Selling life insurance is way more than products, strategies, and selling…
People often ask me about trends I’m seeing in the life insurance market these days. It’s a vague question, but I suspect the people asking want to hear about premium finance, deferred compensation, long-term care, and other strategies. Or maybe the conversation is supposed to be product-specific, around John Hancock’s updated Indexed UL, or maybe Mass Mutual’s new term insurance pricing or Penn Mutual’s whole-life offerings.
And I can have those conversations. It’s just not where the conversation should start.
Because the most important trend I’ve been seeing is precisely that focus on processes and products—and away from the conversations we really should be having when it comes to selling life insurance — the ones about our clients’ needs.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example.
Jim and Jane have a family business. They have three grown kids. One kid is overseas in Iraq. One kid is 32 years old, lives at home, and can’t hold a job. One kid is the all-star of the family business. Jim and Jane want to retire soon, but Jane doesn’t see how that’s possible. They have the business to protect, the one kid at home to think about, and the reality is the kid serving overseas could get injured and need help, too. Oh, and Jane’s aunt is moving in at the end of the month. She has Alzheimer’s.
Do you really want to go for the product pitch, now?
We’re talking about life insurance, and that means we’re really talking about people’s lives—their wants and needs, their hopes and dreams, and their deepest fears. People’s lives are complex, and there is no way we can recommend the right product or service without understanding the issues and dynamics involved. There’s also no way we should be asking our clients to talk about such intimate and vulnerable topics if we’re not willing to respond to them in conversation like human beings.
It’s important to be able to talk about premium and private finance, non-qualified deferred compensation plans, and long-term care. After all, people look to us to be experts in the products we sell. But just as important is the ability to have those hard conversations, to be real. We need more advisors who are willing and able to engage on that emotional level. Those who can’t or won’t talk about emotion are missing the opportunity to provide a service that computers and online forms can’t fulfill, at least not yet.
So, sure, talk about strategies and products and pitches. But first I want to hear about how we’re going to approach selling life insurance like human beings.