The absolute worst thing you can do when selling annuities is to use a “one size fits all” sales process, marketing annuities in the same way to each of your annuity prospects. Think about it – just like no single pair of pants really fits everyone in the world, every one of your prospects will respond differently to the many emotions and motivations involved in the annuity buying process. For example, one buyer may be swayed by the security offered from the guaranteed payments of an income annuity, while another may respond more to tax-deferred benefits of fixed and variable annuities. It’s up to you as the agent to understand your prospect’s specific goals and needs to have success at annuity selling.
But how do you begin the process of understanding your annuity prospect? You can’t really ask, flat out, “Tell me about your secret motivations.” At best, your comfortable will feel uncomfortable and move on to another agent, while at worst, your meaning could be misconstrued, leaving you in an uncomfortable situation! Fortunately, there are a few conclusions you can draw from the basic information your client provides as part of the initial consultation. For example:
• How old is your annuity prospect?
The age of your client should be one of the key factors in determining how you market annuities to him or her. Elderly clients have different concerns than young couples or families. For instance, they may not respond as strongly to the idea of their investment growing over time compared to the benefit of a guaranteed regular payout. So if you stress the right benefit to the right age group, your annuity selling is more successful.
• Is he or she married, and if so, are there children in the family?
Parents typically have a vested interest in providing for their children’s future, whether through savings for college education or a sizable nest egg that will be their legacy once they’ve passed. You can use this desire for stability and security to your advantage in the annuity sales process, with projections of future annuity value. Such projections would have little impact on someone single and age 80.
In addition to this basic information, you need to pick up on the subtle clues that your annuity prospect is dropping throughout your meetings. One great place to start is with the question, “Tell me about your financial history.” Of course, all agents use this question to get a feel for the size of their clients’ wallets, but we’re going to extend it further to uncover some of the more hidden motivations. Instead of just breezing through their responses, ask them to reflect on the financial decisions they’ve made.
If, for example, your prospect lost $50,000 on a failed small business start-up, ask how they felt afterwards. If your client exhibits fear at the thought of losing so much money, try to market annuities that feature guaranteed returns over time. On the other hand, if your prospect expresses frustration over what that money could have been doing over time, he or she may be more susceptible to pitches that revolve around long-term gains or tax-deferred benefits.
Pay special attention to any specific statements – either yours or the prospects – that cause your client to become uncomfortable or emotional. These statements are the key to discovering the hot-button issues that you can use to tailor your sales presentation and increase your annuity sales success. Don’t think you can get away with repeating the same tired message over and over again – by learning to understand your annuity prospect and implementing a customized sales message, you’ll dramatically increase your annuity sales and make customers for life.