Nov 01 2022 / Round the Table Magazine
Why I stopped scaring my clients into buying
By Chris George, CFP, TEP
When I started in the profession, I was trained to ask a client, “What would happen to your family if you were hit by a bus today?” Then I would sit back and let prospects dream up horrific ways they could die and the tragic consequences for their family. We would expect that, like any rational person, once anyone stopped to think about these potential disasters, they would want to buy as much insurance as we could sell them.
This approach increased my closing rate, but the size of my commissions shrank, and my referrals plummeted. My prospects had been scared into buying the insurance, and the last thing they wanted to do was refer me to their family and friends and have them listen to all the horrible things that could happen to their families. When prospects bought, it was typically the minimum amount of coverage so they could get me and their spouse off their backs. Consequently, I was working harder to meet new prospects and closing smaller cases.
I took a step back from my practice to think about how I could do better and realized that the good referrals and the larger cases I did earn came from clients who had a positive experience working with me, never from the clients who were asked to envision a nightmare scenario. I realized that clients do not want to be scared or shamed into buying a product, especially not in front of their spouse. If I don’t enjoy talking about my own death and illnesses, why would I expect my prospects to? I had been creating stress, anxiety and a negative experience, and not something any client would want to share with their friends.
To create a more positive experience, I flipped the statistics. Rather than tell prospects about their chances of death or of having a critical illness, we discussed that while their chance of dying by 65 was 5% and their chance of falling to a critical illness was 22%, what those odds also meant was they have a 95% chance of being alive and a 78% chance of being healthy going into retirement.
Why would I do this? On the surface, it seemed like I was talking them out of seeing the need for insurance. But what I was doing was positioning insurance in a more positive way. I was advising clients that they needed to prepare for the most likely scenario, one when they would be alive and healthy going into retirement, so they needed to address planning for retirement income, estate taxes, family succession and legacy planning. It made little sense to prepare only for the least likely events to occur and not for the most likely.
I asked my clients to envision their future and think about all the positive things that may happen along the way. If my clients were professionals, I would ask them about their plans to buy a practice of their own, or to join a partnership, to develop a real estate portfolio, to grow their retirement income at a higher level than they thought possible, or to leave a legacy to their families or to their favorite charity. All these life goals would either require or greatly benefit from insurance.
Now insurance is playing a positive role in allowing my clients to dream big and by encouraging philanthropy. Should the worst occur before age 65, the insurance covers the risk of a premature death or illness while working toward their goals. Now my clients leave my office feeling more encouraged, dreaming big and feeling great because they are protecting themselves and their family along the way. As for me, my sales were higher; my number of cases closed increased; the size of the cases grew larger; and my clients were eager to refer me to their colleagues. Doing this consistently moved me from being a qualifying MDRT member to Court of the Table and eventually to Top of the Table.
To that advisor who asks me how to consistently qualify for MDRT, I say that the best thing you can do for yourself and your clients is to always create a positive experience. Help your clients dream of their bigger future and what is possible instead of what disasters could occur. Get your clients to set positive goals, discuss their hopes and build plans that will help them as they move forward, while also providing the protection they need. Your clients will thank you with not only more business, but with those they love and want to share their experience.