Recently, a relatively new agent sought my advice. It has been a long time since I was a new agent, so I sought help from a very successful agent in our office, Keith Wolff, CFP. He is a Court of the Table member who I am proud to call “grandson.”
The following are some of the questions that were posed to Keith, along with his responses:
Question: Do you have any suggestions when a prospect says, “I’m all set. I have a financial plan in place.”?
Answer: My response has always been “That’s great. Allow me to ask you a question. If you went to a cardiologist and he suggested you need heart surgery, would you get a second opinion? Well, why wouldn’t you want a second opinion on your insurance and financial plan?”
Once the prospect agrees, I say, “Would you have any objection to me auditing your existing plan to give you that second opinion on whether or not it is still meeting your objectives and is competitive in today’s marketplace?” It is amazing how often I find the prospect’s needs are not being satisfied.
Question: At what point did you know when to hire an assistant?
Answer: One of the best pieces of advice I received early in my career was to hire an assistant before I could afford one. We all invest in a variety of vehicles, e.g., stocks, bonds and real estate, but I have found the best return possible is investing in something that I control, my own business. In fact, the first year I hired my assistant, my income increased three times more than her salary.
Question: Can you give an example of something that has helped separate you from the competition?
Answer: After each meeting with prospects or clients, I send a summary letter that outlines the topics discussed at the meeting. I find this advantageous because it not only provides a readily available permanent record of everything we reviewed, it also sets the client’s expectations of what will happen over the next several weeks. When appropriate, I send a copy to the other advisors, such as attorneys and accountants. Before a follow-up meeting, I prepare an agenda that covers all of the issues to be addressed.
“THE FIRST YEAR I HIRED MY ASSISTANT, MY INCOME INCREASED THREE TIMES MORE THAN HER SALARY.”
—KEITH WOLFF, CFP
The letters and agendas provide a value-added service that is appreciated. For example, after placing my first corporate buy/sell case, one of the owners told me that it was the summary letters that won him over. Thankfully, that initial sale has led to large amounts of additional business. I continue to provide summary letters and agendas to all of my clients and their advisors.
Question: What is your favorite closing technique for life or disability income insurance?
Answer: The toughest part of any sale is getting the client to write the check. First, I encourage all of my clients to bind the coverage when possible because as long as they are insurable, they are at least partially covered and the prepayment is fully refundable if they change their minds or are declined. Second, I tell my clients that people view the premium payment as the problem, but in reality the premium payment is the solution to the problem. I then ask the client, “Can you afford not to have this coverage?”
Question: Who is your best client?
Answer: I believe our first and best client is ourselves. I learned this lesson when I was at my first MDRT meeting having lunch with my father and Mike Wilcox of Toledo, Ohio. Mike asked me how much life insurance I have. I proudly told him $1 million. He said, “That’s not enough, especially with a newborn child.” I redid my own needs analysis on the plane ride home and discovered he was right. I quickly purchased additional life insurance of $1.5 million for a total of $2.5 million.
I share with clients my financial plan and explain the reasons for the decisions I have made. In most cases, clients realize that their coverage is not adequate. The needs analysis and sale follow naturally.
The more things change …
I have witnessed ever so many changes in my career. However, reading Keith’s comments reinforces my belief that there are many basic concepts that are as valid today as they were when I started in the business.
Thomas John Wolff, CLU, ChFC, served as 1979-1980 president of NALU (NAIFA). A member of MDRT since 1958, he is a recipient of the John Newton Russell Award. He is a member of Hartford AIFA (Conn.). His address is P.O. Box H, Vernon CT 06066. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.