I know, I know! That is not exactly how the old Chinese proverb went, but it was something like that! It was actually, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago but the second-best time is now.“ What that proverb gets at is the power of investing time today with the foresight that you will ultimately get a benefit out of it. That awesome shade tree we sit under today was because somebody took the time 20 years ago to plant it.
In our business, slowing down and taking time to “plant trees” can be exceedingly difficult. I know that you know the feeling: You are going through the day trying to keep all of your customers happy while at the same time trying to bring in new customers, while at the same time putting out fires, while at the same time in meetings, while at the same time getting calls from wholesalers, etc., etc. Just merely coming up for a breath can be difficult. Then when you throw on top of it the time you should set aside to do extra reading, studying, working out, staying healthy, watching the Chiefs play (Steve?), etc., there are simply not enough hours in the day! Again, I know the feeling of having to focus on what is important while letting other things go. However, sometimes those “other things” can be trees that you should be planting…
With that said, there is one task that has become non-negotiable for me. This is a tree planting ceremony that I no longer sacrifice in the name of being “too busy.” This task has become just as important as taking breaths, because I have seen it pay off many many times. That is, entering customer and case data into my company’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.
As a marketing organization that processes and manages the business of scores of agents, needless to say, a CRM system is important. However, even if you are a one man/woman shop, it should be important to you as well. I know this because I do personal production myself and have found that in my “personal production” role, I can’t live without it.
Many of you might be saying, “Duh Charlie! Of course, CRMs are important. All financial professionals should have their customer and policy data in an easily accessible program.” My response is twofold: 1. I would guess that it is not a large majority of agents that actually have a CRM; 2. Most importantly, I am not referring to just the basic common-sense stuff like client names, addresses, and policy information. I am also referring to certain “events” that take place over the life of an annuity or life insurance policy.
When an agent writes an annuity case with my company, we will code into my CRM system what month, day, and year that annuity comes to the end of its term. We also have a running report that is automatically emailed to me–from my CRM–of the annuities that are hitting those dates over the next 60-days. Why one should do this is obvious. At the end of those periods, the clients will need help doing something else with that money. And you also get paid again. For instance, if a two-year multi-year guaranteed annuity was issued today, then 60 days prior to November 2024 I will be notified by my CRM that you, the agent, have X dollars coming up for renewal. I feel like Santa Claus sending the agents those emails. If it is an indexed annuity written, we will code into the CRM system when the end of the surrender period is.
Now that we are in an interest rate environment where short term annuities look very appealing, you will find that a two-year or three-year MYGA comes to the end of its surrender period surprisingly quick. Two or three years is a blink of an eye. So, plant that tree today so you can enjoy its shade when your CRM (or your IMO’s CRM) provides you with that renewal report.
Another area for annuities that we code into the system is when the guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits were illustrated to be activated. Of course, a good agent that does reviews every year will be able to know when the client would like to take their money, but sometimes annual reviews go by the wayside for some agents. By taking time to code these items in your CRM, or partner with a marketing organization that does this for you, you are planting a tree that will be very profitable in the future. RMD dates are important as well!
Life Insurance Events
If you sell term insurance, there is no better time to contact your clients than when they are about to lose their convertibility privileges.
To back up a bit, most term insurance policies allow a client to convert to a permanent policy later on at the health rating that they originally got on the term policy. So, even if the consumer got sick along the way but wants to “upgrade” to a permanent policy, they are still classified as “super preferred“ if that’s what the term insurance rating was. Imagine how many people during the “term“ of the term life insurance policy get sick prior to the end of the convertibility period. Well, when you or the marketing organization has that “end of conversion period date” coded into the system, which generates a report 60 days prior, imagine the opportunities there. On several occasions I have come across consumers that told me, “I recently learned that I could’ve switched to a permanent product a while back with my old health rating. I did not know this and missed the deadline.” Needless to say, these were not my clients that missed that deadline. My clients do not miss this deadline.
IUL Death Benefits and Values
IUL is often illustrated with an increasing death benefit (Option 2) that turns to a level death benefit (Option 1) sometime in the 23rd century. Sarcasm. Is that a point in time that you may want a reminder email from your CRM or your partner IMO? You bet!
In addition to the above, some CRM systems will allow you to code into the system the various policy values you illustrated by the end of the fifth year, tenth year, fifteenth year, etc. This is something that I have recently begun to do. This will allow my agents to have great conversations with their clients as these policy anniversaries approach. If the policy has actually performed at a rate beyond what was illustrated, that is an enjoyable conversation to have with clients!