Sales & Marketing
As an Allstate agent, life insurance is an important part of your business. However, selling financial services is often a lot harder and less consistent than selling auto and home insurance. Why is that?
For the most part, the reason is simple. Many agents do not regularly prospect for Allstate Financial Services (AFS); instead they choose to focus on auto and homeowner insurance. Most agents naturally gravitate to these lines of insurance because they are more profitable (paying higher long-term commissions) and because they have a greater level of awareness to the general public. From the consumer’s viewpoint, auto and homeowner insurance are products that have built-in mandates. This is because nearly every state requires vehicle owners purchase liability insurance to drive, and lenders that back consumer mortgages require the borrower to insure their home. These types of coverage are not optional. Life insurance, for the most part, is a choice.
What Works and What Does Not
As with other lines of insurance, achieving consistent results in AFS requires a marketing system. Life insurance clients rarely just wander into your agency. You have to make the sale happen. However, as with any marketing system that is utilized in your agency, some are good, and some are not.
Managers used to always say that the best way to write life insurance was to simply, “ask everyone.” Forget everything else, they would say. Do this, and you will succeed.
This is not necessarily bad advice; it is just missing the rest of the pieces of a compelling marketing plan. It does not inspire the client to take action, and it certainly does not give you a clear way to follow up.
As every agent knows, operating an agency in the 21st century means the points of contact with your client will not always include a visit to the office. Your clients, or prospective clients, may not live close to your office and may prefer to use email as their desired method for communicating with you. Adding a sentence in an email questioning them about their life insurance needs hardly qualifies as an efficient method for marketing life insurance. And, if a client does make their way into the confines of your office, it is more than probable they have been asked about their life insurance needs a time or two. In this regard, the repetitiveness of just asking about life insurance begins to lose its effectiveness.
It should be clear at this point that “ask everyone” is not a strategy. It is, however, an acceptable part of a year-long process that if done properly and appropriately, can yield positive results.
Every new client should know that you offer (and recommend) life insurance. This discussion should be included right from the start of the relationship.
Begin by quoting an extremely basic term policy for every new client. The quote can simply be based on age and smoking status. Print the quote and include it in the new business documents for the sale (auto or homeowner) you are completing. Review the quote as they sign their paperwork, and let them know how easy it is to start life insurance coverage. Ask if they already have a life insurance policy in force, and try to gather as much detail as possible without progressing into a sales presentation. You will appear confident as a fact-finder and consultant as opposed to an agent who is trying to pad their app count for the day.
Gauge your client’s response from here. Obviously, if they request more information, you are going to follow through.
Even if their interest level during this initial meeting is below making an immediate request for coverage, you should consider every future point of contact a way to ask for updated information regarding job status, new additions to the family, etc.
By using this process during each sale, you will develop an excellent list of potential life insurance clients. If your agency’s sales production is down in a particular month, and you are not significantly adding to your life insurance prospect base, consider running an audit of your current book to add to this growing list. Target auto clients between the ages of 25 and 55 who own a home.
Find a good way to keep track of these names, either in your agency management system or on a simple spreadsheet. Then start planning your campaign!
A marketing campaign should be kept simple. It can be as easy as targeting a list of people with a consistent message. Contacting your prospects can be done through telemarketing, email blasts, postcards, or a combination of all of the above.
Each month, send something about life insurance to this list. If the list is too big (making it hard to follow up or too expensive if you are using regular mail), break it down into smaller segments.
Life Marketing Ideas:
- Send a copy of your prospect’s life quote every 90 days. Follow up with a phone call two days later.
- Send a postcard with a short testimonial from an existing client about how it eased their mind to have the life insurance coverage in place.
- Send an email with a link to a story about a family that DIDN’T have the coverage they needed. (You can find some great stories and articles on the LifeHappens.org website.)
- Write a short story for the local newspaper. Make photocopies when it is printed and mail to your list.
There are many different things you can do to educate and reach your target list on a monthly basis. When you start seeing the policies roll in, you’ll be even more motivated to keep marketing.
Make the Process Simple
Count on your clients being busy and distracted. Anything that doesn’t pop up on their radar in a time sensitive or urgent way gets ignored.
If you begin a conversation about life insurance by describing it as a process that is long, drawn out, and difficult, your clients are going to put it on the back burner until life slows down. No agent would ever state it that way, but your potential customers will interpret references to required blood draws, acquiring doctor’s records and requests for information about family medical history as being anything but an easy process for completing a life application.
Many successful agents make presale assumptions regarding the type of policy that would fit a particular client’s needs. For example, you might suggest an amount of coverage based on the information obtained while writing a homeowner policy. While this approach is more of an art than a science, it can also demonstrate to your prospect that you are keyed in on their characteristics as opposed to suggesting an amount of coverage or type of policy that likely will not meet their needs.
A policy with coverage limits that does not require a medical exam may be the best fit for younger, more active clients who have not had the time to acquire a significant amount of assets.
Older clients may have a more predictable schedule with flexibility when it comes to meeting with you to discuss their needs. For this type of client, it may be better to meet several times in order to determine the correct product and coverage limits.
Take a look at the various policies Allstate offers. Is there a term policy that doesn’t require a medical exam at the coverage limit you have targeted for your client? Do you have a policy type and coverage limit that is conducive to completing the application over the phone?
Knowing your client and the product options that are appropriate for them are key to a successful and expedited sales process. The use of an EFS and the skillset they possess is an option for certain clients, but do not discount the ease with which you can accomplish a basic life sale. While many agents are reluctant to reach out to their FSL for support, they may be an excellent source for product information or a liaison with life underwriting.
Do Not Require an In-office Appointment
When a prospective client responds to your marketing efforts with a request for a quote, do not immediately assume it is necessary for them to come to your agency. By methodically taking them through much of the same process as a face-to-face meeting, you will be surprised how many clients will appreciate the ease of doing business with you over the phone. The speed of technology allows most, if not all, consumer products to be purchased this way. Why not life insurance?
It is imperative to have excellent skills in completing the online app. And after you have made the assumptive close and hit the enter key, don’t forget to remind the client that you will be stopping by their work or home to get their signature. It takes a little more work on your part to secure the sale, but you will be streamlining your client’s involvement while simultaneously providing them the protection they need.
Do not forget to congratulate yourself for the work you do. By installing a simple process for selling life insurance into your agency’s daily routine, you will ultimately be making a difference in your clients’ lives. This is the rewarding part of being an insurance agent and even if you do not always feel appreciated, this is one element of our business that cannot be forgotten. When you tell someone that purchasing life insurance is important, it is the truth!
Make sure to communicate to your staff just how critical life insurance is and how important they should feel for being able to provide this valuable coverage to your customers. Of course, no agent wants their clients ever to have to use the proceeds from a life policy, but if they do, you will know that your team stepped up and made a true difference in a family’s security. There is nothing more fulfilling than that. You are not just selling life policies to hit a quota, you are helping to secure a family’s future from the unknown.
Robyn Sharp is a former agent and owner of Mega Agency Marketing. www.agencyupdates.com.
Exclusivefocus Fall 2014