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Try the three bridges close

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Q. I know an effective face-to face presentation is a critical part of the LTCI sale. I’m having trouble making the transition to closing the client and having him admit he needs this protection. Do you have a technique that works well?

A. When I first started selling LTCI, that was the hardest part of the sales process for me, too. To overcome that hurdle, I started using the Three Bridges Close. To update this approach, I turned to Dawn Helwig, consulting actuary and principal of Milliman Consulting, who used recent statistics to compare the probabilities over one’s lifetime of having your house burn down, being in a major car accident and needing long term care.

I start the Three Bridges Close after I have used a structured presentation, at which point I’m ready to discuss the financial risks clients face. Start by saying, “Most people face three significant risks to their financial security. These risks could mean an extremely large out-of-pocket expense. What are they?” (For a sample illustration of the Three Bridges artwork and the sources for the statistics used, please visit

Draw a representation of the client’s street and then draw three bridges on it.

“Bridges are made to be safe and secure, but if any of these bridges collapses, it could mean thousands of dollars out of your pocket. What are these bridges? The first bridge has to do with your home.” Write ?Home’ over the top of the bridge. “You have lived here for how many years?” Client gives a number. “OK, so that means you have had homeowners insurance for XX years. What you have done is created a safety net.” Draw the safety net. “What are the chances of this bridge collapsing to the tune of thousands of dollars (i.e., your house burning down)? Chances are 7 percent over your lifetime, assuming you own a home for 50 years.” Write 7 percent over the bridge. “But you don’t have to worry about this risk, because you have homeowners insurance.” Draw an arrow between the road and safety net. “Are you going to drop your homeowners insurance? The answer is no.”

Now do the same for auto insurance, using 50 percent as the statistic, assuming the person drives for 50 years. The client isn’t going to drop his auto insurance.

“Here’s the last bridge – long term care.” Write ?Long term care’ over the top of the third bridge. What are the chances of this bridge collapsing? By that, I mean the probability of your needing long term care at some point in your life. The likelihood is more than 50 percent for one person.” Write 50-plus percent over the bridge. “This is the one area where you don’t have a safety net. So if this bridge collapses, you have a major problem.” Draw the arrow from the bridge.

You are now going for the close. Ask these two questions: Would it make sense for you to pass part of this risk to an insurance company? Do you need long term care insurance?

If the prospect says no, you need to probe and determine the objections that are preventing the sale. If the client says yes, you are ready to move onto a discussion of benefit guidelines and to recommend an appropriate combination of benefits for his specific needs and which policy or policies are best.

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