The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance created Long-Term Care Awareness Month in 2001 as a grassroots awareness campaign designed to heighten understanding. As an experienced marketer, I know that understanding is the first step toward an ultimate sale.

For insurance professionals, marking the 11th annual occurrence is meaningful, but frankly I’d like to see it be measurably meaningful for you. For that to happen, you need to present a long-term care insurance proposal to two viable prospects. This article is designed to share two tasks that will help you accomplish this very doable goal. Each should take about 2 hours of your time.

Before reading further, I want you to consider the following fact: by the end of 2011, over 500,000 Americans will have applied for long-term care insurance. How many of them will you be able to count as your clients?

Task 1: Find out who your clients work for

Saving money is certainly at the top of everyone’s agenda today. You can (and should) capitalize on the interest and the opportunity. Ask your clients: “Would you be interested in saving 10 percent on your long-term care insurance each and every year?”

Next, explain to your clients that they can save money if they purchase through their employer. The sale of long-term care insurance to small employer groups — even those with 10 or fewer employees — is growing each and every year. This is because employees are discovering that they can be eligible for discounts on their current LTCI protection if it becomes available through their employer.

Your goal is to identify 25 of your existing clients who you know work for small companies or are self-employed. The best prospects will be the ones who work within professional or white-collar entities, such as small law firms, architectural or engineering firms, medical or health care practices and, yes, even insurance agencies — especially those that market auto and homeowner’s policies.

The prospects should ideally be in their mid-50s to early 60s. They should be individuals with whom you have not discussed long-term care planning. They can be the owner or director of the business, or someone in a senior level position.

It should take you no longer than 10 minutes to compile your list. The rest of your two-hour commitment should be spent connecting with these individuals via phone, email or both.

If you aren’t familiar with workable approaches and are not a member of AALTCI, ask your general agency LTC sales support team. They will surely be able to tell you which companies offer discounts and share a variety of materials to help you approach prospects.

The employer discount is rarely promoted or discussed, so expect positive client interest. This is the first step to a small multiple-policy sale.

Task 2: Seek to help clients who are going through a divorce.

The last thing anyone contemplating a divorce thinks about is long-term care planning. This is understandable, of course, but it can be an enormous mistake. When a husband and wife divorce, they lose their built-in caregiver and will either need to burden their children or spend whatever money they have left.

Every day in your community, couples in their 50s, 60s and 70s regrettably have appointments with divorce attorneys to start to unravel a marriage. Attorneys play the role of counselor, legal advisor and often financial advisor to the extent allowed by their experience and by the law.

Most attorneys have not been educated on the risk and potential cost involved. As a result, they don’t think of the potential long-term care consequences resulting from the divorce. For the husband, there is the loss of his future caregiver. For the wife, there is often the additional loss of assets and income that would pay for needed care. Since she is likely to live longer — and far more likely than her husband to need long-term care — she faces increased risk coupled with lower funds.

Using LTC Awareness Month as the reason for your call, ask if you can meet to explain the risks, the consequences and, of course, the options. While it is not yet common, there is no reason that a divorce settlement cannot include the required purchase and payment for long-term care insurance protection. The recommendation will make the attorney look smarter and will yield a new sale for you.

To prepare, spend two hours compiling a list of six local divorce attorneys. If you don’t know any, ask your friends for referrals. In fact, these referrals will be your best door opener. Try to meet very briefly with two local attorneys for the simple purpose of introducing yourself, explaining the problem and sharing some typical coverage costs for individuals at varying ages.

While this may not result in immediate sales opportunities, it is a very good long-term investment in your sales future. After all, you have to sow seeds in 2011 to reap a healthy harvest in 2012.

Jesse R. Slome is founder and executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance www.aaltci.org and created Long-Term Care Awareness Month in 2001. He can be reached at jslome@aaltci.org.

For more exclusive LTCI coverage, visit ASJ’s LTCI Resource Center.