Put Advanced Sales
On Your Team
Financial services producers may take comfort in the probability that the demand for financial planning advice will escalate. We face more advanced cases and complex products, not less. Advanced Sales units have evolved also in their roles to keep abreast of rapidly changing needs.
Yet many financial services producers fail to take full advantage of the Advanced Sales departments specialized tax, estate, business and insurance planning knowledge. In particular, they pass up the opportunity to engage these experts directly in the sales process. Unfortunately, if producers arent fully using free Advanced Sales expertise, clients may pay additional expenses when the other advisors do research to “get up to snuff”–charging for their time–to develop and implement estate or business continuation plans.
Broadly speaking, Advanced Sales is a sales support, educational or consultative function. Yet today many Advanced Sales units will partner in the sale and interact directly with the end client and his advisors. Advanced cases are defined by complexity, those cases that require a tax or legal strategy to solve a clients or couples personal estate, charitable or business planning goals. As a unit, Advanced Sales is best understood as one that helps producers simplify the complexity and make sales.
Sales Concept Spectrum
It behooves financial services producers to understand the expertise insurance carriers have relative to specific planning concepts. Some may be good in one area but weak in another. Here is one list of the “key concepts” in an advanced sales arena that financial services producers will find helpful.
–Business Continuation–covers key person insurance and buy-sell agreements.
–Executive Compensationdeferred compensation, executive bonus, SERPs and split-dollar plans.
–Retirement Planningincludes all tax-qualified retirement plans.
–Estate Planningwill or trust planning, family limited partnerships, lifetime gifting, irrevocable trusts, etc.; strategies to defer or minimize taxes; estate equalization; charitable bequests, etc.
–Charitable Planninggifts during life or at death, trusts and private foundations.
–Asset Protection Strategiesrole of partnerships, trusts and other entities to protect assets against creditors and financial risk.
Most advanced cases encompass more than one of these “concepts.”
A financial services producer should expect the Advanced Sales team to deliver creative solutions, with optimum results for both the producer and the client. In reality this cannot always be accomplished–producers vary in their marketing approaches and demands, and even different distribution channels expect different things based on their needs. However, for the Advanced Sales unit to partner effectively in the sales process to mutual benefit contemplates a number of working parts:
Personal attention and responsive follow through.
Planning solutions for tax, retirement, charitable, business and estate planning.
Product savvy–ideas for using specific products for specific concepts.
Powerful lineup of advanced design-and-solve presentation software.
Financial services producers can measure the philosophy of service by the number of these working parts, but the 2 most important remain: 1) the quality of the advice provided, including personal attention and follow through; and 2) product savvy and concepts for product use.
The latter cannot be emphasized enough. At bottom, insurance carriers are manufacturers of products and services. Producers should expect that their Advanced Sales unit is skilled in demonstrating how specific products solve specific problems.
Due Diligence for Success
Financial services producers would be wise to go beyond the normal “due diligence” process when evaluating a life insurance carrier. For example, closely examine the marketing direction, the product portfolios suitability for your clients and the range of advanced sales support services to help you succeed. They may be as important as the financial ratios and ratings.
How can producers maximize the advanced sale process? Before seeking consultation, theyll need to know what kind of cases they should bring in and what kind of facts they should be collecting. Advanced Sales units have many resources, but most are limited in some way. One aspect of the producers due diligence might be to ask a series of “Whats in it for me?” questions (see box).
Financial services producers in the estate planning, charitable giving or business markets often must work in a team environment. Clients appreciate this when they feel the team searches conscientiously for appropriate solutions. Life insurance company specialists in wealth accumulation and distribution planning scenarios can be valued members of that team–if the producer includes them.
The merging of financial services has complicated the purchase of products and services. Prospects cannot always determine whether theyre selecting the best solutions. In fact, to serve properly the rapidly burgeoning senior market, financial services producers will have to understand even more financial issues, such as long term care, elder law issues, income management and asset protection.
Prudent producers will point out flexible planning strategies that reduce, if not eliminate, most of the uncertainties–strategies that can adjust and operate in any of several possible future scenarios. Life insurance integrated into the estate planning remains the most effective solution for a number of tax situations.
Further, our society seems in no mood to become less litigious. Lawsuits will continue to complicate the advice business. One instance of poor judgment or sloppy thinking can lead to embarrassment, adverse publicity, lawsuits and hits to the bottom line. Advanced Sales units are in a unique position to help producers keep one eye squarely on compliance. Its just another reason to partner with Advanced Sales.
In conclusion, financial services producers will benefit from placing experts in life insurance products, planning, law and taxes on their team. However, producers must understand their primary companies advanced sales capabilities and specialties. Further, they must expect and demand strong product solution expertise. When producers invite the Advanced Sales unit to work directly to participate in the sale, often this actually helps cement it.
Richard E. Kait, JD, LLM, CLU, ChFC, is assistant vice president and marketing counsel at Ameritas Acacia Companies, where he leads the Advanced Marketing team. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.