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di-salesAs we close one year and prepare for the next, I’d like to take a moment to revisit old, time-tested techniques. After all, like baseball and apple pie, good selling never goes out of style.

  1. Say “Paycheck Protection.” Don’t say “disability insurance,” — this tells clients what it is. Instead, tell them what it does! Most people cannot envision being disabled, but they can understand the importance of protecting the paycheck — their most important asset. Start a dialogue by asking, “Do you have paycheck protection?” Open the conversation and change your client’s perspective by using this one key phrase!
  1. Become a Good Storyteller. Before clients will buy any type of insurance, they must feel a need. Help clients visualize life with and without paycheck protection by sharing stories of those who have lived through disability. Storytelling is essential in all types of advertising. Most people don’t buy gym memberships because they want to sweat. They do so because they want to feel better and look better. People don’t buy earthquake insurance because they like to spend money on something that may never occur. They do so because they are afraid of the worst-case scenario. Fear is a powerful motivator. Paint a picture and offer an easy solution.
  1. Shock Them with Statistics. Some of your prospects are emotional decision makers and for them, true life stories will be enough. Other clients are more analytical. For the thinkers in your audience, don’t be afraid to present the latest disability statistics on the likelihood and causes of disability. For some people, numbers are an essential wake-up call.
  1. Illustrate the Urgency to Buy Before They Are Uninsurable. The promise of paycheck protection comes with an expiration date. It will be much more expensive, or certain conditions will be excluded, on the day an illness or injury is diagnosed. For this reason, the goal of securing essential paycheck protection should NOT be delayed until old age or sickness. Convey this urgency to prospects. Everyone is insurable until the day they are not.
  1. Present with the “Base Model” Policy. The key to affordability is in presentation and packaging. If you’ve purchased a vehicle recently, you know that car dealers hook you with the “off-the-lot” model first. After you’ve committed to buying, upgrades are made available. Emulate this approach when presenting paycheck protection. Unless clients are affluent, present “base model” coverage first by presenting the rate for a basic policy with a 90-day elimination period and an age-67 benefit period. You may not need the own-occupation definition or a non-cancellable and guaranteed renewable provision, depending on the client. After you have buying commitment, show clients the upgrade options available.
  1. Overcome Price Objections with Relatable Comparisons. By comparing DI to other more common forms of insurance, you can help clients understand that disability insurance is actually more affordable than home and auto insurance. For example, if a prospect earns $50,000 a year, and must work 30 years until retirement at age 67, the value of the asset protected by disability insurance is $1,500,000 (30 x $50,000). If a disability occurs, the policy pays until the insured is no longer disabled or for as long as the benefit period. If the annual cost of that policy is $1,250, the prospect pays $3.42 a day to insure an asset worth $1,500,000.

Now in comparison, ask prospects how much their vehicles and homes are worth and the annual cost of insurance for those items. For example, if a prospect owns a home, two vehicles and a boat with a total value of $545,000 and it costs $2,920 a year to insure all of those assets, the prospect pays $8 a day to insure assets worth only one-third the value of the paycheck. These strategies are easy if you follow our Wealth Preservation Plan sales script.

  1. Embrace Underwriting. Get accurate information about the duties performed (not just the job title) and ask every question in the medical section of the application. If you feel awkward asking medical questions, you can offer to have the carrier collect the information directly by phone. For employed prospects, ask for the last year’s W-2 figure to determine gross pay. Ask self-employed prospects for their net annual earnings (as reported in their taxes) for the past two years.
  1. Present in Person. Once you get a quote, resist the urge to fire it off in an email and wait for the prospect’s resounding “yes.” It probably won’t come. Remember — you are asking prospects to spend money on something they can easily go without. Emphasize the exclusivity — this is a luxury item that smart, educated and evolved people purchase because they desire better financial security for themselves and their families. Give the sale the weight and attention it deserves, and present the quote in person. This sale could result in 30 years of commissions. Don’t short yourself or your client.
  1. Follow Up. While it would be ideal if prospects immediately signed on the dotted line, it doesn’t always happen. Many times, prospects want to think about the decision or discuss it with a spouse. Veteran sales people will tell you that a majority of sales are made after the fifth follow-up. Silence, objections and delay tactics are golden — they tell you that the door is still open. Call, email, text, send related articles, cartoons and news stories, and schedule follow-up meetings. Whatever you do, don’t give up until you receive a definitive “no” or the sale is closed. 
  1. Use a Waiver. If you receive a definitive “no,” insist that the prospect sign a Waiver of Liability form. Create a one-page document that states that you have informed the prospect of the risk of disability and the essential need for paycheck protection, and despite this information, the prospect is declining protection. You and the prospect should sign and date the form, and you should keep it in your files for later reference. This last step is important because it helps protect you from professional liability if the prospect later becomes disabled and claims he was never told about paycheck protection. Furthermore, it reminds the prospect of the gravity of the decision. It’s in this final stage that some prospects decide to buy rather than sign the waiver.

Now that you know these 10 time-tested sales tips, seize the moment and turn them into new beginnings. Make 2016 your year for reinvention and revolutionary growth.

Portions of this article were originally published in the March 2014 issue of Health Insurance Underwriter magazine.