I was on my way to a client meeting recently when I passed by an Apple store. Dozens of people were lined up outside waiting to purchase the new iPhone. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had clients camping outside our offices, so they could be the first to own a new insurance product?”
As any advisor knows, this kind of enthusiasm will never be part of our world. To be successful in our business, we must discover ways to communicate and connect with prospects. So, we search for the magic script, prospecting method or “killer close” that will make us successful. We take continuing-education classes and work hard to have credentials after our name. Despite all of this training, there is still one proven sales tool many of us fail to use. The technique is a simple part of our daily lives, and it should become a part of every client presentation. We can sell our products by telling great stories.
Why tell your story?
Storytelling is the best way to help clients visualize financial “what ifs.” As a long-term care insurance (LTCI) expert, I can cite hundreds of statistics showing what a client’s likelihood of needing care is. However, these statistics alone will never be as effective as a simple story that demonstrates how someone in a similar situation has benefited from owning a policy.
When clients have objections, I agree that their thoughts have merit and walk them through a story that demonstrates an alternative viewpoint. My easiest opening is, “That reminds me of a story …” Sharing a relevant experience helps my clients visualize the situation and draws on their own personal experiences. The great thing about this approach is that I don’t have to confront or contradict my clients in a way that could hurt our relationship, and I am still able to help them discover how to make a more informed decision.
At our agency, we have compiled a list of the most common objections our advisors hear and have built a library of our personal stories that can overcome those objections. Let me share a few of those stories with you. One of my favorite objections is, “We have plenty of money, so we are going to self-insure.” When I hear this I say, “Absolutely, but that reminds me of a story …”
Story No. 1: Dave, a property and casualty agent, told me he has a client who has inherited great family wealth and is also a successful stockbroker. For 38 years, this client had his home appraised annually. Each year, instead of purchasing a homeowner’s policy, he would deposit the premium amount into an investment account. After 38 years, he had $1 million in this account, and a home worth $750,000. He told Dave, “I’ve proven that I did not need the homeowners insurance, but now I want to buy long-term care insurance.” He went on to explain, “Each year I knew the risk of my home burning down was less than 2 percent and I knew what the house was worth, so I knew that I could self-insure that risk. I also understand that the risk of needing long-term care is 50 percent and I have no idea what it will cost. Why would I self-insure that risk? That is the very kind of risk you should shift to an insurance company.”
Story No. 2: A woman with assets worth millions was quickly able to determine that her interest income alone could pay for the highest quality of care without ever depleting principal assets. However, her advisor asked her a vital question, “As you live out your retirement, what concerns you the most about your family?” She said she cared for her mother in her home for six years. While she would never take back that time, she didn’t want her own family to feel as though they needed to make the same sacrifices for her. LTCI was a way to give her children permission to hire someone to help them with her care—without guilt.
Story No. 3: I have a colleague, Carol, in California who also sells LTCI. She told me about a friend of hers who has $30 million in assets and had asked her about purchasing LTCI. Because they were such good friends, Carol asked her, “Why? You could buy the nursing home.” Her friend’s response was, “Let me tell you, when you have a lot of money, you have a lot of heirs watching what you do with your money. If I need care and can no longer make decisions for myself, I want to make sure I have the highest quality of care available, without my heirs worrying about how they are spending their inheritance on my care.”
I often tell that story to wealthy people, and you should see the heads nod. It is a powerful story, and somewhat sad. But when we are talking about kids, we are not talking about 20-year-old kids with their whole future ahead of them. We are talking about 60-year-old kids who are planning their retirements around the inheritance they are going to get. If this is a hidden concern of your client’s, this story will draw it out!
When it comes down to it, the long-term care discussion is not a logical, but rather an emotional sale. So, put away those glossy brochures and reams of proposals and start listening to your clients and telling them stories.
Debra C. Newman, CLU, ChFC, LTCP, is CEO of Newman Long Term Care, an agency she founded in 1990 to focus on LTCI. She is the past president of AHIA, a board member of the LIFE Foundation, and a nationally known educator and speaker. You can reach her at 800-625-9267, LTC@NewmanLTC.com, or online at www.NewmanLTC.com.