Question: I want to improve my closing rate for both face-to-face and Internet appointments. Plus, I would like to increase my one-call closes. Help is desperately needed.

Answer: Yes, this month’s question is from me. In the 14 years I have been writing this column, I have always used questions from agents who have contacted me. Now it’s my turn.

To answer my questions, I turned to Mary Ann DeKing, an agent with ACSIA Long Term Care. She is one of the most successful agents I have ever met.

Not only does she have incredible sales numbers — in 2012 she submitted 359 applications, with sales totaling $669,241 and an 85 percent placement rate — but, even better, she is willing to share how she does it.

Mary Ann uses a webinar for most of her appointments. Her strategy is to start closing from the time she starts the conversation, by really focusing on what people are saying and trying to meet their needs. Most of her appointments are one-call closes.

Here are the steps she uses. She:

  • Sends a confirmation e-mail right after setting the appointment. The e-mail gives the webinar link and instructions on how to join the webinar.
  • E-mails a reminder the day before the appointment. 
  • Introduces herself at the beginning of the webinar and explains that she is a specialist. She talks about her experience in long-term care planning and how she can help people.
  • Starts by asking many questions, explaining that she needs to know as much about people as possible so she can provide the appropriate recommendations. Topics include children, location, retirement plans and more.
  • Reviews their health in more detail. This includes questions about specific medical conditions, prescriptions and family history. 
  • Questions them about their finances.

Mary Ann then uses the information she gets from the answers to determine the suitability of coverage, and to help design a prospect’s specific plan. 

She considers:

  • The prospect’s current occupation, or whether the prospect is retired.
  • Employment or pension income.
  • Assets and investments.
  • Whether a prospect’s house is paid for.
  • Where a prospect plans to retire and when.

When showing the presentation slides, Mary Ann encourages prospects to continue talking by asking questions and listening to their answers, so she can better personalize the interview. 

Here are some phrases Mary Ann frequently uses:

  • What are you thinking about?
  • When reviewing the slide showing a list of concerns, she asks, “Are any of these more important to you than others? Why?”
  • To close, she says, “We have covered everything. Is there anything else we need to talk about?”
  • After taking the application, she asks, “Why is this still important to you?

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