Several years ago, 11 members of our family were lucky enough to be in St. Petersburg for the final four of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Many of us are UConn graduates and all of us are avid fans. What a thrill when the final buzzer went off and Connecticut had beaten the heavily favored Duke Blue Devils! Fifty years of rooting for my beloved Huskies had reached their zenith.
I felt especially happy for Coach Jim Calhoun. UConn had come ever so close to the final four on several occasions. Somehow they were always denied. Calhoun took a lot of heat because of it. By beating a Duke team that was thought to be one of the greatest ever, he silenced his critics.
Calhoun is an extremely hard worker. Seventy-hour weeks are not unusual. He is also intense during games. The press frequently criticized him for being “too intense.”
Calhoun responded to the intensity issue. He explained that there are a lot of different phases to his job—recruiting, communications, speaking, public relations, relations with the kids and their families, players’ academics, NCAA rules, running practices and coaching games.
Our game is so much better than basketball because when we win our clients win.
“I work 3,500 hours a year,” he said. “However, only 54 of those hours (27 games, two hours each) are spent coaching games. Regardless of how well I perform in the other 3,446 hours, I will be judged by how well I do in the 54 hours. Can you blame me for being intense during games?”
Calhoun’s description of his job analogizes well with our own careers. Like him, we work many hours. We also possess a great variety of skills such as prospecting, organizing our time, product knowledge, factfinding techniques, plan design, finding, training and retaining help, and salesmanship.
We too spend a relatively small percentage of our time selling. And yes, like Calhoun, no matter how good we are at all the other things we do, if we don’t produce sales, our efforts are largely in vain. Our survival, like a basketball coach, is dependent on what we do in a few critical hours.
- Becoming champions
- Let’s complete the analogy. Our game is the closing interview. What are some of the things we need to do to be champions in our business?
- Work hard.
- Educate ourselves so we can handle any situation that may occur during the “game.”
- Prepare a sound game plan.
- Know the other team’s offense and defense.
- Utilize all the key players (lawyers, accountants, partners, spouses, etc.).
- Be resourceful, alert, and above all, enthusiastic.
- Don’t play trying not to lose; expect to win and play to win.
- Our game is so much better than basketball because when we win our clients win.
- Be tough in the clutch. Don’t give up. Remember, there will probably be no second chance.
- Never have to say, “It could have been, if.”
This is an excerpt from Advisor Today’s new book Sales Success—The Tom Wolff Way, a compilation of a decade of Wolff’s “Back Page” wisdom. Be sure to buy your copy today; go to NAIFA's Marketplace.
Thomas John Wolff, CLU, ChFC, served as 1979-1980 president of NALU (NAIFA). A member of MDRT since 1958, he is a recipient of the John Newton Russell Award. He is a member of Hartford AIFA (Conn.). Contact him at P.O. Box H, Vernon CT 06066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.