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Selling in Chaotic Times

By May 19, 2020July 9th, 2021COVID-19 Related Podcasts

Maryellen May of Door3 Coaching and Training takes us on a journey. In this episode, we head to the land of Oz where Maryellen relates Dorothy’s experience to the buyer’s journey in these chaotic times. Along the way, she gives us insights about the importance of the producer’s emotional state in the sales conversation and tips on how to boost your confidence. If you want to master selling in the aftermath of a figurative tornado, this podcast is for you.

EC7RD4 The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Braum. Starring Judy Garland and Ray Bolger it featured what could be the most elaborate use of make up and special effects in a film at that time. It was not a box office hit at first in terms of earnings but the following years more than made up for it.

Edwin K. Morris (3s):
Welcome to the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor on all things insurance. I am Edwin K. Morris. Exciting show today. We have in the studio Maryellen May, and she’s going to bring such a wealth of information and experience. Hold onto your seats. How did you start Door3? What’s your background? How did you even get there? What is it?

Maryellen May (31s):
So Door3 coaching started way back in 2009. I was a sales rep for an insurance company, and I was taken aside because I was considered a really good sales person. And the company that I worked with had a consulting group and they said, Hey, you’re someone we’d like to develop to be a consultant down the road. What are you interested in? Would you like to work in mergers and acquisitions, financial planning? And I was like, no. So because I had a sales background, I was really interested in something at the time that was really new, which was executive coaching. So I jumped in not knowing anything about it and realized rather soon that it was something that was brand new to me because it was this process of talking to people and helping them understand how their thought processes, how would their belief systems affect how they communicate?

Maryellen May (1m 30s):
And it was just something that I started to realize in sales, I was doing the same thing, but without intention. And so getting involved in, in coaching helped me realize that it was a, it was a way to create a really strong trust bond with someone that I worked with, it was a client where we could both fall down and be okay with it. It was all about noticing little patterns of how we spoke, what we were afraid to say, what we might’ve talked too much about at those triggers, emotional triggers that sometimes derailed our connection.

Maryellen May (2m 12s):
So it’s, we’re learning to do that together. I was like, man, this is, this is selling. So that’s what got me into it. And when I was involved in the training, I was still selling and my sales results went through the roof. So that’s what really stepped me into the coaching role and helped me use it with my insurance background, help my brokers

Edwin K. Morris (2m 38s):
You came armed as the subject matter expert to a degree in the field or the industry of insurance. And this just amped up everything you were doing.

Maryellen May (2m 51s):
Yeah, because I mean, anyone that’s on this call probably knows that they’ve got company marketing reps that come to their office and more often not the marketing rep is saying, Hey, we need more business. And the agent says, I know, we’re trying. You know, so where I set myself apart was I would sit down with a producer and say, what’s, what’s not working. Like how do your conversations work? And what are the expectations that you’re setting up for your customer and what can I do to partner with you? So in the course of my training, I would work with producers and I’d make deals with producers and say, Hey, listen, if I can help you grow your book of business, will you give me last look as a carrier?

Maryellen May (3m 36s):
And they’re like well, yeah. Which no other marketing rep was doing. So I could actually sit down with the producer, noticed how they were sabotaging themselves in their sales conversations and be like, wow, are you noticing this? What if you redesign this in a different way? And then I became valuable. When I went to the office, they would say, Maryellen, come on into the conference room, sit down. We want to know what you’re learning, give us some advice. So that helped me realize how important it was. And that’s what set me up to get our sales coaching program

Edwin K. Morris (4m 10s):
In the sales realm, I would assume that the first level of training would say, don’t talk about religion and don’t talk about politics. You’ve gone beyond those basic pieces and actually watched these sales events or sales processes happen in order to show them problems or things they might’ve done better. Give them tools and options because it’s like any other learning cycle, right? You just have to learn what your options are at the right time.

Maryellen May (4m 44s):
Edwin, adding to that is the emotional process. So what I do is I work with emotional intelligence. So if you were to talk to any producer, many of which have been trained, the consultative method tends to be the norm. And it’s a process, go through A, B, C, D, and E. So I’ve taught that. I, as a sales trainer, I’ve taught it for years. This is the most important thing I used to see. I would go and teach the sales consultative process. And then agency owners would come back and say, Hey, we ned help in two areas. Okay. We need help. Cause we, we really don’t know how to deal with objections. We really don’t know how to close and you know what, here’s the third one, how to get our foot in the door.

Maryellen May (5m 30s):
So when you look at those three areas, those are the most emotional times for a salesperson to get involved in the selling process. So you can give somebody a process, but if they are, and they’ll say, Oh, this is great. And they bring that binder home and they look through it for about the first week, maybe two. Then they put it back on the shelf because no one’s addressed the emotional problems where they feel like I’m not good enough. I’m wasting this person’s time. This is a CEO and I’m 26 years old and they don’t respect me.

Edwin K. Morris (6m 5s):
Everything you’re talking about is a person’s internal confidence level.

Maryellen May (6m 10s):
Yes. And what’s interesting is when I talk to the most experienced producers and I love to do that by the way, because I also deal with experienced producers because I’ll say, you know, when was the day that you knew this is what you wanted to do? And you felt like you were confident. And they said it probably was in my fifth year, six year where all of a sudden, I didn’t care what people thought. I was just going to be myself. And if they liked me, that’s okay. And if they didn’t that’s okay. So now when you look at that mindset, that’s something that can happen a lot sooner than eight years or seven years. I mean, that can happen when you have people understand, this is my emotional trigger.

Maryellen May (6m 55s):
Hey, this is when I start to back off. So now rather than backing off, I’m going to ask a question or, and you know what we learn that as we get older. But my thing is, maybe we forget it. We’ve got some of the more experienced producers who’d say they kind of lost their mojo. Their confidence in working online and dealing with virtual meetings might be a little weighing. But what’s interesting is when they start to notice that say, you know what? This is where I get stymied, or this is when I talk too much. Right. And they have a partner, that’ll sit next to them and not judge them on it. I’m more like, cool.

Maryellen May (7m 36s):
That’s so cool. You know, now that you know the pattern now that you recognized it, let’s understand it before we manage it.

Edwin K. Morris (7m 46s):
This sounds like counseling.

Maryellen May (7m 48s):
You know, it’s funny. In a weird way, it is, because it’s really helping people understand that it’s their, it’s how I communicate. You know, I was a communication major in college, but I wasn’t taught this stuff. You were, too.

Edwin K. Morris (8m 7s):
Absolutely. Speech communications. It sounds like you’ve really sunk your teeth in and to something real juicy here for you because you’ve combined two separate worlds into a new path.

Maryellen May (8m 20s):
Yes. And it’s coming at a really cool time. And you talk about right now, what we’re dealing with with our current circumstance, with the pandemic, with all the social distancing, with all the change, what I find interesting, cause I know this business, I’ve been in this business for over 30 years so I know insurance agents, I know what they think about. I know how their teams run. Right now, we’ve been forced into dealing with situations that I think we always had in the past. You know, I talk to a typical insurance agent and I say, Hey, how’s your sales program going. They’ll say, Ehh it’s okay.

Maryellen May (8m 59s):
You know, very few say organic growth up the wazoo. We’re doing incredible. We’re hiring people, we’re onboarding and they’re getting up and running really fast. Now all of a sudden we’ve spread everybody out. Things have stalled. You know, there’s that pause that has people reflect. There are different, there’s a different selling process I think that’s out there right now, which is much more relationship oriented. We been transactional for a really long time. Transaction’s gone. So now it’s, where’s your value? How do you align? What is the network you have to offer a customer so that they can get through this?

Maryellen May (9m 39s):
It’s, it might not be as much about the insurance as it is the relationship that you have or need to build today. And that’s something new for a lot of people. It sounds like a journey. Yes. Well, it’s, it is. It’s a, it’s a journey of, I don’t want to sound crazy, but self-reflection, you know, it’s this, this pandemic has helped, you know, people have had to stop. Cause when I would come in their like, we’re so busy. Well, busy and productivity, those are two different things. The busy-ness now is slowed down. Now they’re sitting at their desk. They are not surrounded by a team of people.

Maryellen May (10m 19s):
They’re not doing the account management that they’ve been doing and saying they’re busy, which by the way, isn’t part of their job. It’s supposed to be selling. And now they’re being thrust into a really incredible marketplace where change is constant and they have to connect. And a lot of people are now thinking, Whoa, how do I do this? And what’s the most important thing for me to know as I move forward?

Edwin K. Morris (10m 48s):
I hear there’s a wizard involved.

Maryellen May (10m 49s):
You know, when you look at things that are life-changing, that are thrust upon you, that throw chaos in your life. It might be something that has to do with health issues or relationship issues, maybe a divorce, something of that sort. These are sudden things in a sense for many, and it’s a major change. So when I asked them, I said, look back at yourself. And something’s happened to you. If you look back at that time, five years ago, it was colossal and life changing, but there was a process that you went through as you started to acclimate to this new environment. So a really easy way to look at this is the wizard of Oz. If you were to look at the movie, the wizard of Oz, there’s really four stages in the wizard of Oz because Dorothy was going through a life-changing moment.

Maryellen May (11m 41s):
So you’ve got the tornado, which is the, the, the catalyst, you know, that’s the instigator. So she’s in the tornado. Life was good and there was a tornado and all of a sudden she lands in Oz. So if I was to put this into four stages, you’ve got the tornado. Then you’ve got, this isn’t Kansas anymore. Suddenly there’s the new, she’s involved in a new normal, totally new environment. Yep, exactly. Now, once she starts to acclimate there, she decides where she wants to go. She’s got a destination and then stage three allies. So she’s calling upon the ally, she’s got the scarecrow and the tin man, the lion to help her find herself to get to that destination.

Maryellen May (12m 26s):
If you want to call stage four, that is kind of her return to home, to comfort, to understanding and reflecting back on everything she went through. So this is where it gets exciting. Now that we know the stages. I had a producer, I talked to last week and he said, you know, Maryellen, I I’m struggling because I had, I was going to save a customer $25,000 on their policy two weeks ago. It was amazing. It was a slam dunk. And so I went to close and I was ready to sign the papers. Let’s go. And all of a sudden they were like, no, you know, I’m not ready, got a lot going on right now.

Maryellen May (13m 7s):
And he said, I couldn’t figure it out. So now I can say that was when the tornado was happening. So that was when all of a sudden we were moving, our offices to home, businesses were shutting down. There was health issues. There were personal issues. So I said, you know, nobody wants to do anything during a tornado, except take care of themselves, find safety with their loved ones, hunker down. And so then he was like, that makes sense. You know, that totally makes sense. I would say right now, we’re kind of in that this isn’t Kansas anymore place right now, depending upon where your customer is and realizing that it depends, If you have a restaurant owner, they figured out that, you know, weeks ago they, they went to stage two a long time ago.

Maryellen May (13m 59s):
So they’re already resigning, but maybe other businesses right now are starting to realize, wow, I got my people at home. Maybe they’ll stay at home. I don’t know. Do I want to redesign? How is my business changing? How are the people that I’m surrounded by my vendors, my customers, how are they changing? So this is a major time for people where they’re questioning themselves, a lot of push and pull going on right now. So my advice to producers right now is take your products, put them to the side. It might not be about insurance. It might when you call them, because you should be touching base with all your current customers and your prospects.

Maryellen May (14m 44s):
It could be just gathering information, asking them, Hey, what’s your world look like right now. Yeah. So that they can explain to you, they can go the personal route or the business route. What are the biggest challenges you have on your plate? What, if anything, is working better? Because there are some businesses that are going to find gold right here. Then you get to the, how can I help you? How can our agency help you? And the last question I have them ask is, and how often do you want me to check in with you to maintain this kind of an accountability?

Edwin K. Morris (15m 21s):
It gives them permission to say, you know, Oh, next month’s fine.

Maryellen May (15m 25s):
Or, Hey, you know what? I need some help from you. So feel free to, to email or text or whatever it is or what, what do you have for me? Cause they might say, I need some help and the sooner the better. So, so, so this, what’s interesting is that some people are going to stay here in this tug of war and, and they’re shifting to stage three, they’re going to look for allies. You want to be an ally. So, so yeah, your questions are going to shift based on each section, you know, each stage that your customer is going through.

Maryellen May (16m 7s):
And here’s, what’s really interesting. It’s not always linear. So when you have a customer who might be in stage two, moving to three, but all of a sudden he finds out that he’s got a vendor that he relies on that’s going out of business, he could have a tornado all over again. So what this does is it helps, helps producers realize the emotional, you know, rollercoaster that their customers are going on. They’re listening, they’re asking questions. They’re trying to be of help, but they’re also gathering information to take back to the office so you can understand, Hey, you know, all our restaurants are going delivery or this retail is suddenly going all online.

Maryellen May (16m 52s):
There’s new risks now. There’s, and maybe you might learn more, cause if you spend your time now gathering information, you’re also creating yourself as being the go-to person. So your value is going up because every person I talk to, if I’m really a good listener, not a fixer, I’m a listener. I’m going to write down information. I’d be like, man, I am noticing that all of these businesses are moving online. Now I know how to redesign how I’m selling or give advice. So, so I think that once you give producers a map of questions and approaches, then they feel more secure and confident.

Maryellen May (17m 40s):
Like you’ve mentioned, that’s where the confidence comes back.

Edwin K. Morris (17m 43s):
Well, they have to understand it internally before they can show it externally, what it should look like. Right? And if you’re confused internally, that’s, what’s going to show up.

Maryellen May (17m 52s):
This is a really good point, what you’re bringing, because here’s the whole deal that even makes it more complicated because our producers are going through the same journey that Dorothy’s going through. There might be a tornado that suddenly comes upon them and they find out they just lost their largest renewal account. And so they’ve got to be listening to their own emotions because that’s going to come out in how they talk to customers because it got this sense of urgency. That’s going to mirror in their customers. So they have to be able to manage that, which comes back to the work I do with them. Because if they’ve got a belief system that says they have to fix, and they’re outwardly desperate in how they talk, we all know that the desperate salespeople seldom are the ones we want to work with.

Maryellen May (18m 40s):
So that’s where having a coach can help a leadership team really in how they talk to their folks. It can help producers and how they work with our folks. Account managers who suddenly are on their own, working from their living room, might need some coaching or just some overall training on how they can create stronger connections in the midst of all the tornadoes that are going on.

Edwin K. Morris (19m 5s):
Everything you’ve said is the design methodology to empower people to respond instead of react. And that’s really the beauty of what you’re doing here. Thank you very much for sharing everything you’ve brought and hopefully we can have another chat soon.

Maryellen May (19m 18s):
Before I go, the one thing I want to offer the agents that are online is that if they go either to my website, which is or they reach out to me via email, I’m and it’s the number three. I’m setting up half-hour sessions, one-on-one coaching with agency owners to help them understand how they might be able to utilize some of my services. Because I think that this is a real opportune time where I want to be of help. It’s no cost. So if they’re interested in that, I’m offering that to the agencies that are listening.

Edwin K. Morris (19m 57s):
I don’t think anybody’s going to argue with that.

Maryellen May (19m 59s):
I hope not.

Edwin K. Morris (19m 59s):
Well have a great day.

Maryellen May (20m 0s):
Well, thank you so much. Thanks for the opportunity to have me talk to your folks. I’m really excited about it. And I’m just wishing everyone safety and health as we deal with this.

Edwin K. Morris (20m 12s):
Thanks for listening to this edition of the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group. Iroquois, your trusted advisor for all things insurance, and remember get out of the office and sell. I am Edwin K. Morris, and I invite you to join me for the next edition of the trusted advisor podcast.