Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a ten-part series identifying the best sales techniques for 2015. To view the rest of the series, click here.

70. Find success with SMS.

If you’re looking to improve your contact ratios with new leads, try incorporating SMS text messaging to your processes. The mobile research firm, MobileSQUARED, found that over 90% of people read their text messages within the first 3 minutes. Like many agents, I immediately call a new lead and leave a voicemail when they don’t answer. At the same time my email auto-responder is triggered with an introductory email. Unfortunately, there are those prospects who don’t want to talk immediately & emails are sometimes filtered to spam folders. Texting is a great addition and may possibly be a preferred mode of initial communication for some of your prospects. In fact, text messaging was the initial form of communication for 2 of my submitted applications this week! 

— Michael Quinn, Agent, www.lifeinsuranceblog.net

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69. Dead leads are gold. Keep the drip going.

Many times people are not ready to purchase, or the time is not right for whatever reason. Things change all of the time, and down the road something might trigger that dead lead to come alive. Instead of throwing those leads in the proverbial trash can via the delete button create an organized email drip campaign once a quarter on value added content that you already have available because you are using with your clients. Then, lop a call every six months to check in. If nothing else, leave a message letting the prospect know you were thinking of them. Drip on these leads with appropriate material when an event occurs, you will not only be remembered, but your correspondence will be welcomed.

— John Richard Pierce, Jr., author of ‘Sell More and Sleep at Night’

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68. Answer objections first.

Once you sell your first 50 or so policies you should have a good idea of what your most common objections will be. It’s important to write down each objection you get, along with the frequency. By understanding what is on your customer’s mind ahead of time, you can blend this information into your introduction and answer many of the questions that are subconsciously in your customer’s worry bank before they even ask. This will ease your customer’s mind and transition to a smooth closing.

— Jonny Fritz, President, NoExam.com

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67. Become a solution seeker for your clients.

Imagine that a client tells you he wants your assistance in selling an unwanted life insurance policy. Aside from coordinating the technical aspects of pursuing the policy’s “fair market value,” spend time learning more about the policy owner’s financial challenges and goals for the future.  Find out how the client plans to use the proceeds from the life settlement, and offer him creative solutions.  Does the client’s spouse need money for a long-term care policy?  Do they want to leave a cash legacy to the grandchildren or help them pay off student loan debt?  Do they need a substantial down payment to enter a continuing care retirement community (CCRC)?  We often tell agents who we work with to look beyond the transaction at hand and to help clients in solving their major challenges with the proceeds from a life settlement. 

Jeff Hallman, Co-Founder, Asset Life Settlements, LLC

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66. Know the consumer psyche.

The Consumer Psyche consists of three elements: The herd mentality, tragedy and major life events. The Herd Mentality: buying because others are. Tragedy: the purchase of life insurance is more likely to occur after a disaster rather than prior to it. Major life events: consumers are most likely to develop the need for life insurance around major life changes, marriage, children etc. Understanding the drivers that cause a consumer to act can benefit the seller immensely. Capitalizing on these elements can significantly limit the focus of the marketer, and can help to spend time creating relationships with true prospects rather than wasting time with unfit buyers, because, as we all know, not every consumer is the right match for your business.

— Herb Katz, Quest Excel, Inc., dba: TermQuest®

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65. Don’t make charitable bequests in your will.

Why give stepped up basis assets to charity and retirement ordinary income assets to your children? Instead, separate the amount you want to give to charity from your retirement accounts into a separate IRA, with charity as the beneficiary. Suppose a client couple, aged 60, has an estate of $3.5M with $1M in an IRA. Their will provided $250k to a local cancer treatment hospital upon the death of the surviving spouse. That’s almost tithing. Instead, we carved out $250k to separate the IRA, with the spouse as the primary and the charity as the contingent beneficiary. We then put the $250k into a guaranteed minimum income benefit variable annuity that kicked out $12,500 taxable. They then contributed the $12,500 to a charitable trust, deductible up to AGI limits, and funded a $1M survivorship life policy. Now the  charity gets $1.25M at the death of the surviving spouse (5-fold increase) with no additional cost to the clients.

— Herbert K. Daroff, J.D., CFP, Advanced Markets Director, Financial Services Representative, Financial Advisor, Baystate Financial Planning

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64. Become a contact in your prospect’s phone

Despite the exponential growth of smartphones, most people use their device to talk on the phone only 7 percent of the time. That means it’s harder for you to reach your prospects and clients.  Becoming a contact in a prospect’s phone increases your chance of actually speaking to them. 

You can do this in two ways: When you meet someone you are interested in continuing a conversation with, pull out your phone and immediately ask them for their contact information.  As you create the contact, say “Here’s my information,” thereby encouraging them to follow your lead. The next time you call, you come up as a name. It makes all the difference! 

For referrals, ask your client to text their referral. Have them compliment your work and add your contact info. Notice I’m assuming you’re a contact in your client’s phone. When you call the new person, they’re more likely to pick up.

Have you told your clients to put you into their smartphone? If not, they may not pick up when you call unless they’ve memorized your phone number. (Hint: They haven’t!)

This little suggestion may improve your ability to speak to more people per week.

 — Gail Goodman, The PhoneTeacher

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63. Build trust with righteous reviews.

Studies show that, in general, people like to do what others are doing, especially in situations where they feel insecure. That fact can be emphasized by another fairly understandable statistic: Customers are more likely to make a purchase from an entity that can produce favorable reviews about their product, service or company. In fact, according to a new survey conducted by Dimensional Research, an overwhelming 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. Prospects want to know that the person who wrote the review really exists, so be sure to list real names and the date of the review (with permission of course).

— Brian Greenberg, CEO/Founder, True Blue Life Insurance

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62. Put family first to grow and retain business.

Advisors looking for a fresh approach to growing and retaining business should start with current clients and their families. Clients who are in their mid-60s and beyond who have children and grandchildren are a prime source of business. The strategy for selling to this dynamic relies on the emotional connection among these generations, especially the fierce bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Advisors who talk with clients about creating a financial plan that satisfies their needs but also provides for grandchildren is a win. Variable annuities are a perfect tool for this model. As a complement to a smart investment strategy, the variable annuity with Guaranteed Income Benefits and an optional living benefit rider at additional costs offers a tax-efficient income stream that can be passed to children and grandchildren – keeping it in the family and the advisor’s book.

–Michael Harris, head of the Advanced Solutions Group at Lincoln Financial Distributors

 k61. Ask clients critical questions. Client conversations about retirement planning and annuities should start with the four basic planning needs in retirement: accumulation strategies, income sources and needs, healthcare expenses and leaving a legacy for heirs. Choosing the right approach means asking the right questions that will uncover your client’s most pressing needs: Are they worried about outliving their retirement nest egg? Are they concerned about a possible future health issue? What are their existing sources of retirement income? What percentage of their existing retirement income is protected from market volatility? Your client’s answers will help you identify the protection gaps that cause them the most worry. With this information, you can match your client with the product that will best fill those gaps.

– Mark Fitzgerald, National Sales Manager, Saybrus Partners

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a ten-part series identifying the best sales techniques for 2015. To view the rest of the series, click here.