How More Questions Can Lead to More Sales

“I appreciate you contacting me, but I’ve taken care of that.”

It’s one of the most frustrating and challenging aspects of sales. As any independent insurance agent can attest that most prospects who give this type of response really don’t know what they’re turning down, but they politely decline anyway.

However, what the agent says next is pivotal. If the agent challenges the person or asks them to explain how they’re handling their needs, they risk embarrassing the prospect—not a good start for a relationship.

So how should you handle it? If you know the person, tell them you’d be glad to review their current policy to confirm that it does meet their ever-changing needs. If you don’t know the person—a case in which they probably won’t provide you with their personal information—then succinctly provide an example of a common policy gap you see with clients. This is known as the “disturbing” process—getting someone to apply an other’s situation to their own situation.

Long-term disability (LTD) coverage lends a good example. Most people who work for medium or large size companies may know the employer provides LTD coverage, but they have limited knowledge regarding specifics like benefit amounts and policy benefit “triggers.”

Once you’ve told your client there could be gaps in their coverage, follow with something specific: Most policies use a definition of ‘own’ occupation for the first two years, but then the policy uses a broader exclusion—the ability to perform ‘any’ occupation. Therefore, after the first two years, if the insured could watch a security camera, they wouldn’t be considered disabled for purposes of continuing to receive payments from the policy. Ask the prospect how that might impact their family’s standard of living.

You may even continue with a second awakening question: “Do you know if you pay for your disability policy on a before- or after-tax basis?” If the prospect doesn’t know, which is typical, the agent can explain that most employer provided LTD coverage is done on a before-tax basis. Therefore, it will be taxable when payments are received. At this point, you can offer to review the prospect’s current plan to see how they can best take advantage of their employer’s coverage, then see if it meets the client’s needs.

When I started out in the employee benefits field in my early 20s, my goal was always to get the client’s data and review it. There was one Fortune 100 company that capped their middle managers’ LTD benefit at a flat dollar amount—which amounted to 30% of their typical pay, without regard to Social Security. After reviewing their company LTD benefits, I started writing supplemental LTD insurance for a number of executives who gladly referred me to their colleagues.

I made my qualifying club from that one company. It all started with a visit, a few probing questions and an analysis of the company’s benefit plan summaries. If you haven’t had this kind of conversation with your current clients, there’s no time to start like the present.

Dave Evans is a certified financial planner and an IA contributor.