In 2006, my managing partner asked me to develop an effective orphan management program. But instead of focusing on yet another orphan program which has been historically perceived negatively by the financial representatives, we decided to create an Agency Client Marketing Program. Our goal was to help the firm stay in touch with over 8,000 clients and open up new sales opportunities for our participating financial representatives, especially among clients who had not been contacted in years.
An opportunity to market to clients
To begin developing a successful program, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of our client base. We found that one insurer’s long term care insurance sales were 80% of the firm’s client base, with only 20% in life insurance or multiple product sales. Most clients were 65 or older. And, because many of the clients were sold just one product, primarily LTCI, many had not been called for years.
This was viewed as a great opportunity for our firm to tell clients what we offer in terms of broader financial solutions in retirement, estate conservation and charitable giving. The biggest challenge would be to create a process of cultivating these clients, which would add value to the financial representatives in the firm and result in successful sales opportunities.
To start, we selected the experienced financial reps with Series 6 licenses who wanted access to these clients, who knew how to conduct a proper fact-finder, and who focused on a needs-based sales approach. We also created a step-by-step process for them to follow, which started with their signed commitment to the program. The firm mailed an introductory marketing letter to the client list. Then, we asked reps to follow up by conducting client surveys.
The survey approach is very effective with clients because the representative is focusing on their financial concerns and issues in the phone call or meeting, not on making a sale. The entire tone and process is less threatening to the client and more of a way to build a relationship.
Client marketing in action
One 9-year financial representative with the firm who has found success with this program noted that the organized approach has allowed him to grow his life business by contacting both life insurance and LTCI ‘orphan’ clients. About 60% of his new life cases now come from this source.
His approach is very low key as he positions himself as a helpful resource versus making a sale. After he gets his list of clients who received the firm’s marketing letter, he makes his calls. He first introduces himself and asks if their policy is still meeting the needs for which it was originally purchased. He asks if he can set up an appointment to review their current coverage, to answer questions and to learn more about their financial concerns.
With life insurance clients, this rep suggests that a full review may result in ways to enhance the coverage or lower the premiums, depending on their current needs. In one case, his persistence in keeping in touch paid off. He contacted the client several times to review his coverage but never succeeded in arranging a meeting. The 53-year-old law firm partner eventually called him personally, expressing disappointment that a representative from a different company never called him.
He met with our rep, who reviewed his current coverage, which was in the $100,000 range. The client felt he needed more insurance protection, so our rep showed him how he could purchase additional coverage. Our rep feels the additional life insurance was important to meeting the client’s protection needs. Just as important, he has begun a relationship with a client that will need his services for many years to come.
A great recruiting tool
Currently, the participating reps, who now total 12, receive 50 leads every other month, with the firm collecting a percentage of the compensation on the first case sold for each client. Ancillary business after the first case and referrals belong to the representative. A weekly tracking report on how many calls were made and how many appointments resulted is required, which allows me to cross-check new business against our client list.
I also handle follow-up marketing with those clients who have not yet been called, or those who didn’t respond to a call. The objective is to keep in touch with our clients regularly, no matter who they are, through mailings of educational materials, invitations to firm client events, and newsletters. That’s because you never now when a topic, a need or concern may come into a client’s life. We want to be there and be seen as a resource when it does.
The firm has seen strong success since the program started with $135,000 in new life and LTCI premium being tracked in 2007. Just as important, the representatives see their participation as a bonus–something special the firm offers, which is a great tool for recruiting new financial professionals to the firm.
Additionally, the program’s success caught the attention of veteran producers with large client bases, but not enough time to cultivate all their clients. We recently introduced a “client re-connect” program that teams junior financial representatives with more seasoned ones, with the junior reps contacting clients on the senior reps’ behalf. The experienced producer receives a new source of business without doing a lot of work, and the junior professional gets many opportunities for joint work and mentoring.
Megan Carpenter is marketing director, Signature Financial Partners, LLC. You can e-mail her at