Selling annuities to boomers and seniors: the missing ingredientArticle added by Lew Nason on March 5, 2012
Lew Nason

Lew Nason

Dallas, GA

Joined: October 13, 2006

My Company

Insurance Pro Shop

Stop trying to persuade your prospect to take action. Start asking more questions to learn about the prospect's true needs, and most of all their wants.

During the past 12 years, my sons and I have talked to thousands of agents and advisors who are trying to sell annuities and other investment products to baby boomers and seniors. The vast majority of these agents and advisors are really struggling to make sales.

Whether they are buying leads, using a lead generation program or offering dinner seminars, for every 10 senior leads they may get, they are setting appointments with only one or two of those leads. Even when they are lucky enough to set an appointment, they are closing a sale with only one or two out of 10 of those appointments.

These agents and advisors tell us they have great products, they feel they do a good fact-finding interview with each prospect, they have a great sales presentation and they are good closers. They all tell us their problem is the poor quality of their leads.

They go on to explain that most of the leads they get are baby boomers and seniors who don’t have any money, or they already have an advisor, or they don’t have a problem, or they just came to the seminar for a free meal.

Here's a prime example

We had a veteran investment advisor come to us a few years ago. He was trying to break into the annuity market. In the previous two months he had held two annuity seminars. For his first seminar he spent $16,000 and he made $22,000 in annuity commissions. For his second seminar he spent $6,000 and he made $1,300 in commissions. As you can imagine, he wasn’t very happy with the results.

During the next two weeks, we reviewed everything he was doing. He had great products and he knew how to explain them. He had bought a good seminar presentation from one of the annuity gurus. He conducted what he felt was a good thorough fact-find with every prospect. And, as a 20-year veteran in this business, he knew how to close sales.

So, he believed his poor results were probably due to the poor quality of the seminar attendees. Accordingly, we discussed the quality of his leads. He was in a good area and was sending invitations to the right people. The quality of the seminar attendees didn’t appear to be the problem.

We told him that we believed he was only missing one ingredient. We made some suggestions and helped him prepare for his next seminar in two weeks. For this seminar he only spent $2,800 and within 30 days he was paid $55,000 in commission. Total from that seminar he made over $72,000 in commissions. He was very happy.

Since then, this veteran investment advisor has been averaging over $50,000 in commissions from each of his seminars.

The above case is not unique. The missing ingredient has helped hundreds of struggling agents and advisors dramatically improve their annuity sales results. Most of them experienced a dramatic improvement in their appointments and sales in only a few weeks. And, the majority of these agents and advisors are now making $25,000 to $60,000 per month selling their annuities and investment products.
The question is, are you ready to listen, to improve your annuity sales results? Are you ready to learn about the missing ingredient?

The problem most agents and advisors have

The problem most agents and advisors have is they are not asking enough of the right questions to get their prospect actively and emotionally involved. People buy based on emotions, and justify their decision based on logic.

That’s the missing ingredient. And, yes, it is that simple.

Whether you are trying to sell your prospect on setting an appointment with you, or you are trying to make a sale, you must get the prospect actively and emotionally involved in the process. You must ask enough of the right questions to help your prospect agree that they have a problem, and agree that they want your help to correct the problem.

If they don’t believe they have a problem and that you can help them with a solution, then why should they waste their precious time meeting with you?

Consider for a moment how many lead sources, lead generation systems or seminar systems have you tried? Has your appointment setting or sales ratio dramatically improved using these new leads?

We're not talking about a slight improvement. Have you seen an improvement of 50 percent or more in setting appointments and closing sales using these new leads? Our educated guess based on experience tells us you haven’t.

Then would you agree that you should try a different approach to the problem? It’s time for you to start asking more questions in every phase of the sales process. Whether it’s the initial contact or the sales presentation, ask more questions to help your prospect to identify the real problem.

Stop trying to persuade your prospect to take action. Start asking more questions to learn about the prospect's true needs, and most of all their wants. Asking questions is simple, but it is not easy to master. It takes practice, lots of it, to break the old way we were taught to sell, which is telling rather than asking.

Here is a simple example

Most agents will typically ask, "How much money do you have in CDs? What are you getting for a return?"

Then they'll jump right into their sales presentation explaining how they'll be much better off with their annuity or investment. But, if they want more appointments and more sales, then agents need to ask these additional questions:

"How do you feel about that?"

"Is that a problem?"
"Why is that a problem?"

"What would you like to see happen?"

"Is there any particular reason you have your money in CDs?"

"Why is that a concern?"

"Are you using that money for income?"

"What would you like to do, that you aren't able to do now?"

"If you could get a better rate of return with the same safety and guarantees, is that something worth exploring?"

"Does it make sense to sacrifice a higher return for more liquidity?"

"How much money will that cost you over the next 5 or 10 years?"

"When you’re gone, where do you want the money to go?"

Remember, good questioning (and really listening to them) is a learned skill that takes time to master fully. Here are some new habits you must form:
  • Stop talking: Ask questions and really listen to what your prospect is saying.

  • Stop telling the prospect: Ask questions that will get the prospect to tell themselves what the problem is.

  • Stop jumping in with solutions: Ask questions to explore and make sure both parties understand the real problem(s) before you offer a solution.
Over the years, we’ve seen agents and advisors spend lots of money trying new lead sources, new lead generation systems, new seminars, new sales ideas and presentations, and new closing techniques. None of them has produced the dramatic results you will experience by learning how to ask more questions to get your prospects actively and emotionally involved in the entire process.

Start asking more questions on your next sales appointment. If you ask enough of the right questions your prospect will tell you exactly what you need to do to sell them.
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