Going at it alone may not be the best strategy for maximizing on your long term care sales. By networking with other professionals, you can find a more steady stream of clients ready for a discussion on their future care.
Everyone faces constraints on time and resources, but alliances with other professionals can leverage your efforts.
Gavin Walker, LUTCF, is a John Hancock agent with American National Insurance in Henderson, Nev. He’s been selling LTCI for five years and estimates that 75 percent of his new business comes from other professionals.
Walker works closely with about a dozen professionals, including property and casualty agents, financial planners, CPAs and estate planning attorneys. He has used his involvement with the local chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors to raise his local profile. He’s been on the group’s board of trustees and currently serves as president. “Acting as the president has helped me build trust with these other individuals,” he says. “I have developed a relationship with them because of my involvement within the industry, and they know that I’m here.”
Alliances build focus
These alliances allow Walker to focus his efforts on high-quality prospects and avoid direct mailings or cold calls. As an example, a property and casualty agent might work with 500 clients. Walker and the agent identify 10 to 20 of those clients who fit the profile for LTCI without wasting time on unqualified prospects. “If you multiply that by 10 agents, that’s 100 prospects, and that keeps me very, very active and busy,” says Walker.
Annette Fadness, MBA, CLTC, is a principal with Northwood Long-Term Care Partners in Irvine, Calif. She’s been selling LTCI for three years and estimates that one-third of her referrals come from other professionals.
Allign through events
Fadness’s most productive method for meeting prospective allies is to attend networking events like Financial Planning Association and NAIFA meetings and continuing education classes. “It’s just really great to meet someone in person,” she says. “So phase two is I exchange cards with that person, and then I will make an appointment and meet them in person.”
Prospective referral sources frequently complain that they are bombarded with requests for meetings from LTCI agents, but Fadness says she has no problem scheduling appointments. She suspects that part of her success comes from screening the other person when they first meet. “If I’m sitting down next to someone at a luncheon or a CE course, it’s pretty clear in a quick five minutes of conversation whether there’s any real potential there,” she says.
By definition, an alliance requires contributions from both parties, and Fadness stresses several benefits to prospective referral sources. The first is her expertise as an LTCI specialist. A second selling point is her willingness to share commissions equally with licensed advisors. She also keeps the referring professional informed on the case with a written summary for his or her files. Fadness does not promise reciprocating referrals, however. “I’m very clear when I meet with them that it’s probably going to be a one-way street,” she says. “The reason is I’m getting so much of my business from other advisors is, that by definition, those clients are completely off-limits.”
David Stombaugh, LUTCF, CLTC, is a MetLife agent in Tucson, Ariz. who has been selling LTCI for five years. He estimates that 20 percent of his business comes from professionals, primarily CPAs and other insurance agents. Stombaugh does not cold call; instead, he relies on professional or social networking opportunities to make initial contacts. After meeting the other professional, he contacts them, usually with an invitation to lunch, and discusses the benefits of LTCI for their clients.
Stombaugh addresses the “what’s in it for me?” problem by stressing to referral sources that working with him is a mutually beneficial arrangement, even if Stombaugh cannot reciprocate referrals as much as he might like. “If I can refer people back to them, I will,” he says. “The reality is if I’ve not had many clients or people come to me and say, ‘I need a new CPA.’ As long as I’ve been doing this, that’s probably happened a handful of times. So the way I try and posture this is that, yes, you are referring someone to me, but this is a big service to you, because we are in a society whereby advisors have to work together. I’m an expert in this area, I’m helping their client, and it looks favorable upon them that they have referred their client to someone that can assist them in a very positive way.”
Staying in Touch
Meredith Pensack, CLTC, an MDRT member, is the owner of Long Term Care Insurance Planning in Newton, Mass. She has been selling LTCI for five years and works hard to stay in touch with possible business allies. To do this, she relies on the centers-of-influence program developed by Marilee Driscoll. Pensack provides the names and e-mail or mailing addresses of roughly 100 professionals. Driscoll’s company then produces and distributes a ghost-written article on a pertinent topic that keeps Pensack’s name in front of prospective referral sources each month. She follows up with these centers of influence quarterly to see if she can get referrals.
Pensack has been pleased with the program’s results. She’s received referrals from the newsletter’s recipients, and in turn, she has been able to send them some reciprocating referrals. She cites a referral that she received from a financial planner who was on her distribution list although they had never met in person. The planner called Pensack about a client and the subsequent meeting resulted in her writing a large case.
The drip marketing program has been effective for Pensack, but how does an LTCI agent build a high-quality list of newsletter recipients? Pensack recommends asking current clients for permission to contact their financial planner, estate planning attorney or CPA. Assuming the client provides permission, you can send the other professional a copy of the mutual client’s policy schedule page for his records. “At the same time you’re doing that, you can introduce yourself and ask, ‘Are you already working with a long term care specialist as a referral source for your clients?’” says Pensack. “I’ve gotten several great referrals that way. They say no, we meet, and then I become a referral source for them in the future.”