Bringing Cold Cases Back to Life

A forensic audit of those “Murphy’s Law” clients might yield new business

// One hundred and fifty years ago, a well-known attorney from Lexington, Mass. toured the United States giving the most famous speech of the day. He called it “Acres of Diamonds.”

He told the story of a wealthy farmer who was possessed with the idea of finding a diamond mine. Selling his farm, his search for untold riches took him to the far reaches of the Middle East and across Europe.

After spending all his money in the vain search for the diamonds, he found himself destitute and despondent. At that moment, the man who had bought his farm was out in the fields and uncovered what turned out to be acres of diamonds.

The moral of the story is obvious and can even apply to life agents, who are constantly searching for ways to attract prospects, obtain appointments and write more business. Ironically, their “acres of diamonds” may be waiting for them in their desk drawer.

Some advisors have dozens or even hundreds of “cold cases,” those they have worked on but, for one reason or another, never closed. Each one has its own story. Someone had a need and life insurance was an appropriate solution. An advisor met with the prospects, spent time preparing the proposals and making the presentations. But the case didn’t close.

There are an infinite number of possibilities for a bona fide insurance sale to get off track and “go cold.”In some instances the reason are real, while at other times, they are perceived. Quite often, it’s some of both.

Regardless of the cause, the proposals are eventually filed away under a “Murphy’s Law” heading, since there’s little or no expectation that the case will close. It’s time to move on.

Then, two, three, five or more years go by when we reach into the desk drawer and pull out a case file. On what basis are we to assume that that we can breathe new life into what was determined to be a “cold case”? Is it really worth time and effort to try to pursue a sale after so long a time? The broker needs to fully understand each of the critical elements that involved in making the case come alive and to put them into a positive focus for the client.

First, clients must have a very clear understanding of their family or business need. For this to occur, the broker must be adept at painting a clear portrait of what is would be like to have the insurance in place and why it is critical for the client to have the coverage. Unless clients can acknowledge that there is a gap in their financial picture, there will be little progress.

Second, the client must be insurable. The advisor must be equally adept at describing the underwriting work that he assists with, how he puts the case together and the relationship with the medical facts to the ultimate offer and pricing of a policy. Cases can easily go sour if the client is not comfortable with we can call “the insuring process.”

Without question, the success in underwriting and the skill with which the underwriting is undertaken can be critical. If they don’t understand the process, clients can become uncomfortable, doubtful and reticent.

Third, the agent must understand the costs of filling the client’s needs, and that includes a complete solution. The client must have a clear and complete understanding of the implications of anything less than the full solution. This includes the pricing, the actual contract and carrier selection and the plan flexibility available to accomplish the client’s needs and preferences.

A client’s commitment to making available the funds for the premium payments is essential. As we all know, this can be the stumbling block to closing cases. Too often, the “how to” isn’t discussed and is left to the client to figure out. This is why it can be important for the broker to assist in finding or helping to explain where the client can find the required the necessary funds.

Fourth, it’s critical for the client to fully embrace what is needed to make everything happen in its most productive, efficient and effective way. It’s the advisor’s job to help clients feel the same sense of excitement when buying a life insurance policy as they do when buying a home or planning a long-anticipated vacation.

In other words, a client must be motivated to solve the need. This includes being willing to assist the broker and the broker’s broker in solving underwriting issues as they are presented and be open to the various price solutions to the financial problems and issues being presented.

This analysis of “cold cases” makes it clear that some of them can be saved with a proper understanding, a careful analysis and a caring attitude. All of which makes the effort worthwhile for both the client and the advisor.

By ALLAN D. GERSTEN

From the December 2011 issue of Agent’s Sales Journal

 
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