Do all of these healthy, active seniors have LTCI? Probably not. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Every day, our office gets calls from producers frustrated by a lack of qualified long-term care insurance (LTCI) prospects.

Where are all the LTC prospects? they ask. How can producers find prospects who understand the importance of this coverage and can qualify for it? What are the nation’s most successful LTCI producers doing to succeed?

Here are three of the better sales methods I have observed that any producer can implement:

1. Target owners of small businesses. Record sales of LTCI are being made to owners of small businesses who are in the age range of 40 to 60.What’s driving these sales? The tax deductibility of premiums and the ability of owners to designate company-paid coverage for specific individuals.

The best low-cost strategies being used to reach business owners include placing informational articles in local business publications, speaking at chamber of commerce gatherings, and establishing strategic alliances with property and casualty agencies, which usually have established relationships with owners of small businesses.

2. Enter strategic alliances with accountants. What do CPAs know? They know business owners who face high corporate tax liabilities. They know people who have assets to protect. They know that they face increasing competition and that they must work harder and provide more counsel to justify their cost to clients.

What do CPAs not know? Many still do not know the rules that affect the tax deductibility of LTCI, especially the rules that apply to different forms of business ownership.

The producer’s own accountant should be his first stop. Establishing relationships with others in the community will ensure a steady stream of viable prospects. The most successful producers offer to speak at local CPA gatherings. Being the first producer in the door is critical. After an accountant has an established (and successful) relationship with an LTC specialist, another producer’s chances of replacing that relationship are not good.

3. Use these low-cost marketing ideas:

- Capitalize on free cable television. Every community has its own community-based cable television station. And these stations, by law, must provide free public access programming that benefits the community’s residents. Find out what’s on your channel(s), how long programs air and determine whether any already address LTCI- or senior-related issues.

Contact the station and propose a program that includes the educational, community-oriented, and the generic — like a 30-minute program that educates aging consumers about care issues and options within the community. Avoid commercialism. If the program is not immediately accepted, be persistent.

- Play bridge. About one million people in the United States play bridge. They usually are well-educated, older adults — prime prospects for LTC insurance.

For about $20, one successful bridge-playing producer printed pads that contained scorecards and the message, “Play Bridge? Got LTC Protection?” as well as his name and contact information. The free pads were an instant hit and now can be found in clubs around his area. Not only does the producer get calls from prospects, he gets calls when pad supplies are running low.

- Drive home prospects. Some successful LTCI producers have applied low-cost magnetic signs to the doors of their cars. This creates a mobile community billboard that creates name awareness and exposure for their practice wherever they drive and park. The producer who first shared this concept with me told me that he often is approached in restaurants by people who have questions about LTC issues.

The most effective magnetic signs contain the producer’s name, telephone number, some reference to “Long-Term Care Insurance Professional” and a headshot. After all, if people recognize the producer while he is standing in line at the bank, they are more likely to strike up a conversation.

Editor’s Note: The preceding article was adapted from “Three Small Ways to Big LTC Sales,” which ran in the December 2003 issue of Life Insurance Selling.

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

For more on LTCI prospects, see:

Before calling on LTCI prospects, educate yourself

A Collaborative Approach to Selling LTCI to Seniors

Family Focus: Selling LTCI to Protect Spouse and Children