14th May 2020
How to Achieve Court of the Table (C.O.T)
This article commemorates my 2nd year anniversary joining the financial industry. I left comfort zone (Corporate HR) to join Prudential starting from scratch as an entry-level Financial Consultant on 1st July 2017. With the blessed support of many friends and family members who later turned into my clients, I managed to qualify for the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) within 6 months.
Last year 2018 was truly a phenomenal year – there were many personal breakthroughs. One of which was my first Court of the Table (COT) as a newcomer, i.e. Rookie in my first full year being a Financial Consultant. This highly coveted prestige means a Financial Consultant achieves 3 times the requirements of MDRT. It was announced during the recent MDRT Day Singapore, there were only 92 COT qualifiers in 2018 amongst the 20,000 insurance agents in Singapore.
With the proliferation of social media, I soon received several enquiries asking me how did I achieve COT. Ironically this question was also posed by my own team member Maybel Heng in one of the recent MDRT focus groups which I co-facilitated with my fellow Agency Leaders.
Though this question caught me by surprise, I was totally blown away by the response amongst the crowd in the subsequent 15 minutes. My own Manager Jaden stood up and spoke:
What Jaslyn did was not one single thing. It was THE COMBINATION of many Right things that she had done to make her where she is today as a COT qualifier.
Next was my newest team member @Georgina Tan whom I had gone on several joint appointments with her. She spoke up affirmatively and shared about my working habits
Jaslyn would always come prepared with her own style of presentation for different types of plans. What we don’t see is the number of hours and effort she put before every single appointment” ~ Georgina Tan
In my previous article, “How to achieve MDRT” – the M.D.R.T. must be in this particular sequential order of:
Since the COT is 3 times the qualifying requirements of MDRT. Mathematically, it seems like in order to achieve COT, we need to put in at least 3 times more effort.
However is it true?
In my opinion, it takes far more than just 3 times the effort. It requires a well-thought through strategy and a consistent set of integrated habits. Over the past 2 years, I realised the cream of the crop top-level producers have a set of distinct traits and habits they exemplify in their daily lives:
Genuinely Interested In Others
All of the Top-level producers are good communicators. In fact they communicate beyond the literal verbal manner. They connect with you using their heart. Have you ever come across a sales person whose sales aura is so overpowering that you immediately become so guarded and build a wall of shield?
The stark difference between an ordinary Financial Consultant (FC) vs the Top-level one is that the latter always exudes fervent and passionate concern for the prospect and his/her family. In our minds, we are always genuinely interested to help the person sitting right in front of us.
Quoting from the famous Sales Motivational speaker Eric Feng: MDRT stands for “Must Do Right Thing”. This fundamental value is something which cannot be overstated. In the course of this career, we are bound to have met many prospects who would value savings and investments more than basic protection needs. Recently I had gone on a joint appointment with my new FC to meet a cleaner lady who wanted to get insurance savings plan. However after a quick 5-10 minutes of fact finding, we noted that this lady does not even have basic hospitalisation coverage for herself and her young tender 2 year old baby boy.
We could have proceeded to ask her to sign the fuss-free insurance savings plan. But at that juncture, we unanimously switched gears to persuade her allocating her Budget to get basic hospitalisation coverage for her and her baby boy.
The beauty of this career is that it allows you to meet people from all walks of life. Some may be self-employed, businessmen, professionals or even corporate executives.
My previous 11 years of HR experience coupled with Toastmasters practice helped me hone my communication skills to strike conversations with anyone using various conversational starters. Many people have asked if I am a natural Extrovert. The fact is I am an Introvert by nature but trained myself over the years to adapt to different social settings.
However in order to be a good conversationalist, the key underlying premise is that you must have good knowledge of multi-faceted topics which go way beyond the insurance or financial matters. You would need to READ a lot, so that you can be kept abreast of the latest current affairs and social news. And due to the multiple roles/hats that I wear on a daily basis; Working Mother, ex-HR Leader, a corporate employee who used to run in the rat race like many others, I am able to relate to many people from different backgrounds, making them feel comfortable and at ease.
A Top-level producer listen more than we talk. In fact I usually practise a 80/20 rule in the initial meetings. In order to do good fact-finding and build great rapport, we usually ask guiding questions and let our prospects talk. This is one of the ways endorsed by Dale Carnegie in the book “How To Win Friends & Influence People”.
Instead of just being a good listener, we need to be an Active Listener. Being an active listener simply means we truly care about what the other person says. It is not just a simple nodding and acknowledging.
There must be a two-way communication and we would probe as and when to exhibit active listening whilst maintaining eye contact.
Being efficient and productive is one of the key outcomes we strive for. Interesting all the 2018 COT qualifiers are females and many of them are working mothers, including myself. I believe this is the key underlying driver which force us to be extremely productive. No time can be wasted. Many have asked me how do I juggle so many competing demands of being an actively involved Mother, an active engaging Agency Leader grooming her team to be producers and still be on the ground meeting clients.
My honest answer is that I compartmentalise my 24 hours a day into the different life pillars – Family Pillar, Work Pillar, Health Pillar and Mentor Pillar. Any time which do not fall into these of the pillars are considered “Time Wasters”. That’s why I have eliminated leisure activities such as watching dramas or playing games. Compared to many others who have the abundance of time, the lack of time actually helps me to strategise and plan out my schedule. Today even procrastination is considered a luxury.
Nowadays I have also switched from reading books to using the “Blinkist” app so that I can listen to audio podcasts during my commute to work. After dropping off my son at the childcare, my one-way commute time to office is about 35 minutes. Usually I can complete audio-reading a book to enhance my knowledge.
Personally I have not met any Top-level producers who achieved great performance by chance. All of them have definitely set goals right from the beginning. I have since internalised this from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” from Stephen Covey.
The goal-setting gives us the ultimate destination of where we want to eventually land. This guides us from being derailed and forces us to organise our time and resources to stay focused in the journey.
For me, I have made it a habit to go back to my goals periodically to review and track my progress. I have learnt to motivate myself by celebrating little small wins to keep up my motivation. Having a periodic review have also helped me to be extremely clear on the gaps so that I can proactively find ways to address them.
On a usual weekday, I would wake up at 5am. Between 5am and 6am, this is a very precious one hour which I allocate to strategic thinking or learning. On hindsight, I believe this was the key tipping point for me to achieve MDRT within 6 months and COT last year.
Perhaps I came from a different environment (corporate HR), my way of thinking is sometimes unorthodox, not in a bad way. Rather it is unconventional which allows me to differentiate myself in this industry. Benjamin Ang, who is the Editor of Asia Advisers Network shared with me that this could be the reason why I was shortlisted as one of the 5 Finalists in the “Regional Rookie Agent of the Year” category in the recent 4th Asia Trusted Life Agents & Advisers Awards.
Between MDRT and COT, one key difference to level up would be the Tenacity spirit. The COT qualifiers whom I have come across always show real tenacity in achieving their goals. With a strong WHY, once we set sight on the goal, we grasp it so integrally in our hearts and minds that under no circumstances we would give up.
Anything that is worth doing requires persistence, perseverance and stubborn determination. Tenacity is the quality consistently displayed by these Top-level producers who just wouldn’t quit and keep trying until they reach their goal.
It takes a lot for them to achieve it, often at the expense of their time, energy and effort. Often it also involves doing things which they might not like. For example sleeping later or waking up earlier. Non-stop prospecting and reaching out to others. Sacrificing their family time to squeeze in more appointments.
For me, it was a big challenge to start waking up at 5am two years ago when I began my career transition. The golden period of me-time was from 5am to 7am. But with my daughter entering Primary 1 this year, I have started to shift my wake-up time earlier to 4am (like this morning to publish this article) before she wakes up at 6am. Successful people do whatever it takes to make things happen.
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Having said the above, having a group of positive cheerleaders to uplift you is also of paramount importance. I remembered last year in the final lap of running for COT in December 2018, I really wanted to just throw in the towel and give up.
However it was only because of the relentless positive encourage and support of my family, team, fellow colleagues and Manager that it made me run till the final lap. This career is just like a never-ending marathon. The true winner is not the one who sprints the fastest. Rather the one who keeps running till the end.
14th May 2020