Selling fixed annuities is definitely a shiny object for many life insurance agents.
Just about every story you read gives you a pile of reasons why you should jump on the annuity bandwagon (not the least of which is the recent slide in the markets). Everything from how to sell annuities to seniors or even selling annuities over the phone.
Who the heck would make a decision about their retirement savings over the phone? It’s almost as bad as thinking your customers might actually consider buying annuities online.
Unfortunately, a lot of agents take the bait, and fail miserably. Selling fixed annuities is not as easy as falling off a log.
Getting a client to understand the role of annuities in their overall financial plan is just as hard for a fixed agent as it is for the registered rep pitching market-based products. These sales take time to uncover all external factors which impact and deem these products appropriate for your clients.
Selling fixed annuities is not about the product or the money… it’s about your clients.
So, rather than torment you with the same old reasons why you should consider selling fixed annuities, let’s first turn the tables and see if you’re right for the job.
1. Do you have strong reasoning skills?
Fixed Annuities force you to consider a great many more issues than life insurance. It’s like the difference between checkers and chess. Sometimes with annuities the obvious answers are the worst answers. You have to guard against jumping to conclusions. Every case requires a high attention to detail and strong reasoning skills, especially to ensure you’re offering a suitable solution. This means, does the product make sense for your client’s situation? You absolutely have to nail the details!
Prospecting for annuity clients takes knowing how to be a problem solver.
**I followed a mental toughness training platform that transformed the way I think. The book is free and the course is nominal, you should definitely check it out here!
2. Are you skilled at asking questions?
“Of course I am” most agents will tell you. So many agents—and I mean SO many—ask leading questions. They already have an answer in mind and their questions reflect that bias. Our industry has herded agents toward this product-first mentality that is harmful to clients no matter what product is up for discussion.
Learning how to market annuities is more than just a marketing plan, it’s a mentality.
Which of the following two questions would you choose to ask in a retirement planning discussion with a client?
a. “Would you be interested in a product with no cost, no fees and no market risk?”, or
b. “Which type of product would you choose: one with higher risk and a higher return, or one with lower risk and a lower return?”
Which one gives you the best chance of learning what’s really important to a client?
The more you can engage your prospect with thoughtful questions focused on their needs instead of your sales goals, the better chance you have of developing strong rapport and relationships. And, the better chance you have to sell fixed annuities.
3. Are you a talker or a listener?
Annuity specialists and financial advisors are master detectives… they know the right questions (see #2 above) and they listen, not just for the answer but how the answer was given.
They read the room. Is the person nervous? Are they unsure? Are they scared? Are they not on the same page with their spouse? Are they telling the truth?
You have two ears and one mouth… you should listen twice as much as you speak.
What is your style and, more importantly, what style do you enjoy?
We have an agent who prefers selling final expense because he says he doesn’t have the patience for the longer sales cycle which many annuities require. And, he’s a talker… make it quick and get on to the next prospect. He has made a wise decision to start selling fixed annuities.
Before you jump into selling fixed annuities do some serious self-analysis to ensure it is the chase for you.
4. Do you have a solid work life balance in your insurance agency?
This has nothing to do with annuities, but everything to do with running a successful insurance agency. Is this you (I found this in a great post on Lifehack)?
- Your mail sits unopen for a week and you pay your bills late
- You think the more plates you have spinning the more you will have it all
- You keep declining invitations from friends
- You forget appointments and blow off commitments (like working out, eating healthy)
- You don’t care if you’re on track with your plan
- You can’t remember what’s in your plan
- You don’t answer your phone or you’re always on the phone
You’re on a hamster wheel and can’t get off. If you don’t get this fixed it ultimately won’t matter what you choose to sell.
5. Are you willing to put in the time?
Being great at selling annuities won’t happen because you aced the annuity section on your life insurance exam. Compliance is always changing and it’s vital you commit to the ongoing continuing education associated with annuities. Moreover, new products and options pop up all the time and clients are being bombarded with so many options.
You have to stay current on annuity product training and suitability training.
You can use sources like www.redbirdagents.webce.com and others to sign up for the most current annuity courses as well as access from all the carriers. Remember what I said up front: selling annuities IS NOT as easy as falling off a log.
6. Are you right for fixed annuities?
The coup de grace.
This story isn’t about whether selling fixed annuities are right for you… it’s whether you’re right to begin selling fixed annuities.
Do you get irritated on a life case when you’re having the third conversation (“why can’t they make up their mind… this is a no brainer”)? Selling fixed annuities is a marathon compared to the sprint that can sometimes be life insurance.
An annuity isn’t an expense for the client, it’s a major financial decision. It’s real money they are putting away and, short of a disaster, agreeing to not touch for a long time.
Fixed annuities demand a very broad understanding of a client’s financial situation. While they aren’t registered securities, the questions you must ask to get to the right answer for the client will be eerily similar to those asked by your registered rep friends.
Most of all, selling annuities requires patience.
Just when you think you can’t take any more waffling by the client, there’s more to take. One of our agents who uses Social Security seminars to for selling annuities and went more than four months before one of her leads finally converted. She practiced patience.
Then the flood gates opened and she was prepared. She asked herself these questions and put herself in the best possible position to serve her clients.
Every new line of business has a learning curve, some are just a little more detailed than others. Make training and education a priority. Make sure it’s right for you.
We have a great team of insurance and financial producers who are ready to guide you in your journey to selling fixed annuities.