Price is what you pay; value is what you get. More than one sage has dispensed this wisdom. And why is that? Because people buy goods and services for many reasons, but at the end of the day, when they part with their hard-earned money, they want to feel as if they were treated fairly in the transaction. They want to feel as if they received something of value for their purchase.

Life insurance may be one of the most valuable assets a person can own. Still, most Americans are grossly underinsured — or, sadly, not insured at all. In addition to the age-old challenge of your basic, run-of-the-mill procrastinator, we all have clients who have been affected by the economy. Some are out of work and have substantially fewer assets. With proper empathy to their current, albeit temporary, situation, it should be noted that life insurance coverage does come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and with varying price tags.

So if you have a qualified prospect for life insurance but they’re just not moving past the consideration stage, how can you help them see the value in the product and dispel their excuses for not buying right now?

Creating motivation out of situation
Why do people buy life insurance? If we look at two of the main markets for life insurance — individuals and business owners — both have unique needs to fulfill. The question is, how great is that need? How deep does their motivation run? Is the fear of loss (value of insurance) greater than the price of coverage? If the answer is no, then price outweighs value for these prospects. That can pose an interesting conundrum. In every survey, study, and story that you read or hear about today’s investors, the fear of loss on investments is far greater than any gain they may see.

So what do you do when this is the case? You may want to uncover potential issues caused by a prospect’s death, helping the prospect understand how a lack of proper life insurance can add much stress to the lives of those they leave behind.

We recently met a dentist (we’ll call him “Joe”) who, as a business owner, did not have any buy-sell, key-man, or other non-negotiable coverage. Joe has three junior-partner dentists, two hygienists, and four staff members. He co-owns the practice with his wife, who is not a dentist. I asked him, “What would happen if you were hit by a bus on the way home tonight?” He answered, “My wife would own the practice.”

In New Jersey (and I imagine every other state), however, you must be a licensed dentist to run a dental practice. I asked whether his wife intended to sell the practice, or how the partners would work with her as a co-owner? What would happen in the time between Joe’s death and the acquisition of the practice by new owners? What happens to profits in that period? These things do work out eventually, but a simple buy-sell agreement funded with life insurance can smooth out that period that could otherwise be quite chaotic for family members and business partners. For Joe, this ended up being enough motivation to warrant further discussion.

In these times, you may also find that term insurance is an easier sell, with a plan in place to convert to permanent coverage once the client is financially stable. This can be a cost-effective way for the client to obtain the valuable life coverage they need while working with their financial and emotional constraints.

In addition to the individual and business markets, however, there is a third market for life insurance: the group market. This is traditionally not a needs-based sale, but rather a benefits-driven, cost-conscious purchase by a benefits manager or some other key decision-maker. Since employee retention is not necessarily the driving force today, you may be able to get the benefits manager’s attention with a cost savings discussion. There are always ways to compare and contrast plans in the group market. Now is a great time to offer that benefit audit from a cost-savings standpoint.

The price of admission
With so many other people now out of work, the fear of job loss running rampant, and a widespread loss of bonuses and perks, many people cannot financially or emotionally commit to more budget items. This can make any type of sales challenging if the product or service you are selling has a cost associated with it.

Whether we are confronted with economic turmoil, fighting for shelf space, playing motivational coach, or showing value over price, there are plenty of reasons to pick up the phone and go out and meet the people. After all, price is what they pay. Value is what we strive to give.

Brian and Matt Appel are principals with The Appel Financial Group. Brian can be reached at brian@theappelfinancialgroup.com or 212-408-9045. Matt can be reached at matt@theappelfinancialgroup.com or 732-530-5120.