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Letting urgency overcome denial

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Q. I’m finding that denial is a major obstacle when selling LTCI. Many prospects refuse to admit that they will ever need this coverage. Do you have any suggestions on how to overcome this objection?

A. “It’s never going to happen to me” is one of the most frequent objections that we hear during the sales process. Even the most experienced agents struggle with this, so you are not alone in trying to solve this dilemma.

To provide help with this challenge, I asked Steve Elliott, an agent in San Diego who has sold $5 million of LTCI over the last 12 years, all individual policies, sold face-to-face.

He attributes much of his success to the strategy he developed to overcome denial.

“Denial in the long term care arena translates, for most of us, as an inability or unwillingness to accept that I may one day be disabled or chronically ill to the point where I would be dependent upon others to care for me,” Elliott explains.

“We associate long term care with a health issue that will develop when we are ‘old,’ and we tend to envision the worst case scenario where we have no quality of life at all.

Immediately we think of health issues such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke.” According to Elliott, the prospect needs to realize the four main truths of long term care:

1. Long term care can happen to anyone at any age. In fact, 40 percent of all long term care involves people under the age of 65.

2. It could be the result of an accident: car accident, head injury, back injury or fall.

3. Long term care does not mean you’re in a nursing home. It could be care in your home or an assisted living facility.

4. Finally, it is not always permanent. It could be an accident or stroke where you need care temporarily.

Elliott’s technique is to shift the prospects’ thinking by using what he terms “soft selling” the idea of long term care. “You first want to get the client to admit he may need long term care. Ask him directly: ‘Obviously you’re looking into long term care, so you’re wise enough to realize that it can happen, right?’ Then move on to this question: ‘Have you ever thought about what could happen to you that would cause you to need long term care?’ His answer will illuminate his perspective of what LTCI means.

A great technique to help the client understand is through third-party stories. Steve has stories of actual clients who needed long term care that help to illustrate all four of the “truths.” The first is a client, who at the age of 62, fell down a flight of stairs, breaking her wrist and hip and severely injuring her back. She still receives care in her home.

A second client fell off the roof of his RV while cleaning it. In this case, he also received care at home, but only for six months. With a lot of rehabilitation he now walks with a cane and no longer requires hands-on care.

“Once your client understands that long term care can happen to anyone at any time and that it does not necessarily mean a complete loss in the quality of life, then suddenly he has a more proper view of the risk.” Elliott says. “What it also does is create a sense of urgency. Urgency usually translates to your client feeling dissatisfied with his current situation, which means he is much more likely to want to take care of this problem right away. Then design the appropriate plan and take the application.”