In their perpetual quest to increase sales, some advisors emphasize service. Advisor Today spoke with two who do: One, in Atlanta, reaches out to the under-served, while another, in San Diego, provides clients with more bang for their premium buck.
Off the beaten path
Atlanta-based advisor Jay Grubb ratcheted up sales by using a simple solution: Go where the competition isn't.
"Atlanta is highly populated, so we were running against a lot of competition," says Grubb, president of Key Financial Partners, and a NAIFA-North Metro Atlanta member. "It seemed that for every client we got, we were competing against four other advisors."
Finally, Grubb and his partners asked themselves: "Why are we beating our brains out? Why not go where there are not a lot of people offering financial services?"
To pinpoint a location, Grubb did a study on infoUSA, a provider of demographic information applicable to sales and marketing. Grubb subscribed to the firm's website and conducted his own geographic study of his home state. "We found an area in Georgia that has the highest percentage of retired population in the whole southeast," Grubb says.
Grubb declined to pinpoint the exact location. ("If I told you, I'd have to kill you," he jokes.) But he did mention the north Georgia mountains, an area rich in retirees who winter in Florida and return to the Peach State hills to enjoy milder summers. Grubb began holding quarterly workshops there, each of which soon drew between 200 and 250 people. "If I did the exact same workshop in metro Atlanta, I would have maybe 40 people," Grubb says.
Why did the mountainfolk turn out in such high numbers? Because no advisor had yet offered services there, even though area residents have, per capita, more money than the suburban retirees surrounding Grubb's Atlanta-area office. Recently, Grubb acquired a client worth $250 million who had never before been called on.
Over a two-year period, he has gained 150 new clients and sold approximately $10 million in annuities, $50,000 in long-term care insurance premium, and $250,000 in new life premium.
Now, though he lives an hour away, Grubb is a key figure in the community he helped bring into the 21st financial century. "I'm looked at as a kind of pioneer in the area," he says. "I think if anybody came in behind me now, it would be a tough market to crack."
Multiply multiple lines
When Caroline Nelson added a client's teenage son to the family auto policy, she could've done the routine thing: Work up a quote, do the paperwork, and collect the new premium. Instead, Nelson, an account manager at Dick Hess State Farm in San Diego, did a little research, and learned that for just six more dollars each month, the family could both add the teenager as a driver and buy for him a $25,000 whole life policy.
"There are [insurance professionals] who are satisfied with the one-policy sale," Nelson says. "But if you want to keep clients, you need to let them know their options."
For her auto-policy client, Nelson's sales technique was a win-win-win. First, the client was thrilled to secure a low-cost permanent policy for her son, which in two years' time, will become for him an investment vehicle when he takes over ownership of the policy. Second, Nelson was able to increase the number of lines the family has with the Hess agency, improving the odds of retention. Finally, the agency collected two commissions instead of one, as well as the potential for more revenue if the teenager increases his life coverage down the road.
Dick Hess, who has been in business for 45 years and owns the largest State Farm agency in San Diego County, stresses innovative service as a way to increase sales. Instead of simply making ho-hum policy updates, he says, have your service team mine deeply for ways to provide value by adding new, needed lines of insurance at an advantageous cost.
"I emphasize that what we're here for is to serve the policyholder," says Hess, "If we service our customers well, the sales will come."
Lynn Vincent is a frequent contributor to Advisor Today.