Thanks and now a transition

With mixed feelings I have decided that 2019 will be my last year to help train new and existing clients. It’s been a wonderful career and I have seen thousands of students and colleagues go on to accomplish great things for themselves and their companies. But it’s time to spend more time enjoying my family, friends and doing bucket list activities.

My swan song can be good news for you!  In my “farewell tour” I will be facilitating classes at big savings as a way of thanking you for your many years of support: call me at 856 985 6260 or email at

Prefer to do your own training? Purchase my ready to use Sales and Negotiations materials as a stand-alone session or to compliment your own designs: full facilitator and participant guides, power points and handouts, and books I have written for supplemental readings.  Contact me as above. 

For over 40 years I have worked in the insurance industry; as an agent, product line manager, sales/marketing executive and training consultant. Over these many years I have helped generate hundreds of millions of new revenue, improved profitability for my clients, been honored by my professional association (SITE), and perhaps most importantly, remembered by thousands I have worked with throughout their careers. 

Thanks for the pleasure and honor of learning along with you and let me know if I can work with you this one last time.

Warmest regards

Paul Balbresky, CLU, ITP

Insurance Training for Bottom line results

856 985 6260  


Guide to Successful Deal Making for Underwriters

Impasse and Dealing with Difficult Claimants

Selling to Carriers and Prospects for Independent Agents

Selling Through the Cycles in the Excess and Surplus Market 





In my last article I focused on some basics of the sales and negotiations training I’ve created and conducted over the years. When some sessions worked better than others – I took time to reflect on why this happened. I’m sure you’ve done the same. So in this follow up I’ll share a few reflections you can use to revisit your own curricula or that of vendors with whom you are considering partnering (if this is where you are leaning, contact me)

Have Fun, Be Yourself


The facilitator in front of the room creates a mood for the session. S/He will enjoy teaching and the class will enjoy learning if they are having a good (interesting, challenging, credible, etc.) time. Have you ever sat in a group where the presenter spoke to the slide screen? The worst!

Talk to the class - listen to what they are saying, show them you care. Watch for changes in body language so you know when it’s time for a break or to change activities. If you have line of business experience, share some anecdotes to supplement what the “book” says. You’ll make the session come alive.

Theory Has Its Place


For soft skills in particular, participants should be focusing on doing not listening or reading. Give as much theory as possible up front so class time can be devoted to skill practice and discussion.

My Deal Making Series for underwriters, producers or claims handlers – emphasizes practice.  While studies have shown that older employees require different training methods than their younger counter-parts, hands on engagement with real life situations can work for all levels. Customized break out activities (as I use for various experience levels) can make the learning much more applicable to their work.

Make Learning Safe


New behaviors are sometimes uncomfortable to practice in front of peers. Find ways to let your participants experiment with their new skills in a controlled and safe environment. Let them observe and discuss interactions to build confidence without risking embarrassment



Over the years (through examining the research and experimenting on my own) I’ve come up with a learning sequence that eases apprehension and accommodates various learning preferences:

· Demonstration (I am a visual learner and this works for me)

o I demonstrate good and bad technique on typical phone calls with clients (claimants, producers, risk managers, or others as appropriate). 

o We then discuss what was effective and what could have been done differently to improve results.

· Small Group Discussion (Great for Analytic learners)

o Break out teams are assigned situations suitable to their level of experience. They suggest what should be done in these scenarios and present their rationale in general session for discussion. 

· Small Group Practice (Hands on learners like this)

o Structured simulations are provided to give a context in which to practice influence skills. You can group teams by experience level so the situations are appropriate for them.

o The key to this exercise is giving balanced and timely feedback 

o Give participants some time to think about what happened and make a plan for how they will use what they learned. Much better results than just practice alone

· Case Study Application

o So what will they do when they get back to work?

o We ask experienced staff to use a current file as their own individual case study on which to apply their skills. For newer staff we often have them shadow others. 

o Putting skills into practice immediately after a class improves retention and the odds of prolonging new behaviors

· Measure and Sustain Results

o Provide metrics to find your return for the training investment (helps you justify future sessions) 

o Design in coaching to reinforce and sustain professional growth.



I hope you have found these brief articles helpful as you wrestle with your own learning and for those on your teams.

If you need help reaching superior results, click here 

Please note my most current contact information

Paul Balbresky, ITP

(856) 985 0955



 I was preparing some sort of adult beverage concoction and the notion of a recipe for facilitation success occurred to me (this was before I imbibed!).

As a Deal Making program designer and instructor, a lot of what I do in front of a class is facilitation - and I am sure most of you use the same skills conducting meetings or your own training.

So here are some thoughts - let me know if it "tastes" good! 


3 parts Preparation
• Know your topics, your group, your logistics, possible points of conflict/controversy
2 parts Observation
• A fine blend of watching and listening
Gently stir with Open Ended Questions
• Stimulate their thinking
• What if? How would that work? What is the benefit?
Strain through Experience (yours and theirs)
• How does the topic relate to their jobs, current circumstances?
Pour over their "eyes" (ice - get it?)
• Use their senses: How does this feel? What would this look like? How would others feel?
Garnish with Summaries
• Review what has been discussed/accomplished, next steps
Make sure everyone has a taste
• Engage the group
• Get their feedback, build consensus 


Congratulations for being a successful Facilitator! See you at Happy Hour! 

Crass commercial:


Need an outside facilitator or instructor?


Paul Balbresky, ITP
Insurance Training for Bottom Line Results
(856) 985 0955

What I learned about negotiating from watching shark tank

I was a late comer starting to watch this series on TV but became captivated with the Deal Making (which is what I teach for Claims, Underwriting and Broker personnel ) skills - or lack of them - by both the budding entrepreneurs and the Shark Tank panel of investors. It's entertaining but you can also learn a lot by listening from a negotiations perspective!

Here are some thoughts to consider in developing your strategies. By the way, if your teams need help in being better Deal Makers taught by an Insurance specialist - contact me at 856 - 985 0955 or

· Prepare a strategy. Have you seen entrepreneurs talk about their product rather than the business opportunity? They rarely win! Position your offer with the other party in mind - how will they receive it? Did you sell the benefit of your offer to fit in with their particular situation?

· Don’t just talk, listen to what the other person is telling you and use that information. Too often I see players so wrapped up in what they want to say, they fail to pick up on key words the Sharks mention that would help make a profitable deal happen.

· Have a bottom line prepared, and walk away from the deal if it gets past it. The Sharks are hungry and they want to make the best deal for themselves. If what your customer wants is unprofitable from your perspective, be prepared to say no.

· Develop options, the more you have to offer, the easier it may be to shape a deal. The absolute best entrepreneurs have a plan B and even a plan C ready if the Sharks won't budge. Be creative and find different ways in which you can fashion a win-win deal for both parties. 

· Don’t take their attitude personally, emotions will only bring you trouble. On Shark Tank the panelists are paid in part for the drama they create - especially Mr. Wonderful. But to a lesser degree, the people you deal with: Agents, Risk Managers, Claimants, their attorneys, will also play the emotion card - whether real or as a strategy. Don't lose sight of your objective - closing the Deal on your terms.  

· Involve the other party in the process of identifying issues, options and solutions. The more your other party is involved with the conversation, the more they will feel some ownership in the outcome - and make closing the deal a bit easier.

· Use facts to substantiate your position. Often exaggeration or vague references will be used to create power on the part of your opposite number. Such things as; "my friend had a claim like this and got $xxx", or "Why are you always the highest premium?", or "other carriers don't ask for this information".... and so on. Each situation is unique and the only way to bring a specific resolution to the deal is to refer to the facts of the case.  

Negotiating can be fun, as it is on TV, but good negotiators are disciplined and prepared. If your team needs some help, let's talk. 

Paul Balbresky, ITP

Insurance Training for Bottom Line Results

(856) 985 - 0955 or



Congratulations to all the teams and fans for another frenzied tournament. The level of excitement, competition and skill is astounding. While the knockout rounds and finals are still ahead I have been thinking a lot about motivation and how it pertains to job performance


What motivates people to achieve? Is it individual achievement, being part of the team, responding to the crowd, passion for ones country, the sheer joy of the moment - all of the above or something else?  Is there one consistent motivator that works best?


As I am sure you know - each of employee has their own reason for learning and excelling. My job as a trainer is, in part, to discover what that is - and use my facilitation skills to motivate them



I often start a class by asking attendees why they are there - what they want to get out of the class. I capture each objective, try to address that in my agenda, reflect on that at the conclusion. I also ask what they will do with the new learning while it's still "hot"!.



1. Have all sorts of materials, references, short videos, lectures, podcasts and free resources available to facilitate exploration

2. Promote group discussions and communities through social media

3. Use problem solving exercises and case studies. 

4. Chunk information to help people remember and assimilate information. 

5. Allow for experimentation and the freedom to fail

6. Convey excitement and add real-life stories.



The more motivators you have the more likely your learners will find something that stimulates them!

Here's something else I am curious about. 

What motivates you to read my articles? Entertainment, education, a pressing need at your company? 

I'd like to know.  Give me a call or send an email

(856) 985 - 0955