Going To Market

“Vision without execution is hallucination.”
—Thomas Edison

In previous articles, we have addressed the process by which we can convert referrals to appointments with potential strategic partners by getting past the gatekeeper, engaging in meaningful conversations with the principal, and establishing mutual expectations.

As a result of these meaningful conversations the business plan is now complete, and you also know that your partner is committed to bringing the protection afforded by long term care insurance to her clients. We know how much money your partner would like to see the partnership generate, and it is now time to get down to brass tacks and to determine the how we are going to bring this product to market. Just as we always strive to do with our own regular clients, it is imperative that we are only setting aside our time for quality appointments.

By definition, a quality appointment is one in which the client(s) are health and wealth qualified, and eager to see us. In as much as they are working with a financial advisor/planner or elder law/estate planning attorney, we can generally assume that the financial aspect of qualification is not an issue. Let’s face it, even in the general population a lack of financial qualification represents a very small portion of our applicants who do not receive an offer of coverage from the carriers.

You will have to decide to what degree you want your partner or her staff to pre-qualify the health of your prospective applicants. We would recommend that this review at least cover the “knock out questions” so that you a) do not waste your time or theirs, and, b) you walk into the interview with some idea of what products, and, c) what carriers would be appropriate.

The last element, the “eager to see you” part, is completely dependent upon how the interview is positioned by the advisor and how he or she creates the appropriate level of urgency. To this end, they must feel the urgency to have you meet with their clients. Naturally, this is based on their personal commitment to the protection afforded by long term care insurance products.

The first logistical challenge is in numbers. First, ascertain how many clients they have and, if an older advisor, how much longer they plan on working. That may sound odd, but the age of the average producer in the industry today is creeping upwards of 59, and managers north of 64. For this reason you want to do some math together to determine over what period you are going to see these people.

Next, do they have clients to be immediately “cherry-picked,” e.g., ready to purchase, already in the buying cycle, or expressing a predisposition to our products because of family experience or their own health concerns? If so, you will want to have them contact these clients and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. The success of writing business will serve as an adrenaline boost to them and will enhance their commitment to establishing more selling opportunities for you both.

In terms of organizing the campaign, if they have a sizable base of clients, another way to create urgency is to use birthdays as a trigger for initiating contact with the client. The fact that we can often “save age” on these age-attained products is another way to create urgency in both the advisor and the client in scheduling an appointment sooner rather than later.

Another means by which to create urgency in the advisor is to demonstrate that we can help them substantiate their ongoing value to their clients and help retain them by being that added dimension of service that can serve to differentiate the advisor from the myriad of other advisors with whom they compete on a daily basis.

It is also crucial to constantly be reminding your partner that you are not a “one man band,” and that you actually bring an entire organization to the table with depth in all areas to include, but not limited to, marketing, service, training, compliance, and the capacity to enhance his or her stature with their clients as well as potential new clients that you both may garner in the course of client appreciation/referral events.

As the LTCI Planning Advocate responsible for the point-of-sale activity, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of constantly managing the relationship. In other words, “out of sight, out of mind” will definitely apply here. You need to have a strong presence in his or her office at the beginning so that the urgency they feel does not wane, just as we have to safeguard that a client’s urgency does not ebb and flow as it is prone to do during the buying cycle.

In this series of articles we have endeavored to keep the “How To” of the process simple and straightforward and would encourage you to do the same.

  • Keep the process simple and in front of your partner as often as possible.
  • Review the desired methodology again and again—it is critical that your partner manages the client relationship—this is how he/she earns his/her portion of the sale.
  • Establish a timeline of events that need to occur in order for this process to be successfully launched and be replicable on an ongoing basis.
  • It is imperative that you completely map out the campaign launch and attach firm dates, especially if the nature of your partner’s primary business, e.g., the impact of tax season on a CPA or investment advisor, could be an obstacle to a successful launch.

Additional thoughts:

  • Communication is always the critical element. At the beginning it will dictate whether you ever get off the ground in your budding relationship. Once you have business in the pipeline, it is important to keep your partner informed during the pendency of the application so that if the client reaches out to them for an update they will appear as if in control and knowledgeable.
  • The key is to get them engaged and the pipeline primed, so a new potential income stream can begin for their business. Additionally, they feel both the gratitude and professional admiration from their clients as they close this exposed flank in their financial defenses.
  • Working with Centers of Influence is an endless source of referrals and needs to be carefully cultivated and cared for as one would a fragile garden.

In our experience, the actual marketing of our services to your partner’s clients is both rewarding and a lot of fun if you establish a plan and then execute on the plan. These marketing activities can be traditional in the form of letters, emails, newsletters, telephone calls, or non-traditional in the form of social events. We would encourage you to really think outside the box and consider activities that have a long “shelf life” and that will help you grow your business exponentially by having your first generation clients become your personal marketers! The key is to adopt a methodology that both of you are comfortable with employing to bring clients in that maximizes the relationship that the financial professional has with her clients. Initially it may be by utilizing her ongoing methods of communication to include letters, emails, and phone calls, but hopefully will progress to face-to-face interviews and appointments (ideally) conducted in the financial professional’s office—or via Zoom, as this methodology has exploded in popularity especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial tone utilized by the advisor is critical. She should strive to identify the problem of long term care as it applies to the public and to the individual client and their family, the inherent risks associated with it, and then propose a potential solution: You. This effort also allows the advisor to create a layer of insulation against potential liability by asking the client for an affirmation that they have been advised about the product and services that you can provide and that they are expressly declining the opportunity to meet with you. A sample letter such as the one found in next month’s article is one that could be utilized. (Note: While you can provide this letter as a sample for the advisor to utilize, we strongly encourage you to have it complied not only by the advisor’s compliance department but yours as well, given that you and/or your company are being mentioned by name. When in doubt, have it reviewed!)

As previously noted, we would encourage you to really think outside the box and consider activities that have a long “shelf life” and that will help you grow your business exponentially by having your first-generation clients become your personal marketers! There is no greater marketing mechanism than satisfied clients who wish to share you with their friends, family, and business associates. In a future article we will share a wide range of such marketing events.

Take A-ways:

  • Over communicate with your partner throughout the entire relationship.
  • These clients belong to your partner. The partner has always had all the answers; feed them the information they need to continue this important relationship.
  • Plan the work and work the plan—often.
  • Think outside the box when it comes to marketing…and have fun with it!
  • It is imperative that the client relationship be managed by the professional partner.
  • All professionals will welcome additional clients—your job is to help them grow their business. Nothing will solidify your relationship quicker than referring them to a new client.

Don Levin, JD, MPA, CLF, CSA, LTCP, CLTC, is now the Strategic Relations Director for the Krause Agency following their acquisition of USA-LTC. Levin is the past three-term chairman of the board of the National Long Term Care Network and the past president and CEO of USA-LTC.

Levin has been in the long term care industry since 1999, during which time he has been an award-winning agent, district manager, regional sales manager, marketing director, associate general agent, general agent, and divisional vice president. Levin is also a former practicing Attorney-at-Law, court-appointed arbitrator and is a retired U.S. Army officer.

In addition to his various law and life and health insurance licenses, and the above designations, Levin has also earned Green Belt certification through GE’s Six Sigma program and is a graduate of GAMA International’s Essentials of Leadership and Management. He has also taught Managing Goal Achievement®, Integrity Selling® and The Way to Wealth® to hundreds of leaders and salespeople over the past fifteen years.

He previously possessed FINRA Series 7, 24, and 66 licenses. Levin earned his Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School, his MPA from the University of Oklahoma, and his BA from the University of Illinois-Chicago. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Defense Strategy Course, U.S. Army War College.
He is a published author of fourteen books in a wide range of genres.

Levin may be reached via telephone at (509) 348-0206. Email: dlevin@pnwis.com.