How I Learned To Set Great Life Insurance Sales Appointments With Everyone!
In my last article, I briefly discussed my not-so-grand start to life insurance sales in 1982, while in one of the worst recessions in U.S. history. It was a recession second only to the Great Depression of 1929-1939. However, because I was brand new to life insurance sales, I was studying and learning everything that I could about selling life insurance. I was able to set enough sales appointments and close enough life insurance sales. So, the recession initially was not a big problem for me. In 1982, I led the entire district office with only six months in the business, and I was also a top producer every year after that. But I had a lot to learn about asking prospects the right questions to set life insurance sales appointments with everyone… even calling people from the phonebook!
One of the reasons I was able to succeed every year during the recession, while most agents struggled… Was the agent training, coaching, and mentoring I received over the years from three extraordinary people.
However, in 1983 I Was Ready To Quit…
In 1982, I succeeded in selling life insurance primarily because of my enthusiasm for learning something new – enthusiasm sells! But that changed quickly. During the first few months of 1983, as my enthusiasm waned I received a dose of reality. I was having a big problem setting life insurance sales appointments. I went into a severe sales slump. So I was ready to quit life insurance sales. Fortunately for me, at that same time, Met Life decided to split our district sales office into two smaller branch offices. That is when I met my first real mentor, Mike Wood.
When they split up the district offices, the former district manager Don G. was told to split the office producers evenly, based on their 1982 sales records. Don was to get one group of producers, and then Mike was to get the other group. Don did split up the office evenly, based on the producers’ 1982 sales records. However, he gave Mike all of the producers who were off to a slow start in 1983. Fortunately for me, I was one of them.
When Mike and I met for the first time, he thought that he was getting a great producer. Because I had led the office in 1982. However, he was in for a big surprise. Because at our first meeting, I told him I was quitting. After a lot of questions and a long discussion, he finally convinced me to hang in there for a month. He promised to work with me every day for that month and he was a man of his word!
I Could Not Set A Sales Appointment For Life Insurance…
My main problem, at that time, was that I could not set a sales appointment for life insurance with anyone. I had memorized all of the telemarketing scripts for calling on mortgage insurance; X-dating auto insurance policies; annual reviews with policyholders; and referred leads. But I could not set enough life insurance sales appointments!
Mike taught me how to ask the right questions to have a meaningful conversation with potential prospects. Instead of trying to push a product, price, or investment returns, or trying to sell insurance over the phone. His approach to setting life insurance sales appointments on the phone… was to ask prospects enough of the right questions. So people would see that they have a problem. He taught me that if the prospect does not see they have a problem, then why should they take their valuable time to meet with you?
Mike spent several days role-playing the prospect questioning techniques with me. Then, he got on the phone and set a few life insurance sales appointments for me, to show me how it was done. And then, I got on the phone and set some life insurance sales appointments. We were calling people right from the phonebook looking for orphan insurance policy owners from any company.
Important Note: We were not trying to replace existing policies from those other companies. We were just looking for people who already owned life insurance – but had not seen an agent in a long time.
How I Set Life Insurance Sales Appointments Calling From The Phonebook…
The questions and conversations with prospects to set life insurance sales appointments from the phonebook went something like this:
“Hello Mr. Jones, this is Lew Nason with Met Life. How are you today?” Wait for a response.
“Great, I’m glad to hear it. The reason I am calling is to ask you some questions about your current life insurance program. If I may ask, do you currently have a life insurance policy?” Wait for a response.
“Great, how long have you had that policy?” Wait for a response.
“When was the last time you met with an agent to review your policies?” Wait for a response.
“The reason I ask is that most people have not seen an agent in a very long time and they are not aware of and are not taking advantage of, some of the unique benefits and features in their life insurance policies. I have also found that when reviewing older policies, many of them have mistakes in them and are not set up properly. And, if I may, I would like to meet you and spend 10 minutes reviewing your policy for you to make sure everything is set up properly for you and your family. What is the best time for us to get together?” Wait for a response.
Most of the time, the prospect would ask me some questions. Then we would get into a conversation about the unique benefits of cash-value life insurance, like:
- “Does your policy provide inflation protection?
- “Do you know that by properly setting up the dividends options you can make the death benefit grow each year?”
- “Do you know if your policy is self-completing in the event you become disabled?”
- “Does your policy have the recession-proof clause? Has it been set up to pay the premiums automatically if you should ever miss or do not have the money to make a payment? This would guarantee that your policy will not lapse when you need it the most.”
- “Are all your children listed as beneficiaries on your policies? Many of the policies I’ve reviewed have not been updated to include all the children. Or, they never included any of the children.”
- “Are you paying taxes on the dividend interest? Did you know you don’t have to pay taxes when your policy is set up properly?”
- “How much life insurance do you have? If something happened to you tomorrow how long would that money last your family? Then what would they do?”
- “Do have insurance that would pay off your home mortgage for your family… if you were not there tomorrow?”
The idea was simply to ask prospects the right questions to disturb them just enough, so they would see the benefit of setting a life insurance sales appointment with me. By using this approach, I was able to set life insurance sales appointments with three out of every 10 people that I spoke to, calling right from the phonebook. Within a few weeks, thanks to Mike, I was consistently setting 10 life insurance sales appointments and closing three sales per week.
This was my first introduction to the power of asking prospects the right questions.
As a result, I led the branch office in sales for 1983 (even though we were still in a bad recession), and I qualified for my first Sales Conference with Met Life.
Why did calling from the phonebook work so well to set life insurance sales appointments?
1. Isn’t it easier to sell life insurance to people, when they already own some?
2. Because of the large turnover in agents through the years, aren’t there a lot of people who have not seen an agent since they originally bought their policy years ago?
3. Most agents never talk about the exceptional benefits of cash-value life insurance, probably because they don’t know what they are. They have never taken the basic LUTC courses offered by NAIFA or The American College.
4. I was offering them a service, rather than trying to sell them something.
Five critical secrets to using this approach of cold calling… to set insurance sales appointments from the phonebook!
1. Smile when you are on the phone. You must be happy and have some excitement in your voice.
2. Talk a little slower than normal. Because you cannot sound like a salesperson and you cannot make it sound like an interrogation.
3. Talk to them as if you were talking to your best friend, to show some concern for them and their family.
4. Speak at a sixth-grade level, and do not use technical jargon.
5. Practice, practice, and practice – be prepared before you get on the phone!
Will this approach of calling to set life insurance sales appointments from the phonebook work today?
Are you thinking that this approach to setting sales appointments for life insurance will not work today? Because people are much more sophisticated and more skeptical, you are wrong! Most middle-income families are dramatically underinsured, so they do want help. The problem for them is finding someone who is knowledgeable that they can trust. By asking prospects the right questions you are demonstrating, in the best possible way, how they will benefit when they set a life insurance sales appointment with you.
Important Note, according to LIMRA’s ownership research, about 48 million U.S. households believe they are underinsured, including many (about 25%) individuals who say they own no life insurance at all. The same study also showed that 29 million households said they expected to buy insurance in the next 12 months! But only a fraction do.
The great part is that when you learn to ask prospects the right questions, you will set life insurance sales appointments with a lot more of the people you call. This also means you will not need as many sales leads. So, you will save a lot of money on your marketing or on buying leads. And that also does not count the time you will save each week. Because you will not need to make as many phone calls to set life insurance sales appointments.
Mike was just my first mentor and I will be forever grateful for his help, guidance, and friendship – Thank you, Mike Wood.
In our next newsletter, I will tell you about my second mentor who taught me how to ask better questions during the initial fact-finding interview with prospects. Which then allowed me to close 9 out of my sales calls, and make much larger sales!
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