Continuing education: A brilliant sales tool when presented in the right way
Aside from required CE credits, you may have additional educational opportunities available to you that can give you an advantage over a competing candidate without those qualifications.
By Bryce Sanders | September 30, 2022
You need a certain number of CE credits to maintain your licensing or credentials. Aside from required CE credits, you may have additional educational opportunities available to you that can give you an advantage over a competing candidate without those qualifications.
Put another way, these opportunities can give you an advantage over a competing candidate without those qualifications.
Everyone values experience in medical professionals, but there are times when you would prefer a younger doctor to a physician approaching retirement. The rationale is the newer doctor has been trained in the latest medical developments and technology. The experienced doctor may be treating patients and staying in their comfort zone, doing things the way they’ve always done them. In practice, doctors strive to give the best care available, but this perception can allow you to monetize the value of continuing education in your practice as an agent and benefits professional.
Continuing education can be described as getting yourself prepared to do the best job possible. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying: “If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.” As agents and advisors, we often see continuing education (CE) as a chore or task to be ticked off a list. You need a certain number of CE credits to maintain your licensing or credentials. This may be true, but there can also be sales advantages.
5 surprising sales advantages of continuing education
Let us assume you are required to complete a certain amount of continuing education to continue doing your job. Let us also assume you have additional educational opportunities available to you. Here are ways CE can be turned into a sales advantage.
1. Keeping current in the industry. Here’s the scenario: Your client called the office. You were away for the afternoon because you were attending a course to get some CE credits. Instead of saying: “They made me go to this stupid class,” you can reference sharpening your saw. Here’s how you would clarify: Try saying: “Our firm has a robust continuing education program designed to keep us current on developments in the industry and new products designed to meet new needs of our clients. You probably have something similar at your firm.”
2. A special designation. You have letters after your name. So do your clients. In many professions a license is required to practice, and extensive study is required to earn that license. As a result, letters after your name get respect and qualify you as a professional. Your prospect or client will likely ask for more details because they have letters after their name too. Try saying: “Thanks for asking. The course of study concerns (topic). Once I complete it and pass my examinations, I will have earned a (designation). Only (x) percent of professionals in our industry hold this designation. It better prepares me to help clients with (this problem).”
3. Become a subject matter expert. Recently, one of my LinkedIn connections inquired if I had an interest in becoming an adjunct professor. I was very flattered but wondered what value I would bring to the table. The next question he asked was what professional certifications I had earned. This translates into business because when you approach organizations and discuss speaking at their next association meeting, your professional certifications help establish you as a qualified expert. Put another way, you have an advantage over a competing candidate without those qualifications. Try saying: “I am proposing to speak before your employees on the need for retirement planning years before retirement is on the horizon. I am qualified to speak on this topic because I hold the following professional certifications …”
4. You can specialize. Many insurance professionals are generalists. They hold certain licenses allowing them to offer a range of products. Most people have a family doctor. They are often a form of generalist. When you have a serious medical problem, the first thing they often do is refer you to a specialist. Providing benefits is an area of specialization within the insurance field. Try saying: “You have come to the right place. Your situation fits into the category of (specialty). I specialize in helping clients solve problems like yours. My professional qualifications are on the wall behind me.”
5. Offer workshops that qualify for CE credits. Many professions require earning CE credits to maintain your professional certification. If you are speaking to the head of an industry association and making the case for holding a workshop at their annual conference, they may see qualifying for CE credits as a draw to increase conference attendance. Try saying: “My topic is relevant for professionals in your field. As an added benefit, people who register and attend my session can get CE credit too. Does that sound like it would be a good draw?”
Continuing education can be a sales tool when presented in the right way.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on Amazon.