What’s the best approach to sell life insurance?

“How many years should it take to do an annual review?” Advisor audiences almost always laugh nervously when I ask because they know that most annual reviews take many years. Other times, I get an actual answer like, “Three to five years?” For an annual review? An annual review can take five years? Yes.

It’s hard to believe but it’s true. This also is the basis of one of the great life insurance agent riddles I know. “How do you get rid of a life insurance agent? Buy something!” Yes, buy a policy and you never see most advisors again. Sad.

Can an annual review really wait five years? Sure, some advisors say. “People don’t want to see me very often. That’s sufficient.” But is it? Has anything happened to you, your family or your business in the past five years – family additions, subtractions, income increases? What about to policies or income tax? The stock market? Obviously, so much happens all the time to out-date a life insurance portfolio, not to mention an investment or retirement portfolio, that five years is far too long between reviews.

Which is another point, I’m told that not just insurance portfolios are abandoned by their advisors after they are sold. Investment portfolios and financial plans are also forgotten. Apparently, no advisors review anything any more.

There are several issues here. Outdated client portfolios have gaps and don’t do what consumers want. Gaps like that create potential professional liability problems for advisors who sell and never check back. And finally, huge sales get missed because new unfilled needs don’t get attention.

This is a serious problem for consumer needs, but it creates the best-ever approach for a smart advisor. When you ask most prospects, “Has anyone reviewed your life insurance portfolio lately?”, the answer is almost always “No”. Follow up with a question where “No” means yes and you are in business. “Would you have any objection to reviewing your life insurance portfolio with me?” When they say “No”, they mean “yes” you can and presto, you have a prospect.

Visit with them, gather their policies ask a few questions and create a Policy Needs Appraisal and Summary that outlines what they have, what it can do for them, what it’s worth and who the beneficiaries are… Email me at jr@jimruta.com and I’ll send a report.

Insurance legend, George Sigurdson says that he gets more business from his policy review summaries and policy delivery binders than anything else he does. Top of the Table advisor, David Hull uses the approach all the time in the business market.

The great opportunity is reviewing your own clientele for this potential business too. Top advisors service their clients regularly because they know that if they don’t, some one else will. Remember, your best clients are your competitor’s best prospects. And vice versa. You can service anyone’s business.

If this service and sales work is too much, hire licensed staff to help. Recruit a junior associate. You’ll build your business and build the industry. Offering to review insurance portfolios is the best, and simplest life insurance approach – it’s a service that drives business. And, it works in any market too. 

What’s the secret to being a better closer?

Without closing, there is no selling – it’s only visiting. Unfortunately, too many advisors don’t understand closing well enough to be successful and end up doing a lot of visiting.

Your closing philosophy makes just as big a difference in your success as your technique. Even more important than your actual words is how and when you say them. Here are 3 rules to being a better closer, whatever you say:

First, unless you open a case, you can’t close it. I’ve participated in many lost sale “post mortems” with disappointed advisors and we often discover that the case didn’t close simply because it was never open. There was no open case to close, so nothing happened.

To make my point about opening in the coaching session, I’d ask the advisor to get up and close the door to my office. They’d tilt their head and look at me, puzzled. “What do you mean Jim? It is closed. I can’t close a door that isn’t open…”. Their voice would trail off and then it would hit them. Of course, you can’t close a closed door – just like you can’t close a case until you open it. Only opened cases can be closed.

So, to be a good closer of cases, you must be a great opener of cases. That means making sure the client relationship and the case is developed enough that your closing attempt is the natural consequence of your organized sales presentation. You must wait until the prospect is sufficiently open to your proposition, before you close.

What’s an “open case”? A case is open if you can answer 100 per cent “yes” to these questions:

  1. Have you inspired them to consider their insurance situation and talk with you about it?
Have you taken the time to develop a trust relationship with your prospect, so they will open up to you?
Do you know what they want from you and your service?
Do you know enough about their personal, family, occupational and/or business situation to make an on-target presentation and handle objections?
Have you made a professional presentation to give them all the information they need to make the decisions they have to make to get the results they want?

Second, 80 per cent of prospects need at least 4 or 5 closing attempts to buy. But, 80 per cent of advisors only close once and some never do. There are a lot of missed sales in that differential.

A wise farmer once told me that if the bank didn’t ask for their loan money back 4 or 5 times, they didn’t really want it that badly. Likewise, if you stop at one close, your prospect doesn’t think you’re serious either. Inspired, sales professionals ask until the prospect knows they are serious. Close 5 times.

But, three, that doesn’t mean you can miss a close today and then come back another time and try again. If you pull the trigger on a close and miss, you’ve lost your best chance. Your chances of success on subsequent visits, drop so drastically it makes no sense to try another time. Van Mueller for instance, never comes back.

Three closing philosophies - better closer.