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The fine art of cultivating leads

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Q. I need more quality leads. My business plan lists developing a way to successfully pursue financial planners and other trusted advisors as lead sources. Do you have any practical suggestions how to accomplish this?

A. Generating quality leads has always been a challenge and now is getting even more difficult. The easy pickings of seniors who are planners have been pretty saturated, so we agents need to work smarter to develop other successful lead sources.

For advice in this area, I asked Rhonda Vry-Bills, an agent in Altoona, Iowa, how she developed her large network of lead referral sources. She successfully transitioned from selling LTC insurance over the phone and through the mail as a salaried employee to starting her own business as an independent agent, dependent upon generating her own leads and doing personal face-to-face production.

She started by compiling a list of those who serve as advisors to clients. It included financial planners, estate planning attorneys, banks, employer brokers and insurance agents – health, life, disability and P&C. Here’s what she learned as she converted the names on her list into profitable referral sources.

It’s very important to let these people know you do not want them to know all of the carriers or the ins and outs. Instead, you want to train them on who is a good prospect and how to schedule an appointment with you. Suggest that the next time they deliver that life policy, do an annual review or review an auto policy, they mention LTC insurance.

They can use this mini-script: “I was looking through your file. Who do you have your long term care insurance with?” If they have it, great. Ask them to provide a copy of their policy and offer to have a specialist review it for free. Also, that advisor can now have a copy for the files in the event the kids call one day. If the client does not have a policy, the advisor can suggest they set up an appointment.

Leave some materials that the advisor can use when discussing LTCI with the client. Vry-Bills created a folder and explains the contents to the advisor. She discusses which of his clients are good LTC prospects: over age 40, over $40,000 in income, white collar, couples, divorced, widowed, last kid graduating from college, self employed. She specifically shares the reasons why LTCI planning is crucial for each of these client categories. Vry-Bills provides a sheet so he can start writing down names as she goes through the categories, because she knows his is already thinking of some of his clients.

Vry-Bills spends time getting to know her new referring clients by asking numerous questions to determine how to best meet their needs. What are their experiences with LTC? Have they written any policies? If so, how many? How many requests do they get? When they get requests, what do they do?

She lets the new advisor know that LTC is a rapidly changing product in a number of areas, including plan designs, carriers, underwriting, forms and tax regulations. She emphasizes that LTC is all she does and he should not view her as a threat. She shares the commissions 50/50. Most advisors will realize this is an advantageous arrangement, since she does all the work, and they just have to recognize which clients need LTC and schedule the appointment.


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