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NAIFA's Limited & Extended Care Planning Center

The LECP Center empowers professionals to network with solution and service providers to share best practices, directly access subject matter experts, research, training and resources; and provide thought leadership so we may continue to address the changing needs of the market.

Prospecting is, without a doubt, the most difficult and time-consuming part of the life insurance sales process. And the myriad ways we have to generate leads in our current age of virtual networking and content marketing can make it even less clear where to begin.

Many advisors find themselves paralyzed by all the options – LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, blogging – and struggle to maintain a presence on all of these networks - never mind traditional methods like cold calling, networking groups and list combing, all of which take a fair amount of time.

These are all effective techniques but require a lot of time upfront. Ideally, once an initial client base is established, an agent shouldn’t have to invest as much time in these lead-generating methods on a continual basis. After all, if advisors spent the same amount of time finding each client, the acquisition costs would simply be too high, and the business wouldn’t be sustainable. In addition, it’s exhausting work, spending an entire day trying to drum up business and, many days, coming away with nothing to show for it.

With that in mind, the best path is to invest time initially to acquire a healthy stable of clients – using all or some of the above methods (digital, traditional or a mix of both) – and then to figure out a way to get residual business. The trick is to employ the magic technique that generates near-automatic business: referrals.

Getting Back to Basics Using Referral Marketing

It’s easy to become distracted by all of the ways to market oneself. But the best way for life insurance agents to continue to grow their business has been and always will be referral marketing. Instead of putting together a month’s worth of Instagram posts, I recommend agents focus on building strong relationships with their clients.

1) Staying in touch

There are a lot of agents that check in only when it’s time to pay a premium or renew a policy. Staying in touch with clients increases the sense of trust, and it also helps agents better understand the needs and pain points of their clients. This could eventually help increase the average revenue per client, or customer lifetime value, which is another way to grow a business. At the very least, the client feels that the agent cares and is more likely to recommend to others.

2) Offering education

The better someone understands how a product works, the happier they’ll feel about a purchase. Life insurance can be tricky, and spending a little extra time explaining how a specific policy works can make all the difference. It could also provide an opportunity to talk about policy add-ons or other products that might make sense for that client. An agent who builds a reputation for making sure clients understand what they’re buying is quite likely to receive referrals.

3) Being genuine

People can sense genuine caring versus trying to make a sale. If an agent is truly interested in their clients’ best interest, they’ll be able to tell – for instance, having the above conversation only when the product will, in fact, benefit the client and being honest about when it won’t. This engenders a level of trust that is sure to be the topic of conversation.

A New Twist on Referral Marketing

Asking for referrals isn’t a new concept; sales professionals have been doing this for years. But what is new is how it’s done today: using a digital platform specific to legacy planning. A digital solution that caters to advisors, that helps foster the relationship between advisor and client, offers a means to find prospects more easily because it’s doing the work.

For example, here’s how the LegacyShield referral system works, and here’s what I mean when I say it’s doing the work. The agent invites clients to create an account for free so that they can keep all of their financial and personal legacy and estate planning information organized. This is where they would store their plans for the future and list assets and financial instruments as well as where to find and how to access those assets. They would also record their wishes, memories, family traditions – the personal information one wants to include in a legacy. One of the things the system prompts new registrants to do is set up their legacy team. That’s accountants, attorneys, family members – anyone to whom the client wants to grant access. These are the people that will need information from this account if and when the owner becomes critically injured or dies.

Here’s where advisor exposure grows organically. Each person a client designates as part of the team receives an invitation to register for an account, and, as soon as that person registers, the original client’s advisor (i.e., the LegacyShield advisor who originally provided the client with the service) receives that person as a lead. Even better, these automatic referrals are more than leads. They’re actual prospects because they fit the target market, have the means to buy life insurance products, and have just registered on a platform that will allow them to store all of the products they buy so their families can access the information they need when the time is right. At the core of it, it’s networking minus having to attend an event. It’s as if the guest list were pre-vetted to include only a client’s most important contacts. And there’s no competition; one advisor gets to see that list, and it’s hand-delivered.

But regardless of the approach, regardless of whether one uses digital or traditional methods, the bottom line is referral marketing is key to growing a business. It’s leveraging the experience of satisfied clients to bring in new ones, and it works.