Persuasive Selling – My Story

The following is the opening to my new book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents. It’s my story about getting into insurance immediately after college. I hope you enjoy and consider getting a copy of Persuasive Selling for yourself and/or someone you know.

My Story

I’ve never met someone who said, “When I was a kid all I ever wanted was to be in the insurance industry.” Not one, including me. So how did a kid who grew up dreaming of playing pro football or becoming the next Arnold Schwarzenegger end up spending more than 30 years in the insurance industry?

As I was finishing my college degree, Travelers Insurance offered a job in my hometown, Columbus, Ohio. I knew nothing about insurance but liked what I heard during my interviews. The late Dean Williams, a Regional Vice President at the company, was so passionate about insurance that he reminded me of my high school football coach. I wanted to work for someone like that! Although I still knew next to nothing about insurance, the more I thought about staying near family, friends, and the girl I was dating, the more appealing the opportunity became.

I was hired as an underwriter, a role well-suited for my analytical mind. Travelers paid me to make its risk selection decisions for homes, autos, jewelry, and other personal items. Within a few years I’d moved to the commercial side of the house, making underwriting (risk selection decisions) for businesses of all types and sizes. After four years with The Travelers I jumped ship and landed with State Auto Insurance where I continued on the commercial underwriting side for a few more years.

My career progressed to the sales department. This was quite ironic because truthfully, I thought sales was a bunch of crap! I’d been beaten down for years by insurance agents over price and had come to believe all that mattered was price.

Fortunately, I met John Petrucci, who was the VP of Sales. John eventually ascended to an Executive VP role at State Auto Insurance. My learning went into overdrive. I learned more about sales in one year from John than I had in my first 10 years in the business. I started to realize what you say, and how you say it, could make a big difference when it came to winning a sale.

During my first decade in the industry I came to know insurance was a noble profession. I use the word “noble” because we do two very important things: we help people and we help the economy. When it comes to people, we help individuals, families, and businesses get back on their feet after something bad has happened. Helping people in that way is a very good thing, something to be proud of.

How does insurance help the economy? The guarantee insurance companies make on behalf of insured clients gives lenders comfort to loan people big chunks of money to open businesses, purchase new homes, and buy cars, to name a few. Because of those guarantees, a ripple effect moves throughout local communities: more businesses are opened, homes are built, people are employed, building materials are sold, etc. Indeed, insurance is a noble industry and has become a vital part of our country’s economic prosperity.

Then something life-changing happened in 2003…

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.

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