How can I overcome my long-standing life insurance “call reluctance”?

Failure in this business is almost always a function of the fear of asking for something. Asking for a referral, asking for an appointment, asking for a decision or asking for a sale. Call reluctance is the most common manifestation of what is really an “Asking Phobia”. But, if you can’t or don’t ask, you will never get the results you need. Here’s a two-step cure.

We suffer call reluctance because we indulge the natural apprehension of the unknown. By definition, asking means we don’t know the answer so there is uncertainty in the response. That potential “no” is enough to prompt a natural fear response.

Fear is normal. The bravest people in the world experience it. It’s what you do with it that makes all the difference. Give it power and it takes over your actions. Starve it and courage remains.

The unnatural part is an unreasonable emotional involvement with that fear. If we indulge it, wallow in it and catastrophize it for ourselves, we give it life. You know the drill. Not only do we suspect the “no” but we imagine losing business, prestige, self-esteem and sleep over the interaction. We see ourselves shamed in public for being the “asker” – for being needy. The more we indulge it, the worse it gets. Call reluctance and its related sales iterations takes on a life of its own. The result is paralytic fear, no activity and no results. It’s the death of many a sales career.

Step one to eliminate asking phobia is not to indulge the fear of “no”. Deny it life. Channel that energy into “Yes I can” and you will prevail.

Second, appreciate that asking is required to get most people to do pretty much anything that doesn’t have a huge immediate happy payoff. For instance, we don’t have to ask most kids to eat a chocolate bar. But, we do have to ask them to go to the dentist. No shame in that but it is still tough because no one wants to go to the dentist, least of all chocolate-loving kids. As parents though, we ask knowing we are in the right. You need that same belief in insurance.

Insurance and planning issues are like going to the dentist. Short-term pain and long-term gain. That’s always a hard sell and exposes fear.

Asking people to buy insurance is similar but there is also a lot of “S.O.S.” involved – Shame of Selling. This is especially true of life insurance. But, what shame can there be in providing a product that does so much good when so much bad is happening? Nothing replaces insurance when needed. Understand your product to be so valuable that you set aside your fear of “no” and ask for a decision anyway.

Let’s appreciate that people rarely act on their own with long-term gain ideas, even for their own benefit. They need us to help them make the decision – especially for life insurance. If we are fearful or shameful, we won’t and they won’t.

No one wins then.  

How do I stop losing clients to my competitors?

There is nothing more painful for an advisor than losing a client, especially a good client. I remember this very well, both personally and through my associates and coaching clients over the years. I had a call like this recently and it got me thinking about what can be done to protect your business from “poaching” by other advisors.

First, remember that “Your best clients are your competitors’ best prospects.” You forget this gem at your ultimate peril. You cannot be too careful. We all know this to be absolutely true because it’s the reason we get our best clients – “Our competitors’ best clients are our best prospects”. It’s the nature of business.

How do we leave the door open for other advisors or how do they leave the door open for us? It happens easily and innocently enough to all of us. No one tries to leave great clients exposed, unprotected and out in the open yet it happens. Check if you are guilty of any of these protection violations:

Taking a client for granted. Some great clients become friends and we can get too close to them to do what needs to be done. We forget to treat them as A-List clients.

Stop contacting them regularly because they are good clients. We stop “pestering them” but our competitors are not so burdened and they cultivate our own people.

Forgetting important life milestones. Birthday, holiday and anniversary cards become “hokey” and they stop going out. Our competitors pick up on the opening and the contrast is stark.

Not following up on questions because “They understand I am busy” and we forget to follow up one too many times.

Annual portfolio reviews stop because we think we know all there is to know. A competitor asks the question and gets the opening.

Not asking for feedback. Just asking for feedback has been measured to improve client loyalty by as much a 69%. So, as we stop asking for their input, their loyalty drops and the door opens a little more to options.

Not asking about other related business and other advisor involvement in the family. An advisor recently lost a large investment because the long-standing “family’s advisor” asked for it “Since he was handling the rest of the family anyway” This is a double whammy. The losing advisor could have been the winner, had he played the intergenerational and family card. Instead, he lost it all.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do. Sometimes a lost case is just a lost case. Business is like that.

But, you can make your business poaching-resistant by not leaving your clients so open to “second opinions”, portfolio reviews and loyalty-building activities of your competitors. Organize you business for top-quality service with regular, detailed contact to keep the business you’ve earned and get best value from it.

Quality business x Quality service = Referrals + Persistency

Make it as hard as possible for competitors to break through your service wall. Also, watch for those unprotected openings out there too. When you do, you will win more than you lose.