There is extreme product myopia in the annuity sales industry.
Annuity brokers rely on annuity companies to provide an education on marketing and sales. However, the focus of the insurance companies is on the products they manufacture while the focus of the successful annuity broker must be on the client. Therefore, there is an incompatible focus between the insurance company and the annuity broker.
Of course, it would make sense if the annuity sales industry was also focused on the client because then the overall sales of annuities and other insurance products would increase. An example of this manufacturer-to-consumer focus is how Intel, which does not sell directly to the consumer, continues to heavily advertise on consumer television promoting computers that have Intel inside. Intel understands that by promoting the benefit (safety of a high quality microchip) to the end consumer, they do more business. But because the annuity industry continues to have a focus on its products and its distribution channel, the annuity agents and annuity brokers, these sellers inherit a product focused mentality. This costs all involved a lot of annuity sales.
Let's take the example of an annuity agent who decides to use seminars to generate annuity leads. He will likely make an obvious beginners mistake and title his seminar something like "All About Annuities." The selection of this title is plain stupid. The annuity agent is looking at the title of the seminar from his point of view, his product-centered orientation, and not the potential attendees point of view. The potential attendee will see a title "All About Annuities" and immediately conclude this is a sales pitch about annuities. Since no one wants to go attend the sales pitch, seminar attendance will be terrible. The annuity agent will then conclude that seminars don't work, will market less and the downward spiral of annuity sales for both the annuity agent and insurance company ensues. The consumer has no interest in annuities. The consumer has an interest in conceptual benefits such as:
The annuity can certainly be a tool to all of these objectives of the consumer. However, if the agent puts the cart before the horse, the product before the objective, he will not get the consumers business. He will be a struggling annuity agent, always seeking to sell this product rather than provide solutions.
For an agent to get out of this product-centered mentality would require that he stop going to the insurance company training sessions. Rather, he would be much better served by holding a focus group among his target market and simply ask them, "what's important to you about your money?" The answers to that question, the concerns that are expressed, would then provide him the headlines, topics and content for his successful seminars and all other successful annuity marketing he might do. Because once the insurance agent understands what his clients want, he can start speaking about that. Once he has a room full of annuity leads, he then has accomplished the first step to more annuity sales.