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New Year’s sales strategies: Fact-finding to determine client objectives

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2016 has been a year of change for our industry. From the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule to the recent election, the year was marked with uncertainty regarding industry regulations and what may lie ahead for your client’s financial portfolios.  

As you reflect on the past year, one thing shouldn’t change as you plan your sales approach for the year ahead: tailoring your recommendations to best serve your clients’ needs. While this may seem intuitive, fact-finding to determine the best way to help your clients save for retirement will continue to be of the utmost importance.

I have often found that when we ask clients what they are ultimately trying to achieve, a fixed annuity proves to be a good way to obtain their objectives. This is because a fixed annuity offers what most clients want. The following three steps can help you position an annuity to a client who wants to protect, grow and, ultimately, be able to use his or her hard-earned dollars for retirement.

Step 1: Identify what a client currently has

The first step of tailoring your recommendation includes determining what type of retirement savings plan he or she currently has.

Your client may have his or her retirement savings mostly in stock mutual funds, or in bank accounts and money market mutual funds that are paying essentially no interest today. Usually, a client is happy with the choice that he or she has made and may not want to hear about alternatives; however, it’s important to help them realize that their strategy may not be serving them as well as it could.

Step 2: Ask what the client wants

To help understand what a client’s priorities are, ask your client three critical questions to better understand what he or she is looking to accomplish with his or her retirement savings.

  1. Are you trying to create a steady, reliable income stream in retirement?
  2. Do you want your income to be guaranteed to continue for the rest of your life?
  3. Do you want to know right now what income you will be able to rely upon, without guesswork?

These questions can uncover a client’s retirement saving goals. I have found that clients typically answer yes to all three questions, so then it’s time to dig into whether his or her current strategy accomplishes each of those goals.

If a client is relying on some of the most common places where people put retirement savings — such as mutual funds or bank accounts — these products don’t provide yes answers. This exercise can help the client see that his or her current financial strategy doesn’t match established goals. 

Step 3: Discuss how an annuity can help

A fixed annuity is a great financial vehicle that can help clients meet these priorities. A fixed annuity provides minimum guarantees, which can offer a client peace of mind in knowing that he or she will never earn less than the stated minimum. Not only that, but fixed annuities have numerous income options a client can choose to help turn a nest egg into an income stream at any time. This safety, protection and liquidity can help meet a client’s long-term financial goals.

Remember: Fact-finding is a winning proposition all around. Your clients win because they end up with products that better meet their wants and needs. And, of course, you win because you make more sales and gain satisfied customers.

See also:

7 secrets to selling annuities

5 things to know about selling annuities under the DOL fiduciary rule

4 ways to simplify your approach to selling annuities

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