So, what’s the best way to sell a disability policy?

Without a doubt, the answer to that question is that there is no single best way to sell disability insurance. Sales approaches will vary as different consumers have varying needs and “sales triggers”–not to mention that every insurance representative across the country probably has his or her own unique preferred method of making a sale that is most comfortable for them.

Following are some tried-and-true approaches for selling disability insurance. Perhaps some of these, or variations of them, will work for you.

Show your passion

Because many of the people he meets have little or no disability insurance, one of our reps talks up the product wherever he goes. When he was younger, his father had a heart attack and couldn’t work for 3 years; the family nearly lost everything they had. The rep knows there’s a pervasive, unmet need for DI and doesn’t assume that clients have coverage through their employers–7 out of 10 workers have no long-term disability coverage, so he’s sure to mention DI in every circumstance possible.

Another rep’s father was disabled at age 47 and never worked again. His monthly disability benefit meant he could pay his bills and keep his dignity.

Both reps remind people that 43% of Americans older than 40 will experience some health crisis that will take them out of the workforce for 90 days or more. They relate their own experience and explain how disability can be as financially devastating as a death to a family–and tell people they’re more likely to be disabled than to die during their working years. Yet disability income protection isn’t even on most people’s radar.

They’re working to change that.

Cross-sell your way to success

About one-third of disability sales at my company are collateral sales with life insurance. Life insurance is the easier sale as most people know how important it is, while the need for DI is not as well known and people have an “it’s not going to happen to me” attitude.

Some of our reps pair disability and life plans to show prospects how to protect their mortgages, and more. They call DI “economic life insurance” since incurring a disability is economic death as it kills future plans, financial stability, etc.

Other reps often present disability and critical illness coverages together–their clients like knowing that the CI coverage can provide money immediately while they wait for the disability insurance to kick in.

Cross-selling allows you more flexibility to tailor your coverages. One of our reps sold a 61-year-old man (ineligible for a regular CI policy because of his age) a small disability policy with a critical illness rider. The coverage was exactly what he needed.

Ease into it

Getting your foot in the door is sometimes the most important step in developing a relationship with a client. One of our reps meets with prospects and focuses on disability plans they can afford now, while setting the stage for meeting additional needs.

When the rep meets with prospects, she explains how a return-of-premium feature works–how, at a future date, they’ll get $5,000 to $20,000 in premium back if their plan goes unused. That’s money they can use for future needs.

As the clients near retirement, she talks to them about protecting their assets. Since they won’t need disability protection after they stop working, she suggests they reassign those premium dollars to long term care policies when they retire.

Nothing gives this rep a greater feeling of accomplishment than the thank-you calls she gets from appreciative clients. It’s music to her ears when they say they’d be broke if it weren’t for the disability plan she sold them. Or they’d be bankrupt but for their LTC insurance. That’s when she knows she’s done her job well.

Open the door with associations

If meeting new clients and prospects is about getting in the door, working association markets is the wedge that can help keep the door open. One successful rep I know says building relationships with association members can translate into strong sales and loyal clients. His mantra: Make yourself visible and people will remember you.

This rep has been working associations–especially lawyers, business owners, teachers and real estate agents–for most of his 20-year career. He estimates that 60% to 65% of his business comes from the contacts he makes through associations.

These professional associations are perfect markets for products such as disability and critical illness insurance as the members have large incomes they need to protect. His consistent presence at key meetings and annual conventions of these groups is an essential part of his strategy. He recently attended a convention of 400 physicians and raffled prizes at a booth–he obtained the names of attendees who signed up for a prize and was persistent at contacting them.

It’s all about visibility.

Perfect your strategy

No matter what method or technique you use to market yourself and your products–whether it is disability income or another insurance product–be persistent. Find something that works for you, that you are comfortable with, and keep at it.

People have different attitudes toward the importance of disability insurance, and you’re not going to win over everyone. All you can do is present the opportunity.

Bradley Buechler, FSA, MAAA, is the product performance director for individual supplemental health product lines at Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, Omaha, Neb