As an annuities advisor, you know the sales world isn’t kind to those who are passive. If you don’t bring your “A” game, well, then you may not be able to bring home the bacon.
2016 was a record-setting year for annuity sales. Total fixed annuity sales rose by 14 percent, reaching a high of $117.45 billion, according to LIMRA. But shifts in the retirement industry could project a bit of a bumpy road ahead for annuity agents.
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So, how can you make sure your business not only survives, but also thrives in this ever-changing field? Consider utilizing these five strategies to maximize your annuity sales.
1. Stay up to Speed on New Products & Features
When thinking about upgrading your phone or appliances, you wouldn’t start by looking at models from the early 2000s, right? While newer isn’t always better, it’s a good idea to become familiar with freshly developed products and features when building your portfolio.
At the end of 2017, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the fifth time in a decade. To deter annuity holders from cashing in on their old annuities and investing in new ones with better rates, companies are releasing new products, such as floating rate fixed annuities, and riders that allow annuity holders to benefit from increasing rates.
Additionally, it’s possible we could see companies develop more fee-based, low-commission, and zero-commission annuities because of the pending implementation of the fiduciary rule. Many see contracting with these type of products as the safest route for selling under its Best Interest Contract Exemption.
2. Be Mindful of Your Language
Words can be tiny, yet powerful things. They can inspire, encourage, and delight, as well as bore, depress, discourage, and destroy. And whether you realize it or not, the words you use in your sales pitch can and do affect your ability to seal the deal.
One mistake some agents make is using too much jargon while talking with clients. Think about it. Your clients have come to you for help, trusting that you can put insurance mumbo-jumbo into layman’s terms. Sure, big words may feed the perception that you’re an expert, but simplifying the lingo leads to more probable sales.
Additionally, make sure you’re cognizant of the connotation of the words you’re using by considering the idea or feeling that a word gives off. It’s been proven that can make a difference, specifically in annuity sales.
According to a study by two professors at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, an increased accessibility of death-related thoughts can lead to a decreased likeliness of people choosing to invest their savings in annuities. Considering this study, you may be able to increase your profit per presentation by adjusting a few words.
3. Think Like a Matchmaker
There are many annuities out there, but it’s often hard for people to determine which one is “the one” for them. When you play the matchmaker, you can set them up with an annuity they’ll love!
As you’re trying to figure out which product is right for a client, consider their needs, dreams, desires, and goals. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by competing factors, start by reflecting on just two things: their age and their willingness to take risks in the stock market.
For baby boomers who have heard passed-down stories of the Great Depression and lived through the Great Recession of 2008, a fixed immediate annuity offers a safe investment option. Helping a client from Generation X? A deferred fixed index annuity could function somewhat like the defined benefit pension they never got the chance to have. Indexed annuities are great for millennials looking for a higher return with low to no risk.
Further, a fixed annuity is a good fit if your client doesn’t want to risk their money or has little knowledge of the stock market. On the other hand, if your client understands the stock market, product, and their potential earnings or charges, an indexed annuity might better suit them. Get more information on fixed and indexed annuities
4. Act in Your Clients’ Best Interest
Consider what’s best for your client, not just because the fiduciary rule (if it comes to pass) and/or the insurers you’re contracted with may require you to, but because it’s the friendly and professional thing to do.
Spend time getting to know your client, his or her family, and what exactly they’re looking for. Educate them about their options, and help them determine the product that might work best.
Don’t be pushy; instead, be accessible. Let your client know about all the services you provide and how they can best reach you. If your client wishes to buy a product, make sure they fully understand it and that you disclose interest caps, surrender charges for early withdrawals, spreads, and internal fees up front.
In general, happy clients tend to stay with their products, and may come to you for other insurance needs. It’s also possible they’ll refer you to family or friends. And if you’re looking to grow your business, what better way than having someone offer a personal testimony on your behalf without you having to put in any extra time or money?
5. Give Social Media a Try
Lastly, if you really want to take your business to that next level, be hip and hop on social media.
People of all ages are becoming increasingly tech savvy. Baby boomers. Generation Xers. Millennials. What they see on social media influences everything from what to cook for dinner, where to shop, and who to buy from. Therefore, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer you free platforms to get your brand out there and build it.
Plus, social networks also allow you to forge longer-lasting relationships with your clients. Merely retweeting their tweet, congratulating them on a career milestone, liking a few of their photos, or writing “Happy Birthday!” on their wall tells them you truly care and can help you maintain your role as their go-to advisor.
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Bottom line: Things change, but those who adapt remain successful. Adjust to industry changes, stick to a high moral standard, and take advantage of new research, products, and tools to set your path toward success.