafted cold-call question, “would you like to buy health insurance?” I found myself organizing my desk drawer, filing papers, refilling my stapler—anything to avoid that dreaded phone. When I found myself alone in the office, I would pace back and forth, wearing down a path in the carpet, feeling anxious and hopeless. I wanted to make my father proud, but I felt like I was failing. Maybe selling insurance wasn’t the career for me.
Finally, as I was about to throw in the towel, I scored my first sale. Words cannot express the joy and relief I felt inside. Did I become so proficient with my cold-calling technique that something finally clicked for my potential customer? Nope. My first insurance client was actually my first referral. Another salesperson I had met highly recommended me to the client. I’ve not made a cold call since. Instead, I’ve received thousands of referrals and have given thousands of referrals in return. I grew my insurance business 100 percent per year for my first three years, exclusively by referrals.
What puts you and your business ahead of the pack? What keeps people talking about you? Attention spans are shorter than ever.
According to several recent studies, you have only about nine seconds to capture people’s attention in the busiest, most over marketed, and over communicated-to society in the history of mankind. Is it possible to accomplish this in a cold call? Not likely. Fortunately, there’s a proven way to break through the distractions and stand out from the masses—to be referred by someone who knows, likes, and trusts you. The best strategy to achieve long-term, sustainable business growth is to learn how to cultivate relationships that result in a predictable, steady stream of high-quality referrals. My passionate desire is to show you how to leave cold calling behind forever by developing the richest relationships of your life.
Ivan Misner, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading sources on business networking. This excerpt is from the book Avoiding the Networking Disconnect: The Three R’s to Reconnect. The book was co-authored by Brennan Scanlon. CNN called Misner “the father of modern networking”.