I saw “World War Z” over the weekend. The first 20 minutes make you think, “Wow, this is going to be good.” And then the remaining 102 minutes make you think, “Oh. Uh. Never mind.”
So when I wasn’t guffawing at ridiculous plot holes or making snarky jokes in my head (the “Z” should stand for zinger), I had ample time to think about all the ways a zombie plague and life insurance sales are exactly the same.
Don’t believe me? Here are three selling lessons I gleaned from the summer blockbuster.
(Spoiler alert: I give away several major-but-totally-predictable plot points ahead. Stop reading if you haven’t seen the movie and would like your feigned surprise to feel genuine.)
1. Infect the right hosts.
Brad Pitt’s character — a former U.N. investigator — and a virologist whiz kid are sent to find a cure for the zombie plague that’s, er, plaguing the entire globe. Because everyone else is busy sitting on aircraft carriers, yelling urgent-sounding things into phones.
Pitt discovers the zombies only munch on healthy people, bypassing the diseased because they’re not useful in spreading the undeadly virus.
Your lesson: Yeah, you need clients, but you also need the right kind of clients. The ones who will talk you up to their friends, “like” you on Facebook, and spread your business cards around like they’re H1N1. Find those clients, give them exceptional service and make sure you give them the tools — extra cards, bring-a-friend events, a Twitter presence — that will make it easy for them to recommend you.
2. Family matters.
When Brad Pitt is asked to single-handedly save the world, his first reaction is basically, “Can’t someone else do it?” (Aircraft-carrier-riding phone yellers, we’re looking at you.)
But when they threaten to throw his family back to the zombies if he doesn’t help, Brad decides oh, alright. He’ll have to move some things around in his calendar. But yeah. Okay. He’ll do it. For the kids.
Your lesson: Lead with the family thing. If Pitt will only take on zombies to help his wife and kids — and not for, oh, I don’t know, the sake of humanity, maybe? — what do you think will move your clients to purchase life insurance? If you’re introducing your family-protecting life insurance products by emphasizing the tax benefits or the optional riders or the cash value perks, you’re doing it wrong.
3. Anything can happen.
At the beginning of “World War Z,” Brad Pitt’s character is flipping pancakes in the ‘burbs. By the end of the movie, he has:
- Fought off zombies while riding a bike in South Korea.
- Fought off zombies while running through ancient Jerusalem.
- Fought off zombies while limping through a hospital in Wales.
- Thrown a grenade inside an airplane, causing it to split in half and crash, and surviving — yes — by wearing his seatbelt. Oh, and also while fighting off zombies.
Your lesson: Make sure your clients are prepared. They might not suddenly become globetrotting zombie fighters, but they won’t always be young, healthy and alive — a situation that will likely change before they know it. And wear your seatbelt.
For more from Corey Dahl, see: