What is the difference between “sales” and “marketing”? In the former, you’re trying to convince a prospective client to buy what you have to offer. In the latter, you’re discovering what a prospective client wants and, if possible, providing that service and/or product.

Producers tend to be sales professionals as opposed to marketing professionals. They see prospective clients and talk about concepts, ideas, strategies and products. This approach does indeed work. If you approach enough potential clients in this way, some of them will surely be interested in what you have to offer.

There is a better way, however. And that is to be a marketer. About one in 50 affluent clients (individuals with a net worth of $10 million or more) has an estate plan. But many of these plans are “stale”–out of date, often by a decade or more.

The life insurance they have is often poorly structured and woefully inadequate. If they own a business, the key person insurance and the funding of the buy-sell agreement may similarly be out of date or not optimally structured. These same prospective clients, however, are less likely to take action based on a fancy idea than they are based on a solution that addresses their pressing needs and wants.

What proves to be the biggest obstacle to providing life insurance to the affluent is not the client but the producer. As noted, most producers are sales-oriented, not marketing-oriented. They tend to go into client meetings to sell life insurance, as opposed to finding where life insurance really makes sense–and it usually does.

The key to being a marketing professional is to be able to profile prospective clients effectively and comprehensively. This approach, coupled with a solid understanding of how life insurance can be applied, will yield more opportunities to provide life insurance and more receptive clients.

Based on extensive empirical research and a half dozen years of coaching elite financial advisors, we’ve developed a methodology that enables us to create a comprehensive profile. We refer to this methodology as the Whole Client Model.

A comprehensive profiling approach

In the life insurance business, there are many fact-finders. The problem is that most are skewed by their narrow focus on assets and related financial information. Even those fact-finders that move beyond the financial data are, in general, also limited.

To create a more accurate, perceptive and actionable fact-finder, we distilled the components of the client profile into seven categories referred to as the Whole Client Model. (See sidebar for the seven-sector framework, along with sample questions.)

Most likely, you’re addressing many, if not all, of these issues today. What makes the model so powerful is that we put all the information together on one page by using a modified mind-mapping approach.

The Whole Client Model graphic

By organizing the information in this way, you’re inclined to recognize fact patterns more easily based on multiple pieces of information. And, many of these fact patterns can lead to the use of life insurance as a solution to a client’s issue, not a product you want to sell.

We’ve found that many producers have some trouble initially using the model. It’s not how they were initially trained. It doesn’t immediately bring life insurance into the discussion. It isn’t as programmed and highly structured an approach as some producers like or are used to.

But, the model is a proven technique–empirically, and “in the trenches”–that enables producers to uncover significant opportunities for life insurance. Moreover, the Whole Client Model is about being client-centered; you’re marketing, not selling.