Margie Barrie, a veteran long-term care insurance (LTCI) agent, marketer and educator, has been writing articles about long-term care (LTC) planning and related issues for several years. Here, she takes a question about simple, effective ways to increase sales.

Q. I’m always looking for great ideas to increase my sales and grow my business. Can you provide some suggestions?

A. Here are two ideas to consider adding to your marketing strategy. They are provided by Stana Martin, an ACSIA Partners agent from Kansas City, Mo., who happens to have a Ph.D. in communications.

The first question is about clients who try to put you off.

Calendar

1. How do you respond when the prospect says, “Call me in a month” or even further in the future?

Stana Martin responds by talking about what will really happen.

I say, “OK. I am happy to do that. I will tell you, though, I have been doing this a long time. What I know is that the two of you will talk about this for a few minutes when we hang up. But your lives are really busy with (insert any details you already know like ‘caring for your mom and running your company’). This will get put on a back burner very quickly.

“I will call back in a month as you’ve asked. But I won’t catch you, so I will leave a message. I will call again and leave another message and then about the third time I ring I will get you on the phone and you will say, ‘We’ve decided not to do this.’ But you never really decided…your life just carried you along. So I will check back in a month – but is that what you really want?”

On the second question, Martin’s answer has to do with her strategy for increasing referrals.

Mother and daughter.

2. How do I get more client referrals?

Here’s what Stana Martin did: She got involved in the claims process. 

When I first started as a LTC agent, I was told that I should never get involved in claims. But as my book of business aged, claims calls started to happen – usually from a client’s children. I instructed them to call the carrier’s 800 number. But when I heard the stress and panic in their voices, I realized how difficult filing a claim could be when you were already at the breaking point from the burden of caring for an aging parent.

Filing a claim is not easy or seamless. I have found that carriers are very good about paying claims when the documentation is submitted accurately, correctly and it matches the policy language closely. What I see, though, is the person filing the claim doesn’t really understand the complex language or all the documentation that must be gathered and submitted.

I then decided to participate in the claims process. This decision has resulted in an unexpected and profitable new pool of insurance buyers – the children of policy owners. By the time I get a policy to pay for Mom or Dad and the children see thousands of dollars pouring in to pay for this expensive care, their relief is tangible. They have now personally witnessed the care process and are scarred by the reality of the money hemorrhage their parent would face without the coverage.

Once the claim settles and the payment process is underway, I’m finding that they are usually ready to look into purchasing policies for themselves. These are some of the best referral clients I have ever had. The results are incredible – for each claim I’m involved in, there are anywhere between one to six potential buyers in the generation behind.