THE RICS STORIES

Hear from the people who have been coached or mentored by Russell.

PRODUCTION

A previous employer of mine felt it would be worthwhile for me to train under Russell. The objective was, with some training I might be able to double the production target. When I heard Russell present his Business Insurance Masterclass and Questions approach, I was impressed with his attention to detail and meeting preparation even before meeting with the prospect. Asking the prospect pre-prepared questions, recording the answers, typing this up into a document/detailed file note and sending this to the prospect for confirmation seemed like a very professional process but would take a lot more work.

At the start of the training, Russell attended two prospect appointments. A first meeting and a presentation meeting. I led the meetings and asked the leading questions. Russell would ask a few additional questions. Due to his ability to hear what the prospect was saying and asking further questions rather than assuming what the prospect meant, Russell, assisted me with uncovering much deeper issues than what the prospect would ordinarily have offered. I got to see firsthand the art of asking a question and the science of hearing what was being said. Then ask further questions to clarify and draw a clearer picture. By doing this the problems and gaps the prospect has becomes clear to them and they want to resolve this.

When we left the meetings, the agenda for the next meeting and the work to be done was set.

With Russell’s training, I started to build a pipeline of business. The questions approach and working through the responses in detail meant I was having more meetings with the same prospect. This also meant my cases were more complicated than what I had previously managed on my own. My employer was very anxious, I had hardly closed any business in the last nine months. Russell just told me to show them the agenda progression and to stick with the process.

I finished the year with 250% of the target which completed in the last 4 months of the financial year. I also started the following year at 250% of plan measured on a year to date basis.

PROFESSIONALISM

Prior to meeting Russell, I had a three-step sales process. First meeting: get to know the customer and objectives, financial position etc. 2nd meeting present a discussion paper with 2 to 3 alternatives to meet risk protection objectives. 3rd meeting to complete applications and personal statements. Sometimes I would need to do a fourth meeting. I would have to ring to book the meeting or be sure to set up the next meeting before I left the prospect’s office. This worked well for me. However, it was all about the sale because numbers were the measure of success.

After working with Russell and getting to prepare questions, asking questions, hearing what was being said, making a note of this. Asking more questions till you drilled down to the heart of the matter. Recorded this. Emailed this to the prospect for confirmation which then set the agenda for the next meeting. With this, I developed a consultative process. Uncover the problem and first ask the prospect what their solution would be and explore this fully before you discussed what your solution would be. Having the prospect outline their solution, gave me the opportunity to professionally highlight some of the loopholes with their solution. There was more buy-in for the solutions I recommended.

If not for the opportunity to work with Russell, my sales training might never have evolved from sales 101 to a professional consultative process and relationship building with customers. Most of these prospects are still clients of mine 7 and ten years on.

“Russell, I think I have used up too many words so totally understand if you want to edit this down to a more suitable size.”

I wanted you to know this example. Up to you if you want it included or not.

The man was a radiologist, owned his own practice. Worked from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm 5 days a week and half-day Saturday.

I was asked to call him and see him. He did not want to see me and was avoiding me. What changed this? I used Bruce’s idea of inviting him to a morning or afternoon tea. He became very pleasant on the phone but mentioned he could not leave his practice. However, if I could meet him at his house at 7:00 am, he would provide the coffee. So, we met.

He told me frankly I was wasting my time seeing him. He had enough insurance to last a lifetime and it was awfully expensive. I said thank you for letting me know. However, out of courtesy for him and not to waste his time, I had completed some initial research and asked would it be ok if I asked him some questions which I had prepared in longhand on a note pad (Can you imagine the pressure I would be feeling if I had not prepared question the day before). When I got his permission to ask a few questions, I also said he could stop the meeting at any time, also not answer any question if he felt it was too personal in nature. He said the meeting would have to finish in 30 minutes.

So, I got going. I checked with him at the 30-minute mark. He asked me to keep going. One and a half-hour later we concluded the meeting. He was very anxious about what was uncovered about his risk protection position. He wanted to make our next meeting for a weeks’ time. What he thought was expensive at $10,000 annual premiums he settled on what he considered was much needed at the $35,000 premium level.

MDRT insights

Getting my production levels up not only qualified me for MDRT, but it also made it affordable for me to attend the MDRT conference overseas. Here Russell introduced us to Top of the table production advisers who gave time and information about how they conduct business. My take on life is if you have the right teachers and mentors, the sky is the limit.

LAWRENCE KENNEDY, Financial Adviser and Director, Surety Life

Russell started mentoring me from the outset of my Financial Advice career. His knowledge of people, insurance and soft skills was invaluable to me and I feel working with him gave me years of experience in the insurance industry. He taught me how to ask the right questions to your clients. He had a question and answer for every client scenario and he spoke openly about his years in the industry. Being mentored by Russell gave me the confidence to conquer the risk environment. Without Russell, I would never have had the success I have had in my business. I encourage everyone starting out or needing help with the risk industry, to read his book and get to know him personally through mentoring.

ALEXANDRA HOMANN

It is rare to find someone who combines integrity, competence and a genuine interest in people. Russell is one such person and with whom I have been privileged to work with since I started in the industry. The time I have spent with him has been of great benefit and professional growth for me.  I have learned from his immense wisdom and experience, gleaned over the years. His guidance on business strategy and his insights in making decisions have proved invaluable. Topping it off is the bond of friendship that we have come to enjoy. Anyone using his services would, no doubt, benefit greatly.

D. SARKER, Authorized Representative, BlueRocke Investment Advisors Pty Lt

I was 25 years old, fresh out of uni, and thrust into the business world when I came across Russell Collins in early 2011.

 Essentially responsible for running my father’s financial planning business, I found myself with all the textbook knowledge in the world, zero practical experience, and facing the daunting “where to start” question.

 Luckily for me, Russell had all the tools to get me on the right track.  His insight, knowledge, processes and procedures taught me so much in our regular mentoring sessions in those early days.

 Only six months into my career, Russell helped me prepare for my first big assignment: to pitch for a $50,000 business insurance case.  I could only dream to get this case across the line – but presented to the client prepped with my questions to run through, my diagrams to draw on the whiteboard, and my stories to tell. IT WORKED!

 To this day, Russell’s questions, diagrams, stories and overall “russellisms” are my go-to for client presentations.  The diagrams are simple to follow and don’t overwhelm the clients. The questions allow a subtle connection with the client while drawing out all the solid information required to ensure success.

 

ELEANOR HANRAHAN, Financial Adviser / Accountant

I have been a financial adviser in Australia since 2011 and a paraplanner for 6 years prior to starting my own business. All of my training and qualifications did not even touch the surface when it comes to selling our services to clients and prospects. I read some general sales books which helped and have gone through training provided by the licensee but I was not confident in my interactions with prospects. On top of that, compliance procedures would stifle my ability to connect with clients.

Russell’s mentoring provided me with the structure and confidence to “sell” myself and to connect with prospects. He also provided guidelines that I could follow and adapt to my style that dealt with asking the right questions and a process to lead the client on a journey to the next steps. His mentoring has been invaluable, increasing my close rate and the confidence to continue advising despite the increasing compliance & educational requirements.

SOFIE KORAC, JP, BAppSc, GDipFP 

Much to my eternal good fortune, Russell undertook to mentor me very early in my career in July of 2011. At that stage, I was less than 12 months into having started my financial planning business, and I was going backwards quickly. I still remember our meeting in Russell’s Insurance Communications workshop and being blown away not only by his incomparable skills in the insurance game but more notably, his moral compass.

What sets Russell apart is that he is not a typical “salesperson.” Rather, he has made an art form of communicating, of asking the right questions, and of implementing an interviewing process that has one sole purpose: to act in the best interests of his clients.

I’ve learned so much from Russell, and no more important lesson than how to be a better person, and therefore to be a better adviser in the process. These days, I continue being mentored and challenged by Russell because of the value I place on having him in my life.

If you’re fortunate enough to have been mentored by Russell, you will most certainly be a better insurance and financial adviser as a result. Most importantly though, you will also be a better individual.

DOMINIQUE SCHUH, B.BusMan. BA. Adv. Dip. FS (FP). ChLP. SSA SMSF Specialist Advisor™