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Amplify Your Practice With

Advanced Sales Support

For independent brokers who arent already doing so, entering the advanced sales markets can give them the opportunity to expand their practice, work on more profitable cases and increase their bottom line.

In the third quarter of 2003 the average term case sold by brokerage agencies generated only $939 of premium, according to a recent LIMRA study. From my experience, this number differs dramatically from the premium for a policy used to fund an advanced sales strategy.

In many instances, using these strategies generates premium in the hundred thousand dollar range. The popular premium financing arrangement, for example, often generates annual premium in excess of $1 million.

Brokerage agencies face the daily challenge of committing money and resources to recruiting top producers, paying a support staff and providing incentive payouts for producers to place business with the agency. Consequently, there is little or no money left in the budget to train new and existing producers. Despite these obstacles, brokerage firms must continue to be well positioned in promoting and closing advanced sales cases. This is often accomplished by forming close partnerships with carriers that are uniquely focused on serving them through superior products, competitive underwriting and responsive advanced sales support.

To exacerbate the problem, shrinking home office budgets have resulted in many career forces with little or no training in life insurance sales. When these former career agents decide to become independent, many look to the independent brokerage agency to “take up the training slack” and provide extensive training and support for high-end sales. It is therefore critical to work with a carrier that offers regional directors who can instruct producers on advanced sales concepts, as well as offer point-of-sale assistance.

In addition, carriers who offer turnkey marketing kits that include presentations, prospecting letters and producer guides will go a long way toward making sure 2004 is a great year for your agency.

The most important step in the process of providing valuable advanced sales support for producers is knowing where to find it. While this can come in many forms, the 2 most prevalent are working closely with a carriers regional directors and backroom advanced sales departments. Both offer unique advantages.

Regional directors can provide assistance to an independent brokerage agencys own backroom with illustrations, training and product support. They also can provide point-of-sale assistance on many advanced sales topics when the producer feels uncomfortable making the presentation to his or her client. Finally, most regional directors often are trained to give informative seminars on the latest advanced sales ideas. Often, these seminars include the coveted continuing education credit.

Advanced sales departments offer producers and independent brokerage agencies support in other ways. First, most departments offer extensive advanced sales case design and consultation over the phone. These calls can range from simple tax issues involving Section 1035 exchanges, to complex estate and business planning issues with many moving parts. This service provides peace of mind to many producers who know that answers to many of their questions are only a phone call away.

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Many advanced sales strategies have unique case designs. As such, members of the advanced sales department can both design and “walk the producer through” these types of complex illustrations. Finally, many advanced sales departments work in conjunction with their respective regional directors in point-of-sale cases with producers. Often, they travel to the brokerage offices for seminar presentations or to speak at an agencys national sales meeting.

Finally, advanced sales departments offer frequent teleconferences for the benefit of producers and brokerage agencies. These conferences allow the producers to keep up-to-date with the latest advanced sales concepts, tax and regulatory changes. More importantly, the teleconferences present the material with the producer in mind. The goal should always be for the producer to come away from the call with a sales idea he or she can use immediately.

Carriers who value advanced sales departments will support them with turnkey marketing packages. These packages support producers with items such as PowerPoint presentations, marketing materials, prospecting letters and producer guides. Some carriers have included all of this material on an easy-to-use compact disk, so that the producer may easily and conveniently select whatever piece he or she desires.

Hot Sales Ideas

This year the market is changing faster than ever. To be sure, 2004 presents some interesting challenges to both the independent producers and the brokerage community. Traditional insurance sales opportunities such as estate planning, deferred compensation and split dollar are being modified by legislative changes. There are numerous advanced sales strategies that have tremendous potential for producers in 2004. Here are just a few that continue to generate high premium dollars for producers:

? Despite the “permanent” estate tax repeal in 2010, assisting clients in estate planning through the use of life insurance remains critical in many ways. Indeed, many non-estate tax management and transfer strategies utilizing life insurance exist. Estate planning techniques using GRATs, survivorship access trusts and loans to an irrevocable trust (to name a few) offer solutions to high-net-worth clients.

? Funding qualified plans with life insurance, particularly in IRC Section 412(i) defined benefits, continues to grow in popularity. As human capital has never been so important, funding executive benefits strategies with life insurance is of great interest to many small business owners.

? Finally, strategies such as premium financing, funding life insurance with life annuity payouts and business continuation planning continue to offer tax-efficient solutions.

Brokerage agencies and producers that value advanced marketing support hold key strategic advantages over their competition. Creating alliances with carriers uniquely positioned to service the brokerage market will no doubt pay big dividends in the months to come. In doing so, brokerage agencies will not only get the message out to independent producers but also enable them to understand, promote and close sales in one of the most dynamic markets our industry has ever seen.

Daniel J. Munroe, JD, CLU, is director of advanced marketing for MONY Partners, Hartford, Conn. He can be reached at [email protected].

Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 2, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved. Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.