Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 10th 2016 Contents Dale McLeod is a face that is
synonymous with insurance.
He is, no doubt, one of the
most successful sales pro-
fessional of our time. His list
of achievements include:
• Winner of the industry s highest award,
the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) a
record 19 times, more than anyone else in the
• Top producer T&T Association for Insur-
ance and Financial Advisers (TTAIFA) for 2001,
2003, 2008 and 2015
• Branch of the Year in 2009 and 2012.
McLeod was born in Tobago, the second of
four children, from humble beginnings---no
running water which meant pulling a box cart
His father was a carpenter so McLeod made
his own toys from discarded wood.
He was close to his father and would often
help him with his part-time garden, while his
mother would do the housework.
At age 10, he passed the Common Entrance
Exam (now SEA) and went on to do sciences
at Advanced Level (now CAPE). He did well
and, in 1977, McLeod went to work for a phar-
maceutical company as a laboratory technician.
He left a year later for another pharmaceutical
firm but was soon laid off without severance
McLeod had some time to reflect on that
difficult time and wanted a better life for his
parents back in Tobago. He thought of an
unlimited income and went on to search for
a career that would offer that.
Sell like a boss
McLeod got a job which entailed selling
something quite unusual at the time. He was
not afraid to take risks, like a true entrepreneur.
The "timeshare" concept was new but McLeod
gave it a try. Time sharing is when you buy
time for vacation instead of owning the prop-
erty. He did well selling shares to the wealthy
but, after two years, McLeod wanted a higher
income and more control of his destiny.
In the early 1980s, he tried his hand at
selling encyclopedias for Edu Care. It was a
time of severe economic hardship. T&T was
about to start a deep dive into a ten-year eco-
Employment would increase almost to 20
per cent at the end of the decade and the
country was on the road to the IMF. Ency-
clopedias were very expensive since they were
voluminous. Selling them in these times was
the ultimate test of a sales person or was it
simply a foolish move for the man with the
Before Google there was Encyclopedia Bri-
It was the home status symbol for the rich
and famous. Buyers would often remark, "Ah
reach, I have a set of encyclopedias", according
to McLeod. If you weren t wealthy, parents
would think this was the way to secure their
child s education. He developed some selling
techniques that pushed him into being the
top district manager and the second highest
sales person in the world.
After four years and selling in a sharp down-
turn, he was rewarded to a sales convention
in Chicago. According to McLeod, it was a big
deal. He was moved from a standard room to
an executive suite, when they realised his supe-
McLeod s techniques are: go to people you
know and always look for references.
But he went further. McLeod made pre-
sentations in schools (the mood was more
receptive to buying) and to the PTAs. It seemed,
even in difficult times, parents were willing
to spend on their children and big too. When
McLeod sold, he would always check back
with his customers, even though there were
no after sales service required. This often
meant more referrals and some clients pre-
sold for him, so he had a latent sales force in
The entrepreneurial spirit
In 1988, an insurance company approached
him with an opportunity to sell for them. He
was doing well selling books, but wanted even
He tried both but eventually left both com-
panies to work for Guardian Life. It was the
beginning of a winning streak and every indus-
try record would soon follow.
In 1989, McLeod was named Rookie of the
Year for superior performance in his first year.
When he started at Guardian Life, McLeod
had two simple goals: be the number one sales
agent and stand out from the rest.
He felt that people did not like insurance
sales agents, so he needed to do things to be
liked. There was a huge gap to be filled. He
also wanted clients to see him as a problem
solver, a perception that would open more
doors for high sales.
To sell so much requires unusual strategies.
McLeod knows where the money is, and it is
where the business people are. Not every one
in business but really the medium to large
enterprises. They have large purchasing power
and buy in the millions.
McLeod had a secret.
Since he became very popular in the insur-
ance business, prospective clients just want
to meet him. He has rock star status in other
words. Business owners have needs that are
quite different from individuals. When an
enterprise owner needs a large loan, they often
need insurance. If you have the right contacts,
then your client gets the financing and McLeod
gets the insurance sold. He has mastered this
art of reciprocity.
"I help you and you help me. It is a simple
human way to repay people and sell more."
McLeod says he has three levels of success
built into his DNA.
The first level is to be an excellent sales
agent and sell aggressively. He says most top
agency managers do not sell, a big mistake.
Secondly, manage a successful branch and
hire sales agents who are hungry for success
(like him) and mentor them all the way. He
has 60 agents in his two locations.
The third dimension is to own the property
you operate in. This will generate even more
Advice from the top
What advice does the top performer have
for newcomers to the industry?
McLeod says insurance is a trust business.
It is important to keep a close relationship
with your clients.
He remembers one day a client visited him
at home and asked for a recommendation for
a divorce attorney, an odd request. This showed
that he was viewed as a trusted agent and a
person to turn to. He has taken this to a higher
level by building networks so business people
can call on him for advice or for support when
they have financial issues.
Dale McLeod s DNA is different from the
ordinary sales agent or even successful mar-
He is opportunity driven, a calculated risk
taker, a high goal setter, he uses creativity in
selling and demonstrates a charismatic way
to build networks so his clients can benefit.
These are the qualities of an entrepreneurial
Do you have that in your DNA?
Sajjad Hamid is an SME & family business
adviser. He can be contacted via: entrepre-
email@example.com or entrepreneurtnt.com
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 10 • 2016
Inside the mind of an
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