If you’ve already read the feature article “Life Insurance: The Bottom Line in Multiline,” then you’re well on your way to ramping up your life insurance sales. But it never hurts to get an extra shot of good advice. Four advisors give some quick tips on increasing your sales.
Don’t assume—anything. You’ve done a thorough job of ensuring that the client in front of you has adequate insurance on his home or auto, but don’t assume that he has his life insurance in order. Failing to ask clients about their life insurance needs is one of the biggest mistake that property and casualty (P/C) agents make when selling life insurance, says Jason Toder, senior vice president of Synergy Life Brokerage Group, based in New York City. P/C advisors who are successful at cross-selling adhere to an inviolable rule: You have to ask all your clients about their life insurance coverage. In addition, “never assume that clients are satisfied with their existing relationship or life product,” he adds.
Don’t underestimate the complexity of life insurance. “The biggest obstacle that I see P/C agents face is their belief that life insurance is a commoditized insurance product and that price is the issue,” says Corey Schneider, CFP, who is the owner of New York City-based Sentinel Financial Solutions and who has strong working relationships with P/C agents. Instead, he says that you need to view life insurance as a complex financial product that should be evaluated in terms of the client’s overall financial situation.
Tim Brunkhorst agrees, but thinks that this really isn’t a mistake, given that “we always feel we’re doing what’s in the best interest of the client.” However, you can improve your odds of selling the product that meets your client’s needs by asking questions that go beyond “what they are interested in as far as face value,” says this P/C agent who owns Premium Business Insurance in Des Moines, Iowa. That means sitting down with the client and asking him about things such as his goals, debts and income.
Don’t overlook the option of partnering. Both Brunkhorst and Schneider recommend that P/C agents consider outsourcing to or partnering with a life insurance specialist. On his end, Brunkhorst has a life insurance specialist sit in on meetings to help him analyze his client’s needs. Toder is also a proponent of “aligning yourself with life professionals,” but adds that it’s smart to educate yourself about life insurance products, too.
Don’t forget your good P/C skills. David Douglas Ford, CLU, CHFC, FLMI, MSFS, of the Colleyville, Texas-based Ford Group, says that P/C agents have such a “magnificent comfort level with the property and casualty products they’ve mastered that they simply lose their relative confidence when they get away from their main markets.” So when you’re pivoting to the life insurance sale, you need to keep what Ford calls that “almost bored and seemingly disinterested sales approach that is so effective”—and Ford is quick to add that this statement is nothing but a compliment to P/C agents. It is this laid-back approach that is exactly what you need to take to the life insurance sales process.
Ford says that you may have heard over and over again how different selling life insurance is from selling P/C insurance; so you “naturally assume something must have to be altered in your approach to selling life insurance.” But that’s just not true. “There’s no reason to change [your technique] just because the product has changed,” he says.
Maggie Leyes is a frequent contributor to AdvisorToday.com.