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Pre-Eminent Thinking: Be First To Outperform Your Competition

THINK DIFFERENT That has been Jay Abraham's message with the power of pre-eminence and pre-emption, guiding 10,000 business executives and companies over the past few decades to dominate their markets. Pre-eminence means being first in the client's mind, a place any salesperson wants to be. Besides leading thousands to greater success, he made his own mark with the classic book Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform and Out- Earn the Competition.

As his book title suggests, Jay specializes in uncovering our hidden assets, overlooked opportunities, and undervalued possibilities in people and organizations. He does it by asking the right questions that help people understand how they can be different from the competition, to be where everybody is going rather than where they have been. In this interview with InsuranceNewsNet publisher Paul Feldman, Jay reveals a taste of how producers can achieve greater success in building powerful, longterm relationships that give back to the bottom line.

FELDMAN: One of your success strategies is the key principal of pre-eminence, which is about distinguishing yourself and your business in a superior way. Can you give a few examples of how people can achieve pre-eminence in their marketing?

ABRAHAM: The foundation of pre-eminence is enormous, true empathy. Empathy means understanding critically and emotionally how the other side sees their lives, their businesses and the interaction you're having. You have to understand their hopes, their dreams, their problems, what they're trying to get closer to, what they're trying to get away from-which is only possible when you start externally focusing it and subordinate yourself to the needs and desires of your clients.

The concept of pre-eminence is predicated on being seen in the eyes of the market (regardless of your market or products and services) as their most trusted advisor for life. You're there to make a profound, sustaining and immense difference in their life and you're there for them forever whether they can monetarily reward you or not.

If you're going to be their leader you've got to be prepared to counsel, advise and literally guide them on what's in their best interest. Never let them move to something that's less appropriate for them or something that's over appropriate. You do this because you care, because you question, because you put yourself literally in this role. It's about a belief system. It's about a role that you don't play; it's the role you fill in the lives of everyone you interact with.

FELDMAN: When educating a prospective client in the sales process, there's a difference between providing information and providing advice. How do you distinguish between the two?

ABRAHAM: There's a very big difference between giving information and giving advice. Your job is to give them the most well-reasoned, expert and well-intended advice that immediately resonates to them that it is truly in their best interest. You explain to them why you're doing it, the basis for doing it, so they trust you implicitly and that trust and certainty in your intention and your attention to them is critical. You're trying to give them focus because focus gives people clarity. When people have clarity they feel powerful. When people feel powerful they have understanding and appreciation. When they have understanding and appreciation they have certainty in the people they are dealing with because they know that they're speaking truthful. When they have certainty, that gives them trust and without trust you can't get people to take action. So you got to give people views they can trust and the key mistake people make is they shortcut the process and wonder why they don't get the sale.

FELDMAN: How does empathy aid the sales and relationship-building processes?

ABRAHAM: The empathy allows you to put into words for people what they have always felt, and the moment you put into words for somebody what it is they really wanted or didn't want in a way that's never been articulated, two things happen. First, they have feelings that border on relief, because for the first time they get their hands around something that's been gnawing at them. Second, they understand that you, more than anyone else, grasp that.

I'm good at re-articulating things in clear, concrete, simple but very resonating, powerful ways and we do that over and over again-so when we expressed the problem, the issue, the opportunity in the clearest, solid, tangible way you could see the body language on that person change, their eyes sparkle, their shoulders go back, their mouth comes up with a little bit of a smile, because for the first time in a long time somebody put into words something that was driving them batty.

FELDMAN: You have said that "Preemptive Advertising" is the single most powerful technique you could ever use to set yourself apart from your competition. What do our readers need to know about it?

ABRAHAM: Being pre-emptive is the understanding that your competitors do everything pretty much the same way, and that you want to add value in different and more significant ways. The key to pre-emptive marketing is to start with pre-eminence because you add value and contributions that no one else thinks of. I'll give you a good example. Everybody you know is probably trying to reach affluent business owners and help them with their estate planning. You know the client's economic circumstances, retirement wealth or whatever. But start by saying, "I want to add value to your life before I ask for you to trust me." The first thing you make clear is that you know that they've got a business with personnel problems or tax problems or competitive problems. You try to contribute to other areas, because their life is not limited just to what you can do for them. You distinguish yourself in very interesting ways.

You also need to remember that you should always invest first in the relationship before you ask the relationship to invest back in you. It's a very powerful approach; because most people are so eager to get right to the transaction that they're not really looking at how much more value they can add before the transaction begins. One side is always asking the other to invest and risk time, effort, trust, an actual commitment or diversions of assets. If you're risking more in me before you ask me to risk in you, I am going to trust you more. You can prove that you're invested and committed to me in ways other than just trying to get into my pocket.

FELDMAN: You are renowned copywriter and thought leader on marketing. If you had to give one piece of advice to anyone on creating an advertising message, what would it be?

ABRAHAM: If you do any kind of marketing, whether it's an advertisement, an email, a letter, a TV commercial, or a seminar, you're communicating with one person at a time-one person seeing and hearing so you're having a one on one dialogue whether you recognize it or not. So it starts with a whole different way of communicating and of connecting.

FELDMAN: What are the key components of creating a great ad or marketing piece?

ABRAHAM: I'm always focused on the benefit, advantage or reason why I deserve to interrupt someone's life, their day, their time, their moment. In addition, I am always doing what's called "future pacing," which is showing what it's going to be like when things are different. It was like the experience I had many years ago when we transformed a company in a matter of months. I created a vision for people, showing that a way of handling their lives right now would create a certain kind of retirement. Then I showed that another way with the same amount of capital, the same number of remaining years and the same earning power could triple their quality of retirement. But that in itself is too abstract. I denominated what that meant. The first way, you and your wife are going to be forced to live in a one-bedroom apartment and hopefully go to Denny's before 5 o'clock. The other way, you can keep the house you've got, maybe have another home, travel as often as you want and go to any nice restaurant as often as you want until you get sick from indigestion because of all the rich food.

Communicate with people in ways that denominate the problem and demonstrate a solution that they've never thought about and illustrates how different- good and/or bad-their lives will be. Then-and this is the key- take it away by not suggesting you are the best thing next to sliced bread, but by respecting their intelligence and saying, "Look, is this absolutely, positively right for you? Maybe, maybe not, but one thing is absolutely certain: Given your income, age, lifestyle, desires and aspirations, you owe it to yourself to carefully examine the case for this and see if it makes sense."

FELDMAN: Strategic thinking should play a role in achieving success as a salesperson or business. How can producers think more strategically when viewing their customers?

ABRAHAM: People should look at the lifetime value of a relationship. I don't think most people really grasp the magnitude of what a relationship is worth in economic terms when you look at what the case is worth in terms of resales and other things that come through that client, such as referrals and other derivatives from family or employees. Most people are not strategic enough to set in motion the activities that will make tomorrow better. The analogy I would use is that when a master plays billiards, you can see that every shot they take is designed to set up the next.

FELDMAN: Right, when you play pool you always look for the next shot, and so many people just look at where they are right now and don't look beyond that.

ABRAHAM: Tony Robbins for years lauded Wayne Gretzky for having one skill set that is absolutely learnable, developable and invaluable. He said, "Everyone else goes to where the puck is and Wayne goes to where the puck is going to end up, and he is there all by himself."

FELDMAN: Now that's pre-emptive.

Founder, President, Publisher InsuranceNewsNet.com paul.feldman@innfeedback.com.


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