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LIMRA Day 2 updates: How to sell better

We are here for the second day of the LIMRA Distribution Conference. The morning started off with an inspiring keynote on how to build a sustainable organization through talent leadership.

Right now we are hearing from Danny Negin and Joe Solitro of Farm Bureau Insurance on “Building a Trusted Advisor Culture.”
We are witnessing a time of tremendous change in the insurance industry. One reason could be the shift toward financial planners selling life products. Life insurance is a personal, emotional sale compared to focusing on returns.
How can we re-inject humanity into how we talk to customers and take a longer view—literally—for life?

Farm Bureau of Michigan developed a sales process rooted in the principles of behavioral economics and shared how they applied it to hiring, training, and supporting agents. Here are some key takeaways:
  • Today’s buyer doesn’t want to be sold to. In order to succeed, insurers need to build a sales culture based on becoming a Trusted Advisor to clients.
  • From the very first meeting, agents need to establish that they are a Trusted Advisor by asking great questions, being a great listener, and using clear value statements that elevate the conversation from home or auto transactions to a true multi-line relationship.
  • Sell product, don’t sell people
  • Don’t hire agents, hire Trusted Advisors
  • Invest in training your advisors through great first-line management
  • Higher advisor retention and client retention
  • Deeper share of wallet
  • Higher profitability

We enjoyed Danny and Joe’s comments on how to foster a culture of win-win relationships between advisor and customer rather than mere transactions, which are best left to online price comparison websites.

Meanwhile, at the “Market Makers: Driving Productivity in the New Market” session, we’re hearing some fascinating advice from Dan Buehrle, Regional Managing Director, Principal Financial Group (pictured) and Joseph P. Santos, Divisional Vice President, Western & Southern about making new advisors productive faster and taking advantage of social media to reach a younger prospect base.
As advisors hit retirement age, local offices are in the process of a gigantic transfer of wealth. But it’s not as simple as passing off a book of business because many producers have built relationships with clients over 30 years, and it’s important that they have a close relationship with the junior advisor who they’re transferring business to.
Dan said the most important qualities they look for in new advisors to foster this handoff are “respect, honesty, and commitment to service,” and he suggests that new advisors “marry themselves” to senior advisors to seamlessly take over the practice.
The other piece of making new advisors productive, as Joseph discussed, is teaching them to build and nurture relationships with a target community that will eventually turn into paying customers. Advisors are in the “introduction business,” according to Joseph, and though “closing is not a problem,” finding people is a potential roadblock. As a field veteran, he suggested some old-school sales tactics. For example, if a new advisor is targeting teachers, they could ask a customer the name of their son’s favorite teacher, and then offer to give that teacher a call to tell them how influential they were to this person’s life.  How does that turn into a sale?  From that point, the advisor builds a relationship with the teacher, becomes someone they trust, and can eventually turns into business.
At the end of the session, they spoke briefly about the natural extension of these relationships in this new era powered by social media. New advisors at both Principal Financial and Western & Southern are seeing great success finding and nurturing relationships with social media. Since they target 6-12 touch points with each contact yearly, social media provides a great channel to share lifestyle information demonstrating both that they are knowledgeable and trustworthy as well as how fun they’d be to work with—two very important steps to successful long term relationships.
We can’t wait to see how this new generation of producers finds even more creative ways to build their businesses with social media!