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disability-insurance-salesIf you’re like me, your Christmas traditions include watching “Elf” every year. In my family, “Elf,” starring Will Ferrell, has become as much a Christmas classic as “Christmas Story” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The film is funny, spirited and, believe it or not, chock-full of useful advice that you can use in your next disability insurance client meeting. Merry Christmas!

When working with a referral: “SANTAAAA! Oh my God! Here? I know him!”

If you’re meeting with a prospect who was referred by an existing client, don’t be afraid to mention your mutual acquaintance. You don’t need to go into specifics about the client’s insurance policy, but it might make the prospect feel at ease if you mention how you know their friend, what the process was like for him or her, and how it might differ for the new prospect.

Mannerisms: “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.”

When meeting with clients in person, remember that a smile goes a long way. No one wants to work with an agent who looks like they’re having a bad day or who doesn’t seem genuinely kind. Don’t be a cotton-headed ninny-muggins.

Getting to know each other: “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?

Don’t be afraid to get to know your clients. Be sure to ask them more than their height, weight and medical history. Ask about their families, their holidays or, if you become desperate, what their favorite color is. If your client wanted to work with a robot, they wouldn’t have agreed to meet in person.

Discussing the plan: “I planned out our whole day. First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, and then we’ll go ice skating, and then we’ll eat a whole roll of Toll House cookie dough as fast as we can, and then, to finish, we’ll snuggle.”

Remember, it’s good to have a plan of action for every client meeting, but that doesn’t mean you should overwhelm your client. Consider providing an agenda, briefly outlining what you’ll discuss that day, or explaining how the whole policy process will work. Just don’t confuse (or scare) your client with your plan of action.

Discussing their medical records: “You sit on a throne of lies.”

Remember when Buddy called out the fake Santa at the mall for being a liar and a fake? Remember how crazy and out-of-touch with reality he seemed? Yeah, don’t do or say anything like that to your client, even if they’ve lied on their application and you recently found out about their numerous medical issues from the underwriter. Your clients should never feel attacked, even if they’re in the wrong. Instead, try to understand where they’re coming from and gently express your concerns.

Giving bad news (option one): “So, good news….I saw a dog today.”

Sometimes you won’t necessarily have good news for your client, especially if their policy is going to have exclusions. Try to preface your conversation with whatever good news you do have to soften the blow.

Giving bad news (option number two): In response to “I’m not an elf”: “Of course you’re not. You’re six-foot-three and you’ve had a beard since you were fifteen.”

If your client’s policy comes back approved other than applied, and you suspected that ruling all along, you better have been honest with your client from the beginning. Explain to your client that their previous health issues or income is likely to cause some concern with the carrier. It’s better for you to prepare them with the obvious expectations than for them to feel blindsided and angry.

Giving bad news (option number three): “I’m sorry I ruined your lives and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR.”

If you did something wrong on your client’s policy, application or delivery requirements, and it truly was your fault, you should be honest with your client. However, if you follow up your apology with “and crammed eleven cookies into your VCR,” you might be able to ease the tension. Don’t quote me on that, though…it’s just a suggestion. (Should you ever use this strategy, please let me know. I’d love to hear how it turned out.)

When your client’s policy is approved as applied: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”

If your client’s experience has been top notch, ask them to refer you to their friends, family and coworkers. One of the best ways to get an influx of new prospects is for your satisfied clients to spread the word about their experience.