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What to Take to a Meeting

A 16-year and a 40-year veteran explain how they set the stage for sales success.

By Michele Bupp

You want to have a favorable first meeting—favorable enough to grab the interest and attention of a new client. Here, agents Richard Koob and Lynne Little tell why their approaches—albeit polar opposites—have worked so well for them.

I never attend a meeting empty-handed.
I take two things. The first is a factfinder. I use one that works well for me, but I don’t think one is better than another. So, research several and choose what you like.

The second is a meeting agenda, which includes three to six key points. I typically open a meeting with the question, “How would your family pay its medical bills if you died or lost your job tomorrow?” I find that most people don’t have an answer to that question; they haven’t thought about it before. This gets a client thinking seriously. I learn a good deal about him—how he thinks, what’s important to him—from the conversation this question evokes.

Subsequent agenda points concern his immediate cash needs, debt (e.g., credit cards, loans) and retirement plan. I also bring up the subject of disability: Does he have short-term and long-term disability income insurance coverage? (You’d be surprised by the number of people who don’t think they’ll ever need such a policy!) What about life insurance? Is it one time or two times the client’s salary? I often find that clients overestimate their employer-sponsored benefits, or they just don’t know the particulars. And those details are vitally important when a crisis arises and they need to use their benefits.

This meeting gives the client and me an opportunity to get the facts straight. From there, I find his needs and create solutions for them.

Richard Koob, CLU, ChFC, AEP, began his career with Northwestern Mutual in 1967. Today, he is a 30-year member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), a NAIFA past-president (2002-03) and works in Waukesha, Wis. He’s a member of NAIFA-Southeast Wisconsin.

I always attend a meeting empty-handed.
I walk into the meeting with just a pen and a plain white pad of paper—whether I meet them at my office or visit them in their home. That way, I’m sure I do not have preconceived notions. Also, the blank sheet is less intimidating to new clients who may be skeptical about insurance agents or financial planners.

I’ve developed my style as a result of interacting with salespeople when, say, I bought a car or my own life insurance policy. I hate when others assume they know what I need or want based on the way I look or my age alone. That’s the wrong way to sell because they’re pushing their agenda instead of hearing what I have to say. It makes me not want to buy from them at all. I knew I’d never run my business that way, and I don’t.

Factfinding is accomplished through conversation; I want the appointment to be comfortable, the talking, natural. I want the client to feel like he can tell me anything—where he stands, what troubles him, his family’s goals. I believe in needs-based selling.

Having no forms or papers in front of me also means no distractions. My attention is fully on the client. I’m intent on building trust. So, I listen, and I make eye contact. That’s particularly important for women because they want to be acknowledged and connect with their agent.

And we all know that if there is no trust, the client isn’t comfortable. And if the client isn’t comfortable, no business takes place. However, when I get it right and gain the client’s trust, I can lead him on a path to taking action. Whether it’s with me—and I hope it’s me—or another agent, that client is going to invest in something.

Although Lynne Little holds two college degrees in scientific research, she found her niche as a multiline agent at State Farm in York, Pa., where her staff of five has served clients since 1989. She first qualified for MDRT in 2003 and is a member of Harrisburg AIFA and York AIFA.

 

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