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The most innovative sales ideas of 2016: 91-100

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“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas,” Dr. Linus Pauling famously said. In other words, if you take the time to train your mind to think inventively, your business will thrive.

Here, we bring you a lot of good ideas about how to sell, culled not just from the insurance industry but from leaders in health care, technology, media and finance. Some are practical. Some are aspirational. All thoughtfully consider what it means to sell to a sophisticated consumer base with expectations of immediate, personalized service.

We hope these ideas give you the inspiration and fresh insight to make 2016 your best year yet. 

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a ten-part series identifying the best sales techniques for 2016. To view the rest of the series, click here.

100. Identify your ideal clients.

List your top 15 clients in the following areas: 

  • Clients you like

  • Client that like you

  • Clients that refer you to others on a regular basis

  • Assets

  • Revenue 

Review all five lists and ask:

  • Which clients are on all five lists?

  • What traits do they share? (demographic, psychographic, financial)

  • Is there a niche that is working for you?

  • How can you further develop that niche?

— Eric Sheikowitz and Michael Silver, senior managing partners at Focus Partners, LLC.


99. Make everything as simple as you can make it.

“As a consumer of health care, for a while, you wonder, ‘Am I stupid?’ or “Am I missing something? You try desperately to figure out how this health care system works, and which physician to go out to and what the costs will be, and you realize that no, it’s not you that’s stupid. It’s the system that’s stupid.”

— Mario Schlosser, co-CEO of Oscar Health, a new, Google-backed health insurer in New York state, in a Jan. 27, 2016, interview with L.A. Biz


98. Tap insights from behavioral economics.

A new LIMRA study using behavioral economics finds that consumers are more likely to buy life insurance when people similar to themselves own coverage. In the study consumers were given eight messages that challenged their biases toward life insurance ownership with one stating “most Americans do own life insurance, including people like you.” This was the most successful message we tested. Attitudes about life insurance improved for all demographic groups in some way when having coverage is perceived as a social norm.

Single people and those without children are traditionally a tough sell for life insurance. One of our findings — that 39 percent of singles who received a social norming message are likely to buy life insurance compared to 23 percent who read a classic marketing message — suggests that a tailored message on social norming can be effective, particularly with groups the industry has struggled to reach.”

— Jennifer Douglas, associate research director, Developmental and Strategic Research at LIMRA

97. Content marketing works.

“I have come to see content marketing as a sign that a company is both confident in itself and in its products or services. A brand that says to a consumer, “Go ahead, have a peek under the bonnet, and press the accelerator a couple of times; we’re sure you’ll love it,” and then backs off, leaving the consumer to make his/her own decision, also demonstrates that it will treat people respectfully when speaking to them (the polar opposite of being hassled by the pushy car salesman of old).

This is a brand’s way of saying, “Of course I don’t expect you to buy me just yet. I’m happy for you to hang around for a while, and I’ll only begin to thrust the rest of my marketing prowess upon you once you’ve understood who I am, and you’re sure that we’re right for one another.” It’s recognition that this is going to be a relationship rather than a transaction.”

Mark Beard, VP, Digital Media and Content Strategy at The Economist

96. Use the right words with prospects.

Always approach things from the perspective of your prospect. Focus on benefits to your prospect. Describe how your prospect will benefit from the program you are recommending.

Your words should suggest that you expect your prospect to buy. Never say, “If you buy,” instead say, “As my client, you can expect …” If your words suggest uncertainty on your part, why should your prospect have confidence in you? A lack of confidence on your part will quickly be reflected by your prospect who will then lose confidence in you.

Remember, people make decisions based on emotion, and then justify their decision with logic. Professional salespeople appeal to both. The words you use help establish expectations. Be sure those words convey a positive message, and move the prospect toward the sale.

Kenneth L. Fields, CIC, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, MSM, is assistant vice president with The State Auto Insurance Cos. and co-developer of the nationally recognized PaceSetter new producer sales development program

95. Go with your gut.

“I remember getting quite a bit of criticism for my first Madonna cover, and it was, you know, ‘She’s not Vogue,’ and ‘She’ll never sell.’ It was a little risky and it was up something extraordinary like 40 percent on the newsstands, so that was an eye-opener I think to all of us. … I don’t really follow market research and in the end I do respond to my own instincts.” 

Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue magazine


94. Be smart about recycling.

“And I don’t mean just paper and plastic. Pay attention to lead recycling, defined by Marketo as ‘The process of passing a lead from sales back to marketing because a lead was not yet ready to buy.’ 

In simpler terms, don’t waste your time on leads that aren’t ready to commit to buying. If you’re working with leads that cannot complete the transaction for some reason, recycle them. The marketing machine will keep those leads warm through lead nurturing, and you have extra time to work with consumers who are ready to buy.”

— Aidan Cole, founder and CEO of Prosper Social Media

93. You have to give first!

One of the best ways to start the process is by using your advertising or marketing in a way that educates your audience. It’s tempting for many advisors to open up with their accolades, years of experience and qualifications when trying to earn business. There’s just one problem with that approach. Nobody cares! At least, not at first.

Give people something they care about initially. Something that has to do with their needs, wants or interests. Then, you can use your experience, education and expertise to provide undeniable proof that you know what you’re talking about. 

— Angel D. Gonzales, Platinum Advisor Strategies

92. Work with the best people you can work with.

Work in an office in which “the very air is permeated with the spirit of energy, where everyone from the highest to the lowest uses every minute of time; where accomplishment, not theorizing, is the watchword.”

The workers in an office of that type will give a newcomer, “either designedly or unconsciously, the proper training.”

— George Beach, a producer at Mutual Benefit Life, in the Aug. 17, 1916, issue of The Western Underwriter (National Underwriter)

91. Partnering is more profitable than competing.

Apple and Microsoft can partner on more things than they can compete on. I’m not a believer in holding grudges. Life is short. You’re going to die soon. It’s better to have friends.

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, Inc.

Check out 2015′s best sales and marketing ideas here.

And for all 2016 ideas, go here.

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