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  • How to Build a Steady Stream of Annuity Prospects

    April 5, 2010 by Kevin Wedmore

    Prospecting is your No. 1 challenge — but with some simple tricks, you can make it your daily routine 

    Published 4/1/2010   

    Prospecting is the lifeblood of our business. It plays a vital role in how we develop our business models and, often, how we are viewed by our clients and our peers. It even reflects itself in the quality of the client base we build. Without a continual stream of qualified prospects, we close our doors.

    Why, then, is prospecting often the weakest link in an otherwise successful career?

    Perhaps the answer to that question is, “It isn’t any fun.” Maybe you don’t view it as valuable time spent “making money.” After all, you’re in sales, and you get paid by sitting in front of the client filling out myriad forms, right? Or perhaps the real answer is that you have never developed a prospecting system that integrates the practice into every part of your business, making it as natural as waking up in the morning.

    To help you build this system, let’s first look at how you typically obtain prospects.

    Are they really prospects?
    Many of you purchase leads from reputable firms, or even companies with which you do business. These leads are generally qualified by a series of questions that the consumer answers, culminating in a belief that the prospect is willing to talk to an agent about a concept or specific product. Others may depend on public records of marriages, births, or home purchases to develop a list of potential annuity prospects. And still others use standard referral methods. Whatever you use, does it develop a prospect, or just a “suspect”?

    A suspect is someone who falls within the demographic of your market; a prospect is someone who wants to see you, on a favorable basis, about the products or services you are selling. Suspects don’t even know they need your services. Prospects know they do, but they may need help in making the ultimate financial transaction.

    How, then, do you develop a stream of prospects who not only need what you offer, but are eager to find someone who will offer it to them? Let’s look at one prospecting method that is easy to integrate into your everyday routine.

    Networking , not prospecting
    Networking doesn’t mean joining a service club or jumping on the Internet to make yourself known across all social media — although you shouldn’t necessarily avoid either of these things. Instead, it means networking among your prospective clients’ demographic, or among the demographic of those who serve your prospective clients.

    For example, if your primary market is working with seniors and their families who are going into long-term care environments and your goal is to sell annuities that can assist them with paying for care or asset protection, then you would network among assisted living facility personnel, nursing home administrators, geriatric care managers, discharge planners, etc. These people are all in a position to refer prospects to you who need your services and are eager to purchase your products.

    If your goal is to sell annuities to baby boomers, perhaps many of whom are being forced into early retirement, why not prospect among personnel directors at large companies in your area? Offer educational classes to those nearing retirement on issues related to Social Security, stretch IRAs, and other pertinent subjects. Many companies offer such services to their employees, so perhaps it would be a good idea to network among some of the smaller firms in your area.

    If you work in the estate planning or wealth preservation markets, network with attorneys, CPAs, trust officers, and others to create a steady stream of potential clients who are undergoing review with these professionals and who need your services.
    Instead of looking for prospects, then, build a network of people who serve the audience that contains your ideal prospect.

    Building your network
    But how do you go about determining what network to build? It all begins with defining your market. Too many agents have not defined what their prospect should look like because they have not defined their market. If you define your market as the senior market, what does that mean? What products do you sell — or want to sell — to the senior market? And what does the term “senior” mean to you? How do annuities fit into your potential clients’ plans?

    Answering these questions will help you further identify and qualify your prospects, as well as figuring out where to network to receive the types of referrals you are looking for.

    Using your network, every day
    Finally, networking and prospecting have to become an integral part of your everyday routine. Do you pass the law offices of an elder law attorney on the way to your office? Have you ever stopped in and introduced yourself? Have you ever talked to your own CPA about their clients? Do they know what products and services you provide? Do they know about stretch IRAs, income planning, tax-deferral strategies, and other advantages of annuities?

    Is there a networking group of care professionals that could open doors to clients who need your products or services? Do they know how annuities can be used to protect assets from nursing home expenses or how they can provide an income that guarantees that their client can pay for their services for the rest of their life? Do they know that you can provide products that turn an idle IRA into an income stream and take it out of the asset category? More importantly, do you know how the products you sell can benefit your clients?

    Prospecting is not just buying leads, asking for referrals, or culling new business from old clients. It is the sum of identifying who you want to sell to and finding sources that can refer you to people who need your products and services and are willing to talk to you on a favorable basis. It’s what keeps your doors open. It’s what puts food on the table. So what changes will you make to incorporate a systematic method of prospecting into your practice?

    Kevin Wedmore is the president of A2Z Annuity Marketing Inc. He can be reached at info@a2zannuity.com.

    Prospecting is the lifeblood of our business. It plays a vital role in how we develop our business models and, often, how we are viewed by our clients and our peers. It even reflects itself in the quality of the client base we build. Without a continual stream of qualified prospects, we close our doors.

    Why, then, is prospecting often the weakest link in an otherwise successful career?

    Perhaps the answer to that question is, “It isn’t any fun.” Maybe you don’t view it as valuable time spent “making money.” After all, you’re in sales, and you get paid by sitting in front of the client filling out myriad forms, right? Or perhaps the real answer is that you have never developed a prospecting system that integrates the practice into every part of your business, making it as natural as waking up in the morning.

    To help you build this system, let’s first look at how you typically obtain prospects.

    Are they really prospects?
    Many of you purchase leads from reputable firms, or even companies with which you do business. These leads are generally qualified by a series of questions that the consumer answers, culminating in a belief that the prospect is willing to talk to an agent about a concept or specific product. Others may depend on public records of marriages, births, or home purchases to develop a list of potential annuity prospects. And still others use standard referral methods. Whatever you use, does it develop a prospect, or just a “suspect”?

    A suspect is someone who falls within the demographic of your market; a prospect is someone who wants to see you, on a favorable basis, about the products or services you are selling. Suspects don’t even know they need your services. Prospects know they do, but they may need help in making the ultimate financial transaction.

    How, then, do you develop a stream of prospects who not only need what you offer, but are eager to find someone who will offer it to them? Let’s look at one prospecting method that is easy to integrate into your everyday routine.

    Networking , not prospecting
    Networking doesn’t mean joining a service club or jumping on the Internet to make yourself known across all social media — although you shouldn’t necessarily avoid either of these things. Instead, it means networking among your prospective clients’ demographic, or among the demographic of those who serve your prospective clients.

    For example, if your primary market is working with seniors and their families who are going into long-term care environments and your goal is to sell annuities that can assist them with paying for care or asset protection, then you would network among assisted living facility personnel, nursing home administrators, geriatric care managers, discharge planners, etc. These people are all in a position to refer prospects to you who need your services and are eager to purchase your products.

    If your goal is to sell annuities to baby boomers, perhaps many of whom are being forced into early retirement, why not prospect among personnel directors at large companies in your area? Offer educational classes to those nearing retirement on issues related to Social Security, stretch IRAs, and other pertinent subjects. Many companies offer such services to their employees, so perhaps it would be a good idea to network among some of the smaller firms in your area.

    If you work in the estate planning or wealth preservation markets, network with attorneys, CPAs, trust officers, and others to create a steady stream of potential clients who are undergoing review with these professionals and who need your services.
    Instead of looking for prospects, then, build a network of people who serve the audience that contains your ideal prospect.

    Building your network
    But how do you go about determining what network to build? It all begins with defining your market. Too many agents have not defined what their prospect should look like because they have not defined their market. If you define your market as the senior market, what does that mean? What products do you sell — or want to sell — to the senior market? And what does the term “senior” mean to you? How do annuities fit into your potential clients’ plans?

    Answering these questions will help you further identify and qualify your prospects, as well as figuring out where to network to receive the types of referrals you are looking for.

    Using your network, every day
    Finally, networking and prospecting have to become an integral part of your everyday routine. Do you pass the law offices of an elder law attorney on the way to your office? Have you ever stopped in and introduced yourself? Have you ever talked to your own CPA about their clients? Do they know what products and services you provide? Do they know about stretch IRAs, income planning, tax-deferral strategies, and other advantages of annuities?

    Is there a networking group of care professionals that could open doors to clients who need your products or services? Do they know how annuities can be used to protect assets from nursing home expenses or how they can provide an income that guarantees that their client can pay for their services for the rest of their life? Do they know that you can provide products that turn an idle IRA into an income stream and take it out of the asset category? More importantly, do you know how the products you sell can benefit your clients?

    Prospecting is not just buying leads, asking for referrals, or culling new business from old clients. It is the sum of identifying who you want to sell to and finding sources that can refer you to people who need your products and services and are willing to talk to you on a favorable basis. It’s what keeps your doors open. It’s what puts food on the table. So what changes will you make to incorporate a systematic method of prospecting into your practice?

    Kevin Wedmore is the president of A2Z Annuity Marketing Inc. He can be reached at info@a2zannuity.com.

    Originally Posted at Agents Sales Journal on April 1, 2010 by Kevin Wedmore.

    Categories: Industry Articles
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