We often miss a critical point in life insurance sales: In uncertain economic times, clients are more highly focused on preserving financial resources and making them more secure. In these circumstances, they are looking for solutions that will give them confidence that the future is sound and solid. In other words, there is enormous opportunity for producers if they seize it.

Here are eight suggestions for success in tough times.

1. Ask yourself hard questions: What is my target market? What is my unique value proposition for this market? Do I need to hone my skills and broaden expertise? Do I know this market as well as necessary to compete and win?

2. Hone your skills in marketing yourself and your products. Are your sales skills as good as you think they are? Have you laid out your blueprint for prospecting calls, appointments and resales to your existing clients? Could you benefit from coaching?

3. Keep track of your results. If you’re not satisfied, take steps to make changes.

4. Manage your time ruthlessly. Wasted time equals lost sales.

5. Having target markets is essential in focusing your time, energy and expertise. This means cultivating the right people and requesting the right referrals.

6. Annual policy reviews are critical and should be performed with more diligence than ever, always listening for opportunities. It is so important to stay in touch with your customers and be ready to provide help when they need it. Review family needs for income protection and estate planning, and do reviews with your business clients as well. This is how clients come to understand and appreciate the value you bring to them. Let clients know that you offer a unique product, one that provides safety so that it may warrant moving assets.

7. Consider entering into partnerships with other professionals, so you can access specialized markets requiring particular expertise. Stay close to other producers who you admire and who are willing to take the time to work with you. Mentoring is an effective short-term and long-range strategy for professional growth.

8. Look for ways to influence your target market and individual prospects. Be an innovator. Lead with seminars. Seek out opportunities to speak in public.

Editor’s note: The preceding is an excerpt from the article, “Making life insurance sales in tougher times,” by Allan Gersten, CLU, CFP, ChFC. It originally appeared in the July 2008 issue of Life Insurance Selling. Click here to read the entire article.

To read last week’s “Words from the Wise,” click here.