Suitable sellingBlog added by John Olsen on August 3, 2012
John L. Olsen, CLU, ChFC, AEP

John Olsen

SAINT LOUIS, MO

Joined: September 04, 2002

After nearly 40 years in the insurance business, I've managed to learn a few things. Perhaps the most important is this: The insurance agent's goal must never be simply to make the sale. A suitable sale is worth your best efforts, but an unsuitable one isn’t worth attempting, much less closing.

Unsuitable sales are bad for everyone: consumers, the industry, and, yes, the agents who make them. I confess to a gut-level belief that what goes around, comes around. I cannot prove it. It’s an article of faith. But I’ll operate from that belief in this blog.

I should also explain another belief I hold, this one about selling. I’m a salesman, and damned proud of it. Selling is not only an honorable profession; it’s the most important profession on the planet. Nothing improves without someone selling something (perhaps only an idea) to someone capable of doing something with it. We all sell every day. When you attempt to get your teenager to stop doing things you don’t approve of, or your spouse to start doing something she doesn’t do now, you sell her on the benefits of doing so. (If that’s not how you try to elicit behavior change, I don’t envy you). There’s nothing wrong with selling, per se. But there are good sales and bad ones.

How do we avoid making the bad sales? Indeed, how do we recognize them in advance, so we won’t pursue them? That’s what I’ll be talking about in this blog.

For now, I’d like merely to suggest a few questions for your consideration.
  • What does “suitability” mean, in the context of financial product sales?

  • Whose definition should you follow?

  • Whose definition must you follow if you want to avoid fines or worse?

  • Are there any "bright line tests” that one can use to assess whether a potential sales is suitable?
I’ll be examining those and other questions in later segments. Your comments are welcome.
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