By Michelle Benz
Although the current economic downturn has put a squeeze on budgets, the importance of protecting families and businesses with life insurance has never been greater or more needed. Here are five tips to apply when you’re talking with prospects and clients about their specific life insurance needs:
Anticipate initial prospect objections, and view them as opportunities to educate rather than roadblocks.
We’ve all heard the classic objection to buying life insurance, but by anticipating possible objections before you discuss life insurance with skeptical prospective clients, you can properly plan how to address them. For example: A client says, “Life insurance is too expensive, and it’s too time consuming to buy.” Use this opportunity to educate your client on how economical term life insurance can be. It may also be important to point out that it can be purchased with or without health questions and exams; whichever they prefer.
No matter what the objection, try your best to really listen and understand your client or prospect’s concerns. And remember most clients are confused by all the life insurance products on the market and appreciate direct and simple explanations surrounding them and their costs. In fact, data from the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA) says clients are 29 percent more likely to buy from an insurance agent who:
• Uses personal experiences to help the client see the need and the benefits of life insurance
• Helps the client to understand the different life insurance products and how much they actually need
• Engages in a discussion and explanation of how the client can budget for the additional expense
First and foremost, clients want to feel confident you are making recommendations based on their needs and individual situations. It’s a balancing act. First learn as much as you can about your client and family. Then limit the conversation to only products relevant to his or her situation. Though doing this may seem like you are limiting your ability to grow your book of business, it will pay off in the long run.
Do your research and look for every opportunity to cross-sell.
Before you ever attempt to cross-sell to an existing client, make sure you have a full and realistic view of not only his or her current coverage, but also his or her present stage of life, goals and concerns. Once you know these details, you’ll have a better idea of what cross-selling opportunities exist and which are most relevant for your client. You’ll also be able to identify specific products and potential discounts (life/auto discounts, and others) you can offer your client.
With existing clients, a great time to explore cross-selling is at your annual review. Since you’re already planning to discuss any life events that may impact coverage needs, it’s a perfect entry point into the greater cross-selling discussion.
Don’t forget about small businesses and their need for life insurance.
It’s easy to focus specifically on the individual people that make up your client base, and forget to approach the local businesses in your community about their life insurance needs. These small businesses offer a larger audience than one-on-one selling and allow you to position yourself as a true life insurance expert. By doing things like delivering presentations over lunch, participating in Q&A sessions or providing educational materials surrounding various insurance options, you are able to network and build rapport with a group of influential individuals, which often leads to more business.
Get involved in your community, and let your community get to know you.
The biggest barrier most agents have when it comes to this is lack of time; however, those that do make the effort quickly start to see positive business results. When engaged in local sponsorships, volunteer projects and other non-profit work, you are able to connect with people in the community on a more personal level. Building these close relationships fosters the trust many look for in their life insurance agent.
And just as much as you should be out in the community, the community should also be invited into your agency office to hear more about your products and services too. Consider hosting an open house or other community event to give your neighbors a sneak peek into what it is you could offer them and their families.
Leverage the capabilities of the digital world to accomplish your sales goals and more effectively serve your clients.
With the advent of all things digital, you can now connect with clients and prospects through a myriad of modes and methods. Because there are so many ways to connect, it makes sense for you to ask what type of communication is preferable in your first meeting with a client or prospect. For example, do they like to receive appointment reminders via a phone call, an email or a text message? What is most convenient for them? Being sensitive to clients and the way they prefer to connect reinforces how well you know them and understand their current needs in life.
And though nothing will ever completely take the place of face-to-face meetings with your clients, a strong online presence is an important part of building your reputation as a life insurance agent and mining for prospects. Easy ways to start establishing you and your agency online include:
• Developing a quality website that has been search engine optimized, allowing your agency to be easily found online when people search for life insurance in Google or another search engine
• Engaging in social media via Facebook or Twitter, increases awareness of you, your products and the service you can provide to clients
At the end of the day your clients and prospects will appreciate a tailored approach from an agent who fully understands them, their needs and has their best interests at heart. And it’s these same client relationships that are such an important foundation of your ability to continue to grow your book of business.
Michelle Benz is president of Grange Life Insurance Company and is responsible for life insurance product development, marketing and sales.
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