Our Annual 100 Best List is 100 percent reader-generated and offers insight into what’s working for working advisors today. Whether you’re looking for insight on referrals, generating leads or simply listening to your clients, this latest list has all the information you’ll need to grow your practice. In addition, this year will feature additional information and exclusive video content at LifeHealthPro.com/100SalesIdeas. There, you can get additional tips and valuable information to help you succeed. Enjoy!

1. Seniors. When working with seniors, speak slower than normal. Writing letters? Use 14-point type, and keep it simple and short. Don’t think that you can pull the wool over their eyes, and never talk down to them.  Donald W. Schulz

2. The Language of Silence. With seniors sometimes the best marketing material is the language of silence. Learn to not talk, especially the talk of interruption. If you listen long enough they will tell you all you need and want to know.  Jerry Manning

3. Work Ethic. My best sales and marketing idea is based on work ethic. My day does not end until I have given a life insurance presentation to at least five people.  David Trusler

4. Mitigate the Risk. First, help your prospect fund the LTCI premium: What accounts can be used to provide 3 percent to 6 percent of their retirement income to pay the premium without invading their monthly budget? Explaining that 25 years of investment won’t even cover one year of care in the future should convince them to mitigate the risk by transferring the catastrophic portion to a third party.  Mike Westling

5. Annuities. Show them where the market has gone in 2000 and 2008 and where they would be if they were in a fixed index annuity.  Jim Cadle

6. Find the Underinsured. I ask my prospect (client) how much life insurance do you have? If he answers $1 million (for example), I would ask why did you buy it? If he answers income protection, I would ask how did you get to $1 million? That takes me always to a pitch that he is under-insured.  David Simkowitz

7. Follow Up! Sometimes the client is not always ready to buy or it is not the right time. What I have found is that less successful agents that did not get the sale the first visit do not follow up, and there is low-hanging fruit with a follow up call and/or visit even two, three or six months later.  Kevin Cornell

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8. Social Media. Don’t pitch your wares! People want to do business with people they like and trust. Connect with friends, colleagues and people you’ve done business with. Set up the app “Job Change Notifier” (www.jobchangenotifier.com). The app sends you an email whenever your connections change their employer. Great for those working with 401(k) rollovers or simply a great way to congratulate them and keep your network engaged.  Todd Greider


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9. Workshops. We contact local churches and go speak to the retired groups that meet for lunch once a month. We do educational workshops to educate retirees of the challenges ahead, give solutions to solve the issues and educate about other areas of financial planning and estate planning. They always feed us lunch; most bring a dish to share so there’s lots of good home-cooked food for all—and many times clients contact us afterward to set up an appointment.  Mark Romine

10. Direct mailer for annual reviews and referrals, referrals, referrals.  Paul Helland

11. Outside the Box. I had a client that was going to add funds to a non-qualified annuity that was earning about 3 percent. She had no intention of using this money and ultimately would pass it on to her daughter. I explained to her how we could use life insurance to create a tax-free death benefit that would go to her daughter upon her death. We took $50,000 and created in excess of $88,000 of death benefit overnight. My client never thought she could get life insurance at age 84. We have to think outside the box and ask questions in order to provide the best service for clients.  Eric Van Shore

12. A Family Thing. Treat every client as if they were your mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandmother and grandfather.  Ronald C. Todd II

13. Something Shiny and New. Always be looking for something new to offer your client—like a new product or strategy. If you don’t have anything new to show them, there’s no reason for them to see you. They’ll be seeing someone else instead.  Steve Brock

14. Walking and Talking. The old style of prospecting that is walking and talking, handing out business cards, asking for referrals. It is an excellent social event with great results!  John T. Corbin 

15. I Am One of You. My best sales idea is passing my 65th birthday. I am in the same boat as my clients and prospects. They know that my years of experience will benefit them.  Jim Johnson

16. Social Security Planning. As opposed to calling a list of pre-65 prospects to sell Medicare Supplements, which everyone is doing, call a list of pre-62 prospects to offer services on Social Security planning. Help them determine when they should start receiving benefits.  Roger Fishel

17. The Medicare market. I send a follow up letter to all of my clients quarterly thanking them for their business and also reminding them that if they know of anyone who needs help sorting through all of the Medicare choices available that I am willing to help.  S. Kangas

18. The 19th Hole. Being in Florida, we invite our top clients and their friends who play golf or tennis to come out for a free lesson. We get to know their friends and they get to know us. It’s been very successful. No selling, just networking and having fun.  Gene Herscher

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19. Bailout for Boomers. Several guaranteed UL (GUL) permanent insurance policies offer a “bailout” option in the form of a contractually guaranteed return of premium after 15 or 20 years. Boomer clients often see the value of permanent coverage but are hesitant to sock away premium dollars in case they ever change their mind. This rider can make or break a deal for a prospect that is on the fence.  J.T. Bell

20. Watch the Wife. During an appointment you always want to talk to both spouses. Most of the time you will get the buy sign from the wife.  Joseph P Howard

21. The Trusted Adviser. Become a source for useful information. Become the kind of person who cares more about the well-being of the client than you do the monetary compensation.  D. Marshall

22. Selling LTCI Insurance to Affluent Clients. It’s not about money with these clients, it’s about health-care planning. That’s what the personal care advocate in these policies does—he or she can assist in finding the right care, negotiating discounts on the client’s behalf and periodically ensuring the plan of care is being met.  Steve Cain

23. Send Out Cards. After I meet a prospect, whether I make a sale or not, I send them a personalized card either thanking them for their valuable time, or I send them a “welcome to the family” type of card if they become a client at the first meeting. I then send them at least four cards a year. I retain 99.9 percent of my clients, and I get a ton of work off referrals.  Marc A. Figlar 

24. Be an Advocate! Partner with the Business Alliance for Seniors or the American Alliance of Elder Advocates.  Steve Lanning

25. Keep It Simple. Just ask. Ask the question and listen to the response and offer to help.  Arlo Clemens

26. Continuing Education. Earn a Chartered Advisor for Senior Living (CASL) designation.  Eric B. Gordon

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27. Campus Call. Go to your nearest university and inquire if they have a Senior Academy or other Senior Club or group that meets on the campus. Offer to do an educational seminar designed to address their financial concerns. James Howarth

28. Take the Time to Get to Know Each Client. Do not be presumptuous, or use a cookie-cutter approach. Just because a person has reached a certain age does mean that they are old, or that what’s important to them is the same as what society says it should be for a person of that age.  Robert Collins

29. Couple Care. When one of a couple is likely to be declined for LTCI, I address the unhealthy one first. I explain how a medically underwritten immediate annuity can provide lifetime income much less expensively when life expectancy is less than “average.” The healthy one then easily agrees to buy LTCI, leaving the nest egg for the unhealthy one to use.  Romeo Raabe

30. Talk Radio. I have a 30-minute radio call-in show once each week and run three or four 30-second ads daily Monday through Friday. My sales have doubled (and then some!) in the three years that I have been on the air.  Dee Carter

31. Love Thy Senior. I tell all my senior clients to pick a plan that will take them through their golden years. As they get older the medical expense will rise and they need a plan that will take care of those expenses so they won’t have to worry they do not have the appropriate coverage. I love my seniors and I want to protect them.  Laurie Lacey

32. Triple P. Prospect where you pay, where you play, and where you pray.  Lloyd Lofton

33. Send Internet Auto Responders. Send them to your website, keeping your prospects and clients connected and up to date through a company newsletter.  Freddie Natal Jr.

34. Centers of Influence. I get referrals from COIs (Centers of Influence). I try to identify those people in my community that have a lot of influence on my boomer target market. I build a relationship with those people.  Paula Q. Wallace

35. The Golden Rule. Take excellent care to service your clients because you never know who they will refer to you. Believe that what goes around comes around.  Glenn Miller

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36. Free Prize. Invite clients to bring friends to a fun function such as an outing at a driving range or putting contest at a local golf club. Offer a free prize or two, such as gift cards or iPod shuffle. Make a short informative presentation on principal protection and income-tax-advantaged products and you’re sure to make a few new friends and clients.  Michael Ham

37. Consistent and Diversified Marketing. Make sure you are tapping into multiple types of media to attract prospects.  Mike Gattorna

38. The Old-Fashioned Way. My best sales idea is to conduct my appointments the old-fashioned way. No computers, no cell phones—just paperwork and personal interaction.  Keith Hanson

39. Attract Traffic and New Leads. We use the following advertising methods to generate interest: radio, events/seminars, word of mouth, sponsorships of local organizations (local softball teams, bowling teams, charity events), direct mail, email, referrals, print advertising, webinars, etc. to capture leads.  Janette Gleason

40. The More the Merrier. When presenting to seniors, I always ask that another member of the family be there.  Carson Ervin

41. The Senior Pact. As a senior I tell my clients what I have is the best plan I can find. Then I compare plans if necessary.  Bruce Judd

42. Profit with Non-Profits. I do many not-for-profit meetings, helping seniors with their drug costs. I offer this service for free and find assistance programs and co-pay cards.  Christina Finkle

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43. Listen. God gave you one mouth and two ears. Let that dictate how much you use both. Differentiate yourself: Why should someone buy from you? What makes you different from everyone else?   John Shields

44. Medicare 101. Our office provides a series of Medicare 101 “mini” seminars that strictly focus on mechanics of who, what, when and where with regards to Medicare.  Frank Guerrettaz

45. Proper Planning. Start working the planning market for the boomers with college-age children and grandchildren. Once you show them how proper planning can guarantee the bestcollege experience at the best cost for their family, the financial products we sell are perfectly designed to execute the plans.  Gregory Durette

46. Work Orphans if Available to You. Most agents get them, but don’t work them effectively. Work them as you would any other lead, but with a head start.  Gerald Shavers

47. Don’t Give Up on a Client. Harvest your existing client base. If you were able to help them out, then it’s quite likely that your existing clients know of others who could use your services!  Ron L. Stahl

48. Facebook. Once you have a Facebook page, if you don’t have an adequate amount of “friends” your posts won’t be seen by many potential clients. I began posting and liking other pages and adding friends on a daily basis starting in 2012. I’ve accumulated 300 friends.  Jane Rowley-Bowen

49. The Death Plan? Ask the clients that you are working with, “Have you made any death plans?” When you get the dubious glance, explain, “Many of my clients will have plans in place for when they are living, but very few discuss what the other spouse will do at the time of death.” This opens up opportunities for life insurance as well as annuity sales.  Wendy Swanson

50. When I’m 65. When prospects turn 65, I use this as a way to discuss Medicare Supplements and final expense life insurance.  John E. White


51. Each Client is Unique. And so their plan should reflect their goals and objectives.  Tim Fitzgerald

52. Show You Care. We must be client-centric. People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.  Kenny Main

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53. Radio Guy. I host a weekly radio show addressing important issues in retirement and brand myself as the “Retirement Guy” in the Denver Metro Area. I find great success through a weekly call to action to request one of my free “Special Reports” mentioned in the radio show.  Stephen Geist

54. Have a Great Fact Finder. My fact-finder is six-pages long and somewhere in those six pages is someone’s hot button issue or problem to solve. If they fill out the fact finder and bring it in you have a 95 percent chance of getting a client.  Charles Clarkson

55. Mind the Gap. I stay in contact with all of my clients by telephone, mail and email. I bring them up to date on their policy particulars. I compare the benefit amount with the going amount in the local area, and sometimes they ask about getting another policy to fill the gap.  Katharine Jacobson

57. When There’s a Will… Many individuals and couples have not yet completed their necessary will, living will, health-care power of attorney and durable power of attorney-related documents, and don’t fully understand the implications of not having these documents completed. Offering them an explanation of these documents and the importance of getting them completed is a way to build credibility and trust with potential clients.  David Vanasse

58. Private Client Dinners. I will contact a group of four to six clients and let them know that I want to keep them up to date with what’s going on in the economy and would like to invite them along with their family and friends to a complimentary dinner seminar. Most clients bring two to five guests each and I’ve been able to acquire new clients as a result, all with no marketing costs.  Anthony A. Saccaro

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59. Car Talk. I do what we call “Client Plus Prospect Limo Events,” I ask one of my A clients if they would like to go have dinner with my wife and me. If they say yes, I then say “You know, we have partnered with a local limo company. How about we take that?” Then, I will immediately say, “Since there is plenty of room, why don’t you invite a couple of your closest friends, on us.” Thus far, out of eight events, I have closed something on six of those prospects. We now have three people on our waiting list as we do one per month.  Travis A. Morrow

60. The Truth Sells. Tell the truth and you don’t have to remember your lines.  Daniel Insdorfr

61. Speak for Success. Develop attorney and CPA relationships by speaking at Bar Associations and CPA Society meetings. Sponsor and speak at Saturday morning breakfast meetings for business owners, doctors, architects, etc.  Art Miller

62. Your Ideal Client. Partner with people/groups that currently have your ideal client!  Judi Snyder

63. A Complete Review. We take people through a process to help them determine what is the “best age” to begin taking their Social Security benefits. If all indicators direct that delaying the receipt of Social Security is to their benefit we help them build an “income bridge” to allow maximization of their benefits.  Richard C. Murphy

64. I Keep it Simple and Brief. Clients and prospects want to fully understand what they are looking to purchase. Keeping it brief does not mean a quick, simplistic, rush-you-out-the-door overview. I ask for a predetermined commitment on my clients’ part to set a series of three meetings lasting no more than an hour.  Jim Asteriou


Impress the Clients
James Marquet 

65. Provide an outstanding office experience. Nothing makes a better first impression with prospects and clients more than a warm greeting in a clean, comfortable environment. 

66. Hold web meetings. As more and more people become comfortable with Skype and other web conferencing options, make better use of your time by meeting via the web. 

67. Participate in local charities. By becoming an active participant in local charities, you show clients and prospects that you care about more than “making a buck.”


68. Retention. Always get your married clients’ wedding anniversary date and mail a card 10 days before that date.  Stewart Isbell 

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69.  The Rental Theory. I do not sell insurance. I only rent money for future delivery. How much do you need?
Larry J Howe

70. LinkedIn. Take advantage of the LinkedIn Company feature. Follow companies in your local area and you’ll be notified whenever employees join or leave that company. This is a perfect opportunity to start a conversation about 401k rollovers.  Amy McIlwain

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71. Prospects are Everywhere. Everyone is a potential client. Don’t just look to seminars, chamber meetings and sponsored events. Anybody you interact with could be your next client.  George Philhower III

72. Advisor Luncheon. I host a monthly “Advisor Luncheon.” Clients are encouraged to bring guests. We provide a wide variety of topics for discussion and bring in special speakers from organizations such as AARP, Social Security and Senior Services to educational speakers, such as the Geek Squad, Master Gardeners, Chefs, etc. It is crucial now more than ever to have constant contact with clients, and this is an easy and inexpensive means to introduce their friends to my practice.  Virginia Wrig


73. Join the Party. Oftentimes, prospects are concerned about the economy, taxes, possible future health challenges, etc. I agree, saying: “That’s exactly why we should get together, when is good for you?”  Paco Maribona

74. What About CDs? Question to a prospective client who has qualified monies in CDs at the bank: “Since you’re earning almost nothing on your CDs and/or since it’ll be a while till they mature, would you like to get out of them and put them into an account paying better interest, and pay no penalty?”   Alan C. Kifer

75. The Social Plan. Social Security increases at 8 percent per year if not taken at age 62. Advise clients to wait before beginning Social Security.  Steve Guiness

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76. The Entire Family. While getting to know my senior clients I always get the names and numbers of their grown children and with my client’s permission, I always invite their children to the closing and all of the subsequent annual reviews. Most children want to be involved with their parents’ finances to help protect them.  Leon Hiracheta

77. Calling All Lawyers. I ask lawyers during the holiday season who they buy Christmas gifts for, and later ask for an introduction to those people. It is one of the best ways to get referrals from lawyers who are usually very reluctant to do introductions.  Tunc Tanin

78. The Letter. When giving a presentation to sell long-term care, most prospects will come up with some objection. Prepare in advance a typed letter, to be signed by the prospect (and spouse if applicable) that you have presented the facts to them, but they have chosen to self-insure and carry that risk themselves. Most prospects will read the letter, think about it, and then agree to apply for the long-term care coverage.  H. Wallace Garrett

79. The Eyes Have It. When talking with a potential client, look squarely into their eyes and speak clearly!  Pete Pettersen

80. The Storyteller. When meeting with a client listen to their needs and recall a previous client who had a similar situation. Using (fictional names) tell a story about a client who had the same need and what their solution was. Clients like to hear that others have picked the same product—it makes them feel comfortable with their decision.  Karen Dolan

81. The Life Preserver. Get your clients to think of LTCI as a life preserver. This helps explain the emotional and financial benefits of long-term care (LTC) insurance. Talk about how entering retirement causes most people to fall back on their assets for support, like their cash savings, their home, their pension and their qualified money. Ask them what it means to them to preserve their dignity. To some it means that LTC preserved the legacy they wanted to leave for education of their grandchildren, to others it will be as simple as not having to be bathed or dressed by family members. People sell themselves with this concept.  Robert McClain

82. Sandwich Generation. We market to the Sandwich Generation in an effort to educate them on their options to provide care for aging parents and relatives. I created a 20-minute workshop that helps them with a checklist of needed information.  Maribeth Hearn


Build Brand Awareness  Robert Pascual

83. Create a LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter account. 

84. Volunteer. Join a committee of a non-profit organization. It’s a great way to network with other like-minded people that may need your financial expertise. 

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85. Plan a unique Referral Event such as a private culinary class. Invite your top clients and suggest they bring a friend that they would like to introduce to the firm. 

86. Use Social Media to boost attendance to your special financial events.

87. Create a “Making A Difference” Award. Each year present the award to your client who has made the greatest difference in your community that year. 

 

88. Care Package. Personalize yourself to your clients and let them know as an agent that you sincerely care about them.  James B. Rucker

89. Postcards. We’ve been using a very simple postcard in mailings to people “aging-in.” Out of the last mailing of 300, I had eight return calls and made seven appointments.  Donna J. Canon

90. Wine and Cheese. I ask new and existing clients if they would like to host a wine and cheese party and invite a few couples into their home so that I can demonstrate to the invitees the features and benefits of owning the products that my clients have benefitted from.  Mel Katz

91. Head of the Class. My best marketing tactic still remains my teaching an adult financial educational course at a local university. My largest high-net-worth clients have always come from referrals from the students who enroll in my classes.  James R. Veal

92. All Ears. Listen to the client and do less talking.  Liz Harper

93. You Gotta Ask. A very simple and basic one. When I first started, an “old timer” told me that no matter what, never leave the house without asking them to buy—“you gotta ask.”  James Calvert

94. Reversionary Annuities. A great way to provide a lifetime income to a surviving spouse upon the death of an individual.  Chuck Preti

95. No Alpha Dog. When waiting at the door for the client to arrive, turn to the side and look away so they see you first instead of you peering into the home. When they arrive, take one step back to show deference. It works.  Claude Peltz

96. Stand and Deliver. I always promise (and deliver) to show them the best plan for them, regardless of whether I can sell it to them or not.  Jim League

97. Show Respect. Treat all prospects the same, with respect and no thought of their economic status.  Michael Briery

98. Partnerships. Partner with senior living communities to sponsor events and also conduct presentations to community residents and family members on topical financial issues.  Christopher Bell

99. The Expert Plan. Become an expert on Medicare and Social Security so that you can show the client how private supplemental policies will truly benefit them and work with their Medicare.  Jacie Caballero

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100. A Bowl of Potato Salad. When we have a customer who is resisting life insurance (especially males) we will come back with: At the time of your death, would you rather us deliver a bowl of potato salad to your wife and kids, or a check for $100,000?  Mary Jo Pledger