The following is a reformatted version of an article that appeared in National Underwriter Life & Health print magazine Dec. 7, 1998.
“Seminar selling may not be your thing, but for me, it’s the best way to sell long-term care insurance,” said David Miller in a workshop here at the First National Forum on Long Term Care, sponsored by G. J. Luque & Company, Inc., Fairfield, Conn.
The director of LTC at David M. Briggs & Associates, Dalton, Ohio, Mr. Miller was one of many LTC producers at the conference who told how they broke into LTC sales and made a career of it, even though LTC did not gain public awareness until the 1990s.
All the speakers gave tips about LTC marketing gleaned from their own experience. The ideas varied, and sometimes differed, but one point came through repeatedly: It’s mission critical for the industry to educate both producers and clients about LTC needs, possibilities and coverages.
Mr. Miller said his own LTC business took off after he started selling the coverage via seminars. In the mid-1980s, he recalled, he entered the insurance business by selling mostly Medicare supplement policies. That was a time when LTC was still known as “nursing home insurance,” he said.
His first sales method was direct mail-but those were the “starvation years,” Mr. Miller quipped. Then he turned to seminar sales, using an approach that emphasizes educating the customer, and business picked up.
First, “I got educated,” he explained. “You see, I found I had the nursing home mentality, too” (i.e., the belief that LTC insurance was only for paying nursing home expenses). But after he attended a class about LTC seminar selling (led by Phyllis Shelton, president of LTC Consultants, Nashville, Tenn.), that changed.
In fact, he decided “to become the LTC expert in our area,” he said, and to establish relationships with the centers of influence (attorneys, accountants, etc.) to make it work.
The change was “almost unbelievable,” he recalled. He made “two sales, right off the bat,” following his first seminar.
John Ferroni, a LTC specialist at New Age Financial Services, New York City, and co-leader of the workshop, also found his niche through LTC seminar selling.
He started out as a debit agent in the 1980s, he recalled, but “hated it” and subsequently left to form his own agency. He sold many products, “but I couldn’t sell the LTC,” he said. So, like Mr. Miller, he decided to take Ms. Shelton’s class on LTC and seminar selling.
Within one month, “my closing ratio went from zero to over 80 percent,” he recounted. Why? “I learned how to pre-qualify” prospects from the seminars, he said, “and I started selling the policies correctly.”
The seminars seem “like a perfect fit,” Mr. Miller said, because they allow producers to be “very educational,” and “to have a conclusion that draws people to fill out a questionnaire, to make an appointment.”
But “first,” Mr. Miller added, “you have to educate yourself. This shows the client that you took the time to learn and do the research.” Educating the buyer comes next.
Said Mr. Ferroni: “My selling went way up. I wasn’t afraid of the premium (cost) anymore. I educated the people at the seminar on the need, and I didn’t care if I didn’t get the sale on the first day.
“I found that, in the seminars, you can do 20 interviews at one time. Then, later on, you can talk to one or two of the people in their homes, where you go through it again.” This approach, he said, leads to sales.