In my 14 years in the long-term care insurance industry, I have found that the question insurance agents ask the most is this: “What are your secrets for succeeding in LTCI sales?”
The answer is simple: Be active, dial and smile, and above all, believe in the product.
Successful salespeople know that a solid sale often requires a transfer of beliefs from the agent to the prospect. I always take my own LTCI policy on sales interviews and show it to prospects. Some agents who have family members in care situations take copies of the monthly invoices for their loved ones’ care. Recently, after seeing a $5,500 nursing-home bill for one month of care for one agent’s father, a prospect did not hesitate to apply for private LTCI. Seeing really is believing.
Most people in the LTCI marketing “sweet spot” have an emergency fund set aside.
See the country
Another idea that has worked well for me is telling people who already know I sell insurance that I am actually in the “motor home” business. Few people want to talk about the possibility that they may need long-term care, but because they know I sell insurance, they’re quite inquisitive about my being in the motor home business.
Most people in the LTCI marketing “sweet spot” have an emergency fund set aside, “just in case” unforeseen circumstances arise. In many cases, these standby funds have grown considerably because they have been left alone to grow—just in case.
“In case of what?” I ask. I often hear, “In case we get sick,” or some similar response. I help them realize that their special fund is actually there to help fund long-term care expenses. I show them that transferring a portion of the risk of potentially high long-term care expenses away from their own assets to a reliable insurance company, however, can free their special fund to—you guessed it—buy a motor home and see the country.
An island cabin
I had a similar sales scenario in Seattle. The husband of a couple I was interviewing had recently retired from his service manager’s position at a local car dealership, but the wife was still teaching. Why wasn’t she retired? They wanted to be sure they had enough money tucked away “just in case.” This couple’s rainy-day fund was just over $30,000.
In addition to their Seattle home, the couple had a one-acre lakefront lot on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. The husband had purchased the property years before with the idea of building a cabin on the lake and enjoying peace and solitude in their retirement years. They had never built their cabin. I asked them how much it might cost to build a cabin, and the husband indicated between $20,000 and $25,000. I asked why they hadn’t used part of their rainy-day fund to build it. They finally admitted they were afraid the husband might have a heart attack or possibly a stroke, as his brother had.
When I showed them an LTCI policy that worked with their budget and provided protection in excess of the amount they’d accumulated in their rainy-day fund, they applied immediately. A week after their policies were delivered, I received a telephone call from the wife. “You’ll never guess what we’ve done,” she said. “We’ve started to build our cabin on Orcas Island, and I have submitted my retirement request to the school board.”
That was eight years ago. Were it not for my determining this couple’s hot buttons, learning what their concerns were and providing them with some solutions that would help them do what they wanted to do in life, she would probably still be teaching, and he would still be sitting around their Seattle home reading. There would be no cabin on Orcas Island, now a haven for them as well as their three children and seven grandchildren.
The bottom line
Talk to people. Find out what’s important to them. Develop an acceptable, affordable solution to their potential long-term care needs and show them how it can help them achieve one or more of their wants. Then take advantage of the contagious nature of this product and ask for referrals.
There are literally millions of aging Baby Boomers who don’t yet have this important form of protection. The opportunities are there. Good luck!
Bob Callanan, LTCP, is a regional sales manager for GE Financial Assurance. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.