Selling Clients on CI

Before I talk about how to explain critical illness insurance to clients, let’s explore why we’re not talking about it with our clients in the first place.

Og Mandino, in his book “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” wrote, “We are slaves to our habits, therefore, if I must be a slave to habit let me be a slave to good habit.” He didn’t know at the time it would be the reason for such a sluggish start to the sale of critical illness in America.

Having focused on the sale and education of critical illness insurance sales now for 12 years, I can assure you it’s this same slavery to habit that has caused this emerging product to take its sweet time in gaining its rightful place among the popular insurance policies in America. We are creatures of habit, and most of us, willingly or not, have fallen into the slavery of our habits. Until someone or some event tells us that we absolutely must start selling critical illness, sales will continue to sputter. But remember that old saying, “Every dog has its day”?

For critical illness, that day is on its way.

After all, it is the No. 1 policy sold in Canada, Australia, England, Europe and Asia. Change is happening, and it is being forced upon us by market awareness and demand.

A prime example is one of the greatest worksite supplemental insurance sales teams in America, the Dallas-based operations of PMA USA. Scottie Lee, the president of the company’s worksite marketing division, reports the organization did nearly $60 million in NAP of separate cancer, heart attack and stroke insurance in 2011. That’s up from $54 million the year before. Without a doubt, the need for these policies is obvious.

Lee says critical illness is “a big buzz word” in recent new group development interviews with HR, and HR directors are asking for critical illness quotes. “There’s no doubt about it,” he says. “We are taking the appropriate steps to be competitive in the market.”

So, once committed to the sale of critical illness, as our office has been since 1999, you then need a proven track to run on.

Getting the conversation started

Laura Yoder and Laura McMullen, top critical illness producers, have found that buyers are looking for an “all-in-one plan.” Many customers are getting more coverage for the same or less money. The approach starts with pointing out that doctors are doing a really good job helping us survive these critical illnesses. However, we are dying financially. Yoder likes to ask prospects questions that get them thinking about how they would handle the family’s monthly bills if they were to come down with one of these covered illnesses.

Start the presentation by asking a question and providing some background: “Mr. Client, most people I talk with have major medical insurance. Do you? Major medical insurance is designed to pay your doctor bills, hospital bills and some of your medication. We do not receive any money from our major medical. In fact, they want money from you to pay your deductible, co-insurance, co-payments and any bills they refuse to pay. That’s why most people also have a cancer policy, a heart and stroke plan and even disability insurance. Do you have any of those? I’d like to show you the critical illness policy today. Are you familiar with the critical illness policy? I’m sure you’ve heard about a cancer policy or a heart attack and stroke policy. Well, this policy covers all that, plus some. This policy is going to pay you a lump sum benefit. Keep in mind that it’s going to pay you. Not your hospital or doctor bills; that’s what your major medical is for. This is going to pay you.”

Talk to them about what your particular CI product offers. Most will have 100% of the benefit amount paid upon the diagnosis of several common illnesses, such as invasive cancer, heart attack, stroke, end-stage kidney failure, major organ transplant, advanced Alzheimer’s disease, paralysis, etc.

Now you’ve got them thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of horrible things that happen to other people.” At this point you’ve got to put them mentally in the “sick bed.” So you ask a series of questions designed to get them to think, “What if this happens to me?”

Are they married? Have children? If something like this were to happen to them and they couldn’t work for six months, would they be able to pay the mortgage? Can the spouse pay all the bills? What’s the client’s plan?

Overcoming objections

Every seasoned professional relishes objections from a prospect. It’s Sales 101; if they’re not giving you objections, they’re not listening.

There are only a few objections that are unique to CI sales. You’ll likely come across the Superman objection. There’s always a prospect who says, “I’m not planning on any of these happening to me.” Quote a cancer statistic that shows that a large percentage of cancer is environmentally related. The things we eat, the air we breathe, the chemicals we are exposed to. Cancer doesn’t have to run in your family for it to happen. Use third-party reference material whenever possible. Look in the newspaper; there are articles every week that support the need for CI.

Others ask, why critical illness insurance? The answer: because everybody knows somebody who has had a critical illness of some kind and survived physically, but not financially. Critical illnesses and long-term disabilities can be very costly. While primary medical expenses are mostly covered by major medical, there’s still the need to pay for deductibles and co-payments, travel expenses and any treatments not covered by health insurance. There’s also the potential for lost income, home health care, and housekeeping or child care needs.

Critical illness covers much more than individual stroke, cancer or heart attack policies and will pay out a lump sum, upon diagnosis, regardless of any other insurance you have. It also pays directly to you or whomever you have assigned the benefits. Critical illness pays a known amount of cash at an unknown time. It is money you can spend on whatever you need.

Closing the sale

When you give your client the quote, the prospect may become suspicious. When I first saw the premiums, I couldn’t believe the value. All these things covered for less than the cost of a cancer policy? How can this be? If you’ve done a good job going over the benefits, that’s the type of reaction you’ll see in prospects who own supplemental insurance policies.

By now, you should have your prospect begging to sign up. An easy transition I learned years ago while selling cancer insurance is, “It’s not your money that qualifies you for the plan, it’s your good health. Let’s run through the health questions and see if you qualify.” On a voluntary fully underwritten plan, most people who are actively at work will qualify. If they do, finish with something like, “Great, you are fully qualified. I need just a little more information about you to get you included along with all the others. What’s your date of birth?”

With a good policy and a fair value, most people shown a critical illness policy will sign up. We’ve found that CI has a wonderful persistency and is a great policy to add to just about anyone’s portfolio.

by William Maxwell McMullen from the April 01, 2012 issue of Life Insurance Selling Magazine.  William “Max” is president and CEO of Benefits For America Insurance Services Inc.

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