According to the CIA's "World Factbook," it is estimated that there will be 298,444,215 people in the United States as of July 2006. Only a percentage of those people are prospects for life insurance agents.
Rather than trying to reach all the people in the U.S. it is only necessary to reach the ones who need life insurance, have the means to pay for it, and meet the pre-determined demographic parameters. While you only need a small percentage of individuals to build a business, that business can grow exponentially when you become part of your clients' lives.
A simple four-step process will help you build a prosperous book of business: 1) define the prospect; 2) develop action steps to go after the likely customer; 3) convert the prospect into a client; and 4) maintain the client relationship.
Define the prospect
A prospect is a potential buyer who has the interest in and means of purchasing a policy. You can define your ideal customer using a variety of considerations, from demographics (age, gender, profession, geographic area, ethnic group, and other defining characteristics) to lifestyle events (college graduation, a first job, engagement, marriage, having a baby, home purchase, retirement etc.).
Whether you define the prospect demographically or by another measure, there are specific marketing approaches to reaching each person. Depending on the target market, your prospecting activities should include active membership in a weekly business exchange group, networking at a chamber of commerce event, getting involved in a community activity, or building referrals.
Develop action steps to reach the prospect
By first defining the ideal prospect, you then can determine the marketing strategy to reach that prospect. There are many target choices, such as newlyweds who will use life insurance to build their future or retirees who want life insurance protection.
To illustrate how to approach future life insurance buyers, let's use the example of a couple having a baby. For the growing young family, underwriting is generally easier, and there is potential to sell additional insurance as future needs unfold. When a baby is on the way, a couple is frequently open to learning about life insurance benefits: protection for the family assets and an alternative savings plan.
How can you approach this prospect? Local newspapers are a great source of birth announcements. However, the savvy life insurance agent will want
to be in front of the prospect before their competitors read the paper and act on the same information.
Plus, by the time a baby announcement is published, it already may be too late to begin prospecting to the parents. The objective in prospecting is to be in front of the potential client before that person has made a decision.
You should consider marketing alternatives via feeder systems and referrals. For instance, in the new-baby scenario, you could partner with OB/GYNs and place life insurance brochures in the doctors' waiting rooms. Presenting seminars at stores that sell baby supplies can get you in front of parents-to-be as well as relatives and close friends. Try teaming up with a hospital maternity ward; the hospital could give new parents a basket of baby care products or a practical folder to hold important records -- all courtesy of you -- along with information on life insurance.
Once the birth announcement is in the paper, you now have another opportunity to contact the growing family, this time with a personal note and a congratulations card that includes a clipping of the newspaper announcement.
Convert the prospect into a client
The above is only one example. Once you have developed a list of prospects, you should maintain appropriate contact with these potential clients to convert them into paying clients. You may choose to concentrate on one area (e.g. families living in a particular geographic market) or branch out to fulfill the changing life insurance needs of people at all stages of life. At any rate, staying top-of-mind is key to building a rapport that can easily turn prospects into loyal clients.
Maintain and extend the client relationship
Since many life insurance agents obtain business through referrals, getting referrals from clients for their extended family and friends is a natural prospecting progression. Asking the client for a referral is more likely to be honored when the existing agent-client relationship is strong, which is why exemplary life insurance agents are informed about -- and may be part of -- the life events of their clients.
Merilee Marsh, an independent bicoastal marketing consultant and public speaker located in California and New York, promotes results-oriented action steps to help clients recognize and seize marketing opportunities. For more information, contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 916-747-0440.