The First Call to an Annuity Lead:
Each annuity lead is going to be different in terms of both their interest level and their comfort level when speaking to a financial planner for the first time. When dealing with a subject such as their personal finances, it is understand able that some are a little more hesitant to offer up detailed information. Your main goal on a first call should be to introduce yourself, provide basic information on where you are located, what your experience is in the financial industry, and let he or she know they are under no obligation to purchase an annuity.
After the introduction, we have found that the best course to take is to ask a few very basic questions about their financial goal, find out what triggered them to research annuities and how well they understand the workings of an annuity. The key is to allow them to do most of the talking at this point. Answer any questions they have and avoid being to pushy in regards to their personal information.
The final step will be to ask your potential client if they would like you run a few hypnotically illustrations of annuities available to them. Again, remind them that they will be under no obligation to purchase and that the illustrations are meant to give them an idea of what they could expect from an annuity.
After you obtain the information for the illustration, be sure to set up a time for a follow up call to go over the information. The second call will tend to be more detail oriented and is often when appointments are set. These are obviously more guidelines than rules, and as stated above, each call will be different. The most important thing to remember is not to be too pushy and to be available to the annuity lead as a resource for information rather than prodding for information from them.
Many times when you receive an annuity lead the person may not necessarily be looking to purchase right away. They may state that they are simply looking for more information. Of course it would be great to have every lead simply ask you where to sign, however 'looking for information' is not a bad sign when it comes to an annuity lead. Keep in mind the nature of their search. It is one thing to go online and look up Ferrari's or a trip to India for fun, but researching annuities is hardly something people simply enjoy doing in their spare time. If they are looking up annuities, more often than not they have a reason to do so and a financial decision to make in the near future.
With this type of situation, it is best to position yourself as a resource that they can turn to anytime they need information on financial planning. They may in fact be looking for options for their 401k down the road, or have a CD coming due in several months so the lead may not be an immediate sale, but could easily turn into a client down the road if a relationship is built.
After you have answered all their question and run any illustrations they may want, ask them if it would be ok for you to contact them periodically, either by phone or email. If you have provided a service and were helpful and friendly through out the process, they should have no objection to follow up communications.
Annuities sales are all about timing. You'll just want to make sure to stay in contact with your annuity lead periodically, so when that CD does come due, your name comes to mind.
Hearing from an annuity lead that they are already working with another agent can be a little disheartening, but it doesn't have to be the end of the road. There are many benefits that you can convey to your potential client to talking and working with a 2nd financial planner. You will obviously first and foremost want to be respectful and understand to the fact that they are working with someone else. The person they are working with may be a planner they have worked with for many years, a family friend, or even a family member. You should start off by letting them know that there is no cost or obligation for speaking to you.
You should convey the fact that different planners are able to offer products from different carriers and how it might be helpful to take a look at the products you have available. As an independent agent, this is a very important and strong case to bring up. Unlike a financial planner in a captive situation, you are able to offer products from a wide variety of carriers, rather than just one.
As their comfortable level with you increases, you should start asking a few more questions about the other financial planner they are working with to find out how flexible they would be when it comes to working with someone else. There is a good chance that it is simply a case where the other agents was simply the first person they talked to. In that situation, you will have a much better chance of working with them in the end as long as your service, expertise, and product choices are better than your competition.
There is a lot to be said about which questions you should ask a potential annuity client, but equally important is knowing what not to ask. When working with a new client it is important to remember that their comfort level will tend to be fairly low, especially when they have inquired online. Despite the fact that you may be well qualified to handle all of their financial needs, their initial skepticism may prevent them from offering up too much detailed information at first.
The best thing to do when first speaking to an annuity lead is to keep things more vague and less detail oriented. Rather than asking a direct question, such as 'how much do you have saved?', ask if they feel they have enough saved to reach the goals for retirement. Rather than asking what their income is, try asking if they have excess income each moth that they are able to put away.
When an annuity lead is given the opportunity to talk, as opposed to being bombarded with questions, they do tend to open up more. They have already expressed an interest in annuities by filling out the request form, so your best bet is to let them explain to you exactly what the interest is and answering any question they have before pressing them too much.
Meeting a potential annuity client in person early on will greatly increase the chance of a sale. Setting the appointment should be a high priority at all times. Even if your annuity lead has stated they may not be ready to purchase right away, it is important to start building a relationship so when the time does come when they are ready to invest, you will be the person they call.
The golden rule to setting an appointment is BE FLEXIBLE. Rather than insisting that the meeting take place in your office, offer alternatives such as a coffee house or a restaurant. Your potential clients home is where they more often than not are going to be most comfortable, but never suggest that option unless they offer it to you first.
You should also try to be very flexible when it comes to the time and day you are willing to meet. Many times a busy schedule prevents an annuity lead from meeting during normal business hours. If you provide the option to meet in the evening or on the weekend, it can be very helpful to your prospective client.
Putting the ball in your annuity leads court in terms of location and time is important, however you will want to attempt to set the appointment sooner rather than later. We never suggest being pushy or overly aggressive, but stressing to your client the benefits of meeting in person will help get the ball rolling.
After speaking to an annuity lead and getting the information needed to run a quote, it is a good idea to run illustrations on multiple products, as well as multiple carriers. The highest annuity rate doesn't always equate to the best overall product for a particular client. Other factors such as their investment time-frame, premium amount, risk tolerance, and even name recognition of a particular carrier can play a roll in whether or not a sale is made.
You should also include different types of products in the presentation. A client may tell you they are looking for an immediate annuity because they are looking for income, but also offering a traditional annuity with an income rider will show them another option while still giving them the choice to stick to an immediate. You do not want to overwhelm a potential annuity lead with too much information at once so try to keep it to two or three that you feel are the best fit.
Does asking for referrals make your palms sweat and your heart race? If the answer is yes, you're not alone—many financial planners are nervous about asking for referrals out of fear that they'll damage relationships with existing clients.
But ultimately, agents who do not cross the referral threshold are depriving themselves of new business. According to a recent survey by marketing consultation firm Strategic Impact, almost 80 percent of respondents (consisting of investment and insurance professionals) relied on referrals as their primary source of generating new business.
Understanding your client's communication style can help you recognize their openness to your goal of cultivating new business through referrals.
If the client is generally soft-spoken or hesitant regarding business transactions, just be honest. You might start by telling them that referrals are very important to the growth of your business and you would like to develop it with people like them. Remind the client of the benefits of your services and ask if they can think of anyone who would be interested in receiving the same benefits as they do.
If you truly can't gauge your client's style of communication, confirm the value in you and your work by asking the client how they think you're doing when it comes to maintaining a healthy business relationship.
If your client answers enthusiastically or positively in any way, proceed asking—as above—if they know anyone who could benefit from your services. If your client answers indifferently or negatively, proceed with caution or hold off all together and try this tactic with them later down the line.
Any time you have personal contact with your client is a great time to ask for referrals. Once you've gone over any updates or changes in your client's policy, simply reiterate the successes and highlights of your business relationship and ask them if they have friends or family who could benefit from your services. Take down names and contact information and get selling!
Asking for referrals takes confidence and enthusiasm—and that takes practice. Get that practice with clients that won't drastically impact your business if the relationship is adversely affected. Once you've acquired a few referrals and achieved a considerable level of confidence, move your way up to "medium-risk" clients and get a few more referrals before tackling your heavy-hitters.
It's important to consistently thank your clients for their business. Sending appreciatory emails, cards and gift certificates are some ideas for thanking your clients. Making your existing clients feel that they are your top priority will increase their chances of promoting your services to friends and family.
It's also appropriate to thank clients who've given you referrals. Some agents like to send a gift; others just send a note of gratitude. Some agents wait to see if the referral develops into a new client and send a larger gift of thanks. While the gesture is up to you, do thank your existing clients and let them know how much you value their referrals?
It can be very frustrating when a situation arises where after several attempts at contacting an annuity lead, you receive no call back or response. While this is obviously never the ideal lead, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting in touch with your potential client.
When leaving a voice-mail, it is important to have a clear and precise message that states the purpose of your call. You should also be clear about the fact that you are following up on their inquiry. You will want to have a basic structure in where you begin with your name and contact information, followed by a brief statement on what services you will be able to provide, a call to action (no obligation illustration, etc), and finish by repeating your name and contact information at the end of your message. Keep it short and to the point.
You will also want to try calling at different times through out the day. More often than not a persons' schedule is fairly consistent from one day to the next. Your first three attempts should be spread out over three days and all at different times. If you call at 9:30 am the first day, try 12:30 the second day, and 6:30 pm the third day. It is not advised to call more than once a day until you have spoken to your potential client live.
Each annuity lead you receive will also have their e-mail address, which often times is how a potential client prefers to begin communication. If you've called and left messages on several occasions with no luck, write them a brief email similar in structure to the voice-mails you have left. Writing an email can also give you more flexibility when is comes to providing information about yourself. If you have a website, make sure to link your bio so they will be able to read your credentials. Inevitably there may be times when you never do hear back from your annuity lead, but using these steps will greatly increase your chances.
When you are working the annuity leads in our program, there are going to be clients who are ready to buy right away as well as those who are looking for something more down the road. You will find that there is a steady flow of leads coming in, but properly following up on each one is very important. As new leads come in, it is crucial that you keep track of each client so that no opportunities slip through the cracks. The agents who have the most success are the ones who have a system in place for keeping notes, reminders and status updates on each leads.
Even something as simple as an excel spreadsheet will do the job if used properly. We are more than happy to provide you with a template which is used by many of our producers, but making one is as simple as have categories for their name, dates of first contact and last contact, investment mount, goals, and what ever other information you find useful.