January 15, 2013


woman selling cameraI confess. I didn't know much about selling until 2005. That’s when I switched from working in a life insurance head office to helping insurance salespeople (“advisors”) in the field.

I started listening to audiobooks, attending seminars and observing. As an outsider, I found the recommended sales techniques stale and manipulative. Here's how to prospect. Here's how to handle objections. Here's how to close.

There had to be better ways. Something was missing since advisors were always looking for more clients.


I made three observations
  1. The teachers were often salespeople who failed
  2. The approaches predated the Internet
  3. The techniques were losing potency
During my research, I found these main guides
Ideas followed.


In the life insurance world, the insurers knew more than the sellers who knew more than the buyers. Even now, information doesn't travel freely.  In particular, the buyers might not understand the downsides before signing.

This didn’t make sense. The Internet was bringing transparency to other sectors. Anyone with a web browser had instant access to previously-unavailable information from insiders.

Since the inner workings of the insurance world would eventually be known, why not help? In Feb 2007, I started the Riscario Insider blog to blast the walls away

I figured that advisors would stand out if they started sharing the best of what they knew for free via blogging. I thought this ongoing generosity would invoke reciprocity,create a lasting competitive edge and build trust.

I didn't have research to back up my hypothesis until Dan Pink wrote To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.

Think Pink

Dan makes the point that we're all in selling. Don’t cringe since selling has changed.

Dan observes that the information asymmetry — buyers knowing more than sellers — has generally disappeared. I've said we're moving from buyer beware to seller inform. Since he’s a lawyer, he used Latin to say we’re moving from caveat emptor (buyer beware) to caveat venditor (seller beware).

Dan says the ABCs of selling have changed from Always Be Closing to
  • Attunement: build rapport
  • Buoyancy: be resilient to deal with rejection
  • Clarity: help buyers discover issues they may not have detected
Dan doesn’t merely express his opinions (as I'm doing here). Instead, he's looks at the research, identifies the sources and interprets the findings. The results are compelling. You also get solid, practical tips on how to sell today.

To Sell Is Human is a must read, a must re-read and a must act-upon. Imagine selling becoming noble. Even for insurance.


PS I recently read Sales Dogs (more bark than bite), Close The Deal (feels dated) and Selling The Wheel (less boring than expected). The links are to my Amazon reviews.

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