From Case Open to Close: 2-Steps to Becoming a Needs-Based Advisor in 2023

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To achieve greater sales success in the new year, agents must first listen to their clients to fully determine how to meet their life insurance needs. Here are some tips on how to grow your role as a true advisor for your customers.

For many people, the New Year is the perfect time to explore ways to improve and plan for a better year, and the opportunity awaits life insurance agents as well. Whether you met, exceeded, or fell short of your sales goals last year, there’s always room for improvement.

Consider your process for prospective life insurance clients from case open to case closed. The No. 1 thing you can do as a broker to make this your most successful sales year yet is to become a needs-based advisor as opposed to a product peddler.

Often agents rush to start a presentation and sell products, but that’s a misguided approach. Slow down and follow the following steps to create a stronger proposal and service your customers better.

Step 1: Take your sales hat off and listen.
Whether you’re sitting down with a prospective client or your most loyal customer, eliminate all preconceived notions you have about their situation and let them tell you about their needs.

Have them start at the beginning and let them explain their financial situation to ensure that what was established in the past is consistent with where they are on their life’s journey. You may discover information that requires a change to their current life insurance needs, as their financial or business situation changed during or post-COVID. When you do this with prospective clients from day one, you’ll have a better picture of their overall financial situation and be able to make more informed choices for their life insurance. If you try to sell them a product first, it may not be the best option for their situation.

 Step 2: Embark upon a fact-finding mission.
Once you’ve gotten the basics covered with the client, it’s time to dig deeper and position yourself as the trustworthy advisor. Ask open-ended questions, allow them to talk more while you listen, and line up follow-up questions based on their answers. Taking this approach positions you as their expert advisor. Ask these open-ended questions during any client-to-discovery call to uncover the real facts driving their retirement financial needs:

  • Q: How do you envision your retirement?
    Think: expected retirement age, how they envision they’ll spend their time, where they hope to retire, and how much income they anticipate needing to achieve their goals.
  • Q: What is the status of your existing financial assets?
    Ask for a list of brokerage and checking accounts, and existing life insurance to give you a detailed picture of how those will work with future retirement and wealth-transfer plans they have. View this information as boxes in a drawer to create an analysis and, ultimately, establish a needs-based financial plan.
  • Q: What basic income and insurance policies are in place?
    These seem basic and maybe obvious, but they are tactical questions you must ask. What is their income level? What does their current life insurance policy cover? Do they have the appropriate amount to keep their beneficiary whole should they pass away and that income stream is lost? How will that affect all these plans? As their needs-based advisor, you can then evaluate the amount of existing insurance to determine if it’s an appropriate amount.
  • Q: How has the current market changed your assets and plans for the future?
    Ask this question when the economy and market are both good or bad. If their investments changed in response to any market swings, they’d need to be analyzed. As they approach retirement, you can help them prepare for market volatility in your advisory role.
  • Q: How would you like your assets to flow to the next generation?
    Maybe they’d like to leave all they can for the next generation or give their assets or savings to a charity. These details provide crucial insights to the advisory position you should take.
  • Q: Do you see potential conflicts among your heirs?
    What if any conflicts may crop up between heirs, as well as what their definition of fair is with regard to distribution of their assets? Detail which assets go to whom.
  • Q: What are your plans for your business as you approach retirement?
    Is there a succession plan in place that involves the next generation? If not all children are involved in the business, but the business owner would like to have other provisions in place, what state of equalization exists?
  • Q: What provisions have been made in the event of a prolonged care challenge?
    A serious health issue during retirement could significantly change one’s financial situation. Is there a backup plan in place? Which accounts would they draw from to help pay for additional expenses related to a long-term health challenge?
  • Q: Are there other dependencies that affect your future plans?
    There may be aging parents or relatives under their care or maybe a disabled dependent who will need long-term support. These dependents will have a direct impact on the optimal retirement strategy.
  • Q: Are there any contingent liabilities if you predecease your spouse?
    Have them discuss the terms of any banking relationships already established. For example, maybe they are a business owner, and their spouse is a co-borrower. If they passed away, would the liability fall to the spouse to pay off?

Analyze answers and close the deal
Make it your goal in 2023 to become a true advisor. Remember: Most clients will initially perceive you as a product peddler instead of a proactive advisor. If you slow down and listen, more often than not, you can close bigger transactions and earn each client’s trust. That leads to more referrals, a better reputation, and, hopefully, a remarkable sales season!

For more information on how you can better serve your client’s life insurance needs, schedule a call with a member of the Premier Planning Group team.