All or nothing: Connecting with a client

Jon Shuman

By Jon Shuman
Jon Shuman is leader of the workplace insurance sales team for MassMutual.
Posted on Jun 20, 2018

Have you ever received a call from a salesperson or fundraiser who merely went through the motions? It was probably painful as you listened to the person on the other end of the line, reading from a script, focusing on getting through the call rather than getting through to you.

Effectively connecting with a prospect or client, whether on the phone or in person, demands commitment. If you’re not all in, you’re essentially out – as in out of the game.

What prevents many people from pushing all their chips to the center of the table – from being “all in” and betting on themselves – is fear. Many people are afraid to stretch themselves, to leave their comfort zone and risk possible failure.

Failure can hurt. It can leave us feeling less confident, less worthy, less able. But failure can also teach us important lessons and, for those who are willing to risk it, failure can make us stronger.

It starts with commitment and bringing your full self to work. Doing so can have a big impact, not only one what you do and how you do it but on people around you. Commitment can be contagious and it can lead to bigger outcomes.

So where to start? How do you bring your “full self” to work? There are essentially three building blocks:

First, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. While many people equate vulnerability with weakness, it’s actually a sign of strength and confidence.

This is particularly true for agents, financial advisors and anyone in sales. You have to be willing to take risks, express yourself and make connections with other people. After all, human beings are emotional creatures. We make decisions first with our hearts and then with our heads. You must first sell yourself before you can sell anything else.

Second, don’t sweat having difficult conversations. There is probably no conversation more difficult than to approach a complete stranger – on the phone or in person – and pitch him or her on a product, service or even a meeting. It’s why so many salespeople have call reluctance and fail to reach their full potential.

But putting yourself out on the line, risking failure helps build confidence. And guess what? Over time, those “difficult conversations” become easier and, over time, second nature.

Remember, be authentic. People are more likely to connect with you if you are yourself.

Third, don’t survive, thrive. Too often, many of us play it safe rather than swing for the fences. No one understands this as well as athletes who learn that they are rarely successful or achieve their goals if they hold back.

Focusing on surviving rather than thriving ultimately leads to mediocrity, especially when it comes to sales. Success requires that we take risks and push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Doing so may create anxiety, discomfort and even a little fear. But over time it also creates confidence and teaches us how to use those emotions to keep sharp, focused and on point.

To be committed is to take risks. Taking risks such as being vulnerable, having difficult conversations and focusing on thriving starts with being prepared. Know what you want to say cold so you’re focusing not on the message but how you deliver it.

None of us wants to be “that guy” or “that gal” on the other end of the line that prospects can’t wait to hang up on. Commit to being successful by being all in, all of the time.


Jon Shuman is leader of the workplace insurance sales team for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual).