Be a Closer (Like Mariano Rivera)


As leaders in most any line of work will tell you, becoming a leader is mainly about what is in your head, not in your physical prowess or material advantages. In the book by Wayne Coffey – “The Closer: My Story” we learn from the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, that the key to his success was not just his physical skills, but his mental approach.

Rivera was from Panama and at first the Yankees saw him as a starting pitcher but arm troubles lead them to place him in the bullpen. It was there that Mariano transformed himself and his mentality and developed into the great player that he was. But was it just his physical skills?

In his own words Mariano said “Yes…I can do one thing better than just about anyone else. Put the ball exactly where I want. (But) I am convinced that being fully committed to the moment, without any worries about the past or projections into the future, is the best attribute that I had.”.

Translated into our world it can be a revelation. With each appointment, with each client, we need to be “in the moment” “without worries” of the outcome. If we do what is right for our clients, if we listen to their needs and concerns “without any worries of our past or future” – that is the best attribute we can bring to our clients.

So go out there and be a closer…like Mariano Rivera.

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Mess Up? Fess Up

Mess up, fess up. We’ll all do it at some point — inadvertently “reply all” or add someone we didn’t intend to add to an email thread. While many of you hope no one notices, the majority (85%) either ask someone to disregard the note or go as far as apologizing for the issue. By ignoring it when you know about it, you could be creating either ill will or at least an air of incompetence. People are generally understanding of email blunders. A genuine apology can go a long way toward mending feelings that might have been hurt or restoring good will between you and the recipient. Be vigilant in maintaining good email habits and, when you do eventually mess up, be quick to fess up and move on.

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New Years Resolution- Make Phone Calls

Yes. Make Phone calls !  The phone is still an incredibly powerful tool for communication. Believe it or not, some people still answer their phones — even in today’s age of caller ID. Once you get through to your potential client and talk in real-time, you’ll stand out and have the chance to build rapport — if you add value, that is. Even if you leave a voicemail message, they’ll hear your voice which provides a different level of connection than just an email or LinkedIn InMail.

Of course, the phone is only one method of outreach. Phone calls are powerful, and should be part of an orchestrated approach to gain access to your prospects. But you’ll need to leverage multiple vehicles of communication over time to successfully reach your prospects. Online connections such as social selling, email, and webinars should be balanced with offline (in-person) touch-points, such as trade shows and networking events. It’s important to be present and show up at the places where your clients might be. A cadence-based approach using multiple different types of touch-points help reps crush their metrics and build a strong pipeline.

Dedicate a calendar block each day, and be persistent.

Online research showed that, overall, 54% of initial meetings require more than five touch points to set up — and that 10% require 11 or more touches. The one thing that we know for sure is consistency is key in prospecting. Calendar management and calendar blocking are key to success. So, look at your calendar and block out times for calls and your other outreach, and then stick to it, each day.


One study also revealed that most people underestimate the number of touches required to get through to a prospect. At the same time, sales reps over-report the number of times they actually reach out, by about 50%. In tandem, this diminished effort will deliver diminished results.

At the end of the day, we need to realize that when we are prospecting, we’re interrupting people. We hope it’s a value-added interruption, but it’s considered an interruption nonetheless. As a sales professional, your goal is to get the prospect to engage with you, and ultimately, to buy from you. You want to meet their needs and add value to their businesses and to them personally.

So, when a rep asks, “How do I get more appointments?” I point out that they may be asking the wrong the question. I suggest they ask themselves, “Why would any prospect ever want to meet with me?” If they can find a way to add value for their prospect with insightful information about that prospect’s business or situation, they will succeed.

It all comes down to valuable content: not just information on your product or your company, but how you can help successfully solve your prospect’s current challenges.

We all probably get dozens of outreach emails or phone calls a day from sales reps. Although they’re asking for my time, very rarely is the content of those messages relevant to me. It’s usually, “Let me tell you about my company. Let me tell you what I do. Let me tell you how cool our new program is.” But this doesn’t entice me, and it usually doesn’t convince me to get back in touch with them.

You need the business acumen to confidently have a business conversation with an executive. If that’s a skill gap for you, it is something you should work on getting the training to resolve. I’m often asked, “What is the number one thing I need to do to sell to the executive level at my prospects’ companies?” Well, you need to become fluent in the language of business so that you can have a business conversation.

There are some real challenges in the prospecting world. In fact, today it is harder and harder to get meetings with prospects for a number of reasons. So, we must engage them by creating messages from their point of view. You should continually ask yourself, “What is the value we can add to that prospect?” Once you get that process down, it is much easier to create those value-added messages and become a value-added interruption. That is, once you pick up the phone.

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Sandy Hook- 6 Years Later

I got a message today from the mother of one of the boys who was killed on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary school. I happened to be in CT when that event happened and I took the time to drive up to Sandy Hook for one of the memorials. My own kids were around the same age as the children who died that day. It was a very powerful moment for me. At the time my friend Jayson and I decided to write a song about what happened and what could be done. We have shared this before but wanted to do so again. We should never forget what happened that day. We need to open our eyes and other people s eyes so that we can do everything we can to prevent this from happening again. 

Here is our tribute

A New Promise – Sandy Hook

Here is the letter from the mother who lost her son.

Tomorrow marks six years since our children and loved ones were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary. It never gets easier.

We’ve spent six years wondering what they might look like now, what new hobbies they might have. Six years writing down memories so we won’t forget the tiniest detail about them. Six years replaying the last time we saw them alive – the morning of Dec. 14, 2012 – in our heads over and over again.

We would do anything to turn back time and have our loved ones back in our arms, but we can’t change what happened. All we can do now is work to change what happens to other families, to prevent future tragedies.

So after tomorrow, we’ll wake up, piece together the tattered remains of our hearts and keep doing everything we can to protect children from gun violence – because it’s the only thing that keeps us going. We know our work saves lives, but we can’t do it without you: And with just 12 hours until our deadline, we’re still $289,993 short of our must-hit goal. Can we count on you to give right now to protect more children from gun violence?

Please rush a tax-deductible gift of $10, or as much as you can spare, to Sandy Hook Promise right now. Protecting more children from gun violence in the coming year depends on your immediate donation – and we only have 12 hours left to get back on track.

Thank you for stepping up to make sure we stay on track for our year-end goal. You’re helping us honor the memories of our loved ones by protecting other children from gun violence, and we are so grateful for that.

Sandy Hook Promise

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Make A 1st Impression

As a presenter, you will never have another chance to make that first impression. Your audience will decide in the first 2 minutes whether they are going to take you seriously or not. That’s why it’s vital that you focus your attention on winning over your audience in those crucial first 2 minutes. While the remaining content of your presentation is important, if your audience is not paying attention, none of it really matters.

With that in mind I have put together 4 ways to leverage those 2 minutes and win over your audience immediately.

Share a shocking statistic. 
Opening your presentation with a shocking statistic can quickly engage your audience and get them intrigued about your presentation. In order to use this tactic effectively, your statistic must be surprising and relevant to your remaining content. If the statistic is not clearly relevant to the remaining presentation, you run the risk of your audience feeling confused or misinformed when you share the bulk of your message.

Start with a story.
Stories have a way of connecting with your audience on a personal level. They create an environment that makes your audience feel at home and comfortable. They are also proven to increase information retention in your audience. By opening your presentation with a story, you will create an emotional response that your audience will continue to feel as you share your data. It will, in essence, help bring your data to life throughout your entire presentation.

Open with quote.
Opening with a quote will help immediately build credibility and show your audience that you are well-informed and have done your research. It’s important to use a quote that is inspiring or thought-provoking to get your audience thinking right away. Bonus point if you can find a quote that is well-known as your audience will have no problem latching onto a concept or emotion they already know.

Paint a preferred future.
This tactic allows you to paint a preferred future for your audience by showing them that there is an exciting opportunity that they can be part of. Then, when you get into your content, unpack how you will arrive at that preferred future. By starting with the preferred future, you elicit hope out of your audience and inspire them to work toward that future with you.


First impressions matter. With such a small window to draw in your audience and convince them that the next few minutes will be worth their time, it’s important that you leverage every second. By using one of these 4 tactics, you are equipped to not just win their respect but also their trust and undivided attention.

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Voluntary Philanthropy

Lets face it…everyone has to die some day. No way around it. Most of us, when we go, want to leave as much of a Legacy for our families as we can. Much of my work with clients focuses on that idea. But no matter what we do there is always some sort of tax. Money that Uncle Sam takes and uses as he sees fit. I call that “involuntary philanthropy”. That is because there are other ways we can take control of taxes and minimize them and we can do that best by incorporating the use of a charity. Rather than letting Uncle Sam decide what to do with the money, why not voluntarily set up a program so that money will go to the charity of our choice? Voluntary Philanthropy.

Life insurance can be an excellent tool for that type of charitable giving. Not only does life insurance allow you to make a substantial gift to charity at relatively little cost to you, but you may also benefit from tax rules that apply to gifts of life insurance.

Why use life insurance for charitable giving?

Life insurance allows you to make a much larger gift to charity than you might otherwise be able to afford. Although the cost to you (your premiums) is relatively small, the amount the charity will receive (the death benefit) can be quite substantial. As long as you continue to pay the premiums on the life insurance policy, the charity is guaranteed to receive the proceeds of the policy when you die. Since life insurance proceeds paid to a charity are not subject to income and estate taxes, probate costs, and other expenses, the charity can count on receiving 100 percent of your gift. Giving life insurance to charity also has certain income tax benefits. Depending on how you structure your gift, you may be able to take an income tax deduction equal to your basis in the policy or its fair market value (FMV), and you may be able to deduct the premiums you pay for the policy on your annual income tax return. When an insurance contract is transferred to a charity, the donor’s income tax charitable deduction is based on the lesser of FMV or adjusted cost basis.

What are the disadvantages of using life insurance for charitable giving?

Donating a life insurance policy to charity (or naming the charity as beneficiary on the policy) means that you have less wealth to distribute among your heirs when you die. This may discourage you from making gifts to charity. However, this problem is relatively simple to solve. Buy another life insurance policy that will benefit your heirs instead of a charity.

Ways to give life insurance to charity

The simplest way to use life insurance to give to a charity is to name a charity to receive the benefits of your life insurance policy. You, as owner of the policy, simply designate the charity as beneficiary. Designating the charity as beneficiary may allow you to make a larger gift than you could otherwise afford. If the policy is a form of cash value life insurance, you still have access to the cash value of the policy during your lifetime. However, this type of charitable gift does not provide many of the income tax benefits of charitable giving, because you retain control of the policy during your life. When you die, the proceeds are included in your gross estate, although the full amount of the proceeds payable to the charity can be deducted from your gross estate. Another alternative is to donate an existing life insurance policy to charity. To do this, you must assign all rights in the policy to the charity. You must also deliver the policy itself to the charity. By doing this, you give up all control of the life insurance policy forever. This strategy provides the full tax advantages of charitable giving because the transfer of ownership is irrevocable. You may be able to take an income tax deduction equal to the lesser of your adjusted cost basis or FMV. The policy is not included in your gross estate when you die, unless you die within three years of the transfer. In this case, your estate would get an offsetting charitable deduction. A creative way to use life insurance to donate to a charity is simply for the charity to insure you. To use this strategy, you would allow the charity to purchase an insurance policy on your life. You would make annual tax-deductible gifts to the charity in an amount equal to the premium, and the charity would pay the premium to the insurance company. One final method is to use a life insurance policy in conjunction with a charitable remainder trust. This strategy is relatively complex (it will require an attorney to set up), but it provides greater advantages than other, simpler methods. You set up a charitable remainder trust and transfer ownership of other, income-producing assets to the trust. The income beneficiary of the trust (you or whomever you designate) will get the income from the assets in the trust. At the end of the trust term (which might be a certain number of years or upon the occurrence of a certain event, such as your death), the property in the trust would pass to the charity. You’ll receive a current tax deduction when you establish the trust for the FMV of the gifted assets, reduced according to a formula determined by the IRS. Life insurance can then be purchased (usually inside an irrevocable life insurance trust to keep the proceeds out of your estate) to replace the assets that went to the charity instead of to your heirs.

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The “Sell-by Date”

Having a big pipeline of “prospects” is typically seen as desirable. The more prospects you put into the pipeline, the more will eventually emerge as clients. At least that’s the theory!

And in principle, the theory is valid. Some of the people you put in the pipeline will become clients. But we always need to ask ourselves two important questions about our pipeline:

  • How many of these opportunities do I expect to turn into clients?
  • How long will it take for them to emerge from the other end of the pipe?”


Taking so long to close-out a non-winning opportunity wouldn’t be so bad if we were investing very little of our time and energy on those dead ends. But that typically isn’t what  happens. We typically make major time investments in creating multiple proposals and following up with phone calls, texts, and e-mails.

Why do so many reps cling to opportunities that drag on or become stalled?

Part of the answer is culture. In many organizations, a packed pipeline is considered a sign of success—tangible evidence that the rep is working. The association may not always be accurate, but it exists nonetheless.

Another issue is fear. Some reps hang on to an opportunity too long out of fear that they won’t be able to find another opportunity with which to replace it. They possess a scarcity mentality—the notion that there are not enough good opportunities to go around. They believe that, in order for one person to win, another must lose. If they let go of an opportunity (they reason), someone else will capitalize on it and win, and they will have lost. So they hang on to stalled opportunities just a little longer … and then just a little longer after that.


While prospective opportunities don’t come stamped with an expiration date, we need to strive for the next best thing. The idea of “sell-by” dates is one that can be used to help alleviate this back log problem. It can be based on the average length of the selling cycle. If the sale wasn’t closed by that date, you would need compelling evidence that the opportunity deserved to keep its place in the pipeline. Otherwise, it comes out.

With this new approach, agents can spend less time managing their pipeline … and more time identifying new opportunities and moving them forward! As a result, closing numbers will improve.


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