A new year brings both potential challenges and opportunities. As this year comes to an end, now is the perfect time to reflect on both the successes of, and the setbacks for, your annuity sales strategy.

Along with other changes in your life, it’s important to consider how changing market conditions should impact your connection with clients.

(Related: What If Your Annuity Client Ends Up Using Medicaid to Pay for Care?)

What worked? What failed? What came close but didn’t quite make it?

These are all good questions to consider as you think about improvements for the year ahead.

Here are some ideas to help you start the proces of deciding how to connect with clients about annuities in 2019.

  1. Make more connections.

Some might say traditional sales tactics are old and tired — after all, Rolodexes and cold calls may not seem very effective anymore. However, adopting an old-school mentality when selling annuities can provide hidden benefits.

For instance, drawing on traditional sales tactics can foster fruitful personal connections. In the digital age, taking the time to call a client can help you develop grounded and meaningful relationships. Reacting to clients in real time over the phone is also a benefit. Many clients experience some difficulty understanding the intricacies of annuities, and being able to explain them during a conversation can prove far more effective than trying to explain them with a long-winded email or text message.

  1. Schedule in-person meetings.

Yes, personal connections are important. That’s why it’s important to go beyond the phone call, by meeting in person. Meeting clients face to face provides even more opportunities to understand a client’s needs. Even the choice of meeting location — a coffee shop, a restaurant or an in-home visit — says something about the client, and your ability to discern what your clients want will only improve with successive meetings.

  1. Talk to the children, and the grandchildren.

While many of your clients will be looking toward eventual retirement, don’t forget about other family members in the room. We often wait to build these relationships after a current client passes away. However, many clients are looking to transfer wealth to their adult children or, in some cases, even their grandchildren.

By making a positive impression on these family members, you can foster important connections that may lead to an expanded client base down the road. However, members of this next generation don’t want to wait for sound financial advice — they need it now, and you can be a trusted advisor during their time of need.

  1. Ditch the bells and whistles.

An important part of making the sale is to ensure the purchase is a good fit for your client. This means it’s tailored to his or her financial objectives. While some clients may want an immediate stream of income from their annuity, others may not want to ever withdraw funds. Understanding what your client is looking for in an annuity is crucial to making the sale.

The key here is to keep it simple and avoid adding any riders to a client’s annuity that provide them with too much access to their funds. This may sound strict, but depending on a client’s financial objective, selling an income rider could ultimately prevent them from reaching their peak accumulation potential. By guiding clients toward an annuity that maximizes their overall yield, you’ll be helping them in the long run.

Additionally, annuities without unnecessary, intricate riders and other bells and whistles make the process simple and easy for your clients to understand. By making the sale clear, you’re building valuable trust with your client and providing them with a superior product at the same time.

As you cross off the final days of December on your calendar, make sure you’re reflecting on what you’ve learned about your annuity sales this year. Then, take those findings and turn 2019 into a successful sales year.

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Rich Lane is the second vice president of individual annuity sales and marketing for The Standard. He has served on the board of the National Association for Fixed Annuities.