January 1st, 2011 officially marks the first day when the Boomers start turning 65. You would think that the life & health industry would have selling to the Boomers all figured out. Not so, according to Matt Thornhill, president of the Boomer Project, a marketing research and consulting firm in Richmond, Virginia. Thornhill has done work for Lincoln Financial, the Million Dollar Roundtable, Genworth and IMOs like Creative Marketing. What he is turning his sights on now is teaching agents and brokers how to sell better to their Boomer clients, but it requires people to change their views on what they sell and how they sell it.
What is the biggest sales opportunity with Boomers, right now? If you’re not focused on selling annuity products to people in their 40s, you’re missing a huge opportunity. You would think that the youngest Boomers would have no interest in fixed annuities, but they do. They saw what happened to their older counterparts when the markets went south in 2008 and 2009. They saw nest eggs lose up to one third of their valuation, and to people who had no time to make up that lost ground. As a result, young Boomers are only too willing to accept a floor that limits their upside but limits their downside, too.
What about older Boomers? We did a joint study with the MDRT that found that households with $50K income or greater almost universally felt it was important to have a financial plan, yet two thirds felt that they did not have confidence in the plan they had in place. And while this weighs on the minds of young Boomers, older Boomers feel the same way, and it is the ultimate wakeup call for the financial services distribution system.
Why? The current mindset among Boomers is they are not adequately prepared for this next part of their lives, and they are desperately in need of somebody to help prepare them. The problem is, most reps in this business are so focused on product sales – and compensated along those lines – that they simply do not have the advisory focus that Boomers are really looking for.
It sounds like trying to sell just life insurance to these people make you a footnote to the depressing individual life numbers LIMRA published last year. The key is not getting to know your clients well enough to sell them a particular product. It’s getting to know them, period, and act in an advisory capacity.