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Filed Under:Your Practice, Sales Marketing

Prospecting: 5 Tips for Finding New Life Insurance Clients

You play an important role in helping clients understand the value of life insurance and how it can be used to protect the people they care about. Though this can present a significant challenge at times, an even greater challenge is finding new clients with whom to have a life insurance discussion.

A recent survey found that 71 percent of the general population does not have an investment professional -- which means that many people aren't receiving the financial guidance they need in order to plan for the future. Here, then, are five actionable tips that will help you identify prospective life insurance clients and transition into a candid conversation about their life insurance needs.

1. Choose a target market
You've probably heard the old saying "You can't be everything to everyone," and this is especially true when it comes to searching for new life insurance clients. An important first step in approaching new clients is to identify a target market on which to focus your sales efforts. Your target market may be defined by age, income, organizational membership, profession, product ownership (401(k), annuity, etc.), or other common characteristics. The needs of that market will dictate your sales approach.

2. Mine your current book of business
You don't have to look very far to find new life insurance prospects. In fact, one of the best ways to increase life insurance sales is to mine your current book of business for clients who might benefit from life insurance coverage. Because you already have established trust and credibility with your clients, they will likely be more receptive to what you have to say.

A good first step is to identify clients who have recently experienced an event that would trigger a need for life insurance coverage, such as transitioning to a new job, expecting a baby, purchasing a new home, retiring, or receiving an inheritance.

3. Encourage your office staff to generate sales leads
If you have staff members, they interact with your clients on a daily basis and, if properly trained and motivated, can take advantage of these client "touches" to help you identify potential prospects. To make this tactic a success, staff members must recognize life events and circumstances that would make the client an ideal life insurance prospect.

Here is an example of how this scenario can work: While on the phone with a client, a staff member learns that the client is expecting a child. The staff member makes a note of that life event and passes the information along to you. You follow up with the client to congratulate them, then use that event as an opportunity to ask if they've thought about their life insurance needs now that their family is starting to grow.

It's important to understand that by asking your office staff to help generate leads, you're asking them to do something that might be out of their comfort zone. Implementing some form of personal recognition or financial incentive will help ensure this program is a success. Please note that non-licensed staff should be compensated on the number of referrals -- not on whether the referrals led to a sale.

4. Take advantage of opportunities to transition to a life discussion
You never know when an opportunity might arise to engage a prospective client in a conversation about their life insurance needs. One helpful tactic is to identify a real-life story that illustrates how either having or not having life insurance affected someone you know. Having a story on hand can be a useful tool to help move along your conversations, especially if you're away from the office and can't access marketing materials or other resources that you can share with a prospective client.

It's easier to transition to a life insurance discussion if you develop a few standard icebreakers that can help direct the conversation where you want it to go. [See sidebar, "How to Start the Life Insurance Discussion," for more information.]

5. Set aside prospecting time on your calendar
It might sound simple, but marking off specific times on your calendar during which you'll prospect is an essential part of any successful campaign. Let's say your plan includes sending out 25 letters each week and then following up one week later by calling each of those 25 people to set up appointments.

You must build time into your schedule each week to mail the letters and make the follow-up calls. If you add such a plan to your weekly regimen, you may also find yourself adding appointments with a good number of the clients you call.

Though the tips mentioned here may make things easier, there is no avoiding the fact that it can be very difficult and time-consuming to find new life insurance clients. It's important to remember that prospecting shouldn't just grow your business -- it should help current and future clients protect what matters most to them. That is the noble purpose of life insurance, and it can be a source of inspiration on those days when it feels as if things just aren't going your way.

Thomas F. Houle is vice president of Nationwide Financial Network. He can be reached at

How to Start the Life Insurance Discussion

Here are some sample icebreakers you can use to transition into a life insurance discussion with your clients:

  • "When was the last time you reviewed your life insurance coverage?"
  • "Do we handle your life insurance here, or do you have it with another agency?"
  • "By the way, who handles your life insurance?"
  • "Do you know when your life insurance expires?"
  • "I want to be sure that we take the time to discuss the most important policy that my agency offers -- it is the policy that will help ensure your family's future."
  • "Have you thought about what kind of legacy you want to leave for your children, grandchildren, or a favorite charity?"
  • "Did you know that based on a J.D. Power and Associates study conducted with surviving spouses (ages 35 to 50) with children, fewer than 25 percent of them felt that their deceased spouse provided them with enough life insurance?"

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