Life Insurance Agents
Life Insurance Sales: Preparing for a Client Interview
Does your life insurance client compare his visit with you with his last visit to the dentist? “Is this going to hurt or what?” “You would think this guy would be prepared for my appointment so I don’t have to sit in this reception area for an hour while I listen to him describing his last fishing trip to his associates.” “ Sure hope he knows what he is doing.”
The importance of this presentation cannot be overstated when you consider how the decisions reached in that setting have such far reaching implications. If there is a need for life insurance and no sale is consummated, financial tragedy is only a heartbeat away. If you as an agent only educate–and your client dies, what a disservice to the deceased’s family, business partners, charity, or other individuals who could have been blessed with insurance proceeds. Where does sales preparation protocol begin?
It begins with your fingernails, hair, breath, clothes, and your general appearance.
Fingernails and hands. I know we live in an era of individuality where we want to make our own fashion statement, but some simple guidelines can be helpful. Look at your hands right now.
- Are creases in your knuckles free of stains?
- Is the quick pressed back away from the face of the nails?
- Are your nails trimmed uniformly?
- Are they free of dirt under the nail?
- Are the rest of your hands clean?
Hair style. There are business hairstyles and then there are social hairstyles–the settings you will be in should dictate how you style your hair. This is particularly true for sales women who have been blessed with the ability to change the style of their hair. Outlandish colors and styles should be avoided. Try not to let your hairstyle become a distraction to the sales process.
Breath. Where much of the life insurance interview is done in close quarters, make sure your breath is clean and fresh. When you brush your teeth, brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth. It has been observed if you want to check your breath, lick your forearm, wait a few seconds and sniff where you licked. Not a bad idea just to have some breath fresheners available for your use, and don’t be afraid to offer one to your clients so they don’t worry about their breath.
Clothes. What you wear is constantly a factor affecting successful sales interviews. Be socially aware of the types of people you are going to be dealing with on a daily basis and dress accordingly. Try not to overdress, but don’t become too casual either. Ladies, shy away from too short dresses and too low cut sweaters and blouses. No one in the selling interview wants to see your belly button when you lean over to make a point of interest nor be embarrassed when you stoop over. The same goes for men, no one really wants to see the hair on your chest through the open buttoned sport shirt you are wearing. Be modern but be traditional. Keep it professional.
General appearance. Baggy and holey pants may be the trend, but just like fat ties they will go by the wayside. Wearing a baseball cap now is evolving from wearing the bill in the back of the head to now covering one ear, so when will it become fashionable to wear it like it was intended to be worn? One does not have to run an exhaustive list of fashion changes in order to see there are some fashions which are always in vogue and when worn properly save embarrassment and a lot of money.
Showing up in your own office dressed inappropriately will go a long way in destroying a healthy atmosphere for selling.
Invest in a full length mirror for your hallway so you can double check your appearance before putting yourself on public display. Your appearance is your greatest commercial of who you are and what you represent. You only have one time to present an image of stability, tradition, and professionalism. Happy selling!!
Exterior. Starting at the parking lot of your office, begin observing the surroundings your client will pass through on the way to your office. Here’s a checklist to consider.
- Sidewalks clean of debris and cracks.
- Lawns, shrubbery, and flowers well maintained.
- Address letters and numbers legible so it is easy to identify your office.
- Glass door gives the impression you are inviting them in rather than a wooden door which creates a barrier they must pass through blindly.
Just be observant of anything which could distract from the visit being a pleasant one.
Interior. Open your door and just look around. What do you see which invites you to be there? I once shared an office space with an agent who was a very successful big game animal hunter. When he shot a trophy bull moose he had the head mounted and hung over the seats where he would have his clients sit. He began having trouble closing his sales, and it didn’t correct itself until he realized the clients felt their very lives were in danger of having that moose head fall from the wall injuring them. Though it was an incredible conversation starter, it had the effect of a sales stopper. He had the head removed, eliminating that attractive distraction.
Avoid the appearance of extravagance in office furnishings and wall hangings. Certainly make them contemporary, but crystal chandeliers and tiger feet furniture is way over the top. Nice earth tone colors in an office decor helps establish an emotional sense of stability and dependability. Family pictures of activities you enjoy together as a family or even art objects given to you by your children are great for breaking the ice when you begin the sales presentation. Nice way to create the mood needed for life insurance to be meaningful.
Make sure your magazine rack and sales brochure area are well maintained. If you have families who bring young children with them, a simple play area with coloring books and quiet toys could be a nice addition to this client area.
Private office interior. Keep it clean!! A cluttered desk, white board scribbled on, a coat thrown over a chair, or athletic bag in a corner may not give the impression you are wanting to portray. Have a bookshelf displaying professional literature and quality books you are interested in. They can help set the mood you are trying to capture to enhance the sales process.
If possible, have a desk for your work space where you can leave daily work papers so this paperwork does not become a distraction during the sales time. Even though not as much selling goes on around the kitchen table, the emotional equivalent can be attained by having a separate simple round table set up in your private office with just enough chairs (agents who have this separate interview table have reported clients feel at ease a whole lot faster when they have this psychological prop) for each participant. Make certain the chair you sit in has easy eye contact with each of the others. Never get into a position where you cannot see the body language of clients and expressions on their faces. This exposes so much information to you without a word being said that it is imperative you abide by this guideline every time you have a sales interview.
Before the client arrives for the interview, make certain all sales materials are on the table, i.e. a pen for each participant, paper, computer queued to opening presentation (a nice way to kill a sale to not have equipment working properly), sales applications, worksheets, etc. Particularly having the life insurance application on the table helps convey nonverbally that you intend to have some action taken to complete the sale, and you are not just there to educate.
Transition to Interview
It was earlier mentioned that having family pictures and a bookshelf with professional material exhibited to help set the mood for life insurance sales. These are props which give easy transitional points from conversation about the weather or the latest sport events to comments like, “This picture was taken at our last family outing to Lake Powell. Our 18 year old daughter Julie had invited her boyfriend to come along. They announced their engagement, and I realized this was going to take some money. I thought, good thing I have a job, and then I thought, how would Mary be able to absorb that expense if I weren’t around? I did just what you are doing today–I decided to get some financial planning done just in case.”
You can within a few moments create an environment where you can ask “Are you saving any money? Why?” It just takes a little practice in looking for the event which will trigger that moment.
“Joe and Susan, are you saving any money now? Why? (This becomes the first line of a sales presentation which will guide you through to a successful sales interview and sale.)
“Joe and Mary, I have appreciated being your agent for some time now. I have attempted to keep abreast of all the changes being made in our financial institutions and find just about when I think I have things under control some other financial development happens. Look what they are doing right now with the estate taxes on businesses and ranches. It’s not a problem I created, but it is one that with us working together we can solve. First of all, Are you saving any money? Why?
“Joe, you have been really successful in your landscaping business. Your family has enjoyed the fruits of your labors just as much as you have enjoyed doing it for them. If you were taken out of the picture, what provisions have you made for them to maintain this standard of living? Are you saving any money? Why?
What allows a powerful locomotive to be so productive is the small ribbon of track which guides the train to its destination; so it is in a successful life insurance sale–a well prepared presentation which guides the interview from one point to another until you have reached the conclusion of a life insurance policy being put in force for later use. Recognize early that your sales presentation is not a sales pitch which you hope your client will hit. However, it is a well designed approach to guide your client to an action which will solve some major financial concerns in the future.
It is also a way for you to present in a logical manner thoughts and facts which will lead to emotions that will motivate the client to action. You should also learn to recognize buying moments need to be built into that presentation so you are not overburdening your clients with trivia he or she may not need to make a decision to buy. The old adage “if you can sell by saying ‘blah’ don’t say ‘blah, blah’ is so apropo.
Delivering the life insurance policy
Nothing is more tragic and heartbreaking, to an agent and the family he must convey the message to, than that the policy bought so many years ago with the intent of solving financial worries is no longer in force. Somewhere along the way the policyholder lost track of why the policy was written.
At the time of delivery, take the time to refresh the memory of the insured as to what problems were being addressed by the policy. Take a paper and write upon it, “This policy is to pay off the mortgage on the home, provide funds for children’s education, daughter’s wedding, son’s semester abroad, Joe’s and Mary’s retirement.” Then, at least once a year have an inventory to see if anything has changed. Keep the faith of your client by initiating that annual review. It will pay dividends to both parties concerned.
Having spent the time and energy in preparing for a successful sales interview, make sure you improve your chances of having a successful experience by using a well designed sales presentation such as “Are you saving money? Why?” found at website www.insuranceguidelocal.com.
The sales presentation was used over a 40 year sales experience by Glen
- Marks, CLU, who sold for State Farm Mutual Insurance, New York Life Insurance, Western Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. of Iowa.