Producers these days don’t just sell — they educate. As more Americans go without life insurance (or without enough life insurance), it becomes the producer’s job to teach clients and prospects about the benefits and protection life insurance provides.
Just in time for Life Insurance Awareness Month, we sat down with three top producers to get their tips and techniques for explaining the critical role life insurance plays in any financial plan.
To read part two of this article, see: Are your life insurance clients uninformed?
Q. As you communicate with your prospects to make them aware of the importance of and potential need for life insurance coverage, what kinds of resources do you use to educate them? Do you typically create your own materials, or do you rely on some outside resources as well?
Sherry K. Barton, CLU, registered representative for NY Life Securities LLC, in Oklahoma City: The resource I use the most to sell life insurance is my own personal experience, being widowed at the age of 40 and left with two great kids and very little life insurance. I tell my clients and prospects, “It is expensive to live; it is expensive to die. Don’t do it for free!”
Then the educating begins regarding why it is called life insurance — because life goes on! I use my own materials and tell them I am coming over with a No. 2 pencil and a Big Chief tablet, and I break down the money that could be generated for a family from the death proceeds. The wealth of knowledge I have gathered as a member of the Million Dollar Round Table has also played a critical role in my life insurance conversations. Through the MDRT Annual Meeting, I am able to learn what has helped fellow members educate their clients about the importance of life insurance.
Arkady Milgram, CLU, ChFC, financial strategist and special care planner with Walker Financial Partners LLC, in Westlake Village, Calif.: I use both my own materials — mostly compliance-approved — and companies’ booklets and brochures. Resources developed by the MDRT as well as insight from fellow MDRT members have also had an impact on my approach. Depending on the situation, I try to address the prospect’s specific concerns and discuss some common misconceptions about life insurance upfront. Usually, it helps people calm down and listen more attentively instead of worrying about something they’ve heard previously. Technology-wise, I either use PowerPoint slides or PDF copies of published literature pieces.
Michael L. Weintraub, CLU, president of the retirement division of Ascension Benefits & Insurance Solutions: Many years ago, as new agents, we relied on canned sales talks. My favorite was “You’ll Earn a Fortune.” This was long before PowerPoint and the Internet, so we had laminated flip charts showing a drawing of an old man in dark rain gear watching in terror as the Good Ship Independence sailed out to sea because the old man did not save enough for retirement. The story was about saving for retirement as well as the possibility of dying before retirement and having the life insurance policy pay the beneficiary the amount that would have been there, had there been enough time. The concept worked, and many of us succeeded by using this sales track.
Today’s consumer is looking for more than “You’ll Earn a Fortune.” Attention spans are shorter, so we must get the story and hard facts across more quickly and succinctly. The best resource for finding what really works is as easy to get as going to www.lifehappens.org. This is the LIFE Foundation website. And it is free. There are countless ideas, one-pagers, giveaways, and special producer’s tool kits for Life Insurance Awareness Month.
One idea I learned from Van Mueller is to confirm your first appointment by sending a bag of microwave popcorn with the time you will be there. Say the popcorn is for the short video you will be showing. Pick out any of the compelling realLIFEstories videos, and you have set the stage for whatever life insurance topic you care to discuss.
Q. Would you say you spend a lot of time educating your prospects on the need for life insurance, or not? And if you do feel that education is an important part of your approach, how do you go about it?
Milgram: I strongly believe that my primary function is the education of consumers! The selling part itself is a distant second. Educating clients is my favorite part of this profession. I really enjoy witnessing people’s “aha” moments, when they connect the dots in their minds. In most of my presentations the cost factor is either not brought up at all or is discussed with ease — my clients can answer the “why” question themselves!
To help people make the right decision regarding life insurance, I encourage them to think in perspective. I position life insurance as a very different product in comparison to any other insurance they might have. Everyone needs protection, but you want to avoid dealing with the loss even if you have the coverage against it. However, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” Obviously, we all want death to happen in the very distant future, but it is unavoidable. I frequently use some of the LIFE Foundation’s realLIFEstories to demonstrate to my clients how life insurance has made a difference in so many lives.
Weintraub: The process of being an advisor of anything involves educating the consumer. Years ago, I had an abnormal EKG. I did not want to believe the cardiologist when he told me I needed an invasive test to confirm what he thought. The time he spent explaining the problem, all the options, and what he thought was the best convinced me to do the right thing, and I had the procedure.
The time we spend educating prospects and clients is crucial to not only make a prospect become a client, but in keeping them as long-term relationships. Seasoned agents spend more time on reinforcing the problem and discussing options than going over the numbers.
Telling stories about people you know whose business or family needed the life insurance to stay in their own world can be the best kind of education. If you don’t have your own story, borrow one from the LIFE website and use it as a real life example of how life insurance works.
Barton: If I am in front of a prospect who loves his or her family, I use the scenario that he or she could die going home at the end of the day. If he loves his or her business, I use the example that he or she could die driving to work. Your client needs to at least be thinking about what would happen if he or she were not alive tomorrow and how the family would be affected. Don’t be afraid to talk about dying. I remind people constantly that I sell life insurance because life goes on.
Q. What is the single best idea you’ve been using recently to educate your prospects about the importance of life insurance, and why do you think it’s working so well?
Milgram: The best idea I’ve used so far was to show people that life insurance is not a stand-alone product that addresses just the issue of premature death. Life insurance is a complex financial instrument, which works congruently and holistically with the rest of a person’s financial plan, including retirement savings, their children and grandchildren’s college educations, real estate ownership, etc. It helps to build the understanding of an effective comprehensive financial approach and usually reduces the resistance to move forward with life insurance.
Weintraub: Using realLIFEstories videos and other resources from the LIFE Foundation — www.lifehappens.org — has made a difference in how quickly prospects get up to speed with our meeting. Start a video, and they leave all their troubles of the day behind and focus on why we are together now. They are in the moment and ready to discuss this important topic.
Barton: As agents, our job is to educate prospects and clients about what our products can do. We sell money. Money so widows can continue living as they did before their spouse passed away, money so children can go to college, money to help businesses keep their doors open, and money for families to afford the necessities of life. Buying larger face policies does not mean sophisticated estate planning. Bigger does not have to mean more complicated. Bigger just means bigger.
To read part two of this article, see: Are your life insurance clients uninformed?