Unfortunately, on a daily basis, salespeople in the financial services industry use terminology, descriptions and explanations that make their jobs harder by creating negative perceptions or allowing competition.

I don’t know about you, but I hate competition, which is why I try so hard to eliminate it before it rears its ugly head. With every word I use to describe services, planning concepts or product features, I can either create competition and negative perceptions or eliminate them.

Take annuities, for example. Recently, many consumers have been misled to believe that all annuities are rip-offs, have high fees or pay high commissions, which is why we, as advisors, sell them. For most clients and prospects, their negative perception of annuities has already been created. Offering them an annuity will almost certainly result in failure — even if it is the best tool to meet their needs.

Instead of telling clients or prospects about a great annuity product that will fit their needs, use terms and descriptions that describe what the annuity does and how it will help them achieve their financial goals. Be particularly mindful not to use the word annuity until after the prospect has seen that the benefits and features described are what they are looking for. Obviously, at that point, full disclosure is required — but by then, the prospect has already agreed to the concept and is ready to move forward. At this point, the fact that the product is an annuity is only incidental in the overall considerations.

We routinely take common sales ideas and concepts and re-name them to turn them into something our clients can better understand and want, even things they will tell their friends and family about. Obviously, an agent can call the concepts whatever they want with compliance approval, as needed. Below are two additional examples we use in our agency.

  • Asset, IRA or Annuity Maximization — These common estate planning concepts are relatively easy to explain, but they often get bogged down in the words used to describe them and how they work. We created an entire presentation for these concepts that we call the Asset Amplifier, because we are doing just that — amplifying the value of assets for clients and their heirs. Don’t forget to discuss the ability to include a guaranteed income component and/or an assisted living or medical expense (long-term care) component with these plans.
  • Split Annuity — Again, we created an entire presentation we call the Risk Eliminator program, because there is no market risk to the money and the income is guaranteed. We offer our clients a guaranteed income over a period of five to 10 years and the additional guarantee that the original investment amount (principal) will be undiminished at the end of the guaranteed income period. Basically the client can have guaranteed income and guaranteed principal for a specified period. At the end of the period, we tell the client that they can decide to do another period, move their money somewhere else, etc. — it’s up to them. We also tell the client that they can add in a guaranteed long-term care component, which has been extremely popular with older clients.

So what’s in a name? A lot and it directly impacts how successful you are. Try it the next time you are presenting one of these concepts. Discuss the benefits, advantages, even the features — but don’t mention until required the product type or specific terminology associated with the product. You will be amazed at how much more receptive your clients and prospects are to the concepts and solutions you are sharing.

Ryan Pinney, CSFP, is a three-time MDRT Top of the Table qualifier. His company, Pinney Insurance Center, is a national brokerage general agency that provides sales concepts, underwriting support and proprietary tools to assist agents and financial advisors. Pinney is also on the advisory board to www.wholesaleinsurance.net, one of the nation’s largest direct to consumer life insurance websites. He can be reached at (800) 823-4852 or by email at rpinney@pinneyinsurance.com.

For more tips on communicating effectively, see:

Life insurance language: Is it creating irrelevance?

8 life-improving reasons to master the lost art of conversation

Principles of persuasion