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The AIMS Society blog is designed to provide practical, timely ideas to help insurance agencies improve results from their marketing and sales efforts. Wishing you much success!!! For even more, consider joining the AIMS Society and you'll have access to a powerful network of agents and carrier personnel focused on excellence in sales!

 

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Smarter than a gecko

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The fact is, insurance is misunderstood. Even savvy business people are often unaware of the layers involved in our industry—producer, underwriter, carrier, P&C, personal lines. To them, we’re just one term—an insurance person.

So, when someone else’s reference for our industry is the Geiko gecko, your chance of getting sound job advice from them is slim.

Yet everyone needs a sounding board; someone to bounce off ideas, worries, new products or techniques. Look no further than PRO-to-PRO, an interactive, thought-provoking conference that will send you home with practical, actionable ideas. PRO-to-PRO, as in professional-to-professional. This is where you’ll find your “Been There; Done That” peers who understand what you do. We’re not talking theory. We’re talking solutions to your day-to-day trials and tribulations. With discussions led by experts, and fueled by people who work at agencies and organizations just like yours. Imagine the insight. Imagine the frank discussions. Imagine what you’ll miss if you don’t attend!

This is PRO-to-PRO’s 28th year, so you know we have to be doing something right. This year, we’ll be in Indianapolis from May 7-8. If you haven’t been to Indy, I think you’ll be impressed. Of course, you know about the race track. Did you also know it’s the 14th largest city in the United States? And it will be all spring green and flowery that time of year too.

If you’ve been to a PRO-to-PRO before, I hope you’ll sign up for a return visit. If you’ve never been, please make this your year. There’s nothing better than talking with a room full of people who already get where you’re coming from.

To learn more about the agenda—things like social media or productive renewal strategies—you can visit AIMSSociety.org. If you have any questions at all, please call us at 877-674-CPIA (2742).

Ready to register? Just pick the PRO-to-PRO heading on the right side of the home page or go directly to this link:  http://www.aimssociety.org/events/event_details.asp?id=600327#.

Hope to see you in Indy!

Tags:  AIMS Society  insurance marketing and sales  Paradiso Presents  PRO-to-PRO  self-improvement  Social Media  teamwork 

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Be Sales Ready

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Be Sales Ready

You’re not in the market for a new job, but you should still be interview-ready.  Why? Because it keeps you on your toes, able to sell yourself and your client services at any time.  After all, you never know when a sales opportunity will present itself—a friend introduces you to a prospect at one of your kid’s games; a neighbor takes a new position and wants your advice. That leads to possibility…if you’re ready.

In her article,
7 Interview Tips That Will Help You Get the Job. Tips and Advice for Acing a Job Interview, Alison Doyle offers some suggestions that are equally helpful for simply being ready for the sale.

  1. Practice. You know the questions everyone asks. You have the answers, but you need to practice to make sure you provide detail and examples, not just pat responses. At the same time, develop a list of questions you should be asking every interested prospect.
  2. Research. Do your homework on the leaders in your community and the businesses you’d like to pursue. You never know when it will come in handy.
  3. Get Ready. Have the basic facts and figures about your agency in polished presentation form—leave-behinds, brochures, PowerPoint. When you have an opening, you’ll have the visuals already finished. Keep business cards on hand.
  4. Be on time. OK, the author meant for an interview, but it still applies when you’re invited to anything, even informal gatherings. Goes a long way to making you look organized and responsible.
  5. Stay calm. What Doyle says she means with this tip is to relax. Your body language tells its own story. Maintain eye contact. Be an active listener and answer what’s being asked. 
  6. Show what you know. Use examples. Share success stories. Apply learnings from one account to another.
  7. Follow up. Whatever suits the situation of your initial introduction—a text, a call, a personal note. Within 24 hours. Simple. And powerful.

So Doyle was talking about landing a job, but her tips are equally helpful for landing a client.  Do you have any you'd add to the list?

Tags:  AIMS Society  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  self-improvement  teamwork 

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Chocolate chip cookie perfection

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chocolate chip cookie perfection

 

With every New Year comes reflection.  We strive to improve or to give up a vice, often times because the calendar gives us a reminder that the time to improve is slipping away from us.  So we give it the old college try, eager to prove that this will be our year.  More often than not, as the days pass, something—or someone—reminds us that we’re not perfect.

But instead of considering “perfection” to be a concrete accomplishment (leading to a foregone conclusion of failure), why not consider perfection to be a process.  This takes the sharp edges off expectation and gives us all the right to be human, while still striving to improve.  Am I saying your life can be perfect without reaching 100 percent?  Actually, I think I am—much as a vacation or a first date can be described as “perfect.”  Or how a chocolate chip cookie is just, well…perfect.

And—I don’t think perfection should be reserved for the grandiose.  Instead, consider the words of seventeenth century French philosopher Angelique Arnauld:  “Perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

So, with the intent of making your own daily life more perfect, here’s a list of ideas.  Pick just a few and see if you don’t feel yourself inching toward perfection in some perfectly ordinary ways!
  1. Read
  2. Learn a new foreign word
  3. Work on a hobby
  4. Sign up for a class
  5. Overcome a fear
  6. Learn a new skill
  7. Wake up earlier
  8. Go to bed earlier
  9. Exercise
  10. Contact an old friend
  11. Write a letter
  12. Try a new food
  13. Talk to a neighbor
  14. Create—and use—a to-do list
  15. Clean out your email
  16. Make your bed
  17. Get a massage
  18. Turn off your phone at 7:30
  19. Pet the dog
  20. Start a journal
  21. Have some milk and cookies
  22. Find a mentor
  23. Spend the day without TV
  24. Listen to classical music in the car
  25. Light a candle
  26. Forgive someone
  27. Introduce yourself to someone new
  28. Add 20 more ideas to this list and challenge yourself to accomplish one item on the list each day for a month.
  29. Send us a note and to let us know how perfect that month truly felt.
  30. Do it all over again.

Tags:  AIMS Society  Leadership  self-improvement  teamwork 

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EI, EI, Oh! Is your emotional intelligence on target?

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Updated: Monday, January 12, 2015

EI, EI, Oh!

Is your emotional intelligence on target?

 

Insurance is a people business. If you doubt it, consider the emotion that rises to the surface during claims. This is where you can lose a customer—or secure one for life. It all hinges on your ability to be empathetic and create a connection. It depends on your emotional intelligence or EI.

Yes, while IQ measures your brain cell book smarts, EI quantifies how well you connect emotionally with others. EI actually encompasses multiple traits or core competencies, including (but certainly not limited to) optimism, transparency, adaptability, innovation, creativity, initiative and self-confidence. Some would argue it’s more important to success than IQ—and if you think about it, wouldn’t you rather partner with someone who “gets you” over someone who is simply a braniac? If interested, you can actually complete an assessment to gain more insight to your own EI, including Daniel Goleman’s Emotional and Social Competence Inventory (ESCI), Reuven Bar-On’s Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i), The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), and Dr. Laura Belsten’s Social + Emotional Intelligence Profile (SEIP). 

Good news is that you can improve your EI.  Here’s some suggestions from Harrison Monarth from his article, 5 Steps to Boost the Skills That Will Help You Better Connect to People.

  1. Learn the language. Understand what constitutes a strong EI and choose core skills you believe will be valued in your own organization and in your own life. Look to the links above to get started.
  2. Know thyself: Collect feedback. If your organization provides an anonymous evaluation tool, use it to see how you’re perceived.
  3. Narrow your focus. Don’t work on every EI skill; select one or two depending on your own goals. For example, managers may want to focus on behavioral self-control and empathy, while sales leaders may want to focus on innovation or creativity to help you create new pitches. 
  4. Create your own board of directors. Choose two or three people who don’t compete or work directly with you. Ask for them to keep you accountable.
  5. Become a work in progress. If you’ve progressed in your first areas of focus, move to the next set of competencies. The momentum can generate even greater personal growth.  

Tags:  AIMS Society  Leadership  self-improvement  teamwork 

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Someone Needs You

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Someone Needs You

 

One of the greatest ways to make an impact professionally is as a mentor. If you haven’t claimed this role for yourself yet, I’d encourage you to try to do so this year.  There’s as much reward for you as there is for the person you mentor. To be successful, here are a few recommendations:

  • Meet frequently, even if informally, to provide suggestions for small adjustments as you go. Not only is it easier to learn this way, you will come across as less imposing and, I’ll say it, less of a know-it-all.
  • Ask questions—that’s you who needs to ask questions, not them. Not only is this the best way to begin understanding what your mentee already knows, it will help establish a dialogue instead of a speech.
  • Share freely – and explain simply.
  • Don’t direct.  Share your experience, but allow the other person to apply that insight to their own situation and personality. They don’t have to do exactly as you do or did.
  • Know that some of the best lessons come from your failures, not your successes.
  • Be proactive – your mentee may not want to impose or may not know what they should do next.
  • It often comes down to who you know. Don’t forget to introduce them to your network and relationships as appropriate.
  • Respect the confidentiality of your relationship. What you think of this individual is not for water cooler comment.
  • Relax, every meeting doesn’t have to contain a lesson. Don’t be afraid to simply shoot the breeze.
  • You gained your know-how over the years. This is an advantage your mentee doesn’t have. Never forget from whence you came.
  • Be a great listener and don’t fail to provide positive reinforcement.

You’ll know you’ve become a valued mentor once your mentee is coming to you with questions instead of waiting for your lead. Being a mentor really can be a great gig.  Give it a try.  And don’t be surprised if you end up learning a thing or two yourself!

Tags:  AIMS Society  Leadership  self-improvement  teamwork 

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