Aim high and do your groundwork thoroughly to sell bigger critical illness cases, was the message that Ian Green delivered in a presentation to attendees at The 8th World Critical Illness Insurance Conference held in Victoria in January.
Mr. Green, is a financial planner from the United Kingdom who has been selling critical illness insurance for 15 years and is the author of The Financial Adviser: How to be a successful practitioner.
His first suggestion is to keep in mind the bigger picture when assessing how much critical illness cover a client needs. When advisors begin selling critical illness insurance, they are tempted to start at the bottom and move their way up. “I would suggest coming in at the top and working our way down.”
There are many losses when someone is struck by critical illness that go beyond covering salary or the mortgage, he says, such as the potential need of hiring a caregiver during recovery. Mr. Green says write a list of all the possible losses that need to be covered due to a critical illness and then determine the amount of coverage required.
His second suggestion is self promotion. Often products resemble each other in features and premiums, he says. For this reason he tells clients that they don’t necessarily need the best company or cheapest product… “What you need is the best critical illness insurance agent and that’s me…So self promotion. Position ourselves as the best agent to solve their problem.”
Prospect in the right waters, is his next suggestion. “If we want to catch a big fish, if we want to build a big case, we’ve got to fish where the big fish are.” For big cases in critical illness cover, this means the business owner. “The big premiums, the big cases really are with big business.”
Don’t get sidetracked
He offered a word of warning about moving into the business market. “It is very easy to get sidetracked by other people in the business and not end up dealing with the business owner.” An advisor may be sent to the finance or human resources person. But, it is not their family who will lose out if the business owner suffers a critical illness. “We’ve got to deal with the business owner to get right to the heart of it.”
Can they and will they pay the premium? Answering this question positively is an essential part of prospecting, Mr. Green adds. “Will they go for the medical? Will they fill in the forms?” These are also important questions that can be answered through fact finding and a face-to-face meeting. “I’ve never seen a fact find as just a compliance chore. It’s really a way to get under the skin of the prospect… Do we really realize and understand their problems?...And do they really understand their situations and problems?”
An important question that the advisor has to ask him or herself: “Can I ask for the premium? When these numbers start to get big and we’re looking into the whites of their eyes…Are we going to turn away and look down? We need to be able to hold that contact.”
How do you do that? Practice. “Get some quotes, for whatever is a big case to you…get some premiums that are big to you. Practice filling them in, so when you do need to ask for that big cheque, you’re not the one that’s shaking.”
Persistence is the next key to obtaining big sales. A prospect may ask for time to consult their accountant or spouse before making a decision. If they say come back in a couple of weeks, make sure that you do so, says Mr. Green. “This is really important…Too many cases just fall away because the agent was not being persistent.”
Preparation is another key to success. Gathering as much information about the client from the outset can cut down on the time that a busy client needs to spend on filling out the application. A perfectly prepared application will also get through underwriting more quickly.
Managing expectations is another important skill. Explain to the client that it is not easy to get this type of coverage and it may get rated. When it does, go back to the underwriter and ask for a second quote on what is the maximum coverage they will give based on all the medical and financial information they have in front of them. Mr. Green says they’ll usually raise the amount. In this way, despite the rating, the advisor can still share good news with the client, i.e., that they are eligible for a 10% increase in coverage.