Help prospects discover what they want, not what they need

par Jim Ruta | May 26 2016 07:00AM
How can I avoid arguments with prospects about the life insurance they need?

If you are still doing a Capital NEEDS Analysis with your prospects and clients, I definitely understand your problem. The problem with a CNA is that it inadvertently sets you up for an unnecessary client confrontation – that argument you talk about, from the start. Even explaining as nicely as possible that this process shows them what they NEED, it can still make prospects feel like they are being told what they want. There is a big difference between needs and wants.

No one wants to be told what they want. A CNA presumes that you can determine prospect wants and there’s your argument. “No, I don’t it.” “Yes, you do – it says so right here.”

The problem with a CNA is that no one “needs” any life insurance. No law says you do. No government regulations prescribe an amount or type of family or business protection. There’s no rule anywhere that says you must buy life insurance.

It’s not like auto insurance. There you have a definite need. You must own it and they even tell you what kind and how much, as a minimum. You “need” auto insurance.

The truth is that no one “needs” life insurance. They only buy it because they “want” it. And, as my friend John Kanary says, there are three things you can’t do. “Climb a fence leaning toward you. Kiss someone leaning away from you… And, you can’t make someone want to.” They want to or they don’t.

People buy life insurance products because they want to, not usually because they need to. (I acknowledge that business agreements can mandate coverage making it a need.) Rather than use a traditional Capital Needs Analysis, rename and reposition the process and document as a Capital “Wants” Analysis (CWA).

The CWA is a winning perspective that makes it easier for you to sell and your prospect to buy, life insurance. When you think of a CNA as a CWA, you acknowledge that one most important fact about life insurance. NO ONE HAS TO HAVE ANY. It’s all about what they want to provide, not what they need.

So, you immediately lose that point of contention when determining their coverage. You are not trying to tell someone what they need to protect their family. You are simply trying to help them put a number to the protection they want.

It’s a subtle change but I’ve seen this subtlety make a big difference in results. Helping prospects discover what they want to do for their families is a much different business than showing them what you say they need to do the job. It changes prospecting, approaches, presentations and closes when you work on a plan for what they WANT to happen when illness, injury or death happens.

Ultimately, prospects may feel a need for some life insurance protection but only if they WANT to protect their family. If they don’t, they don’t NEED anything. That’s why life insurance is a character product – if you have some, you buy some. If you don’t, you won’t.

I never have enough prospects and can’t always get started on prospecting. What else can I do?

Prospecting is a problem because we are trying to be alchemists. You know alchemists – those medieval types who tried to turn lead into gold, sadly without success.

Prospecting is like alchemy that way. You are trying to turn a stranger (lead) into a prospect (gold) in a short conversation. This high pressure mandate scares off a lot of people.

Everyone has trouble with prospecting because advisors who can create a trust relationship in a few seconds good enough to get someone to sit down to talk about their personal finances is a rare breed indeed. That’s alchemy in action. Scary.

There is another, easier way. It’s “suspecting”. If you aren’t trying it, you are missing out.

Most advisors have trouble with prospecting. They have for many decades… centuries really. Prospecting is the activity that singles out a person or persons that has a recognized need that can be expressed as a want, can be seen and will pay to have it handled for them. That takes a lot of effort, discernment, Chutzpah and resilience to rejection. Anticipating that rejection is why so many of us experience call reluctance and just don’t ask at all. Remember, call reluctance is really “ask reluctance”.

Suspecting may be the solution to your prospecting problems. The reason is that with suspecting, you are not looking to single out a prospect for business today. Instead, you are setting up friendly, mutual selection meetings for potential future business.

Suspecting is an opportunity for you to meet someone in a convenient location and at a convenient time to see if you get along for a purpose to be determined some time in the future. Tell them who you are. Get to know them, as people too. They don’t have to believe they are looking for an advisor. You don’t have to know they have a need or want you can solve.

A suspecting approach sounds something like this, “Mr. Suspect, I help people like you with their lifestyle security planning but I really don’t know if we can work together. What I do know is that if we can meet for just 20 minutes over coffee, we can both find out if we have the basis of a profitable relationship in the future. That’s the reason for my call – to set up that 20 minutes. Then, in the future, if you ever find yourself in the market for what I do, you’ll have a friend in the business.” Suspecting is a much lower pressure premise for a meeting. You can do it cold. You can do it spontaneously. You can target suspects you want to know.

Is “suspecting” a distinction without a difference? No. Suspecting gives you a different purpose than prospecting and your attitude and energy is different. Suspects can tell.

Will every suspect become a prospect? Hardly. But, everyone has the potential and that’s what we’re looking for.

Stick to your promise too. Just see if you can be their “friend in the business” and build up a file of future business. One day the future will be now.