In my opinion, the largest hurdle long-term care producers must overcome today is in the presentation phase of the sale process. After watching more than 100 producers make presentations, it is painfully obvious that they are all basically the same.

They tend to make the same errors over and over. This is due primarily to the generally accepted sales techniques that have been used in the insurance business for more than 15 years.

There are three fundamental sections that, rather than enhance the presentation, discourage the prospect from buying long-term care insurance: need, negative statistics, and funding.

  1. Need. Many producers believe that seniors are in denial when it comes to long-term care. The truth is that, as salespeople, we don’t show prospects how long-term care makes sense financially.

    We tend to attribute our failure to their lack of understanding. To address what we perceive to be the problem (denial), we use statistics to try to prove our point (need theory). This is incorrect, and when it fails to produce the desired results, we revert to labeling seniors with denial rather than addressing our faulty theory.

    Seniors understand the risk of long-term care, in many cases much better than the presenter does. Producers like to point out that there is a less than 50% chance that a 65-year-old will use long-term care at some point in his or her life, which seniors usually see as a positive sign that they will not be one of those that fall into the need category.

    Why are we using age 65 then? If the average person using long-term care services is 77, and fewer than 50% of all 65-year-olds actually reach 75, then why don’t we use the 75-year-old number?

    After all, a much greater percentage of 75-year-olds are using some type of long-term care service than are 65-year-olds. And the vast majority of 65-year-olds are planning to reach 75, and if they aren’t, they most likely aren’t in good enough health to qualify for coverage anyway.

  2. Negative statistics. I have seen presentations go to great lengths to show the prospect how long certain illnesses require long-term care services. They include the average length of stay for a stroke victim, the average life expectancy for an adult amputee onset with diabetes, and the length of care needed by the Alzheimer’s patient.

    I once read that a negative thought planted in the brain can affect a person for up to 24 hours. I have no idea whether or not that is true, but it’s more than enough to make me want to avoid negativity whenever possible — let alone make negativity a main feature in my sales presentation.

  3. Funding. Sure, we bring up how much it might cost people to pay out of their own pocket if they don’t have insurance (which, by the way, is almost always understated). But we need to make sure the prospects understand how they will pay for the long-term care insurance.

    If we start by having the prospect identify the money he has available for long-term care premiums or the amount he is willing to risk for long-term care should he pay for it out-of-pocket, then we can build our presentation around a logical assumption — that insuring the long-term care risk makes sense financially.

We can use logic, basic math, and common sense rather than fear, negativity, and emotion. Which would be better to help clients make a buying decision?

Editor’s Note: The preceding article was adapted from “The Presentation Might Be the Problem,” which ran in the December 2003 issue of Life Insurance Selling. Click here to read the whole article.

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

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