Back in about 1994, I owned my own agency, Werth and Associates, in Dresher, Penn., a suburb of Philadelphia. Though we were licensed for all life and health insurance products, my agency specialized in employee benefits. This is the reason I decided to visit with Dan, the managing partner of a small law firm (16 lawyers with 25 staff) where I had written group health, life and dental policies. This time, I was there to design a retirement plan for the firm's personnel. When I sat down in Dan's office he said, "Alan would like to talk to you when we're finished."
Alan -- the founder and the senior partner -- was, at age 68, the oldest member of the firm. In fact, the first time I visited the firm I met with both Dan and Alan. Dan and I finished up about an hour later, and he called Alan to tell him I would be coming into his office.
When I entered Alan's office, he said, "Have a seat. I'm really glad to see you."
I said, "Why?"
"My tax attorney says I need a $14 million whole life insurance policy to cover estate taxes," he said. "I want a quote on that." (This occurred before estate tax limits were changed.)
"Why?" I inquired.
"Well, I'm getting quotes from several agents and I figured I would give you a chance," Alan said.
"How will you decide which quote is best?" I asked.
"I'll check to see that they are all quoting on the same things and pick the one with the lowest rates."
"Are you qualified to make that determination?" I asked.
"Well, an insurance policy is just a contract and I read contracts for a living," he said.
I asked, "Do you understand insurance policy jargon and obfuscation? Do you know which companies are willing payers of claims? Will you realize it when something important is left out of the contract? Do you know what kind of reputation the companies have which is not reflected in their A.M. Best ratings?"
He replied, "I didn't think about any of that and no one else mentioned it to me."
"Low-priced insurance often comes at a high cost," I said. "What I will do is interact with your tax attorney to be sure we fully understand your case. Then, I will get quotes from the companies whose policies are best suited and the best value for you. But, I'm only willing to do all of that work with a commitment that you will place your insurance through me. What do you want to do?"
Alan answered, "Okay, you have my commitment. You're the only one I'm sure I can trust."
With that, he turned around to the credenza behind his desk, lifted a ten-inch high stack of papers and put it in front of me. "Here are all of the quotations I already got. That will save you some time."
"Thanks, but I can't use them," I said. "I need to get my own quotes."
He then threw the stack of quotes into his wastebasket.
"I need to be sure that you will get the best quality and value, so I'm going to hire an expert in this kind of insurance to analyze your case and do the research. It will take him about two weeks to complete the work and another few days for me to verify that it's right. Does that work for you?" I asked.
He asked, "Who is going to pay your expert?"
"I will, but you will pay your tax attorney to review and verify our work."
"Agreed," he said, and we shook hands on it.
Lewis, the expert I chose, had been an insurance agent for more than 20 years. In addition to holding several designations, he had been the life insurance product manager with a major carrier. I gave him a choice of a flat fee of $1,000, regardless of whether I wrote the case or not, or 10 percent of the commission. He chose the flat fee rather than taking a risk for a much higher reward.
We visited with Alan's tax attorney together for about an hour where I listened while Lewis got all his questions answered. The attorney told us that we were the only agents that had talked to him about the case. He was favorably impressed. Then, Lewis went to work getting quotes, which he requested in my name, and doing his spreadsheet analysis.
A few weeks later Lewis and I met with Alan and his tax attorney. I presented our recommendations and Lewis answered a few questions. Alan bought a $16 million first-to-die whole life policy on him and his wife, and a $4 million whole life policy on himself. They each had some health issues, which required rated premiums. I placed them with one of the world's largest insurance carriers.
The point here is that instead of chasing a life insurance sale, I wasn't willing to grovel; I refused to work with Allen unless it was under my own conditions. Too many producers today will do anything to make the sale. And oftentimes, this helps you lose the prospect's respect. Remember, when you used high probability selling strategies, in life insurance and all sectors, you will gain more clients and generate more funds -- the ethical and effective way.
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