Q. I’m always looking for practical and easy-to-implement suggestions on how to increase my sales. What tips can you provide to increase the effectiveness of one-on-one presentations and follow-up procedure?

A. When I served as sales director of an in-house team of LTCI agents, every summer we would spend time going back to basics and share our “nuggets of wisdom.” It is always helpful and enlightening to hear what other successful experienced agents are doing and then adapt it to our own selling style and business approach.

Phil Grossman, a very successful MetLife agent based in Peoria, Ariz., was very willing to share some of the techniques he has developed during the many years he has been selling this product. His first week in the business was definitely not a success — he wrote eight applications and collected $22,000 in premiums, and none of it stuck. He now has 900 active clients.

Here are Phil’s nuggets of wisdom:

  • He always wears a badge showing his name and company. He finds that it creates a level of comfort when the prospect can look through the window and see who he is. He’s also had people stop him in the mall and grocery store and ask what companies he represents.
  • Before the appointment, Phil sends the prospect a confirmation letter and mini-health questionnaire.
  • A key phrase he frequently uses is, “You are an adult. I’m here to provide you with education and information. Then you can decide if this coverage is appropriate and affordable for you.”
  • He calls all clients on their birthdays, even if he is out of town. He knows their spouses’ names and other important information, storing it in his PDA.
  • A phrase he uses to generate referrals is, “I sure hope that you mention to your friends that your agent calls you every year.”
  • A good line he uses when asking for referrals is, “If you agree that this is something that is important, and I would assume that you do since you have decided to apply for coverage, I would like to have a couple of names of people who you care about. If something would happen to them, then you could feel comfortable that at least you told them about this protection. Give them the opportunity to make the decision themselves.”
  • When asked how much it costs, he responds as follows: “Have you ever eaten at a cafeteria-style restaurant? You are going down the line, putting various items on the plate, and then you have to pay for it. That’s like LTCI insurance. If I give you a ballpark number, you would make a decision pro or con based on the numbers I am giving you. But that could be unfair to both you and me. What we need to have is a minimal amount of face time so we can exchange some information and come up with a price that coordinates with a plan.”
  • To answer the comment, “Just give me a rough idea,” he replies as follows: “I can’t. If you were going to call a dentist and say I have a toothache, and then ask how much will it cost, he won’t know. I’m not a doctor, but we need to do an examination as well.”
  • Within 24 hours after the home appointment, he sends the prospect a thank-you letter.
  • Phil has developed a method for preventing buyer’s remorse. When he returns from taking an application, he addresses three envelopes with the new client’s information. He puts them into a file box with numbers from 1 to 31, corresponding to the days of the month. On the first envelope, he writes the date two weeks from the application date; on the second he writes the date in four weeks; and on the third, six weeks, the date when he hopes to have the underwriting decision. The purpose is to contact clients on a regular basis and inform them of the application status. When the policy is approved, he calls and asks if they have been getting his notes and if they are happy with the process. He congratulates them that their application has been approved as submitted, tells them he should receive it within a week to 10 days, and that he’ll call again to arrange delivery.