Ask This Question In Your Individual Disability Insurance Sales: What Do You Want?

    In 1943, Abraham Maslow wrote a theory in psychology called “A Theory of Human Motivation,” printed in Psychological Review. His theory was a hierarchy of needs, which were based on the premise that certain needs are vital and to reach the higher needs one must first resolve the lower needs. These needs include physiological, safety, love, self-esteem and self-actualization. Most people only consider physiological and safety as needs, and view love, self-esteem and self-actualization as wants. In my 35 years as an agent, wholesaler and sales rep, I have primarily sold Individual Disability Insurance (IDI) to clients in a way that would help them understand that insurance was a need.

    What I mean by this is that I have approached an individual Disability insurance (IDI) sale by trying to help clients see the need through telling stories of people who have incurred a disabling illness or injury and how it impacted their way of life, or, talking about the chances a healthy person has of becoming disabled before they reach retirement age. The emphasis of these approaches is that your clients need this protection, which are common conversations IDI brokers have. 

    While both are great IDI conversation starters, they don’t directly address the possible silent reactions that many of your clients firmly believe:

    1. That the chance of a disability won’t happen to them;

    2. That if they were to become disabled, they would adapt and survive.

    While I have always tried to approach disability sales by showcasing statistics, stories and definitions, I recently have been considering a new philosophy: asking my clients what they want instead of telling them to accept that they need.

    For example, consider this change-in-conversation approach:

    “(Client name), I want to ask you today about what you want in life, and if individual disability insurance can help. 

    “Something may be stopping you from considering this IDI purchase as a way to fully protect your income. It may be your sense of self. No one wants to imagine a scenario where they would become too ill or injured to work. 

    “However, if you do think about becoming too ill or injured to work, you may think that you’d adapt to that situation. Knowing you and what drives you, I think you would believe that you would figure out a way to survive.

    “The chance and duration of a disability is unknown to each individual. We don’t know what may happen in the future. But, the economic impact of a disability is something we do know. Making ends meet, in the manner you’re currently accustomed to, can be extremely difficult without the right income protection.

    “So, to this point, I’ll ask you one question: What do you want?

     “People buy disability insurance because of what they want and not what they need. They buy coverage because they want a certain lifestyle—their current lifestyle—to continue during a disability. They choose disability insurance because they listen to their sense of self and want something constant they can rely on during a time where so much is unknown. 

    “They want disability insurance to pay them a substitute income so they continue to be in control and, to a certain extent, happy—regardless of their disability. They choose disability insurance because they want to stay the same and not be defined by their disability. In essence, they want the ability to keep the disability invisible to others.” 

    By changing the disability sale to focus on what your clients want, rather than what they need, you can help your clients align with you instead of fighting against you to see what in their life they really want. You have helped them remain on the higher Maslow level of self-esteem with IDI.

    Like I said in my scenario, we do not know who may become disabled and how it will impact their lives. We do know that the last thing many people want when experiencing an illness or injury is the uncertainty of how the other aspects of their life will be affected. I believe your clients can see they want disability insurance if we show them it’s not just something they need

    Steve Brady has dedicated his entire 38+ year insurance career working in disability insurance. He started as an agent for Northwestern Mutual and has worked in disability wholesaling, as a home office executive and, for the last two years, is back in personal production, where he began and where he wanted to finish. Today he sells IDI and life insurance via the internet in all 50 states.

    Brady was honored as the 2011 recipient of the W. Harold Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award by the association board and members of the International DI Society (IDIS) at their annual conference. The DI industry and IDIS’s most prestigious award was created to honor an individual who has demonstrated dedication to the field of expertise in disability insurance, exhibits leadership in his or her professional life and, most important, has made a distinctive contribution to the disability insurance industry while practicing their profession with the highest ethical standards attainable.

    Brady can be reached by telephone at: 971-277-0724. Email: